By Patra Kelly
When Walter Andrew asked me to help Donna Reibslager by responding to the many emails sent monthly to the PRT, I also began writing articles. I liked having a reason to check in with her, enjoying our conversations over the next few years. She gave me helpful writing suggestions, sometimes adding a line or ending, then saying, “Of course, you can write your own.” A special perk of my volunteer job was the entertainment of reading the imaginative and often hilarious emails between Martin Levowitz as columnist and Donna as editor.
I have asked several of Donna’s friends to share their thoughts about Donna and have included them here.
“I have fond memories of Donna and me communicating over the wall outside my studio. She had a ladder on her side. Often we attached written messages connected by a clip and string. Always about color and painting, with lots of laughter.” Judy Hinton Andrew
“I met Donna in January of 2013. She interviewed me for the PRT during my art show at the Gathering Grounds. The thing that really intrigued me was when she accused me of just being a good draftsman. “Now it’s time you start doing some real art.” Donna was not someone to hold anything back, and to me that is a fine quality to have. After that, every time we saw each other, we both lit up… Donna and I got to know each other a lot better in the last several months of her life. She was as awesome as I thought she was, and her husband Ron is a wonderful person. My heart goes out to the family; she will be missed. Donna will always be an inspiration for me to start doing some “real” art.” Rhonda Brew
“Donna was my anchor. I now feel untethered. We did a painting together, seven sessions of 45 minutes to an hour – very special. She always critiqued my work, my paintings to help me see more development and exposed me to other painters’ books to expand my viewpoints. We also shared current events and feelings. She was one of my best friends. I will totally miss her.” Helen Chester
“Beloved Donna has left us entirely. I miss her already and already miss her more than I knew I would. Our relationship was a combative joy; playful and unyielding on both sides. The girl was as stubborn as I, both of us bullheaded, as they say. As my editor (a job she never wanted – she’d signed up to be art-director / layout person) – she specialized in pointing out that what I had just delivered in seven pontifical paragraphs could easily be said in seven sentences; or even seven words. I never did understand how someone whose visual art was so whimsical and fey – absolutely untranslatable into prosaic language – could be so linear and oppressively logical, intellectually. Well, nobody’s homogenized, it seems.” Martin Levowitz
“There was an irresistible current of affinity and affection flowing from Donna, no words needed. She was gracious, kind, and funny. She leaves a big hole. ” Eva Wright
“I first became aware of Donna Reibslager through the Creative Spirits Gallery in Patagonia. Her artwork impressed me as being innovative, accomplished, bold yet subtle, and insightful in a highly intelligent way. As we became friends, I learned that Donna was also a talented journalist for the Patagonia Regional Times. She had an innate curiosity and true interest in people that was open and friendly. Donna was good at drawing others out to share their knowledge, opinions, and feelings about a particular subject – the essence of good journalism. Donna was always more thoughtful of others than she was of herself. She was a devoted wife and mother, a kind and loyal friend, a dedicated editor for the PRT, and an exceptionally talented artist. I miss her now she is gone and will continue to miss her always.” Elise Misiorowski
“Donna’s physical form is no more; Donna’s energetic spirit continues and is palpable in her artistic creations as the dancing spirit that animated her wisdom. My eyes fill with tears on a regular basis now that there are no more smiles or hugs from my very dear Soul Sister Friend Donna.” Carolyn Shafer
“She was a true artist to me. I got invited to be part of the card games. Always patient with us newbies and the perfect host. She made it fun. I passed her driving, close to her passing. I hadn’t seen her in a while and I know we both had the biggest smiles on our faces. Our hearts touched.” Martha Kelly
“Since I’m not an artist and never worked on the newspaper, my friendship with Donna was based on fun. And Donna was fun, as well as kind, smart, talented, and inquisitive. Her presence made a difference in Patagonia. She was truly a good person and a special friend. I’m so glad I knew her.” Nancy McCoy
I think of Donna as a gracious woman and profound artist. She would put on her work apron and retreat to her studio. Whatever medium she was exploring, the results were skillful and reflected naturally talented artistic thought.” Saul Lieberman