Local artist earns business-of-year honors
Diane Zwahlen has proven there is a market for fine arts in DeSoto.
When she opened Artistic Illusions and Print L.C. in downtown DeSoto last summer, Zwahlen thought the print side of the business would carry the fine arts gallery. Much to her surprise, her business is about equally divided between the two ventures.
"It`s a surprise to everybody in the area," she said. "We`ve had people in from as far away as England. However, some of our biggest pieces sold to people right here in the community.
"People are starting to come to us, asking to show their work. Each week, we`re adding new artists."
Actually, the print part of her store`s name is something of a misnomer, Zwahlen said. Her shop doesn`t do custom printing, but uses computers to produce business cards, letterheads, forms, logos and various other materials. The shop also offers a copying service.
Zwahlen learned from her many community activities that there was little risk in opening a copying service in DeSoto.
"I found out no one in town had large copiers," she said. "I decided that if I brought in a large copier it would be a service to the people in the community."
In recognition of her successful startup and her many community activities, Zwahlen earned the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce`s Business of the Year designation. Chamber President Pat Atchison said Zwahlen was a deserving and obvious choice to those selecting the award winner.
"Diane Zwahlen`s name was one that kept coming up," she said. Zwahlen contributed time and money to community and chamber events as varied as the Cinco de Mayo celebration and the chamber fashion show, Atchison said.
In addition, she provided local artists with a place to display their work, Atchison said.
That, Zwahlen said, is the most gratifying part of her business. Artistic Illusions started with seven artists and now displays 23, including the work of imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier.
Zwahlen is working to expand the fine arts experience beyond the walls of her gallery. Early next year, the work of two textile artists will be on display in the front windows of Performance Glass, she said.
She hopes the completion of the new city hall will make space available for workshops by featured artists. She and Darrell Zimmerman are planning a juried barn-art show next year at Zimmerman`s Kill Creek Farm.
"If we are going to grow, we have to grow in all areas," she said.