Beverly Taylor takes every chance she has to promote the arts in Farmington. Photograph by Jeremy Wade Shockley.
WHEN BEVERLY TAYLOR returned to her hometown with her husband, Tom, she planned to help run his family hardware and lumber business on Farmington’s Main Street. But in the early 1990s, chain stores came to town and the business went under. So Taylor, who graduated from the University of New Mexico with a fine arts degree, transformed the historic lumber facility into Artifacts 302 and divided the building into artist studios. “Within two weeks, I had all of the spaces rented,” she says.
Art for Art’s Sake: When Taylor left Farmington for UNM, she dreamed of returning as a K–12 art teacher. But art history and the hands-on practice of jewelry making and drawing captivated her. “I wanted to soak in making art,” Taylor says. “I didn’t care about the future and how training as an artist would translate in Farmington.”
Gallery Views: In 1999, Taylor expanded Artifacts 302 to include a storefront gallery, which has benefited from her experience as an artist who practices calligraphy, acrylic painting, watercolors, drawing, bookbinding, and more. “Many gallerists only know the selling side,” she says. “I know the techniques and I can say, ‘This is how this was made.’ ”
Week by Week: Between COVID-19 closures and construction on Main Street, Artifacts 302 had to adjust its hours. So Taylor began baking bread on Mondays to help create a routine. “It’s an 18-hour, chunky, slow-rise loaf,” she says. “In June, I drew a picture of a loaf in my journal and thought, I’ve baked 50 loaves of bread. Now that number is 100 or more.”
Tuning Up the Economy: Artifacts 302 helped elevate artists who were previously unseen in the Farmington area. “I was amazed at the caliber of art being produced on kitchen tables and in garages and basements,” she says. “They just didn’t have a place to take it. The challenge was locals understanding that these artists are our neighbors and we need to support them, just like we support our mechanic on the corner.”
Class Act: In the early 1990s, Taylor taught a variety of art classes at San Juan College, which helped spark her artistic rejuvenation and the eventual opening of Artifacts 302. Having to cancel art classes at the gallery—especially for young people—has been tough during the pandemic. “I miss the interaction, the gleam in their eye when they get it, and it comes out in a drawing or a painting,” she says.
Second Looks: Taylor continually works to support Farmington, which has faced economic challenges because of volatility in the oil and gas industries. As a member of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents for 13 years, she recalls pushing hard to get Farmington some recognition. “I convinced the board to have a meeting up here, and they were pretty amazed,” she recalls. “It just took getting them in the door. I take any opportunity I can to promote our historic downtown, community, and area.”