An artistic illusion in DeSoto
Diana Zwahlen realized a dream on Saturday.
After months of planning and weeks of unpacking, Zwahlen officially opened Artistic Illusions and Print L.C., in downtown DeSoto.
As she talked Saturday about the business and all it offers in the way of design and printing, she couldn't keep her eyes off the small room filled with paintings.
A steady stream of residents came to see what DeSoto's new business was all about. They looked around the lobby, visited with one another and eventually made their way into the gallery. There they looked at paintings, sketchings, handmade jewelry and wood carvings all done by local artists and Zwahlen beamed with pride.
"Isn't this great?" she said. "People are really excited about this."
Zwahlen has been excited about bringing art to DeSoto for several years. She dreams of one day hosting art shows that will encompass the entire downtown area. For now, she's happy with her small gallery and the seven local artists whose work is displayed there.
Artistic Illusions and Print offers faxing, color and black and white printing and desktop publishing services. But more importantly to Zwahlen, it's a place for local artists to gather, show their work and study art.
As a former art teacher, she had long wished for such a place. With more artists per capita than most places, she said the time was right to open one in DeSoto.
"We just have so much talent here," she said. "There are so many artists living here who no one knows about. I look at this place as a gathering point and resource for artists and for people interested in art. I've already had people approach me about offering art classes here."
DeSoto artist Jim Schmotz was among the seven premier artists with work on display for the opening. Schmotz also displays his work in galleries in other parts of Kansas, Missouri and Georgia. He said he admired Zwahlen's efforts to provide a showcase for local talent.
"It's exciting to be a part of it," Schmotz said. "I think it's a wonderful thing she's done here. If nothing else, she's making history by opening the first art gallery in DeSoto."
Schmotz also appreciated the opportunity to meet with other local artists, such as Michael L. Ash.
"Mike lives down the road from me and he had heard of me and I'd heard of him, but we'd never met until today," he said.
Other artists currently on display include Joan Silver, Cathi Freund, Dan Dakotas and Larry Inman.
Zwahlen has committed to keeping the gallery local. All of the displayed artists must live within a 50-mile radius of the gallery. In exchange for displaying the work, Zwahlen takes a 25 percent commission on any sale. That's about half of what gallery owners in larger cities take, she said.
Artistic Illusions and the gallery will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"When there's a demand for more hours, we'll extend them," Zwahlen said. "We plan to grow with the city."