Story by Deb Peterson | Photographed by Deb Peterson.
“Art is like relationships. It’s passionate at first.”
That’s what artist Louise Derryberry-Reynolds of Spring Street Arts tells me as she glances around her studio on the square in Jasper, Arkansas. Louise knows how to keep that early passion alive in her art year after year. She picks up a piece of dichroic glass and turns it over to reveal how what she originally thought was a mistake turned out to be a lovely new technique.
“People expect your art to stay the same,” Louise says, “but mine changes from morning to night every day.”
She doesn’t allow herself to get attached to old techniques, but she doesn’t throw them away either, and therein lies her secret.
When Louise begins work on a new idea, she thinks about its origins first, wonders which of her old techniques she might combine with it, and allows the idea to evolve.
“My new thing is PMC,” Louise says, “precious metal clay that is 99 percent silver or gold. I’m using my old linoleum blocks with it.”
The results gleam in Louise’s jewelry display case. Throughout her warm studio are an abundance of other examples of Louise’s creativity — fused glass, dichroic jewelry, gorgeous hand-painted watercolor silk scarves, stoneware pottery, pen and ink drawings — most influenced by water.
Born in Tokyo to a Japanese mom and Irish dad from Missouri, Louise, 53, found Jasper by way of El Paso, Texas, where she grew up, and Seward, Alaska, where she tired of the lack of seasons and headed south in search of an artist’s colony.
She kept looking until she found the Buffalo River in 1995.
“I love it,” Louise says of the river. “The transparency of the water… I still have passion for it.”
Even Louise’s husband is connected to water.
“Ivan is known as the water man,” she says. He maintains the water lines in nearby counties.
Just as she links the old with the new in her art, Louise stays connected to her Japanese roots in an American way. Stunningly beautiful Japanese kimonos adorn the walls in Louise’s studio. On a rack hang shorter haori jackets in more muted tones.
Louise’s creativity is wearing off on me. I choose a haori to wear as a blazer (it hides the hips so nicely!) and a silk scarf in gorgeous watercolor teals.
“We all have something to feel artful and vital about,” she says. “When we express love and passion, it always comes back tenfold, whether it’s about cooking, relationships, art, music. I don’t want to eat anything from an angry cook.”
You can reach Louise at 870-446-2521.
M! Feb/Mar 2011.