Dreams to life via art

Saundra Schultz stands next to a fig tree she created with a mile of aluminium wire, along with copper and brass leaves and golden colored figs. (Photo by Jeff Osborne)

For years, Saundra Schultz dreamed of turning a historic Kenedy building into an art gallery. Just when it seemed that dream was about to be snatched away, a benefactor stepped in to enable her vision to become a reality.

Now, the Second Street Gallery, located at 122 S. Second St., showcases a variety of artwork, hosts art classes and gatherings, and offers children a place to explore their creative side.

“About 1994, I began having recurring dreams about this building and turning it into an art gallery,” she said. She felt that God was stirring her heart, and even encouraged her with a verse, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.” (Ecclesiates 9:10)

Finding the resources to get things started turned out to be a lengthy challenge.

“I was turned down (for loans) by two banks, and the small business association wouldn’t give me the amount I needed. They wanted me to take out a $250,000 loan, and at the time I only needed $10,000. There was no way I was going to take on that much more.”

For two years, Schultz had the keys to the property, which was owned by friends looking to sell it, when investors from California learned of the building and offered to purchase it.

“A group from California wanted to buy it, and my friends said they needed to sell,” Schultz said.

Just when she thought her dream was about to be dashed, “an angel walked through the door and offered me the money.”

That angel actually turned out to be her father-in-law. Schultz said she was not aware he would even be able to provide the funding, and he said he wanted to her try to make the arrangements on her own. But at the last minute, hearing of her challenge, he provided the payment she needed to secure the purchase of the property.

“I was able to pay him back and then I was finally able to get a loan from the bank to cover the rest,” Schultz said.

Sixteen years after the gallery opened, and a year after COVID-19 presented another major challenge, Schultz was able to host a sweet 16th anniversary party for the gallery this summer.

While Schultz produces her own artwork, the items displayed for sale are the works of other artists.

“I’ve never had a show of my own work,” she said. “My goal is to uplift and show other artists’ work. Many haven’t had the opportunity to have their work shown in a gallery. I just enjoy helping other people get recognized.”

One of her works of art that is present in the gallery is a fig tree made of aluminium wire that she created in honor of her family. She said it particularly honors her mother, who loved fig trees. The tree’s leaves are made of copper and brass.

“We’ve been open since 2005 and I hope we can do the building justice,” Schultz said. “I’m hoping this is a new beginning. With a year of COVID behind us, I’m ready to move forward.”

The gallery building was once the location of Eckols Funeral Home, whom she and her husband Johnny are related to.

“It was built in 1935 and was one of the only floating sand foundations built in this area. The Eckols family designed it.”

More recently, the house had served as a doughnut shop but had fallen into disrepair over the years. Renovating the structure was an ongoing project for quite some time.

“It took five years as time and money permitted,” Schultz said. “My husband Johnny and our friend Trey Hill (pastor of The Word Fellowship) did the work and it really paid off. It’s such a beautiful building.”

Schultz said when her mother originally saw the dilapidated condition of the house, she strongly expressed her concerns. Later, however, as work proceeded, her mother told her she was proud of her and the transformation taking place.

For about 17 years, Schultz owned a pet shop, Finpetals, but her dream was always to showcase – and teach – art.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. It is also open on Saturday by appointment. Those wanting to visit on Saturday should contact Schultz at 830-583-2330.



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