Tag Archives: Janet Riehl

Bliss + Work = Results! Case study: Women and Wardrobe: The Riehl Collection

Janet portrait

Photo by Henry Lohmeyer.  Essay by Janet Grace Riehl

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

 –Joseph Campbell

Yes, sometimes it does happen that way. In 2011 serendipity entered my life and I followed the thread. I started making art again using the small canvas of my phone. Three years later, I’m having a show. All along the way this new art love unfolded organically. Friends saw the possibilities and flooded me with suggestions for replication and marketing. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to protect my refuge of bliss.

But Robert Powell, the director of Portfolio Gallery in St. Louis, never let it drop. Finally, he simply said: “Come talk to me.” And now? We have Women & Wardrobe: The Riehl Collection—an exhibit and fundraiser.

People moved in to help me make it happen. Curiously, for this celebration of women these helper-angels were all men: printing, framing, and showing the work. If you are in St. Louis, join us at the opening. If you can’t make the opening, the exhibit runs through the end of August. Just call Robert Powell (314) 533-3323 and he’ll arrange a time for you to see the work. If you’re not in the area, go to my website to see all 30 images I’ll be showing. 

I can’t say it much better than in my press release, so here you go.

Women & Wardrobe: The Riehl Collection


3514 Delmar Blvd, St Louis, MO 63103

Exhibit and Fundraiser

Opening reception August 2, 2014

7-9 p.m.

Artist Janet Riehl works big—or, did—exhibiting large-scale paintings, sculptures, and outdoor installations in California, New Mexico, Latin America, and Europe. But, sometimes things come in small packages as proved by “Women and Wardrobe: The Riehl Collection” opening at Portfolio Gallery August 2nd .

Riehl was dazzled by African expressions of beauty during her five years working in Ghana and Botswana. Thus began a love affair that still ripples through her life and art. The images in this exhibit with their creative use of color and pattern strongly reflect these African influences.

Presented for the first time these 30 high-quality framed images signed by the artist are culled from the 2,500 she’s made on her phone since 2011. Portfolio will receive all profits from the sale of Riehl’s work. Cards and books featuring women and wardrobe images ensure that something is available for all pocketbooks.  You can also see a slide show of the larger body of work.

“I’d never imagined making digital art, let alone art on my phone,” says Riehl “I started by chance when a young friend asked for something to draw with. I reached for pen and paper in my purse, and she looked a bit crestfallen.” That night Riehl downloaded her first app, called “Doodler”—thus dubbing the images “doodles.”

This unlikely media turned out to be just the right thing at just the right time. “My studio was always with me with no muss or fuss.” Whether in Illinois taking care of her father (now 98) or back in St. Louis she made art before going to sleep, when she woke-up, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or even in the grocery line.

“It was just fun and captivating with no pressure to be great or establish an empire. It made me happy. When I started sharing the images on Facebook, I discovered they made other people happy, too.” She encouraged those she met to try their hand at doodling. “It’s such a joy to see people entertaining the notion that they have a little art in them.”

She first met Robert Powell, Executive Director and founder of Portfolio Gallery and Education Center as she explored African-American arts and culture in St. Louis upon her return to the Midwest. “I loved everything about Portfolio: its mission, the power of the art shown, Robert’s dedication to community service and talent as a sculptor, the opportunity to meet artists—some internationally renowned—and the gorgeous 19th century residence that resonates with St. Louis’ history. It was a no-brainer to use my show as a way to raise funds for this organization that has brought so much not only to St. Louis but, really, to American culture.”

Who is Janet Riehl?

Janet Riehl is an award-winning artist, writer, and educator. She describes herself as a country girl who roamed the world and then came home.  Her art is in collections in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

In 1990 she mounted “Celebrating an African Experience,” an exhibit incorporating large-scale paintings on cloth, creative writing, chants, songs, dances, and ceremonies. The enthusiastic reception spurred her to earn a BFA from the California College of the Arts where she graduated with high distinction as a clay sculptor.

Janet’s focus on creating community through the arts led her to serve as West Coast Ambassador for An American Quilt, The Peace Project, and board member of EcoArts of Lake County. As Artist in Bioregional Residence (sponsored by University of California at Davis) she installed her art in state parks.

From large-scale paintings to sculpture to outdoor installations to digital art Riehl’s love of Africa ripples through.






Gold Medal Award for my father’s anthology  “Worth Remembering: The poetry of our heritage (and some of the stories).” Photo by Janet Riehl


by Janet Grace Riehl

Forget Penis Envy, Girls. Art Envy is what will do you in. Crank up the envy and watch your creative life drop dead in its tracks. It’s marked by a feeling of “If only…” and “Why not me…?” and “If I had…I could also…” and “Drat! Why are they getting the Pulitzer Prize? I stayed up later and turned in my homework on time.”

Maybe we envious types are sucked dry by our own envy. All that energy churning around in the gut instead of going into our art. All that attention plummeting outward instead of delving inward to nurture our art.  They have the talent and we don’t. They have the support and we don’t. They don’t work nearly as hard as we do, yet they win all the prizes and get the curtain calls. What’s up with that! And, heck, if I had computer equipment like that and my own study. And if I had a spouse who cooks, cleans, edits my work, and markets for me. Well, clearly, I could be successful, too.

While some of us are more plagued by Art Envy than others, I wonder how many creative people in the world have not felt this way—even a little—at some time or another?

Oh, dear. What to do?

  • Claim it and Name it. “Hello, my name is Janet, and I am struck dumb by Art Envy.”
  • Make it funny. A close friend and I use this formula to shift our view of situations that irk us. “It was sad, really, when Janet was struck dumb by Art Envy.” I mean, really, can you keep a straight face. Not us. We burst out in rollicking guffaws.
  • Up a tree without a paddle. Climb a tree with paper and pencil. See how long your hand can keep going until your legs can’t wrap around that limb anymore. Don’t fall! Be part of that Greater Mystery.
  • Declare Victory. What are your solid accomplishments? Make a gold medal with a blue ribbon. Invite your friends to an Acknowledgement Ceremony. You do have friends, right? “I, Janet, really have done some useful things in my life. So have others. Isn’t that a good thing?”

Have you experienced Art Envy? How did you give yourself a little more space to be yourself, just as you are, with whatever you have and don’t have? How did you find a way to write on?


 Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog. See the Creative Catalyst archive at http://bit.ly/9z1BQv.  Learn more about our audio book “Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music”at http://bit.ly/aZVd1e. Become a Riehlife Villager at http://www.riehlife.com