Kunzler Studios: Bringing an educational art gallery to Valley Junction

A new art studio in Valley Junction will offer educational art classes to help grow the art community in Des Moines.

With a family full of artists, the Kunzler family—Kelly, Kendall, Diane and Mike—will open Kunzler Studios at 324 Fifth Street in Valley Junction in October.

The grand opening will be from Oct. 26-29.

Along with a pottery studio and art gallery, Kunzler Studios will offer educational classes and summer camps for kids to help grow the art community.

With several other art galleries along Fifth Street in Valley Junction, Mike Kunzler—Art Director of Kunzler Art Studios—hopes the family studio fits nicely into the art community.

“We don’t look at that as competition, but company,” Mike says.

Kunzler Art Studios
(From left) Mike Kunzler, Kendall Kunzler, Diane Blair-Kunzler and Kelly Kunzler inside Kunzler Art Studios in Valley Junction.

Finding a partner

After their old art studio—in the Art 316 building on Southwest Fifth Street in Des Moines shut down in 2015—Kunzler Studios didn’t have a location.

After considering Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines, the Valley Junction location came after a partnership formed with a local nonprofit.

“I met some people from a nonprofit and they thought us having a family art group was a unique thing, so they told me if we can find a place, they would help,” Mike explains. “But because they are a nonprofit, a requirement of that is to provide some art experiences with cognitive, mental health, physical or financial challenges.”

So Kunzler Studios and the Least of These Foundation partnered and will offer classes to kids at their renovated Valley Junction studio. It will also serve as the headquarters for the Least of These Foundation.

“At one point we talked about being open last year for Christmas,” Diane says.

Diane was an art teacher for nearly 40 years and is looking forward to offering classes that are taught by a certified art teacher.

“By the summer I would like to have art camps for the kids in the neighborhood who can come down,” she says. “It’s exciting, kids don’t necessarily get that.

“And we can tailor to different types of things. We won’t be doing wine and canvas but with our twist.”

Coming soon

Mike said they had a new garage built for a pottery studio and removed a lot of windows for more wall space

“We are kind of living the dream,” Mike says. “There’s not many people that get the chance.”

Kelly said he quit his job in Columbus and moved his family to Des Moines to be part of Kunzler Studios.

“I was doing it but with a 9-5 and kids, it’s kind of a balancing act,” Kelly says. “But it was one of those opportunities I couldn’t turn down.”

Kelly says the art community in Des Moines is comparable to Columbus.

“It’s exciting to be on the ground floor because it feels like it’s about to take off,” Kelly says. We want to provide a different art experience, skill building.”