WARREN — On yet another rainy evening in Southeast Arkansas, the official grand opening of the Rob Reep Studio on 225 South Main Street in Warren took place on Feb. 21.
A packed house welcomed purveyors of mountain music, the trio dubbed “Common Folk.”
The three-piece group swapped out playing acoustic guitar, penny whistle, dulcimer and claw hammer banjo with haunting vocal accompaniment. Judson Steinbeck, who traveled all the way from Lacrosse, Wisconsin, to take part of the festivities, was joined by fellow players Duane Porterfield and Grace Stormont of Mountain View.
Their stirring traditional renditions and fresh takes on more modern compositions mesmerized the gathered for more than an hour while the steady beat of rain kept time on the outdoor pavement.
Surrounded by walls covered in his paintings, artist, filmmaker and studio owner Rob Reep, along with his wife, Jessi, took time during a brief break in the entertainment to share their vision for this oasis of culture in the heart of downtown Warren.
“We’re open from 9-to-5 Monday through Friday and 10-to-5 Saturday. Our gift shop features the handy work of local artisans from canned goods, to books, jewelry and homemade soaps,” Rob Reep said.
He added: “We offer regularly scheduled beginners and intermediate painting classes to the public every other Tuesday. We’re available for private parties and events, including art parties, where all participants receive paints, canvas, brushes and instruction for $35 per head. At the end of the evening, everyone goes home with a completed original oil painting of his or her own creation.
“I’m also taking commissions for landscapes and portraits. All my work is in oil media on high-quality linen canvas. We do our own framing and will do framing for the public.”
A graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Reep has a long history of creative endeavors, including photography and full-length feature filmmaking, and he continues to serve as editor and chief of the online newspaper the Saline River Chronicles.
Among his many credits is the 2015 historical movie “Captain.” Written and directed by Reep, it was shot entirely in Bradley County with a cast and crew of local talent. The true story recounts how former Tennessee Militia volunteers and one Hugh Bradley, in particular, served under General Andrew Jackson during the Creek Indian Wars of 1813.
That story is followed by the climactic Battle of New Orleans fought on Jan. 8, 1815.
The epic tale portrays gallant military exploits of Bradley and his fellow Tennessee soldiers in service of our young nation and how they received bounty land grants that eventually brought them to settle early Bradley County.
Through tireless research and a certain degree of serendipity, Reep and his Fossil Hound Dog Films brought the little-known backstory of long-neglected regional history into focus through the sensitive lens of his two-hour remembrance from by-gone days in antebellum Arkansas.
Reep further shared, “I’m currently putting together a collection of paintings for display during the upcoming 63rd annual Bradley County Tomato Festival this June titled ‘A Taste of Home.’ It features various portraits of our world famous Bradley County Pink Tomato in all her mouthwatering glory.”
For more information pertaining to the studio, call (870) 820-2894 or visit them online at robreepstudio.com.
Copies of “Captain” are available in their gift shop or may be digitally downloaded from Amazon.com.