Janey and Bill Rives in front of one of her creations hanging at j Space, her art studio in Cottonwood Shores. The painting used to hang on the back patio of their home until the February 2021 snowstorm sent a metal pole through the canvas. Janey decided to repair it instead of repaint it. 'Everything has a story,' she said. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
Janey and Bill Rives happily claim a new generation is taking over the art scene in Marble Falls, particularly the annual Paint the Town and Sculpture on Main events. While that might be true, the couple instrumental in founding Highland Lakes Creative Arts and the two aforementioned events are still a vibrant force behind making the Highland Lakes a hive of creative, artistic activity.
The center of all that for the Riveses is now at j Space in Cottonwood Shores, where Janey paints and creates collages and Bill does some rockin’ and rollin’ with a band of musician friends.
The studio is one of several that Janey has opened over the years in Marble Falls, and like the others, it’s also turned into a space for artists, musicians, and their friends to gather and exchange ideas, play a few tunes, and enjoy each other’s company.
“I’ve had painters come and do a workshop here,” said Janey, indicating the large, well-appointed front room of the studio.
A workspace in the back was once home to Chata’s Kitchen. Janey was renting the space in the building facing Cottonwood Drive from the owner of the tamale takeout restaurant, which faced FM 2147. When the owner retired, Janey bought the building.
An interior designer-turned-fine artist, Janey has put her personal touch on the space, enlarging the deck facing FM 2147 and remodeling the inside to stylishly accommodate visitors and provide a comfortable workspace for her and other artists.
“I want friends and artists to come,” she said when asked if she considered the gatherings at j Space a salon. “That’s exactly what I want, and we are getting there little by little. Without the pandemic, we’d be further along.”
Future plans include building a labyrinth on the grounds surrounded by trees, offering a place to meditate and regenerate.
Now married for 36 years, Bill Rives and the former Janey Secrest arrived separately in Marble Falls — Janey in 1977 and Bill in 1983. They met when Janey took her oldest daughter, Paige, to register for high school. Bill was assistant principal and in charge of registration. Later, as assistant principal at the middle school, Bill was on the same campus with Janey’s youngest daughter, Leigh, every day.
“The girls vetted me before we even dated,” Bill said.
The couple swap stories of Bill coming to pick up Janey for a date from a house filled with friends of the young Secrest sisters.
“They enjoyed how the tables were turned when I showed up on their turf,” Bill said. “It was like an ’80s sitcom sometimes. One of Paige’s friends pushed her out of the way to answer the door. ‘Well, HELLO, Mr. Rives!’ she said.”
Janey and Bill married in 1986.
“It’s been a great adventure, I have to say,” Janey said with a smile.
She owned a business, Janey’s Interiors, for a few years before closing shop and concentrating on being a full-time artist. For fun, she and Bill worked weekends in the tasting room at Fall Creek Vineyard in Tow. Bill was still working in school administration, including a long stint as principal of the primary school, but when he retired in 2005, he signed on with Fall Creek to start a wine club and an e-commerce website.
He stepped down from Fall Creek when he became executive director of the Marble Falls/Highland Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. After retiring from that job in 2016, however, he went back to Fall Creek as brand ambassador, something he does to this day, although he still has time to spend with Janey on their community art endeavors. Wherever they go, whatever they do, art happens.
“I’d open a studio and my art friends would come and I would sell their art, too, and it would become a gallery,” Janey said. “I think I love the people part as much as the painting part.”
As for Bill, he is a member of a rock band called Corporal Punishment, so named because, when it started, all of the band members worked in administration in the Marble Falls Independent School District.
Bill then began playing guitar at his church, First United Methodist of Marble Falls. Still known as Corporal Punishment because they can’t seem to shake the name, the band plays at charity functions, parties, and sometimes bars or restaurants. A gig with the group often pops up on silent auction lists. j Space is their rehearsal studio.
Both halves of the creative duo are still active in Highland Lakes Creative Arts, which they helped start in 1996 along with fellow interior designer and artist Carolyn Bates and gallery owner Marta Stafford. The nonprofit raises money to help buy art supplies for the middle and high schools and underwrites publication of an art book produced each year by children at The Phoenix Center, a nonprofit that provides mental health services to children and their families.
One of Janey’s pet projects has long been to expose young people to the arts. She worked to include a Student Art Day during the 2022 Paint the Town.
Two new, younger co-chairs have taken over organizing the upcoming joint events, which Janey said translates into younger volunteers.
“That’s where I see the growth and the continuation,” she said. “We have another generation in the young men and women volunteering and helping. That’s as big a part of it as the painters. We are just really happy with how things are going.”