About River

Ms. River Joy Sauvageau is an artist, designer, lay minister, community arts activist, tipi maker and a longtime resident of the Ojai Valley in southern California. She is of French Canadian heritage and was brought up in the province of Quebec, Canada and in the Hudson River Valley in New York. 

River has learned that creating and working with your hands brings a feeling of peace and satisfaction to daily life. This kind of manifesting, making things, is grounding and helps us to center in the here and now. 

"I have come to understand that life is about creating and developing relationships in every part of life.

As a craftswoman I have developed relationships with the materials I use, with proportion and shape, construction techniques, finished products, their purpose and use, and with all my work, as a whole. The longer I work at my craft, the more refined it becomes.

As an arts activist I lead the creation of working environments that foster mutual support, creative expansion and peaceful cooperation. You can read more about this in Mandala Movement. 

As a lay minister I support through council; listening and sharing in an environment that is consecrated with focus and intention, as in my Sacred Circle Gatherings.

My goal is to share what I have learned in this lifetime. What I have come to understand about myself  is that all of the different things that I have been doing can be known through this lens: community building through personal support and group guidance. It is time for me to teach, to share and to mentor those who are called to this work.  I work to inspire creativity, free thinking, community connection, personal sovereignty, and leadership.

River's Resume
  • Owner. Studio Sauvageau — 1989-present

Owner and designer of Studio Sauvageau, a working studio designing, producing and selling a line of fabric bags and ceremonial tipis. 

River teaches sewing to students of all levels in a small studio setting. 

A non-denominational community meeting grounded in Earth-based spirituality, held regularly. 

  • Artistic Director. Ojai Mardi Gras — 1994-2004

Artistic Director, Event Coordination, Board Member, Fund Raising

  • Community Mandala Maker. City of Ojai, California - 1993-present

River has been perpetuating and leading the making of this 50-ft Diameter mandala which is painted on the street once a year with one to two hundred community members of all ages. In 2019 River took her Community Mandala Making method into the City of San Juan Bautista where the annual tradition continues forward.

  • Tailor and Pattern Maker. Entertainment Research Group 1986-1987

Pattern making, cutting, sewing, making shoes and battery packs for a company making large inflatables for parades and promotionals.

  • Costuming. UCSB Opera Department, Ventura College, Santa Rosa Community College, 1985-1991

Design and make costumes and props for operas and plays in collaboration with teachers and students






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