If you enjoy art or tea — or both — no visit to Van Buren County, Iowa, is complete without some time spent at Burns Gallery & Tea Emporium, 509 First St., Bonaparte, IA 52620.
Their website is http://www.burnsgalleryandtea.com, and they’re also on Facebook.
Burns Gallery & Tea Emporium is located in a beautifully restored old building in the Bonaparte Historic Riverfront District, a stone’s throw from the picturesque Des Moines River.
The district was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, so bring your camera.
The Emporium’s owners, Ken and Sue Burns, will happily pour you a cup of tea to sample as you stroll through the gallery.
During our most recent visit, my wife and I tried some pumpkin-flavored tea. It was very good, but we ended up buying some Bella Coola Herbal/Fruit Tea to take home.
The Burns will accompany you, if you wish, on your gallery tour to provide information about the artists. Or you can look on your own.
The gallery displays framed paintings by artists from as far away as Japan and Alaska to as close as southeast Iowa. The subdued LED lighting provides a relaxed atmosphere and perfect viewing.
The day we visited, artist Anita Lee of Van Buren County was on hand, greeting visitors. That was a bonus.
Every piece of art is for sale as are some unframed paintings and, of course, a variety of teas from around the world. They also do framing.
On their website, the Burns say they “hope to create a world of art and specialty teas within the walls of our gallery that allows you to escape the daily routine and dream of far off places.”
In our case, their plan worked.
Copyright 2012 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.