The Coast News Group
Dan Peragine involving art students during the installation of his “Transpersonal” sculpture in the San Diego Botanic Garden’s current outdoor exhibition. Photo courtesy of Heather Main
A Brush with Art

Del Mar art teacher impacts youth

Art educator Dan Peragine makes a tangible difference in the lives of youth on a daily basis.Since his arrival in San Diego in 1989, Peragine has been sharing his sense of purpose and the gift of an outlet for creative expression with his art students at Del Mar’s Winston School, where he works with ‘learning-different” students challenged with Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Autism, and Asperger’s syndrome.The grandson of Italian immigrants, Peragine said of his early years, “As an adolescent in New York City I had a natural talent that seemed to follow in my grandfathers footsteps and it drove me.” He continued, “In high school, art was the only reason for me to go to school. You could say that it gave me the ability to communicate through the medium of paint and that in turn gave me purpose.”

He now spends his days imparting these gifts to his art students.

Expressing the value of arts education in schools, Peragine says, “Art and music are a form of literacy… It’s a viable component for learning, and it needs to be integrated into the curriculum.” He continues, “The visual and performing arts touch lives of all ages and backgrounds, instills critical thinking and creative problem solving, builds communities as well as brighten the lives of all who embrace the arts.”

Peragine earned both his bachelor’s and master’s in fine arts and teaching degrees at the University of Nebraska, after which he experienced a broad range of creative jobs, including working on a children’s educational television series for the Nebraska Department of Education and serving as director of arts and crafts at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

During these years he was awarded several public art commissions including massive works in stone, steel and bronze.

Since his relocation to Southern California, the prolific painter and sculptor has been a highly regarded member of the San Diego arts community, serving as juror for exhibitions and children’s arts shows for the Del Mar Arts Center, and being selected as one of eight judges for the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts’ grants selection program.

Looking back on his 24 years of teaching at The Winston School, Peragine says, “Sometimes they refer to me as the artist in residence here.” Pursuing his own work on weekends and after school on the school campus, he continues, “My studio is a shared learning environment, where the majority of my work is created as witnessed and shared with art students.”

Peragine encouraged his students’ involvement in the production and installation of his sculpture titled “Transpersonal,” which was recently selected for the San Diego Botanical Garden’s annual outdoor exhibition. Generous with his time and attention, Peragine says,” I share a lot of my process with the students, and I ask for feedback.”

It’s my belief that teachers who have invested as much in students as Dan Peragine has will surely have positive impact on generations yet to come.

See more about Dan Peragine and his work at