The founders of the City Art Center want to bring Delaware residents something different.

The founders of the City Art Center want to bring Delaware residents something different.

"It's about enriching the cultural landscape," said co-founder Suanne Goings.

The nonprofit arts center, founded by Jessi Walker, Phyllis Catania and Goings, opened Dec. 3. Located at 22 E. Winter St. near the Strand Theatre, the center is part of the arts district planned for downtown Delaware.

Ohio-based American Art Works Foundation is the center's fiscal sponsor; City Art Center will operate under the foundation until it receives its own nonprofit status.

The center offers classes, studio space and exhibits that feature local and regional artists. Walker said the center will focus on artists who push the boundaries creatively.

"We just want to be able to encourage that," she said.

The City Art Center will offer a pencil drawing workshop in March, and holds yoga and figure drawing sessions. Walker said the center hopes to develop a computer lab to include new media education for digital photography.

A new exhibit opens up at the center the first Friday of every month. March 4 will mark the start of a new exhibit featuring artist James Krehbiel, a Ohio Wesleyan University faculty member. Walker said they want to support emerging artists while showcasing artists from other areas.

"We want it to function both ways," Walker said.

Providing studio space for local artists is important to Walker. The close community of artists can enable peers to provide input to one another, she said.

"It adds to the development of your work," she said. The studio also enables collaboration.

Catania said she envisions extending opportunities beyond the visual arts. In the future, the center could offer writing workshops or open microphone nights, she said.

The group had a lot of cleaning up to do before the space was usable. Walker, Catania, Goings and others started renovations in early August, tearing out walls and filling three trash bins.

"Before that, it was hard to envision the space," Catania said. The work was worth it, she said, adding that visitors have said the space reminds them of something they'd see in New York.

"It's not perfectly pristine or anything like that," Catania said.

Walker said the exposed brick columns, white walls, and raw hardwood and cement floors lend an industrial aspect to the space.

"It has a very warehouse feel," she said of the center.

Goings said the center wants to work with local businesses.

"That helps to form an alliance with the community," she said.

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