CORTLAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Paul Kozlowski never planned to be an artist. After graduating from Cortland High School, 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 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 the 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, artist

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

Says Paul, “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 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.

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 Kozlowski, artist

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.

The Ake Gallery is open Thursday evenings and throughout the day on Saturdays in Cortland.

And they have something really big coming in September. They are accepting entries for the “Duck and Red Octopus Film Festival” for short, funny stop-action, and animated films.

Judges include Kozlowski’s friends, like comedians Tom “Spongebob” Kenny and Bobcat Goldthwait.

Submissions are free and open to anyone, including a youth category for kids ten to eighteen. You can enter through July 22 at DuckAndRedOctopusdotcom.

Enter your submissions for the film festival here.