Painting with spirit

Emily LaHood
Pictured, Terry Opper stands near his original works displayed at Gates of Eden, a Judeo-Christian art gallery in East Peoria where his work is displayed.

Morton resident and Days of Grace church member Terry Opper, and his friend and business partner, Daniel Botkin, are sharing their gifts in ways that they hope will spiritually serve the community.

Opper, who was born in Canton and has moved to many locations throughout the Peoria area, finally settling and retiring in Morton, has been painting since junior high.

“It’s been a fifty year process for me,” Opper said with a laugh.

He has toured his award-winning work, which consists mainly of Christian paintings and colored sketches, to different galleries such as St. Cloud University in Minnesota, Monmouth College, and, of course, the Pumpkin Festival.

Now retired, Opper said that he is free to “paint whenever the spirit moves (him)” and has gone into business with Botkin in East Peoria.

Gates of Eden is a Judeo-Christian art gallery that was made not only for viewing art, but Opper also said that the gallery is a place where people can “drink coffee and study the word.”

The front half consists of  Opper’s Christian paintings and artwork, while the back is home to Botkin’s Messianic Jewish art, books, gifts, and Israeli imports.

Gates of Eden is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday until 4 p.m. on Fridays until July 31, and is located at 129 E. Washington St., East Peoria. For more information, call 699-0199.