Advanced High School Art Students Exhibit — a review

Beka Pepiton, artist and instructor at Pagosa Springs High School, is clearly doing a fabulous job teaching art. The current show at the Arts Council’s gallery is clear evidence of this fact.

The Advanced High School Art Students Exhibit, up until Tuesday May 26, is well worth taking the time to see. All of the work is college level. Some of the pieces are what I would expect to see in a college graduate student show.

I was first drawn to the acrylics painted by Jacob Faber. All of his paintings in this group are fresh and modern while speaking cleverly about Jacob’s world. My favorite of these is called “Captured Thoughts.” It is playful and thought provoking.

From here I begin to glance around the whole gallery to take in the exhibit as a whole. No stinkers here.

I’m next drawn to the different Giclée works. Giclée is a term for fine art that is produced from a digital image and is printed using a high-end inkjet printer. These works are usually on canvas or high quality paper.  This medium is what was missing from the art shows in which I participated back in high school. The process was first developed in the ’90s. Kudos to Ms. Pepitone for including modern art techniques. There are some stirring mixed media pieces that also speak to this openness to be modern.

There is a vibrant red that I love in a couple of the Giclée prints. Studying photos taken and beautifully enhanced by Caleb Pringle, I realize that his subject matter is quite deep. When viewing this show, one must read the titles that the students have chosen for their work because these explain so much about the work and the artist. Caleb’s photos do this in a way that is mature far beyond his years, for example Pringle’s “Abandonment.”

Betsy Schur’s Giclée works are quite beautiful. Her vertical triptych, “Failed Compromise” perfectly captures that feeling of wanting to photograph what one experiences as they travel by car. A breathtaking landscape during that time of day when the light is putting on a spectacular show. The middle photo in this triptych truly moves me the way good art always does. I completely forget for a moment that I’m looking at a student’s work and admire this photo for its honest brilliance.

The beautifully painted O’Keeffe-esque oils by Rachel Jensen would be beautiful additions to any sophisticated Southwestern art collection. They have a natural Southwestern feel that isn’t too pushy. I also loved some of the chalk pastel illustrations by Nichole Kazarinoff. The wonderful illustrations of her woodland creatures make me think of the Paddington Bear and Pooh stories’ illustrations. I cherish this type of art and her work just lifts the spirits.

These are only a few of the highlights from this wonderful exhibit. As I’ve explored these students work, the personalities come blazing through. It’s so heartwarming to see this impressive quality of work coming from right here in the heart of our community.  I came away from this show with one more thing about Pagosa in which I have tremendous pride … our high school art program and its great teens who deserve so much credit for their maturity and hard work.