Pagosa Arts Initiative working to bring more public art to area


By John Finefrock

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Arts Initiative recently commissioned a mural by Markus Hughes, and has more plans in the works to bring more art to Pagosa Springs. 

“We’re hoping that through that mural [it shows] the arts council really does mean business as far as arts go,” said Sherry Phillips, chair of the board for the Pagosa Arts Initiative. 

The mural, still in progress, is on the side of the Goodman’s Department Store building downtown and will portray Pagosa Springs in all four seasons. The mural spills from the store wall onto the sidewalk. Two of the seasons are completed so far.

Phillips explained the group is trying to raise money to finish the mural and for other art-related projects in the town and the county.

“ is to finish paying for Markus’ mural ... If we go over that, that money is specifically earmarked for public art in the future, because obviously public art is not free, we have to pay the artists. So we want to be ahead of the game because we have lots of really good ideas going forward,” Phillips said.

She added, “We really want to promote and support art in Pagosa in all forms. It’s not just — let’s say the theater, which is performing arts — we want to promote visual arts, literary arts ... All of the different arts. That is our goal,” Phillips said.

Phillips explained the group is moving forward with other plans to put more art around Pagosa Springs, including putting murals on dumpsters, dumpster fences, electrical boxes, and other items around the town and the county.

The Arts Initiative is also in partnership with Pagosa Springs Elementary School, where students are making artistic, weatherproof plates that will eventually be dotted around the area.

She noted the Arts Initiative also gives out scholarships, with $5,000 going to one high school senior each year for the past few years.

“We know public art brings in revenue,” Phillips said. “I think about Vancouver all the time because Vancouver is a huge public art community. People plan their vacations around it. We’ve got that gorgeous Riverwalk here and there’s lots of things that could happen.”

Phillips suggested the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered initiatives like art classes, where students and teachers alike are wary about meeting in person due to health concerns, but she hopes they get back into full swing soon.

More information about the Pagosa Arts Initiative, including a link to donate to the organization, can be found at