Over the past 90-plus years, the red brick building at 125 West Woodard in Denison has lived many lives and filled many roles. The building, which has previously been a tattoo shop, billiards hall and restaurant, will add another use to that list when it is opens to the public as an art gallery.


The Denison Historic Preservation Board approved a request to repair and convert the building into “Zig Zag Galleries,” a combination of art gallery with space for community events and classroom art lessons. The application was made by Frisco native Mike Zapata and his daughter, artist Jenna Zapata.


“It (the building) has been around and you can definitely tell it has been around,” Mike Zapata said, joking about the condition of the 1920s-era building.


Mike Zapata said he has spoken with the Denison Development Alliance regarding a grant for facade repairs. As part of the projects, he said the current windows will likely be removed and replaced with larger windows to add lighting and a view to the street.


Documents submitted to the board also outlined plans to demolish all front area walls and ceilings all the way to the masonry. The project will also see the repair of a caved in portion of the interior roof and reinforced rafters. The plans also call for the renovation of the bathroom and the conversion of the backroom into office space and an art classroom.


For her part, Jenna Zapata said she plans to open the gallery as she continues her education through the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Zapata, a photographer by trade, said she doesn’t plan to focus on any one medium and instead wants to open the space to the whole Denison art community.


“It is really just going to be a big art center,” she said, highlighting poetry, visual arts and photography as possibilities for the space.


Jenna Zapata said she was introduced to the Denison art scene during weekends when she would come to browse the local antique stores. From there, she was introduced to area businesses, artists and galleries, she said.


“I have grown up in Frisco and I’ve seen that art scene grow up first hand,” she said, describing her hometown.


Main Street Director Donna Dow said she was excited for the development due to the gallery’s location. Through this, she hopes others will take note and the development will encourage others to do the same.


“It is going to be activity on that side of Austin Avenue,” Dow said. “It is important to connect both sides of downtown and increase the activity on the east side. It is another interactive arts space and she’s young, has lots of enthusiasm and creative ideas. It’s great to see our art community continue to grow.”


Local art gallery owner Mary Karam said she met with Zapata about opening a new gallery about a year ago. At the peak of Denison’s art boom, the downtown district boasted more than a dozen galleries, Karam said. Despite many of them closing, and only three remaining open, Karam said people still come to Denison from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex due to the city’s connection with art.


“My feeling is that the more art galleries we have in town, the better it makes us as an art scene,” Karam said. “We can certainly use more. There was a time when there were four galleries in a row in the 100 block of Main.”


When asked about a time frame for the project, Mike Zapata said he hoped to start work soon. While plans initially called for the gallery to open in two years, he said he was hopeful the gallery would open by year’s end.