New group forms to showcase arts
Only two months old, the De Soto Art Council already has a record of success.
The art council grew from last year's successful sesquicentennial art show at Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm, and the key people involved in that effort formed the art council in June.
The first big event the art council is planning is another art show, which will be Sept. 25 though Sept. 27 at Kill Creek Farm. Carrie Dvorak, the council's marketing and publicity director, said that second show drew 53 entries from 28 artists.
"It's all in the hands of the judge now," Dvorak said of judge Steve Mayse of the Kansas City Art Institute. "The end of the month is when artists will learn if they've been selected."
Nine to 10 local artists submitted work for the judged show. De Soto Art Council Chairwoman Raheema Sampson said the strong interest by De Soto and area artists was encouraging because it indicated a strong local art scene as well as awareness of the show in the area.
Although the art has been selected, the arts council is still searching for pledges from local business to purchase art displayed at the show.
"We haven't really started on that," Sampson said. "We need more. Last year, we had five or six."
To attract sponsors, the arts council has reduced the minimum pledge level from last year's $1,000 threshold to $500, Sampson said.
In addition to pledges for the show, the art council is looking for a sponsor of the organization. With the donation, the name of an individual or business would be listed or displayed at all arts council events, Sampson said.
The art council has been incorporated with the state, and she is working her way through the "book" of paperwork required for federal non-profit status, Sampson said.
The art council has been looking for other ways to showcase local artists and the work of its members. Dvorak said Darrel Zimmerman, a charter member of the art council, would provide space during the weekly farmers market at Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm for artists to exhibit work.
"Darrel is fond of saying he's putting the culture in agriculture," she said. "We hope to have an artist every week."
In addition, member artists gave demonstrations to residents of Hillside Village, Dvorak said.
Dvorak said she had long advocated the formation of a local art council. She and Diana Zwahlen, another founding member, talked about such an organization when Zwahlen had her gallery and graphics business, Artistic Illusions, downtown early this decade.
"It just sat on the backburner for a time," Dvorak said. "I never forgot about it. It's up and running now.
"This is just the start. We will be looking at some many different things."
Although Zwahlen is a painter and Dvorak a photographer and the art show is an early focus of the organization, the art council's ambitions go beyond the visual arts, Dvorak said. The council's goal is give the community greater access to the dramatic, performance and visual arts through concerts, exhibitions and theater productions, she said.
"We looking at putting something together for the spring showcasing De Soto talent - visual, musical or dramatic," she said.
The new De Soto Riverfest Park, with its vendor walk, stage and natural amphitheater offers a new setting for those events, Dvorak said.
In addition, the art council would like to offer classes in the arts, she said.
The De Soto Chamber of Commerce offered a model for the success of the art council, Dvorak said. The chamber has thrived as it recruited membership from businesses in neighboring cities with an interest in De Soto.
Dvorak said the art council could do the same and reach out to the art community in Lawrence and elsewhere for members.
To some extent, that has already happened, with those with an interest in the arts, such as Ron Wimmer, former Olathe superintendent of schools, among the council's early members, she said.
She would also like the council to emulate the chamber's networking efforts with other area chambers, Dvorak said. Such ties, would allow De Soto's new group to learn what has worked for more established organizations, she said.
The art council's next meeting will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 4 at FCB Bank in De Soto. To learn more about becoming a member of the De Soto Arts Council, call Sampson at 583-3222 or Dvorak at 583-3400.