'Hats Off to Art!' contest held at Three Rivers Art Center in Farmington

Mike Easterling The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Hats aren't the first thing that comes to mind when people think of artistic media. But as the "Hats Off to Art!" contest and show at Farmington's Three Rivers Arts Center demonstrates, they can provide a fun and popular foundation from which to work.

TRAC's Sue Johnson said the contest and show, which was launched in 2011, returns this year after a one-year-hiatus. She said the contest has drawn anywhere from 10 to 20 entries each year it has been held, and participants come from all age groups.

Those entries were just starting to trickle in last weekend as Johnson noted she had extended the deadline a couple of days to accommodate latecomers. Many would-be artists in the show work from a hat they bought in a thrift store, she said, but others take a more creative approach and fashion their own hats from everyday objects, such as plastic plates and bowls.

"I used a flower pot one year and decorated the outside," she said, explaining that she usually takes part in the show herself.

Those submitting hats for the show were required to pay a $10 entry fee, and Johnson said the money will be used as prize money for the contest winners. The hats will remain on display at TRAC through July 18, and visitors will have the chance to vote on their favorites in four categories — most original, most whimsical, most patriotic and overall best in show. The winners will be announced on July 25.

"Often, the one that wins best of show wins another category," Johnson said.

She said the contest has attracted a substantial number of votes in the past. But she worried the contest would suffer from a lack of exposure this year because it was not included on the city's official list of Freedom Days activities. She was planning to use a big social media push last week to encourage visitors to stop by the gallery and vote.

Entries range from simple to elaborate, Johnson said. The most unusual one she recalls having received came three years ago when an artist entered a hat with dozens of small figures on it performing different activities — including one man bent over a commode answering the call of nature, complete with a roll of toilet paper in his hand.

"It was pretty amazing — very original," Johnson said.

There are few rules when it comes to submitting an entry, she said, although remaining within the boundaries of good taste is one of them.

"If it was terrible, we probably wouldn't put it out there for families to see," she said, laughing. "But generally, whatever anybody comes up, we're glad to put it out."

TRAC is located at 109 N. Allen Ave. Call 505-716-7660 or visit threeriversartcenter.org for more information.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610 and measterling@daily-times.com. Follow him@measterlingfdt on Twitter.