Art enthusiasts begin new tradition with barn art show
Even its organizers were surprised by the response to this weekend's Barn Art Your Way event.
"It's been amazing," Darrel Zimmerman said. "Fortunately, I picked a subject that just interested people.
"We're trying to focus on the cultural part of agriculture."
The event started as a collaboration between Zimmerman and Diana Zwahlen, owner of the Artistic Illusions Art Gallery in downtown De Soto. Zimmerman wanted to acknowledge those who helped him move and restore the White/Witzmann barn on his Kill Creek Farm. Zwahlen was interested in promoting the work of local artists.
Zwahlen said she, too, was surprised by the event's popularity.
"It's really gratifying," she said. "
The centerpiece of the event is a juried show of barn art. Fourteen artists were selected to participate in the show, which will be judged by Stephan Goddard, senior curator of prints and drawings at the Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University.
The weekend's events will start at 6:30 Friday with a by-invitation dedication of the barn. Zimmerman said at least 125 people are expected for an evening that will include brief remarkson community from KU geography professor James Shortridge, who wrote a book with his wife, Barbara, on the history of the Kaw Valley. Cathy Amber, a preservationist with the Kansas State Historical Society, will also address the gathering.
The event will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Zwahlen said the work of 29 local artists will be on display and for sale.
"We're also going to have demonstrations," she said. "We invite people to bring their art supplies, sit on the grass and create."
Various food vendors will be on hand Saturday and Sunday, Zwahlen said.
Artwork entered in a show open to De Soto School District students will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the De Soto High School commons area, Zwahlen said. The overall winner will receive $100, and the city has agreed to award grade-level winners with free summer memberships to the city pool.
To increase public awareness of the weekend event, Zwahlen arranged partnerships with the Kan Film Festival and the Spencer Museum. The 10th annual Kan Film Festival will be this weekend at the Lied Center on the KU campus. The Spencer Museum show, entitled Remembering the Family Farm: 150 Years of American Prints, will wrap up Sunday.
"I knew there were other things going on that weekend," Zwahlen said. "We agreed to publicize each other so that someone driving on the K-10 Corridor to attend one of the events would know what else was going on."
Both its organizers vow this barn art festival will become an annual event.
"We're going to do it again next year, the first weekend in June," Zwahlen said.