NEW PORT RICHEY — The boxes have been unpacked, there's artwork on the walls and the grand piano has found a place that flows well with the green sitting benches and the partitions that shield the long classroom tables splattered in paint.
Art classes have been up and running since early September at the Pasco Fine Arts Council, now at 4145 Fairford Drive, all while volunteers and board members have worked furiously to spiff up the new digs in what once was the Grove Park Community Center.
Now comes the time for the grand opening.
The celebration begins Friday with a reception for the Art Annual Exhibition and Fundraiser. That will feature an awards ceremony, live entertainment and a silent auction. The main event is on Saturday with a Family Grand Opening Festival packed with art demonstrations, a kiln opening, facility tours, refreshments and art activities for the kids.
"There will be a lot of stuff going on outdoors out on the green — watercolors, oils, pastels," said publicity person and art teacher Suzanne Natzke.
And pottery, too.
"They can come and see what can be done that's not very difficult," said pottery teacher Christa Stanelun, who plans to take a few turns on the wheel and demonstrate slab pottery techniques.
Those who go are also welcome to peruse the newly stocked gift shop, featuring the work of local artists. There will be information about classes at the center as well as offerings at new satellite locations at Veterans Memorial Park on Hicks Road in Hudson and the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway.
The hope is to bring people in and get the word out about the council's expanding vision.
The hub might be in New Port Richey, but the council is designed to serve all of Pasco County, Natzke said, adding that the organization is accepting online applications for new teachers interested in working at the center and at satellite locations throughout the county.
Initial response has been positive, especially in the local art community, said board treasurer and art teacher Jo Baughman. Membership is up about 25 percent, she said, adding that members recently stepped up to donate funds for the specialty LED lighting that bathes the artwork in a warm, welcoming glow meant to lure art aficionados and potential students alike.
"I love it. It's just good energy in here," board secretary Peachie Lawrence said as she prepared gift baskets for the upcoming gala while students worked on watercolor paintings. "It's just so bright and cheerful."
Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] Follow @MicheleMiller52.