Gallery 202, found on the second floor of 38 N. State St., isn't bound by its four walls, said Renee Kropat, owner of the nonprofit gallery and art center.

Editor's note : This story is the fourth in a five-part series examining what makes Uptown Westerville unique and highlighting selected businesses there.


Gallery 202, found on the second floor of 38 N. State St., isn't bound by its four walls, said Renee Kropat, owner of the nonprofit gallery and art center.

"I enjoy doing community art. I enjoy being out in the community," Kropat said. "For art, it isn't the space you're in; it's the whole community."

Because of Kropat's mission to be a community art initiative, Gallery 202 has worked to be part of Westerville in many ways.

Gallery 202 artists have painted banners to line poles on State Street. Kropat has led the painting of several murals around the city, which involve her outlining an image and allowing any interested community members to join in to paint and finish the final work.

One of the gallery's projects, Wild Women Wander Westerville, partners with Uptown businesses to take a group of women on a tour of those stores. The women then socialize in the gallery during a silent auction to benefit the gallery.

Kropat also founded the Saturday Uptown Market, featuring arts, crafts and fresh farm products, in 2009 and plans to continue it next summer.

She opened Gallery 202 in 2005, about a year after she founded the nonprofit Partners in Art Inc.

Previously, she operated a for-profit gallery in Uptown, which she closed in 2001 after a seven-year run.

Kropat said she opened another gallery on the urging of people she knew, but she refused to return to a for-profit operation.

"A for-profit gallery is a lot of hard work. I had kind of given up the gallery thing," Kropat said.

In addition to going out into the community, she aims to pull the community into her gallery, offering art camps for children, classes for adults, team-building workshops for businesses, classes for Girl Scouts, special contests and rental space for events, among other things.

Throughout the year, Gallery 202 also offers special events and contests

Works by local artists of all types, including those in classes in Westerville schools, are displayed in the space. A gift shop also offers items made by local artists.

"It's important that we're not just a lone gallery, that we work with the schools, that we work with the community," Kropat said. "It's much more fun that way."

And all of the programs Kropat offers are aimed at making sure participants have fun and to teach people the importance of all levels of art.

"I think too often, art is considered elitist," Kropat said. "I think there's a continuum. I think it's important that people realize that refrigerator art is just as important as the high-end, million-dollar art."

Above all, she said, her goal with the gallery is to get people to appreciate and participate in art, regardless of their levels of experience.

"We all think we have a standard we need to reach," Kropat said. "We need to tell our own stories. If we don't tell them, who will?"