The project is intended to show the creative side of agriculture.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Call it “Artist Eye on the Farm Guy.”

In a program intended to foster understanding between the people who work the land and the people who eat the food, a dozen Northwest artists are being recruited to live on farms in Washington, Oregon or Idaho.

Each artist will create two works of art about the experience.

“We’re talking about a little culture shock between the two,” said Don Stuart of the Northwest office of the American Farmland Trust, which is running the project in conjunction with the Maryhill Museum of Art near Goldendale.

“My vision is that in 2005 or ’06, we’ve got an art exhibit at a museum in the heart of Portland or Seattle and we’ve got some farmers and artists making little presentations surrounding the art,” Stuart said.

The artists will be free to create anything they want, said Lee Musgrave, special projects officer for the Maryhill Museum.

More than 40 artists have already applied to be among the dozen chosen, he said.

“They must be given carte blanche,” Musgrave said. “It’s conceivable the artist could come up with something the farmer wouldn’t even recognize as artwork.”

Of course, it’s also possible the farmer could grow things, like wheat or pigs, that the artist does not recognize as bagels or bacon.

The artists will be expected to spend at least two weeks living on the farm, where they can participate in “a little manure shoveling and a little cow milking,” Stuart said.

Four farmers each will be selected in Washington, Oregon and Idaho for the project.

The artists are expected to visit the farms next year and create art for an exhibition in 2005.

The two groups are currently raising the estimated $150,000 to cover expenses and mount exhibitions of the artwork.

The American Farmland Trust is a national organization that works to stop the loss of productive farmland and promote environmentally friendly farming practices.

The trust hopes the artist program highlights that farmers are good stewards of the land, said Stuart, who is based in Puyallup.

“Farmers do a great deal of very creative and inherently interesting work,” Stuart said. “Most of that isn’t known by people.”

The result too often is city-based legislation that hurts farmers, he said.

“A lot of decisions about their lives are made by people in urban areas who don’t understand the things they do,” Stuart said. “Anything that fills the information gap is good.”

The artists will range from painters to sculptors to printmakers, and the farmers will be equally diverse in the type of crop they produce, economics and ethnic background.

Musgrave said artists will be chosen based on their proposal and the quality of their past work.

“We’re not going to pick 12 artists who all do pretty landscapes,” he said.

On the Net:

American Farmland Trust:

AP-ES-10-08-03 0204EDT

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