FARMINGTON — A group of local artists is working to turn Downtown Farmington into a mecca for arts in the Four Corners.
The People’s Choice committee, spearheaded by artist Liz Stannard, hopes to bring three weeks of art exhibitions to downtown in March and April 2013. Although still in the planning phase, the project has already gotten support from 14 businesses and a number of local artists.
“Reflecting on the success of our downtown art walks, I do believe Farmington is ready to take on more art-related activity downtown and become an art destination,” Stannard said. “Five years ago, we celebrated our first art walk. Now we have four successful city-sponsored walks a year in April, June, October and December. There are also two independent gallery walks in February and August, initiated and managed by the downtown gallery spaces.”
The People’s Choice is planned as a non-juried art exhibition aimed at engaging Four Corners artists, Downtown Farmington businesses and  residents for three weeks from March 25 to April 12. Artists who live within 100 miles of Farmington are invited to submit one piece of work each. The public will vote for their favorite pieces to determine the winners. First prize will receive $1,000, second is $750, third is $500, and two honorable mention winners will get $250 each.
The exhibition was inspired by ArtPrize, a community arts exhibition organized by Rick DeVos in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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, to facilitate interaction between artists and the public.
Stannard attended ArtPrize in September and saw first-hand its effects on the community.
On Sept. 30., there were about 50,000 people in downtown Grand Rapids, Stannard said. According to a study by the Anderson Economic Group, that year’s event brought about $15.4 million to the Grand Rapids area and 320,000 visitors over its 19-day duration.
Although Grand Rapids is a larger city than Farmington, Stannard and her associates believe the Four Corners area can reap similar benefits.
“Farmington will have its own flavor for how this works out,” said Janet Burns, an artist on the People’s Choice committee.
The quarterly art walks have become a valuable social event that brings people to downtown, Burns said.
By expanding the concept of the Art Walk to three weeks, organizers hope to bring more foot traffic and business to the area while exposing more people to local art.
“It takes art out of the more formal gallery setting and puts it into where people go anyway,” Burns said.
The People’s Choice committee is working with the Three Rivers Women’s Collective and the Farmington Downtown Association to reach out to artists and downtown businesses.
Interested artists are invited to submit one piece until venues are full starting Dec. 1 through Feb. 1. For more information on submitting or participating, visit the Three Rivers Women’s Collective at 109 N. Allen Ave. in Farmington, email peoples_choice@live.com, download a form at facebook.com/pc4corners or call Liz Stannard at 505-360-0147.