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“I love using graffiti in a fine-art atmosphere,” said Las Cruces artist Saba, who is opening a new studio and hoping to start a new Las Cruces art district on West Picacho Avenue.
Saba is opening his studio – Barricade Culture Hop – throughout the day Friday, Aug. 7, at 1175 W. Picacho Ave., at the intersection of Picacho and Fifth Street. The opening will include selling $10 raffle tickets for a donated Harley motorcycle. Saba said he will also be collecting donations of unopened water to deliver to the Navajo Nation during the grand opening.
He’s hoping to create a “trading-post mentality” at the location.
“Now it’s time,” he said. “This is what we need.”
Saba, 37, calls his work arrow soul art, because the arrow – an historic feature of his Navajo culture – is used for hunting “to feed the soul,” he said, and for defending.
Saba, 37, is a native of Farmington who moved to Las Cruces with his wife in 2009.
“I love Las Cruces,” Saba said. “People here learned to somewhat co-exist together. Somewhere in time we got along, because I’m still here,” he said. “All my life, I’ve been caught in the middle of two worlds going on at once.”
Now is the time to expand the city’s art community to include an outdoor art district on West Picacho Avenue, he said. “I’ve been talking about this for the past 10 years, at least.”
“I hope other artists and small businesses take advantage of this opportunity,” said Saba, who also encourages young Las Cruces entrepreneurs to explore the area.
Saba, who plans to make an outdoor graffiti garden a part of his studio space, sees a lot of possibilities for West Picacho Avenue. There are already two restaurants nearby – JC Torta’s Mexican Restaurant right across the street at 1196 W. Picacho Ave., and Nessa’s Café, two blocks east at 901 W. Picacho Ave. And, he said, there’s plenty of room for food trucks, as well. He hopes the area can also include temporary outdoor booth spaces for artists, modeling on the success of the Farmers and Crafts Market of Las Cruces.
“People want to be outside to enjoy the view,” he said, adding that wWst Picacho Avenue “has the best view” of the Organ Mountains.
“We can work together to make a pretty picture,” he said.
Saba said he also would like to partner with food growers so the graffiti garden he’s planning can include food as well as art. That way, he said, people can “grow their own jalapeños and tomatoes instead of buying packaged salsa.”
“At the end of the day, I’m hoping to create art and sustain my family and myself,” Saba said.
Saba said he starting drawing as a child in boarding school, because it was “a way for me to escape my environment.”
The graffiti he loves, he said, “is the finest of art” because it has no identified dollar value. “It can’t compete with fine art because it far exceeds true art.”
“I call it art, and I call art life,” Saba said. “This is what we do as human beings. People have a “natural urge” to create, to make a mark and to “leave some direction for the future, a survival guide.”
“America calls it graffiti,” he said, but the art form can trace its beginnings to ancient rock art “that identified a watering hole, an enemy camp, ‘no trespassing’ or ‘this is where you pass’,” he said.
“We can all represent who we are through our art,” Saba said. His own art, like his dream of a new art district,” is real and it’s really happening.”
Contact Saba at email@example.com.