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Virtual event created by Farmington Visitors Bureau aims to support local artists

Art walk has over 7,234 ‘visitors’
“Sheep Herding From the Porch” by Shawn Ahkea is one of the pieces available during the virtual art walk hosted by the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

FARMINGTON – As physical distancing practices continue and more events like Farmington’s Spring Art Walk and the Riverfest Fine Arts Festival are canceled, virtual art walks are springing up to help support local artists.

The Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau created a virtual art walk to replace the city’s annual Spring Art Walk. The online event, which was scheduled to end May 1, was extended with no end date as of now, the Convention and Visitors Bureau recently announced.

Many Four Corners artists, who typically rely on art walks, trading posts and art galleries, have also been effected by the COVID-19 business closures and spring and summer festival cancellations.

“One of the goals of the Virtual Art Walk was to connect people and generate hope and inspiration during an extremely difficult time,” said Tonya Stinson, executive director of Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She added some of the art on display was created by artists during the stay-at-home orders, and the virtual event is an opportunity to create and sell their art for income. The virtual art walk has over 200 paintings, photographs, jewelry, pottery and other pieces from about 50 artists and art galleries, Stinson said.

The event, which was sparked by a Zoom meeting with the Farmington Business Response Team, has had 7,234 visitors exploring the webpage and more than 30 pieces have sold in the first two weeks of the event, Stinson said. When one piece sells, the artist is able to put a new piece online in its place. While most virtual visitors are from the United States, others have viewed the site from Canada, Mexico and France. Buyers are not only from the Four Corners, but also California, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Canada, Stinson said.

Stinson added the event is also an opportunity for potential tourists to virtually learn about Farmington and its art community to plan a visit at a later date when it’s appropriate for people to travel again.

“Small Blessing No. 20” by Michael Billie is one of the pieces available during the virtual art walk hosted by the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“With all the closures going on, it gives me and other artists a way to reach out to others and share our love for art with them,” local photographer Darrin Kosea said. “Art brings people together, and I’m stoked for this virtual event.”

Karen Ellsbury, owner of Studio 116 in downtown Farmington, said she considered the virtual art walk to be a gift to local artists who count on events like the quarterly downtown art walks, and she was glad to hear the dates were being extended. Artists typically featured at her gallery are included in the online art walk.

“It is a great medium for our local generous community to support small businesses and local artists, as well as an opportunity for everyone worldwide to experience some of the beauty and creativity living in San Juan County inspires,” she said.

Ellsbury added she was hopeful it would “motivate the world to own a piece of our beauty and, when it was deemed safe to do so, to entice them to come experience the beauty and magic of our wonderfully diverse artists and landscapes.”

With the extended dates on the virtual event, the Convention and Visitors Bureau is still accepting artwork submissions from San Juan County artists, who are able to submit three to five photos of pieces. Interested artists can contact the online marketing manager, Ingrid Gilbert, at ingrid@farmingtonnm.org.

Durango is also joining in the virtual art show. The Durango Art Galleries Collective typically hosts a Spring Gallery Walk. This year it announced it was planning to turn the annual event into “A Virtual Art Experience” from May 8 to May 31. The collective plans to let guests meet artists through Facebook Live interviews, take virtual tours of artists’ studios, visit gallery links and make purchases online or by telephone.


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