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The annual art sale and studio tour offers a relaxed, intimate setting and familiar faces for artists and art lovers alike.

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FARMINGTON — Now in its 17th year, the format for the annual art sale and studio tour that takes place on Crouch Mesa every November is well known to anyone who has ever taken part in the event.

Artists who live on the mesa open their homes to visitors for the two-day event that showcases not just their work, but that of several other artists, as well. The atmosphere is informal, welcoming and cozy, allowing for lengthy, meaningful interactions between those who create the art and those who buy it.

That helps explain why the event remains so popular, and why so many local artists enjoy taking part year after year. Janet Grenawalt is one of those artists, as she'll return after a one-year absence to this year's installment that takes place this weekend.

"I enjoy the fact that it's quaint up there (on the mesa)," said Grenawalt, who estimated she has participated in the show for at least five years. "It's a small amount of artists, and we all know each other. It's a small, intimate show, and that makes it kind of nice."

Grenawalt will be showing her work at the home and studio of Sarah Teofanov at 30 County Road 3773 along with the host artist, Lou Mancell, Tory Teofanov, Jody Brimhall, Beverly Todd and Michael Jackson.

Grenawalt will have approximately 50 pieces available during the show, though she said she was still working on her inventory on Oct. 29.

"Some of it is five minutes old," she said, laughing. "I'm still pushing the panic button trying to get things done."

She works in a mosaic style that reflects her affinity for natural settings.

"I like to make mosaics on rocks, believe it or not," she said. "You can put them out in your yard as an accent to a flower bed or on a desk or table."

Grenawalt also creates mosaics on aged barn wood and rusty tin cans that she likes to gather around her cabin in southern Colorado, some of which wind up as wall hangings featuring chile peppers, birds, fish or lizards. She also creates suncatchers that can be placed in a window where natural filters through them.

"Everything's pretty nature themed," she said. "I love to make animals."

LAST YEAR: Husband-and-wife team among artists featured in annual Crouch Mesa studio tour

When she started making mosaics, Grenawalt said, she stuck to a traditional approach, working mostly with picture frames. But she felt increasingly dissatisfied working within those confines and yearned to put her own stamp on the medium.

"I kept, for years, trying to find my signature thing," she said. "I kind of developed my colors and designs that are my own thing. They're all swirly stuff."

Grenawalt said she derives creative inspiration from a variety of sources, including tattoos, though she hastens to add she doesn't have any. But she has succeeded in developing a distinctive style.

"I've never seen anybody do mosaics quite the way I do," she said.

Taking on dual roles

The other home and studio featured on this year's tour is that of Janet McHaley Burns at 1400 Williams Drive. That location will feature her work, as well as that of Robin Renner Miller, Sue Johnson, Michael Billie, Dale Latta, Deb Latta and Catherine Thomas-Kemp.

Burns has been a part of the tour almost since the beginning, opening her home to the event only one year after it began in 2003. She said she enjoys serving in the dual role of host and artist, and described the in-home experience as the antithesis of the way so much art-related commerce is conducted these days.

"It's a lot more personal than trying to sell online," she said.

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The work of putting on the event starts months in advance. Burns said she begins developing a list of artists to invite to her home in the spring, then approaches them one by one to secure their participation, giving them several months to build an inventory for the show. While many of the faces are the same year after year, giving the event a sense of continuity, Burns also tries to add at least one new artist to mix things up.

While creating her own inventory for the show — which will be a mix of old and new work, she said — Burns also works on marketing the event and attending to the physical preparations for having dozens of visitors in her home for the weekend.

"My whole house gets turned upside down," she said. "Furniture gets moved and re-moved, and the living room becomes a gallery. But I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it."

Reconnecting with old friends

One of the new artists featured in Burns' home this year is Robin Renner Miller, a former ceramics instructor at San Juan College who left the Farmington area 18 years ago. Burns said she was thrilled when Miller accepted her invitation to join the show.

"I'm so pleased Robin's going to do it," she said, citing Miller's gift for craftsmanship, designs and color. "She had such a reputation for doing excellent work when she was here. I'm looking forward to seeing what her (new) work looks like in real life."

Now a Chama resident, Miller said she concentrates on beadwork these days, although she also paints a little. She enlists the help of friends each spring to join her on backcountry hikes in the search for shed deer antlers, to which she likes to affix beads and flattened bottle caps for rattles. She'll have eight to 10 of those for sale at the tour.

She is also increasingly fond of working in a plein air style, doing her beadwork outside to capture landscapes rather than geometric designs.

Miller said she has maintained a lot of friendships in the Farmington area despite being gone for nearly 20 years, and she is looking forward to seeing how her beadwork is received.

"It'll be different work," she said. "Everybody there still remembers me as doing clay work, although I was doing beadwork then."

Visitors can donate to charities

Visitors to the sale and tour also will have the chance to contribute to two philanthropic entities.

Nonperishable food and other items, including women's personal hygiene products; baby products such as diapers, socks and undergarments; and clothing for women, children and teens will be collected during the tour for donation to the Family Crisis Center Inc. in Farmington.

Teofanov will be selling $10 handcrafted ornaments at her home with proceeds supporting the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women initiative of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.

The art sale and studio tour will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 3.

Event postcards with maps to the two homes can be picked up at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St., and at the Henderson Fine Arts Center Art Gallery on the San Juan College campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington. For a digital copy of the map, email FMNartTour@hotmail.com.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or via email at measterling@daily-times.com.

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