FARMINGTON — After three weeks of voting, the People's Choice award winners were announced Saturday.
The People's Choice art exhibit displayed artists' work at 15 downtown Farmington businesses, and the public voted on their favorites.
The exhibit was sponsored by the Connie Gotsch Art Foundation, the Farmington Downtown Association, the Northwest New Mexico Art Council, the Farmington Civic Center, The Daily Times, the San Juan College Fine Arts Committee and last year's winner, George Duncan.
One change this year was the addition of the Juror's Choice award. Maureen May, a Durango, Colo., artist, looked at art at all of the venues before making her selection.
When she stopped at Mon's Spanish Grill, she saw "J54" by Dale Latta.
"I knew as soon as I saw it, it was going to be one of my choices," May said.
The other piece she liked was " ée't'só: Roaming Monsters in Dinétah and Sodizin as Our Weapon" by Vanaya Yazzie, which was displayed at Wal-Art.
"It haunted me," May said. "It was just beautifully done. Maybe it didn't have as much technical skill as Dale's piece, but it spoke to me."
Because May could only choose one piece, she gave Latta a gift certificate to the Durango Arts Center and presented Yazzie with the Juror's Choice award.
The juror's award was one of many given out Saturday afternoon. The grand prize was the People's Choice award, which went to the piece that garnered the most votes. The award comes with a $1,000 cash prize.
Douglas Miller won the award for his sculpture "Interpreting a Legend — The Lost City." He said the sculpture has twice as much architectural detail as his other work.
Miller is a self-taught artist who considers the ancient Anasazi culture his only teacher.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've been inspired by the ancient cliff dwellings and ruins of the southwest," he said.
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, he enjoyed Legos and wanted tons of them to build castles and sculptures. But his family couldn't get him all the Legos he wanted, so Miller resorted to making his own from mud and rocks.
That love of sculpting continues today. He used sandstone and lava rock to create his winning sculpture and painted the sandstone with gold acrylic paint.
Each individual brick in his sculpture was made by grinding two slabs of sandstone together and then carving each side with an X-Acto knife.
"There's no machinery sounds that block the natural sound of stone grinding against stone," Miller said.
Creating sculptures tests an artist's patience, and Miller said working on his art has helped him become more patient.
"You're not born with patience," he said. "Patience is a muscle that you have to exercise if you want it to get stronger."