Local Show Is ‘Push To Give A Thumbs Up To Creative Economy In Albuquerque’

By Catherine Farmer, Savana Carollo, Mercedez Holtry / NM News Port

Tractor Brewing Co in Wells Park hosts a monthly show where artists can present and sell their work to the community. Carlos Contreras, the curator of, I’ll Drink To That, has been bringing poets, artists, musicians, comedians and community together for four years.

“It came about to me because being a poet and a performer, just an artist in Albuquerque in general, I realized sometimes he have a lot of access in opportunities and sometimes we can maximize those opportunities even better,” Contreras said.

Contreras has played a major role in the poetry community in Albuquerque as a spoken word artist and so the show has always had its fair share of local and traveling poets. Contreras wanted I’ll Drink to That to be a variety show where cross collaboration of art could live and prosper.

“Really what I’ll Drink to That was created for was to get a bunch of artists in the same room,” Contreras said. He finds resources to ensure that all artists participating in the event get paid for their art.

“I’d like to think that I’ll Drink to That is maybe not necessarily at the forefront but certainly involved in the push to give a thumbs up to creative economy in Albuquerque and the viability of being a working artist in a city like Albuquerque,” Contreras said.

Contreras picks the poets, artists and musicians who do live art, based on a theme for each show. The I’ll Drink to That in March, for example, was focused on an all-female lineup for Women in Creativity month. For the April show, Contreras picked his favorite artists for the four year anniversary.

“It welcomes some of my favorite performers…It’s got something old, it’s got something new. It’s just another month but it’s to be celebrated because year four will happen and will see if there’s a year five,” Contreras said.

Like most shows, the four year anniversary of I’ll Drink to That begins with setting up blank canvases around the brewery in preparation for local artists to do live art during performances.

I’ll Drink to That is known for its liveliness because most artists produce art in front of an audience. Simultaneously, performances by poets, musicians and comedians fill the I’ll Drink to That stage. Vendors are set up around the brewery as well. Merchandise such as hand crafted jewelry, baked goods, fashion boutiques, and finished art are available for purchase.

The show ends with a live art auction in which Contreras puts on his “auctioneering hat” and encourages the audience to bid on the artwork done by local artists who filled the empty canvases throughout the show. Artists can make anywhere from $50 to $300 for one painting. As for performing artists, Contreras pays at least 20 to 50 dollars for a single performance and sometimes “passes the hat” or in other words offers an opportunity for the community to donate to performing artists.

“I think artists all to often are expected to just create art because they’re creative people and expected be honored enough for the talents they posses and to not expect those talents to have return, or to be profitable. I’m very interested in changing that paradigm and making art a viable option for employment, self-employment and sustainability,” Contreras said.