There is a saying that “the intelligent understand that the tomato is a fruit, and the wise know not to put a tomato into a fruit salad.” Well, there might be an addition to this saying that “the creative know, fruit or vegetable, the tomato is ripe for artistic interpretation.”

The Lawton Farmers Market is once again teaming up with the Leslie Powell Gallery and Arts for All this summer to hold the second annual Lawton Farmers Market Tomato Festival Art Competition. This competition will kickoff the Lawton Farmers Market Annual Tomato Festival with an art show reception.

The festival was first held in 2019, and though COVID-19 forced its cancelation in 2020, it is returning for 2021.

This year’s competition will see $2,000 in prize money awarded for the best tomato-themed artwork. The Freshest Tomato Award is $1,000, second place is $500 and there will be five Honorable Mentions awarded $100 each.

“This started last year with the first competition,” Bobbi Matchette, executive director of Arts for All, said. “The Farmers Market had been wanting to do an art show and they reached out to us since ‘we’re the art people,’ and of course we said we’d be happy to help.”

The Lawton Farmers Market Institute is a local organization which hosts the weekly Farmers Market event at the Great Plains Coliseum, and the Annual Tomato Festival. The Tomato Festival itself is a weekend-long event, running July 10-11, and includes activities such as a salsa contest, the Great Tomato Catch-Up Fun Run, giveaways, food trucks and live music.

The art for the Tomato Festival Art Competition is, of course, tomato themed. Each artist is allowed one entry. Artwork entered to the competition must have been completed within the past 24 months and not under the direction or supervision of an instructor. All artworks must be original and not reproductions. All mediums and materials will be accepted including two-dimensional and three-dimensional work.

The competition is open to artists 18 years of age or older, but there is a limit of 40 artists. Applications are first come, first serve. There is a $25, non-refundable entry fee for application. Artists need to submit their application, along with their entry fee, by hand or by mail to The Leslie Powell Gallery, 620 SW D, by 4 p.m. on June 4.

Artwork is then to be delivered to the gallery between June 28 and 30. Rules and details for the submission process, and the application, can be found in the Competition Prospectus, which is available for pick up at the Leslie Powell Gallery, or online at the gallery’s Facebook page.

“The Leslie Powell Gallery is, of course, a great venue and a great friend to the local arts groups, so it is the perfect place to host the competition,” Matchette said. “Arts for All is here to be a friendly, welcoming presence and to help spread the word about the competition to the community. And how wonderful is tomato art, I just think this is something really unique and different for people.”

For more information about the Tomato Festival Art Competition, call the Leslie Powell Gallery at 357-9526.

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