Farmington art installations on the rise after big 2018
FARMINGTON – As 2018 draws to a close, there is no doubt that many of the most positive stories that have emerged from San Juan County this year have centered around the arts and entertainment industries.
Most important of these was the emergence of 16-year-old Chevel Shepherd as a country music star. The Farmington High School junior won the 15th season of “The Voice” on NBC-TV, winning a recording deal with Universal Music Group and thus developing a national audience. His three-month run on “The Voice” was crowned with his crowning as the season winner on December 18, and Shepherd was welcomed back to Farmington with a noisy rally at FHS on December 22. Her future looks very bright, as she plans to start working in January on her first record.
Elsewhere, there have been several new developments when it comes to local art installations. An $ 11.5 million expansion project at the Farmington Civic Center was completed in November. The work included new parking on the east side, improvements to meeting rooms, new landscaping and new trails, and improved accessibility for people of all physical abilities.
A few blocks away, the Farmington Museum System opened a new satellite branch with the addition of the highly anticipated Navajo Art and Culture Museum in June at 301 W. Main St. The facility had been in the planning stages since. 2013 and allows the museum system to showcase its extensive collections of Navajo materials.
And at 116 W. Main St., local art gallery owner Karen Ellsbury opened a new downtown outdoor performance and events space this summer that the downtown core badly needed with a pocket park. located in the former parking lot of his Studio 116 gallery. The park, partly funded by a $ 3,500 grant from the Resilient Communities Fund of the National MainStreet Program, features a pergola, lighted stage, covered patio, planters and other equipment, and is available for parties and other private events.
The park helped launch the popular San Juan Jazz Society jam sessions in July. The music events, held every Wednesday evening, were hosted by local jazz band leader Delbert Anderson and featured a rotating cast of local musicians, along with free hot dogs and water. The first few weeks of the sessions were funded by a grant from the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation, and when the series moved inside the Civic Center this fall, local businesses continued to fund it.
Elsewhere on the local music scene, two local rock groups continued to make waves in 2018. Metal band Signal 99, signed to indie label Dead Sea Records, has performed twice in Mexico in addition to being headlining a Californian festival in front of 20,000 fans. The group is also recording songs for their new record and have planned for a busy January, with shows in California, Las Vegas and Phoenix between January 23-26. The group also performed in November with New Zealand band Alien Weaponry and were shot for a new music industry “fake” movie slated for release in 2019 or 2020.
Another Farmington band, the instrumental trio Cinematica, continue to ride the success of their debut album “Ultraviolet Waterfall” in March. The group already have a May comeback engagement at the famed Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood as a co-headliner, in addition to other engagements in San Diego and Tempe, Ariz. Cinematica plans to return to the studio in the summer or fall of 2019 to record their second disc for release in 2020.
Meanwhile, the band will see some of their songs featured in the new independent film “Aurora’s Law”, which was filmed in the Farmington area earlier this year and debuted in the video for her single “Galaga” – which was directed by local independent filmmaker Brent. Garcia – in October. Garcia’s “Aurora’s Law” showcases the acting skills of Steven Michael Quezada from “Breaking Bad” and Quinton Aaron, who starred in “The Blind Side”.
Another independent film with a strong local flavor was released in early 2018. Farmington High School alumni Mark Gould and Greg Tucker collaborated on “Gone Are the Days,” a western starring Lance Henriksen, Tom Berenger and Danny Trejo. Gould directed the production, while Tucker wrote the screenplay.
Finally, the Farmington Public Library launched its most ambitious business in its history in March when it opened the “Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons” traveling art exhibit. The show celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Sendak’s classic children’s tale “Where are the Wild Things” and showcased his original drawings and sculptures. The exhibition remained on view until April 22 and attracted thousands of visitors.