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Dales Gillan, wood carver, works on the community project in front of the La Veta School of Arts. The project is dedicated to saving a 100-year-old cottonwood tree off Ryus Ave. Photo by Kara Mason

A conversation with La Veta School of Arts President and Board Director Peggy Zehring

Browsing through the art galleries on La Veta’s Main Street you’ll occasionally hear, “We’re Colorado’s mini Taos.” The Southwest art is seemingly just as prevalent, and almost everybody you run into has some kind of background in art. Even Hwy. 12 from La Veta to Cuchara feels very similar to the High Road to Taos between the tiny art mecc…

Browsing through the art galleries on La Veta’s Main Street you’ll occasionally hear, “We’re Colorado’s mini Taos.” The Southwest art is seemingly just as prevalent, and almost everybody you run into has some kind of background in art. Even Hwy. 12 from La Veta to Cuchara feels very similar to the High Road to Taos between the tiny art mecca and Santa Fe.Peggy Zehring and her husband David founded the La Veta School of Arts, which seems to now be the center of the art community, in 2000. “We have been offering creative art experiences for people of all ages ever since,” Peggy said. Workshops at the school range from traditional painting to art welding.  Peggy received a fine arts degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago and has been an art teacher since 1977. The following is a conversation with her about “Colorado’s mini Taos.”PULP: When did the art scene in La Veta really start growing? Peggy Zehring: Huerfano County has a long artistic tradition.  In the 60s many artists moved to communes here from New York City.  La Veta has had the Spanish Peaks Arts Council (SPACe) since the 80s, but the scene here really started taking off around 2000 with The La Veta School of the Arts, the expansion of SPACe and many Public Artworks Projects.PULP:What do you think the big draw is here for artists? Zehring: Anyone who comes to La Veta is immediately struck by its beautiful setting at the foot of the Spanish Peaks. La Veta itself also has a long and fascinating history.PULP: Right now there’s a big community project in front of the La Veta School of the Arts. How did that get started? Zehring: The artists of La Veta claimed what was left of a healthy 100-year-old cottonwood tree after if was taken down in 2013. This spring, the La Veta School of the Arts and the Spanish Peaks Arts Council decided to collaborate making it a  Public Artworks Project. A committee was formed which  solicited woodcarvers to submit proposals. Dale Gillan’s proposal was selected. Our committee is thrilled with Dale’s work so far and expect to see it finished by fall.  PULP: Are community projects pretty regular and do a lot of people get involved? It seems like almost everybody in La Veta is involved with some aspect of art.Zehring: You are right. LVSA has sponsored 14 public artworks project banners which have hung on Main Street since 2005 and were originally created by high school students in a collaboration between LVSA and La Veta High School. Now, everyone in La Veta is encouraged to create a banner.  In 2007, two local sculptors created two wind-propelled public artworks which hang at both ends of Main Street. Two public works park benches were create…
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A conversation with La Veta School of Arts President and Board Director Peggy Zehring
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