SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Paul Kozlowski never planned to be an artist. After graduating from Cortland High, he spent 20 years on the road as a standup comedian.

Then he wrote comedy for the likes of Chris Rock and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

The art angle came in when he decided to try to his hand at presenting music and comedy on the West Coast.

I wanted to open a performance space in Los Angeles, so I opened up a big space. But it’s a pain in the neck getting a license for a performance cabaret, so I lied and told them I was opening up an art gallery.

This is a ransom note from parents to the kid. We have your teddy bear. If you ever want to see him again, pick up all your toys. No cops.

Paul Kozlowski

He moved back East to care for aging parents and now, he’s decided to try again.

In Los Angeles, my gallery was called the Fake Gallery because it was filled with fake art. My pledge was it looks so much like real art your friends won’t be able to tell the difference.

Paul Kozlowski

Paul opened his similarly named Ake Gallery in the boiler room of a one-time corset factory in September.

Expectations were low, but his hometown has embraced the place.

He’s drawing crowds with stand-up and improv and he plans to add bands in the days to come.

There is a big community in Cortland that is trying to get the Arts going. There’s something going on all the time. It’s way more people than I ever imagined doing things and they’re all very supportive.

Paul Kowsloski

The walls are lined with his own quirky work, and he’s looking for contributions from other artists.

And the landlord has already given him a second room to fill. Funny what can happen to a good idea.

“I want to be the Target of art galleries The Lowes. I want to have a lot of stuff that’s cheap. That people know it’s cheap as they can get it. And it’s good stuff and I just want to sell a lot of art to people who would never think of buying art,” says Kozlowski