Jacob Mann

Hi, my name is Jacob Mann. I cover the Art Beat for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.

Stories start in many different ways. This one started with a creative business owner’s posthumous retrospective and ended with another creative business owner’s continuous use of art as a means of coping with the pandemic.

I started this week off with a somber and important duty, interviewing the daughters of a notable figure from our community. Mary Louise Davis, the woman behind Flowers by Louise died back in November of 2020. I talked to her three daughters Carla Davis, Jeri Davis, and Denise Holliday to gather information for a retrospective article to shine a light on her life and legacy.

Since I grew up in the Valley, it would be nearly impossible for me not to know about Flowers By Louise. That in itself speaks volumes about the sheer amount of prominence her floral shop has exuberated for nearly five decades.

As I talked to Louise’s daughters about who she was as a person, three prominent themes emerged by the end of the interview. She was known for her generosity, adventurous spirit, and general creativity.

“I think of her creativity… She was extremely creative in every area, with food with flowers, with just her life,” Denise said. “She was just an amazing woman all around, I feel.”

It was clear that all three of those characteristics were just as important as the other and factored into why so many people came to a drive by memorial at the shop in January. What stood out to me was the fact that her creativity can be seen as the symbolic soup the other two nestled in. That’s my take anyway.

“I’ve always had a love for flowers my whole life. I like most every flower there is... Because they’re so incredibly therapeutic… You’re involved with art,” Carla told me during the interview.

The way I see it, she used her sharp and open ended mind to channel that creativity into a tool for just about everything she did in her life. She loved her children in creative ways, always finding fun ways to take them on family outings. She creatively came up with ways to give back to her employees and community at large on a regular basis. In short, her creativity evolved into something more, something that stretched beyond her immediate space and touched the lives of countless people.

“I can honestly tell you Flowers by Louise has saved women’s lives… I have friends who’ve told me it saved their lives, just being around my mother in the shop and around positive women… When you’re working with flowers it’s hard to be mad because flowers are beautiful,” Denise said.

Toward the end of the week, I interviewed Betty Hansen. She runs B Bella Hair Design in downtown Palmer. She’s also a multimedia artist who draws and paints on a daily basis. During our interview, she told me that she started making art more frequently as a way of processing her emotions amid the pandemic.

“I use the creativity as inspiration every day in many ways,” Betty said.

Betty is a cancer survivor so she knows first hand what it’s like looking death right in the face. That’s one of the reasons she strives to work with cancer patients who need their hair trimmed or shaved. That’s also why she hangs onto every conversation with her regulars, especially the eldery.

Betty uses her creativity in many ways, just like Louise did. They both made careers by drawing from that creative energy.

Betty can’t throw a stick across town without hitting someone she knows intimately, just like Louise did, and her daughters continue to do to this day.

What I gathered from all of this is simply this, if you can learn how to channel your creative spirit, it can take on countless forms. It can touch many lives and those tiny little neurons in your head have the power to shape the world around you, maybe even make history. At the end of the day, what matters most is creativity is something that can make your life better, even if it never leaves your home.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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