Art on the Rio Connects Local Artists with Art Lovers

Nearly every aspect of the artistic process, from creating and showing artwork to selling and shipping it, has been deeply impacted by the pandemic.

Immastar Productions and Paper Plane Branding and Marketing have teamed up to launch Art on the Rio, a virtual and in-person space to help Albuquerque-area artists not only get their artwork into homes but also to help them gain exposure both in New Mexico and nation wide.

Art on the Rio co-founder Carlos Contreras answered some questions for us:


What’s the history & background of Art on the Rio? Tell us about your motivations behind the business.

Art on the Rio has been a brainchild of ours for a while – and pre-pandemic it was poised to be a physical brick and mortar bearing location and event platform. We, my fiance Jessica Gentry and I, rented a studio space for her design firm that was going to double as a gallery space, and would also play host to a variety nature of event presentation and community engagement events under the name “Art on the Rio.”

The pandemic hit two weeks after we got the keys, and 9 months later she’d paid for an empty building for that long. We had to pivot – the #BrickAndMortarPartner program came about as an idea in these lowly populated “take out” focused businesses and in that moment, to say, hey, let’s bring some life and color into the transaction and environment. Art changes lives and lifts moods – that was the idea – it’s working, and work is selling. We have 11 locations that are allowing artists who are working with Art on the Rio, to hang their work for sale in their spaces. We are working with artists to execute on these opportunities, and also creating opportunities for group and solo exhibitions in collaboration with art entities in ABQ.



​What local establishments are you currently partnering with to show artwork in person?

Marble Brewery, American Home Furniture, Juabo’s, High Desert Relief, Java’ Joes coming soon, The Brew Downtown, Central Jive Tea House coming soon, Tender Heart Massage coming soon, and 50/50 Coffee House and Pub right now are the ones we can list, but we are getting inquiries every day.


When can we expect the brick and mortar gallery space to open?

That’s the catch – there isn’t one. We are what you would sort of consider a #GhostGallery – we are aiming to take the conventions of the gallery world, the street art world, and the contemporary art market – and mix it all up! There’s a time and a place for things to change and this seems like a fitting time and place to try and carve out some space for visual artists in a manner that is engaging and mutually beneficial: artist, businesses, communities they exist in – the whole nine. We don’t necessarily think there is a need currently and given the last year, for us to own a brick and mortar space of our own… that being said, nothing is ever off the table.



​How many artists are you currently working with?

We are at 28 artists and counting – that too is increasing by the day.


​How can folks stay updated on the work you’re doing and how can they best support your business?

They can join our Facebook Group Art on the Rio Collectors’ Corner – they can visit our website and virtual Ghost Gallery space ArtOnTheRio.com – they can visit a participating Brick and Mortar Partner location, and they can find us on Instagram @ArtOnTheRio



Here’s a step-by-step of how it works:
– You see our art somewhere and you’re interested in it
– Scan the QR code on the tag, which will take you to the website
– You match the Artist Name and name of the Piece
– You can then walk through purchasing the art right there on your phone
– Too big? Had too many beers? That’s ok – leave it – we will grab it and deliver or make it available for pick up by appointment – and REPLACE it at that location with something else folks can admire and buy!

*If you’re NOT local – you can “Request a Shipping Quote” and we will get you one price to get it to your door within 48 hours and work with you to complete the purchase in a concierge type manner from there.


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