'Gateway to Imagination' show opens at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park
This year's show features 80 works by 65 artists
FARMINGTON — The annual "Gateway to Imagination: A National Juried Art Competition" show that opens its 18th edition Saturday at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park long ago may have lost its sense of novelty.
But museum curator Jeffrey Richardson says that doesn't mean the style of work featured in the show doesn't vary widely from year and year, carrying with it the capacity to surprise and delight museum visitors.
"There's a lot more modern and contemporary art in the show this year, given that is (juror Julie Sasse's) expertise and focus," Richardson said of this year's exhibition. "But you also continue to see some artists make it (into the show) year to year, so you see a connection to those types of art."
The "Gateway to Imagination" show avoids staleness not just by soliciting submissions from artists across the country, but by recruiting a new show curator each year, Richardson said. The preferences of those different curators are reflected in the work they choose for inclusion in the show, he said.
"We try to find jurors who have experience doing this kind of work," Richardson said about the process the museum employs to find a show curator each year. "This year, we put out the call for interested jurors, and Julie was one of the first people to respond to it."
Richardson said Sasse's work as the chief curator, curator of modern and contemporary art, and curator of Latin American art at the Tucson (Ariz.) Museum of Art made her a good fit for the role, as did the fact that she has published several books about art. Her background also presented a bit of a change from that of last year's juror, who was a gallery director and artist, and museum officials believed that difference would give Sasse a different perspective from her predecessor on the art submissions.
A total of 481 works were submitted for this year's show, and Richardson said Sasse chose approximately 80 pieces by 65 artists for inclusion in "Gateway to Imagination." Entries poured in from all over the country, and Richardson said the museum's decision the last two years to seek submissions via the website callforentry.org has paid dividends.
Along with a strong Four Corners contingent of artists, virtually every corner of the United States is represented in this year's show. The list of participants includes Florida, California, Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Louisiana, North Dakota, Washington, Illinois, Idaho, Kansas, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Maryland in addition to Arizona, Utah, Colorado and, of course, New Mexico.
"As you can see, they really are spread throughout the country," he said.
Richardson said that may be the most appealing aspect of "Gateway to Imagination" — the chance to see the work of local artists alongside that of artists from all over the United States.
"This speaks a lot to our regional art scene, that they stack up against people from around the country," he said.
He emphasized that when Sasse makes her selections for inclusion in the show, the hometown of each artist is not included in the information she has received, meaning the process is not weighted in favor of regional artists.
Work from all media is included in this year's show, including, perhaps for the first time, a video piece.
"Gateway to Imagination" is the only annual exhibition the museum stages each year, and that alone makes it special, Richardson said.
"Obviously, we've continued to do this for 18 years, so that speaks highly to the museum's dedication to this show and the quality of the work it attracts," he said.
The exhibition also continues to find an audience each year, he noted, partly because it appeals to a range of interests.
"Anyone who has come to the first show through the 18th would find something unique and something familiar every year," he said.
Sasse will deliver a presentation during Saturday's opening reception, while the winners in various categories will be named, with cash awards ranging from $1,000 to $75 being presented. The reception is open to the public.
"Gateway to Imagination" officially opens on Monday and remains on display through Dec. 2.
Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.
If you go
What: Juror lecture, awards presentation and opening reception for "Gateway to Imagination: A National Juried Art Competition"
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St.
For more information: Call 505-599-1174