True Blue-Green (Chrysocolla & jet, 3-piece set) by Mara Loeb.
Mara Loeb is the River Gallery’s Featured Artist for January 2014.
Mara came to Monroe in 1985 as the Costume Designer at the then NLU, spending six years dividing her time between teaching and costuming, directing, and acting. Her education includes both art and theatre degrees, so it was a good fit. She was also active in regional and community theatre before that time in Portland, Oregon at the Wilson Center for the Arts; in community Theatre in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada; and in several other states and cities. As the 5th of eight children raised in rural Iowa, it was a chance to get center stage for a change!
In 1991 Mara moved to Carbondale, Illinnois to get a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at SIU. Her dissertation examined family storytelling, a constant passion of all the Loeb family members. In 1995 she returned to Monroe, because she “had never found people whom I enjoyed more, or who were more fun to live around.” In 2002 Mara was appointed Director of International Student Programs and Studies, in addition to maintaining a half-time teaching load in Communication Studies, and she has savored all the personalities and cultures that this puts her in touch with.
Mara says, “To keep my artist identity fed, I have been involved with both the Young Troupe and the Strauss Theatre Center. A few years ago I made huge puppets (15 to 20 feet tall!) for a Russian story theatre project that Cathy Webb directed. What an adventure that was! There was a lovely princess, a handsome prince, an Evil Tsar, the Tsar of the Sea a supernatural fellow, a foolish musician, and even an eight foot tall horse. In 2007 I signed on to do the fantasy costumes for the Strauss Theatre Center production of Beauty and the Beast–we’re talking Lumiere the candlestick, dancing plates and silverware, Cogsworth the clock, really any costume that had to be “engineered. It must have been successful because Marcy Hall and I shared the Outstanding Costumes award for the season.”
Mara stated “Since there are at least 24 hours in any day, I have also developed my own jewelry making company, Ravenworks, and I have a booth at a few fests a year. Until recently I have made my annual appearance at the Harvest Herb Festival at St. Patrick’s in West Monroe, but I have also appeared at the Cooper Young Festival in Memphis, the Ruston Peach Fest, and the Ruston Studio Tour. Jewelry making came out of my costuming, since it (along with building hats) was the most fun of that job!”
Mara says that she loves “to work with natural materials like Coral, Quartz, Jasper, Chalk Turquoise (Magnasite), and Freshwater Pearls (my addiction!). I think I must have been a magpie in a previous life because I am drawn to everything shiny! My “Sierra Club Cameos” are slabs of Agate mounted on leather and circles with seed beads and chips of White Topaz, Quartz Crystal, or whatever else the agate suggests. It is designed in cooperation with nature. My Beadery (the workshop devoted to my treasures) is creative chaos, but one shiny thing leads to another you know! Each season inspires me to work with different textures, colors and styles so there is always something new coming along. Recently I have been exploring quartz crystal chips and pewter snowflakes, magical! I love jewelry that can do more than one thing so my “Lariat” necklaces can be worn five ways (six if you are slim enough to use it as a belt!). “
“A few years back I teased my five sisters that I was going to make “Menopause Jewelry” that combined stones said to calm the emotions, balance the hormones, aid memory, and speed healing. The combination was less than lovely so they became my Menopause Charms, suitable to hang on a purse, or swing at someone! (Just kidding). Some pieces take a long time to gestate but others fly to completion. I don’t feel like a work is finished until someone sees it so I hope you will visit the gallery.”
“I am thrilled to be a new member of the River Gallery family. Monroe has such a lively and supportive arts community, it is a great place to grow your skills and enjoy the talents of others.”
Ouachita River Art Gallery is the oldest and largest co-op gallery in the state. We are grateful to the local community for the continued support of the arts in our area. The gallery is at 308 Trenton Street, West Monroe, and is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is always free. Gallery member’s work can also be seen at the Ouachita River Art Gallery’s extension gallery located in the lobby of Ouachita Independent Bank/Bankers Mortgage Plaza at 18th and Louisville in Monroe. Call 322-2380 for more information or visit www.ouachitariverartgallery.com.