Arts’ Desire: Raejean Clark-German
By Jason Machulski
Arts’ Desire is a unique art studio located at 1322 Ryan St. in downtown Lake Charles run by Raejean Clark-German. The JAM caught up with this talented artist to find out more about her studio and her vision.
JAM: Tell us a little about yourself.
RCG: Art has always fascinated me. My dad took me to my first art lesson in 1960 when I was four. I was captivated by just walking into that room filled with color, the exotic smell of paint, and limitless possibilities for self-expression. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by imaginative adults. I watched my mom and her friends incorporate discarded architectural elements into our homes as décor WAY before it was being done on today’s scale. As an adult I worked as a draftsman. When I had children I became a stay-at-home mom, so I was THAT mom, the one always volunteering to organize art projects at school. As we were transferred to different cities, I made sure we got out in the community to explore local art. I believe that children’s self esteem is affected by seeing local art celebrated. When I moved to Lake Charles after marrying Norman German, one of the art forms I explored was Gyotaku, or fish-printing. Although Gyotaku is rooted in ancient Japan, my focus is on fish caught in OUR river. My work can be seen at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital as part of the permanent “Art For The Soul” exhibit. Louisiana Life magazine featured my work in 2009.
JAM: What led you to open Arts’ Desire?
RCG :When I moved to Lake Charles, I was looking for a creative outlet. There are several art groups that offer lessons by the talented artists here. They’re all awesome but I wanted to do something a bit different. I’m not a “joiner” and didn’t want to commit to a series of lessons or group meetings. I tend to gravitate towards the quirkier end of the art spectrum. I created a studio where anyone can come in and try their hand at an activity like silk-scarf painting or pottery, without committing to a block of lessons.
As much as I love creating, there is no better feeling than helping another person discover their creativity. Arts’ Desire is a place where YOU become the artist. Anyone who has been in the studio knows I have ONE RULE and I’m very strict about it. That rule is … take a deep breath, and relax. It’s not a race, not a competition. It’s you being creative and having fun.
JAM: What does Arts’ Desire have to offer?
RCG: Arts’ Desire is for all ages. We have ceramic items to paint, ranging from piggy banks, princesses, mermaids and motorcycles to decorative items. At Christmastime, we help print baby hands and feet on ornaments or platters that will become family heirlooms. I have a platter with four generations of handprints representing my mom, me, my daughter, and my granddaughter.
One of my favorite activities is silk-scarf painting. We start with a white silk scarf, then drip and drizzle beautiful silk dyes on it. I heat-set the scarf so it can be worn home. For those interested in clay, we have wheel-thrown pottery classes taught by Julie Dallas, as well as hand-built pottery sessions.
Silver-clay jewelry is fun to make. The material consists of microscopic particles of pure silver and a water-soluble, non-toxic, organic binder which burns off during firing. Roll out the silver-clay, texture and shape it, then fire it to create earrings or a pendant that you can wear home.
You can also paint a canvas. We have pre-drawn images to choose from or we’ll custom sketch something for you. Or, try your hand at upcycled art using our assortment of “Junque.”
One of our most unusual activities is Fish Printing, or Gyotaku. I tell people that I’ve “Cajun-ized” the original Japanese art form by printing the fish on rustic boards, rather than the traditional rice paper. We take redfish, striped bass, and other fish caught by my pathological fisherman husband and paint the fish, then print its image on the board. It makes an awesome piece of art.
In cooler weather, we host outdoor Raku firings. Guests can participate in the primal process of taking Raku pots from the glazing process all the way to placing horsehair or feathers on the red-hot pots when they come out of the outdoor kiln.
Get your friends together and schedule an “Art Night” or “Date Night.” Come make pottery or engage in any of our other activities as an alternative to the usual. And any of our activities can be turned into a party. We host bridal parties, corporate events, family get-togethers, and birthday parties for all ages. We are available for field trips and fund raisers as well.
Additionally, Arts’ Desire’s retail area has a selection of artisan-created items for sale.
JAM: What are your long-term goals?
RCG: I hope my studio continues to be a place where people of all ages can explore their creativity for years to come. I am always looking for projects that I would enjoy and I’ll add those to our list of activities. And, I think it’s important to highlight our local resources. From the storm-drain covers embossed with “City of Lake Charles,” the I-10 bridge pistols, the beautiful driftwood, to the fish we use in print-making…my goal is to open your eyes to our visually interesting area. Let’s celebrate the ordinary to see how extra-ordinary our home is.
I am grateful to my civic-minded landlords, who have enabled me to start the studio and continue to run it at such an awesome location. If people could see the look on the face of even one child when they say to me, “I did that? I love it!” when I hold up their creation, then they’d know why I do this. And they’d know how important art is in building a strong, confident, self-assured community.
JAM: How can we learn more about Arts’ Desire?
RCG: Our website has information and photos. The Facebook page is a great way to check in to see what we’re doing, as well as to request information. I don’t keep “regular” hours because sometimes I’m at the studio late in the evening to facilitate a private party so I’ll open later the next day. Drop-ins are welcome, but it’s best to make an appointment. Our phone number is (337) 564-5338. Message me through our Facebook page or email me at rjc@artsdesireLC.com.