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New sculptures adorn Farmington’s Main Street

The juried exhibit is in its second year, city hopes it will drive tourism
Sante Fe Sculptor Fredrick Prescott stands beside his “Free Range Longhorn,” which is in the Downtown Sculpture Exhibit.

Farmington has long been one of the best-kept secrets in New Mexico art with internationally known artists making their homes here.

Now, city officials have tapped into the idea of Farmington as an art community and decided to use it as a marketing tool to bring in more artists and tourists with the Main Street Sculpture Exhibit, which returned for the second year, bringing 11 new sculptures from eight artists, who live in the region.

Santa Fe sculptor Fredrick Prescott both juried the show and entered one of his own signature style pieces – a 10-foot tall, powder-coated stainless steel, bright red bull with a moving head. Free Range Longhorn can be found in a front of The Olive Tree Restaurant and across the street from Artifacts Gallery, at 219 E Main St.

Some might be familiar with Prescott’s work: The Farmington Public Library has three of his horses on its front lawn.

CIty of Farmington crews install “Delilah,” a sculpture by Reven Swanson of Denver. It is in the Downtown Sculpture Exhibit.

“I tell everybody in the country that is one of the coolest libraries I’ve ever seen,” Prescott said. “It’s always filled with people and activity. It’s a fabulous space that Karen McPheeters created.”

It was McPheeters who found Prescott’s work when the library was built, and she raised the money to place his sculptures on the property.

Decades later, Prescott is helping introduce other artists to Farmington through the downtown exhibit.

“I think it’s great the city is doing it,” Prescott said. “It’s great for the people who live up there and great for the whole town.”

The sculpture exhibit is a competition of sorts, in that artists submit photos of their work and the juror selects pieces from the photos.

“It’s hard to jury a show from pictures,” Prescott said. “It’s like trying to jury paintings from slides. … It’s really difficult.”

However, when Prescott saw the pieces in person on May 10, he said they were really something to see and looked much better than in the photos.

Sculptor Merelee Whitcomb, of Littleton, Colorado, is pictured on the right, assisting a Farmington crew member place her sculpture “Canyon Guardian” for the Downtown Sculpture Exhibit.

“I was looking for all the different genres in sculpture,” he said of his selections. “There wasn’t a lot to choose from, but I picked what was there – a little bit realistic, a little bit abstract, a little bit of everything.”

Prescott said this show has potential to grow, but it takes years for things like this to build up, and it will take a lot of marketing. “If the artists know about it they will submit,” he said, adding he would like to see the city spread the word to artists in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos, “where there’s a lot of sculptors.”

Farmington Downtown Coordinator Karen Lupton works with Maria Kompare and Bev Taylor to put together a call for artists, which is submitted in CaFE, a call for entry website for artists, and the show is limited to the four states of the Four Corners.

“Winter Hibiscus Leaf” is a sculpture by Nathan Johansen, of Provo, Utah.

“I think it will continue to grow,” Lupton said, adding that “Farmington in the past has not been known as a fine arts market.”

However, Farmington has been home to the Totah Festival, which is a juried Native fine arts festival, and the community is home to internationally known artists such as John Cogan and famous cowboy artist Tim Cox.

Lupton said she wants to continue to build upon the past and “bring awareness to people that Farmington is a place to look to buy fine art.”

Sculptor Nathan Johansen, of Provo, Utah, stands next to his sculpture “Maple Seed” in the Downtown Sculpture Exhibit in Farmington.

Lupton sees the sculpture exhibit as a way to advance the outdoor recreation industry in Farmington, because outdoor enthusiasts “are going to want to come and have art and have music,” she said.

“I feel we are at a tipping point, and I’m excited,” Lupton said.

“As a community, if we embrace this program and they sell these pieces, we will get more artists in her as well,” Mayor Nate Duckett said during a May 10 artists reception at Artifacts Gallery. During that reception he introduced each of the artists showcasing their work.

Tami Cottrell, of La Plata, has one piece in the show titled The Warrior Protector. She said she uses “throw away metal” and looks at it “to envision what I want to build,” when she sculpts.

“The Warrior Protector” is a sculpture by Tamie Cottrell, of La Plata. It is in Farmington's Downtown Sculpture Exhibit.

Nathan Johansen, of Provo, Utah, has three sculptures in the exhibit. He works with bronze and actual vegetation, which he has been known to cast directly into bronze.

“It’s really a great opportunity to come and have several pieces (shown). I appreciate it,” he said.

Reven Swanson of Denver has one piece, Delilah, in the show. She said she started welding in 1993 and this was her first time in Farmington.

Wherever Swanson goes there have to be mountain bike trails, so she rode the Alien Run in Aztec, while here.

Jordan Weisenburger, of Moab, Utah, sits in front of his sculpture “Heaven's Gate,” which is displayed in Farmington's Downtown Sculpture Exhibit.

Merelee Whitcomb, of Littleton, Colorado, has two pieces in the exhibit. She said she bases her stone carvings on petroglyphs.

Jordan Weisenburger of Moab, Utah, has one piece, Heaven’s Gate, in the exhibit. “It’s an abstract,” he said. “The bottom half is brown representing the Earth. The top half is the Heavens.”

“It’s good to be here,” Weisenburger added. “This is a cool place.”

The father of sculptor Lawrence Starck, of Loveland, Colorado, watches as city crew members place the statue in Farmington's Downtown Sculpture Exhibit.

Jerry Severns of Denver entered a weathered steel sculpture titled, Walking. He described himself has a “suit and tie guy,” before he started creating art out of steel.

“I’m just thrilled to be here in Farmington,” Severns said. “It’s so cool to see all these people here attending this and supporting this program.”

There also was one piece by Lawrence Starck, of Loveland, Colorado, titled Little Cowboy.

All of the sculptures in the exhibit are available for purchase and will remain in their place along Main Street until April 2025.