Show includes 65 works by 41 artists from around country

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FARMINGTON — Between the numerous museums and galleries located throughout the Four Corners, several annual exhibitions showcase the depth of artistic talent in the region.

But few shows, if any, can rival the diversity of work that is displayed each year in the "Gateway to Imagination: A National Juried Art Competition" exhibition returning this weekend to the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St.

Simply put, the exhibition is designed to be different from anything else in the region, attracting work from artists across the country through a series of cash awards that range from $75 to $1,000. And those artists work in virtually every medium imaginable, including video projections.

Museum curator Jeffrey Richardson said the 19th annual edition of the show drew between 400 and 450 submissions this year, and the juried exhibition will feature 65 works by 41 artists. The number of pieces and artists featured in last year's exhibition was larger (80 works by 65 individuals), so that means this year's show will be more exclusive. It also means the works that are featured will enjoy greater exposure.

"One of the major differences is we actually have a (gallery) designer this year," Richardson said, referring to Paige White, who joined the museum staff recently. "I'm excited to see the show through her eyes."

Richardson designed the shows for the past several years, but he said the more exclusive nature of this year's show will allow White to take greater liberties with how the pieces are displayed.

"We had them packed in deep (last year)," Richardson said, noting how the 65 works left little breathing room in the gallery. "This year, there's going to be a cleaner design aesthetic."

Exhibition organizers did not intentionally downsize the show this year. Richardson said the pieces chosen for display were selected by juror Alex Gregory, the curator at the Amarillo Museum of Art. Farmington Museum officials had approached Gregory about serving as the juror for "Gateway to Imagination" before, but this was the first year he was available to serve in that capacity, Richardson said, noting his experience and qualifications.

"He has done some of the largest juried competitions in the United States," Richardson said, adding that Gregory was one of three jurors for the 2016 Hunting Art Prize, a competition that included a $50,000 cash award.

Numerous states are represented in this year's show, with artists hailing from such locations as Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Nebraska, Arizona, Ohio, Alabama, Kansas and Missouri.

But, as always, there is a strong local contingent of artists from New Mexico and Colorado, none of whom were afforded a "home-field advantage," Richardson said, explaining that, under the jury process, Gregory was informed only of the size and medium of a submitted piece, with the artist's name and hometown remaining unknown to him under after the piece was chosen.

The New Mexico and Colorado contingent in "Gateway to Imagination" is strong this year, and the inclusion of work by Farmington artists Kevin Bartlett, Maria Kompare, Richard Kynast and Ken MacAdams gives it a strong local flavor.

That demonstrates the caliber of the artistic community here, Richardson said.

"It shows that artists from New Mexico stack up with people across the country," he said.

While the exhibition does not open officially until Monday morning, a gallery walk-through led by Gregory takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by the presentation of awards and a catered reception. Both events are open to the public.

The show remains on display through Dec. 1, and admission is free. Call 505-599-1174.

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

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