Obituary: Rebecca Peck Jones

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Artist and teacher Rebecca Peck Jones died in her sleep Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006 at her Riverside home. Rebecca was best known for her clay art and pottery, which she described as “a form of spiritual beauty that is concrete. You can drink out of it, eat out of it or hang it in your garden.”

She also had a passion for teaching and was co-founder of Riverside County’s high school art contest. She began art lessons at 12 in New Milford, Conn., with noted landscape and graphic artist Edith Newton. By her 20s, she had graduated with a master’s degree in fine arts from the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute, now California Institute of the Arts (Cal-Arts).

She continued to study art at numerous universities and to attend workshops with such notables as California watercolorist Rex Brandt and ceramic artist Marguerite Wildenhain, who was associated with the avant-garde Bauhaus School in Germany.

In the 1950s, Rebecca was a staunch supporter and participant at the Dog Pound, a 4-acre site at the old Riverside animal shelter on 14th Street, that artists leased from the city for $1 a year. (In 1967, the Riverside Art Museum replaced it.)

The Dog Pound had space for the type of free-wheeling sharing of creativity, knowledge, and arts and crafts equipment that Rebecca admired about Bauhaus. Rebecca taught art through many venues, beginning with the Telfair Art Academy that she helped to establish in Savannah, Ga., now Telfair Museum of Art.

In Riverside, she taught ceramics and sculpture at California Baptist University and in her private studio. She treasured the time she worked as assistant to Ray Miller, art director for the Riverside Unified School District and the Riverside Art Museum.

Earlier in her career, she edited the company magazine for Hunter Douglas Corp. and worked as an artist and writer for Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Los Angeles.

Rebecca sought to learn, work and understand “the spiritual side of life and mud” and to translate these ideas into clay. Some of her most compelling works were of the women, children and animals she sketched in Cairo, Egypt, and Amatenango del Valle, a tile and adobe village in Chiapas, Mexico.

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