An edge to new ideas for the arts

Before Charlie and Rebekah Pepiton moved to Pagosa Springs, I had the privilege of meeting them and I knew then that there was something special about them.

Maybe it was because they were not afraid to dream and to dream big. The Pepitons are energetic and full of life, youthful with expectancy and faith, and you want to be a part of their vision. They knew they were destined for Pagosa and it was only a matter of time. Their vision for the arts in Pagosa was deep in their souls. There were a lot of things that had to fall into place before they could make a change, such as leaving secure jobs and selling their home in East Texas and finding jobs in Pagosa, which is not always easy to do.

Having taught art in an East Texas High School for two years after receiving her master’s in art education from the University of Idaho, Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton received a call and an offer to teach in the art department at the Pagosa Springs High School. The story unfolds from there. It is hard to write about Rebekah without including Charlie. So many things they do for the arts in Pagosa go hand in hand.

I caught the fire in Rebekah for the arts at the high school when I interviewed her recently. Many of her students are participating in the All-Community Art Contest hosted by the Co-op.

The opportunities for the art students have mushroomed in the last year or so. There are several new programs that are being established. Rebekah works with the other art teachers from the elementary, intermediate and junior high schools, ensuring that the children’s art education will not overlap, but will continue in a progressive manner through high school.

Some of high school art students are participating with an Fine Arts Magnet Academy which is patterned partly after the Denver School of the Arts, but Pagosa’s is a school within a school. They have developed four master classes, one from each area of the arts: visual, music, theatre and video and TV programs. There are 20 students who are selected to be a part of this special school. It is known as “FAMA.”

The goal of FAMA is to give the students a solid understanding of practicing artists, art appreciation, and how artists affect the culture. It is also preparing them for after graduation from high school for art school, college or a career. Rebekah has worked with the students in helping them to create an art portfolio for scholarships also.

The students are also learning to give to the community. The students made 20 ceramic vases for Hospice. They were used as centerpieces at the auction, “Soup for the Soul.” They also are working with the idea of making soup bowls for another community event. And, they have visited the different galleries in Pagosa, shown at the opening of the new hospital and will be visiting artists’ studios and attending workshops given by local artists.

Away from the school setting, the arts and ideas continue for Charlie and Rebekah through drama and theatre. They are the founders and directors of the Square Top Repertory Theater. You may have attended some of their workshops, plays and events at the Power House and the community center. And they have published a book of Rebekah’s photography and prints which are available for purchase. For more information on current works, visit www.squaretoptheatre.com.

Charlie and Rebekah Pepiton give beyond the call of duty. They are always brainstorming and giving an edge to new ideas for the arts, not afraid to introduce new inventive ways to their students and to the community, and possibilities of bigger dreams for our future. The Pepitons dreams are coming to fruition in Pagosa Springs. Blessings to Charlie and Rebekah.

Be sure to come to the Artisan’s Co-op reception for the Artists of the High School show on Sunday, May 17. Many of Rebekah’s students will be showing their artwork.

Life in the Artist’s Lane

The subject of truth has stirred a response from several of our readers. I love sharing thoughts and questions from others who stretch us. The following is a commentary on truth from reader BL from Clovis, N.M., who is responding to another reader’s comments.

 LA from Arizona wrote, “I have trouble with the idea of truth. Someone once said that ‘Truth is beauty and beauty is truth.’ What did they mean? I remember once as a graduate student sitting in a seminar class and making the statement regarding Jackson Pollack’s painting having no meaning. There followed a long discussion about the meaning of the word ‘meaning.’ Obviously, what I was looking for was some sort of literal significance that I could enunciate.”

Reader BL responds, “I agree! We all have a tendency to get hung up on words! Well for my two cents, this is what I walk in. First allow me to say, I am a question mark! I ask questions, and that is how I process thought.

“In my life it takes me back to my fifth grade class in social studies. The lesson was simply ‘rice grows in water.’ How can rice grow in water? The teacher said that in China they grow rice in the water. I thought, OK, the teacher said it, so it must be true, but I did not believe her. So it was not truth to me.

“Well not until I went to my friend’s house and looked it up in her encyclopedia then I learned, they stop the water at each end so that it does not move!  Now it became truth to a fifth grader. All this is to say that it is important that what we speak is truth, but it is not truth until we know it.

“A truth may be someone else’s truth, but how long are we to walk in other’s truth before making it our truth? I recently read that King David spoke these words: ‘I know my God will deliver me for he delights in me.’ Wow, what a truth David knew. So I looked into this verse, and guess what?  David was 87 years old when he said these words. I’m sure he did not know that as truth when he went out to slay the giant at 17.

“Life happens! So let us not get caught up in meaning, but rather search for truth and truth happens when we look for it. I think this is more than my two cents.”

The Final Brushstroke: Truth doesn’t change, but truth changes us.

Comments from Readers

“In response to the article, “Beauty is in the Heart”, personally, I have learned to see the art in nature and be absolutely amazed by it, but I cannot translate what I see onto paper and that is where the gift of the artist lies. Therefore, it is not just that the artist can see but that special sight is married with ability – a gift to translate and transfer onto a medium.” — A writer from Minnesota.

Quote for the Week

“I feel as though I haven’t seen an object until I actually start painting it.” — Janet Fish.

What’s happening at the Co-op

We are excited to announce that the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op is now receiving artwork from high school artists. The deadline is today. On Sunday May 17, the Co-op will hosta reception for all the artists who participate. The winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded.


Photo courtesy Betty Slade
Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton, along with her husband, Charlie, has become a mainstay in the promotion of the arts and the development of arts skills in the community. Wilkins-Pepiton teaches art at Pagosa Springs High School and is one of the creators and chief participants in the school’s Fine Arts Magnet Academy.