A desire to create stays with an artist, something to which 91-year-old Elaine Garek Lewis can attest.

Throughout June, the longtime Bexley resident's artwork will be on display at the Bexley Public Library, 2211 E. Main St.

The exhibit is a milestone for Lewis, since it marks her first official solo show. She has participated in group exhibits before, but the library exhibit is a special achievement.

Lewis grew up on the east and south sides of Columbus, graduated from South High School and received a bachelor's degree in fine art from Ohio State University in 1947.

"I've always been interested in art," she said.

"I started as a child," drawing and painting in various styles, including watercolor, she said.

She originally planned to be an art teacher.

However, rather than embarking on an art career upon graduating from Ohio State, Lewis decided to join her husband, Richard, in starting the Richard Lewis Travel Agency in central Ohio after he served in the U.S. Army in World War II. The agency grew to include branches in Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, Houston, San Francisco and London, England.

She and her husband raised four sons while traveling internationally on business.

"My husband said, 'I want you with me and you'll see the wonders of the world,' " she said. "I had a choice to make."

Through the years, Lewis continued to paint and pursue art in various media in her spare time.

"I continued taking classes even after I was married and the children were growing up," she said. "I always had the eye. ... Art is all around us."

When her husband died five years ago, Lewis decided to take up art full time.

The grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of two created a series of collages using paper, fabric and canvasses that are on display at the library. Her works depict a variety of subjects, from elegant clothing store windows to colorful gardens.

"I feel comfortable that my progression has been great," she said. "I remembered what the professors kept saying: 'Fill the canvas, fill the canvas.' "