The art couple
This is the first in a series of features on the artists who have works on display and for sale at Coffee Talk, located at 724 Main St.
Though Eudora residents Aman and Laura Reaka have been creating some type of art for as far back as they can remember, they had never actually tried to sell any of it.
While eating at Jasmine Restaurant last summer, as they usually do, they saw a sign across the street for the unopened Coffee Talk that said "coffee and fine art."
They asked the staff at Jasmine about it and were told to go across the street and talk with DeeAnn and David Alvarez.
They had always hoped a coffee house would open in Eudora, but they didn't think that friendship and a venue to present their art would be included in that package.
"We came and showed our stuff to DeeAnn (and David) and now we're very good friends. It's been awesome and it's a great place," Aman said.
Both Aman, who grew up in Paola and is a graphic artist for PlattForm advertising, and Laura, who is from Odessa, Mo., and is creative director for sports apparel company Jones and Mitchell, are artists by trade.
However, what they show at Coffee Talk does not resemble the art they do at their respective jobs. Laura is an illustrator and she has four pieces - one painting and three drawings - at Coffee Talk.
"The inspiration for what I do really just comes out of my head," Laura said. "It's purely just imaginative. My style is kind of Tim Burton, whimsical stuff."
Her largest piece, entitled "Moon Swing," is an acrylic painting of a girl with flowing blond hair swinging from a knotted, twisting tree with a dark green sky lit by a full moon.
The piece took a total of 32 hours for her to finish. She said that the piece sat dormant for several months, waiting for its maker to become inspired again.
"I started it a year ago, basically, and I had done the tree and painted it and it sat in our living room for nine months, probably - just sitting there waiting for the next step," she said."
The other three pieces are flowerpots with faces that have quaint smirks on their faces. The "Potheads," as they were named, take about seven to eight hours and are done with colored pencils and ink.
While Aman draws at his job, it is his photography that he has chosen to display.
The prints that especially stand out are those of trees on the campus at Kansas University. However, they are not the typical shots of trees, as they were taken from the base of the tree trunk while looking upwards.
Of the shots, he said that he could just look up and see the print, which Laura attributed to the way being a graphic designer allows him to look things.
"Most trees, if you took a shot like that, it wouldn't work," he said. "But, you could just look up and see a print. I can see it and crop it in my brain before I even pick the camera up."
He thinks most good shots come as a result of putting himself into unfamiliar surroundings.
"Sometimes you just see it," he said. The key is to put yourself in a spot you haven't maybe been before."
They have enjoyed being able to have an outlet to show their work, and it has motivated them to produce more.
For Laura, the biggest hurdle to that productivity is the fact that inspiration doesn't always just make itself available.
"For me, I have to feel it," she said. "It really is stuff that I see in my head, and if I'm not feeling it, then I can't do it."
It's clear that she is enjoying what she does, though, when it elicits a chuckle from her.
"Usually, if I'm working on something, I can tell that I like it if it just makes me laugh," she said. "That's when I can tell that it pleases me enough."
The laughter can be heard throughout their home, alerting Aman that Laura is finished.
"It cracks me up when I hear her laughing at her own stuff," he said.
Aman keeps his camera in his car most of the time, but like most people work can be stressful and doesn't always lend itself to coming home and devoting time to his craft.
"It can be tough to come home from work and worry about the fine art," he said. "That's the great thing about photography -I don't have to sit down for eight hours, I just have to see it."
They plan to deliver more pieces to Coffee Talk in the coming months.
"We have a huge front porch, and I guarantee that when it's spring and it's nice out, we'll be out there doing some stuff - painting, drawing, all that stuff."
Aman and Laura's works can be seen and purchased at Coffee Talk, 724 Main St.