Flowers and Flow - A celebration of floral artist Janet Peiffer’s creativity and a town bursting with more
By Jen Sinkler
Everyone is talking about the storm today. The overwhelm of water in the eavestroughs, liquid basements.
Floral artist Janet Peiffer’s obituary [http://www.hollandcoblefuneralhome.com/obituary/janet-peiffer] noted that she was an artist and a perfectionist, that she took immense pride in all of her work and loved her community, her family deeply.
I am new to town again, 23 years since I left. Back again, suddenly and completely. A surprise, even to myself, as of this summer, and Janet was one of my first new friends. We’d made plans to find and take an art class together. She was planning to attend her first neighborhood workout group (the free weekly kettlebell get-together I’ve been hosting in my parents’ backyard) that Wednesday after the Saturday it became too late. She’d tried to recruit other members on Main Street. My core is weak, she’d told me. Everyone says that.
She loved my mom, told me that, too, with an intensity that I appreciate. And at Janet’s memorial service, it became clear how much she cherished her relationships with all of her regulars. One of them just purchased the Blooming Endeavors building, and I recently listened to him tell yet more stories about the kinds of magic she created: filling his house with dozens of bouquets and living plants as a birthday surprise for his wife, an art collector who paints.
At workout group, a good friend told me that her kids called Janet “the barefoot lady.” That she worked barefoot in her shop comes up often, still. Makes me smile. Stories told at her service centered around the tough terrain and cold temperatures she remained unshodden through. Unfazed.
Janet had shared her insights and observations with me about what she saw to be the creative needs of the community, lamented the traffic directing toward discount stores over local wares and treasures.
This town is bursting with art and artists. My first day back, woodworker, metal sculptor, and family friend Scott Patterson of Last Stand Forge and Sawmill [https://www.facebook.com/The-Last-Stand-Forge-And-Sawmill-1811595979132840/] is the one who helped my parents and me unload what I’d brought. His work had been displayed in Blooming Endeavors, and I bought a broken heart.
Gifted creative Cassie Corbin worked alongside Janet conceiving various portable wonderlands, and her mother, Paula Corbin, is a skilled graphic artist, as is Ryan Hudnut, whose paintings also hang on the walls of impressions salon. Another mother-daughter duo, Patti and Katie Casper, each explore a variety of mediums and merchandise.
Design and restoration experts Sandy Handeland Carter and Joe Carter of Broad Street Market [https://www.facebook.com/broadstreetmarketiowa/] breathe life into spaces and places, while former art teacher Susan Hutchinson decorates The Daily Grind coffee shop with seasonal grace. Founder Annette Deering hosts coloring club there every Thursday at 9 a.m., where staple Arline Vogt combines colors in a way that will sizzle your socks off. She swats compliments like flies, but look. Look and see. Her work is on the walls. Fellow regulars and business dynamos Patti Collins and Margi Constantino, who founded Sweet Surrender Honey [https://www.sweetsurrenderhoney.com/] and helped launch Grubb’s Premium Popping Corn [https://www.grubbpopcorn.com/] into the stratosphere, are often there discussing t-shirt design ideas and spinoff products in the works.
I’ve picked up thrilling patterns at Three Sisters Fabric & Fashion [https://www.facebook.com/Thsisfab/] in the hopes of making homemade matting for frames, and Barbie Ahrens-Lowry’s Chic Sisters Boutique, [https://www.facebook.com/The-Chic-Sisters-Boutique-324940984776856/] housed within, includes art blocks she mod podges and embellishes herself. Coral Lowry’s drawings of buildings and cityscapes are so meticulous it appears you could stroll down their streets, around their corners.
The names of more makers keep coming up all the time — this doesn’t begin to corral a comprehensive list, which would include quilters, writers, singers, and various other creative types.
None of them may be news to you. I am new again, though, and it is all new to me. I am grateful for these local access points to the deepest, most expansive parts of ourselves. For the webs and connections they provide between and within us.
I want to learn, I’d told Janet, in looking at some of her work. I just floof flowers around till they look good to me, I’d said. “That’s all I do,” she replied, smiling. We were new to each other, but instant. The generosity of her teaching was apparent, and flooded over me.
She reminded me of another florist friend of mine: Cookie Silverti of Betty Ann’s Italian Market Florist, located in the heart of South Philadelphia, where I’m coming from. Who operates in similar ways. Both provided a haven and a home when I was new, or new again. Who made home feel like home again. So many are doing that for me now. Thank you. Thank you, Janet.
I felt her pull, do still as she ascends, transcends, and lives on in us all.
Jen Sinkler is a longtime writer and editor based (again) in Montezuma. Find her most everyplace @JenSinkler.