Rohwers open Christopher Robin Arts

Shannon CareyFeature, Halls, Our Town Arts

There’s something about being in a room with Chris and Robin Rohwer. The couple’s chemistry is undeniable, and it doesn’t take long to realize that Chris and Robin are each other’s biggest fans.

So, opening Christopher Robin Arts, a working studio in the Emporium Center on Gay Street, is simultaneously a business venture and a celebration of a life lived in mutual appreciation.

Chris and Robin live between Halls and Gibbs. He’s a commercial banker with Home Federal, and she’s a pharmacist. The couple met on a blind date in Memphis, and the rest is history. Early on, Robin’s penchant for the arts became apparent.

“Robin has been creative and artistic her whole life,” said Chris. “I would tell you that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. Through her encouragement, I’ve started to develop an eye for some art.”

“I always have a need to create, and I think you have to address those needs sometime. That was mine, and I’m a creative sort to the point where it can be a curse, that you can’t just help your kids make a map. We didn’t just do a diorama for school.”

When the couple’s two daughters left home for college, Robin started taking landscape painting lessons at Fountain City Art Center under the tutelage of Aurora Bull. Her favorite is plein air painting, going on-location to paint a landscape. She paints in oils and is always on the lookout for “something quirky.”

Chris is a self-described landscape photographer, although animals, including a dignified llama at Machu Picchu, are frequent subjects, and he says he’s “having more and more fun shooting people.” He started taking pictures when he graduated from high school and his parents gave him a camera for a graduation gift.

Mr. Frye’s Legacy: This enhanced photo by Chris Rohwer celebrates the legacy of Fountain City Exxon’s Alvin Frye. It is used here with permission.

“It’s fun to figure out how to make the camera do what my vision is,” Chris said.

The couple’s arts complement each other. Some of Robin’s paintings started as Chris’s photographs.

“I’ll come home and say, ‘I found the coolest barn,'” said Chris. “She’s always looking for stuff for me to photograph, and I’m always looking for stuff for her to paint.”

And sometimes, Robin will grab the camera, too.

They enter their work in shows, most recently Blue Ridge Mountain Arts in Blue Ridge, Georgia. They opened Christopher Robin Arts, a play on their names and the beloved character in “Winnie the Pooh,” at the beginning of August. Art is available for purchase there, and Robin is often there, painting and ready to speak with visitors. First Fridays are their biggest days, with 300 to 600 people visiting the studios in the Emporium.

“The whole thing is about sharing our work, I think,” said Chris. “If they’ll come in and look at it and take an interest in one piece, we like that. We’ve made a lot of friends through our art.”

“I think when you see our art you’re seeing a part of us,” said Robin. “Quirky or odd or beautiful as it is, I think it’s a part of us.”

Stop by the Emporium to meet Chris and Robin and the other artists in residence this Friday, Oct. 5, 5-9 p.m., for First Friday festivities. Find more info here.

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