100% San Juan County plans mural unveiling to highlight future initiatives

Event will include live music, art and Chamber of Commerce Redcoats

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − The most recent addition to downtown's collection of outdoor murals will be unveiled next week when 100% San Juan County holds a public event designed to acquaint people with the program and generate momentum for its initiatives.

The unveiling will take place at 1 p.m. Monday, July 25 at the Connect Space, 203 W. Main St. in downtown Farmington and includes a performance by an instrumental quartet, a brief ceremony with the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Redcoats and students from the Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center working on art projects, according to Kathy Price, a core design team member for 100% San Juan County.

The "Seeds of Opportunity" mural, which was sponsored by the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council and the Merrion Foundation, was painted by staff members and clients at Inspire HeArt, an Aztec-based nonprofit organization that works to enhance the physical and mental well-being of individuals and communities through art therapy and creative expression.

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Staff members and young artists from Inspire HeArt pose in front of the "Seeds of Opportunity" mural they painted for 100% San Juan County behind the Connect Space at 203 W. Main St. in downtown Farmington on June 30.

Christy Clugston, the Inspire HeArt executive director, said she was encouraged to take on the project by Flo Trujillo, the president of the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council. She said Laurinda Warren of 100% New Mexico, the statewide organization with which 100% San Juan County is affiliated, came up with the concept of using a yucca plant to illustrate the program's role in the community.

The mural is located in the alley behind the Connect Space, just north of The Arc of San Juan County. Clugston said she was joined by her mother − Durango, Colorado, artist Darlene Hiemer − and a handful of young artists from Inspire HeArt in painting the mural, which was completed in one day on June 30.

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The mural joins approximately two dozen others that have been painted in the downtown area over the past three years. Price said other 100% New Mexico affiliates have painted similar murals in Espanola, Taos, Clovis and Valencia County.

Clugston said the mural is designed to represent the kind of thriving communities 100% New Mexico strives to promote. Framed in an outline matching the state's borders, it features the state flower painted against a background of vibrant colors designed to speak to New Mexico's diverse cultures.

Young artists from Inspire HeArt paint the "Seeds of Opportunity" mural behind the Connect Space in downtown Farmington on June 30.

The yucca was chosen because it flourishes in the state's semiarid environment, Clugston said, noting that the plant is known for recycling the air around it. Symbolically, it presents new opportunities, protection and purity in the same way 100% New Mexico affiliates are working to improve their communities, she said.

"I thought it was a cool idea," Clugston said of the mural. "And anytime I can pull kids in to serve the community, I'm all about that, too."

Price said the mural unveiling will allow 100% San Juan County officials to talk with visitors about the program's plans over the next couple of months and the impact it is designed to make. The statewide organization is in the midst of hiring a regional coordinator for San Juan, McKinley and Cibola counties – one of five such coordinators who will hired across New Mexico – to oversee the program's initiatives.

Atop that list is a three-month community survey that 100% San Juan County representatives will begin conducting at the San Juan County Fair in August. Price said the organization is hoping to get everyone in the county to respond to the survey, which is designed to determine what kind of barriers exist for local residents in terms of transportation, affordable housing, jobs and other areas.

"Once we gather all the data, we'll have some information, post pandemic, to work on as action projects," she said.

The goal of 100% San Juan County is to create long-lasting, meaningful change in the community, Price said.

"Hopefully, we're doing more than putting on Band-Aids," she said. "I've been in this community a long time, and we've put a lot of Band-Aids on things. We're trying to go upstream now and head some of these things off."

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: