A new Rochester store and design studio is all about bringing local art home, while adding color to an older neighborhood.

Paul Bennett opened the doors of new Dwell Local shop on Friday. Located at the former Paw and Claws building at 602 Seventh St. N.W., Bennett has basically replaced cats and dogs with art and furniture.

Bennett, who grew up in Rochester, moved back here about four years ago. As an interior designer, it was challenging to find creative items and furniture to use in local homes.

"I've always really wanted to open a shop specializing in handcrafted items," he says. "and I think Rochester really needed one."

Dwell Local displays the one-of-kind works of 15 area artisans that range from jewelry to soy candles to upcycled furniture to driftwood lamps. Since this is side project, Bennett will open Dwell Local on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Art is not only on sale at Dwell Local. It's also made right there. About one third of the 2,500-square-foot complex is a studio space, where Bennett and mixed-media folk artist Amber Engelhart create their own works. The plan is to also add art courses to Dwell Local's offerings in the near future.

Bennett hopes to do more than provide a home for local art. His hope is that it'll serve as a launching pad to transform the Cooke Park neighborhood into "Rochester's premiere arts district." That means hosting events like Art in the Park, raising money for new playground equipment and adding community garden plots.

"Dwell Local is about bringing life back to the neighborhood," he says. — Jeff Kiger

Hear something? Share it with Heard on the Street. Call Jeff Kiger or Mike Klein at 285-7600 or drop a note to jkiger@postbulletin.com or mklein@postbulletin.com.

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