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Szozda Gallery opens in former Delavan space

When the Delavan Art Gallery closed May 1, it left a gap in the Syracuse arts community much bigger than the 3,800 square feet it had provided artists and arts patrons for six and a half years.

Caroline Szozda-McGowan, 30, who managed the Delavan Gallery throughout that time, knows better than almost anyone.

"I knew we were leaving a giant hole," she said. "There's a major need for quality spaces to show and sell the work of local artists."

But even after a six-month "restructuring" hiatus in 2008, Szozda-McGowan said May's closing was unavoidable.

"It's a hard market," she said simply. "There was also the simple level of energy... it was time to step back and look at it really seriously and make a tough decision."

But from that decision came an opportunity for Szozda-McGowan, a Syracuse resident who graduated from Cazenovia College in 2002 with a studio arts degree, to be a part of the next era of the space while offering a smaller, more intimate quality space to local artists.

When he announced Delavan's closing, owner Bill Delavan said he planned to subdivide the large gallery space into five or six arts-related spaces -- it was only natural that the former gallery manager would be the first to take advantage of the next phase of the space.

Now, a walled-off section is home to Szozda Gallery, ("drop the first z"), which will open its third exhibit this month.

While she said it's still hard to think about breaking up the beautiful gallery space, it was the chance of a lifetime for her to continue working with local arts in Syracuse.

"I knew [the closing] was coming, and it was, well, what do I do next?" Szozda-McGowan said. She said no one was really surprised that she chose to take a chance and open her own space.

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