Nearly a dozen buildings will be part of Art in the Alley project

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FARMINGTON — A plan to cover the exterior walls of several downtown Farmington buildings in murals wound up being delayed by several months, but a project organizer says visitors to the district should begin to see the artwork go up next month.

The Art in the Alley project is designed to enhance the back entrance of many Farmington businesses that will be see their Main Street access limited when construction on the Complete Streets project begins in 2019. The project was conceived by Artifacts Gallery owners Tom and Bev Taylor, and Farmington downtown coordinator Michael Bulloch is overseeing it.

Work on the murals was supposed to begin in late April, but Bulloch said the project was delayed by a lack of paint donations, and challenges in coordination between the participating artists and the committee that is selecting the artists and approving the work. Both those issues have been addressed, he said, and he expects that by the end of August, passersby will see murals being created on the exterior walls of at least two downtown businesses — the Chili Pod and Brown's Shoe Fit Co.

Bulloch said project organizers have decided to address the first issue simply by purchasing the necessary paint instead of waiting for it to be donated. The scope of the project will be reduced somewhat to make up for that expenditure, but Bulloch said Art in the Alley supporters are fine with that.

The second issue was perhaps more problematic, given the informal way in which the Art in the Alley Committee operates, he said. Artists interested in participating in the project submit a proposal with a sketch to Bulloch, and he forwards it to each committee member and business owner who has agreed to let her or his building be painted.

More: 'Paint slinging' event highlights downtown Farmington art walk

The committee rarely, if ever, meets as a group, so Bulloch spends a fair amount of time tracking down all the involved parties and weighing their input until a consensus has emerged. So far, 11 business owners have agreed to let their building be painted, and 10 artists have submitted mural proposals, although Bulloch noted some artists have submitted multiple proposals.

The list of artists submitting proposals includes Ivan Lee, Ritchie Arviso, Luke Paul, Sabahut, Jamie Fairchild, Venaya Yazzie, Shane Yazzie, Sonja Horoshko, James Joe and Bulloch.

"There are a lot of balls up in the air," Bulloch said, explaining that the process of getting started has taken longer than he anticipated. "On the surface, this seems like a simple thing – 'Yeah, let's do it.' But it's not."

One recent addition to the list of participating businesses is Capacity Builders Inc. at 414 W. Broadway. And another participating building — the Artifacts Gallery — will be putting its own spin on the project.

Artists who lease studio space and display their work at the gallery will be painting their own 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of marine-grade plywood, Bulloch said. When all the artists are through, their work will be assembled outside the gallery and mounted on a fence as a collective work.

The Art in the Alley project was designed to play a crucial role in keeping visitors coming to downtown Farmington during the inconvenience of the Complete Streets construction, and Bulloch said that hasn't changed.

"It's still very important," he said. "That's why I want to get this beginning phase approved and up by the end of August. And we can continue working through the fall before construction starts."

While some of the murals will take longer to complete than others, Bulloch said he's not worried about cold, wet weather setting in before many of the projects can be completed.

"In fact, a few of the artists, who work in graffiti, have told us they're used to doing a mural in a day," he said.

Bulloch said the delays have been disappointing, but he said organizers are beginning to feel a sense of urgency.

"I'm confident we'll have that going soon," he said. "There's too much riding on it."

Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

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