I come to unbury CoCA, and perhaps to praise it.

Despite the continuing presence of some underground muttering about how no one wants to give CoCA public funding anymore and about another staff member departing unhappily and under duress, I am detecting signs of life at the once-venerable, lately tired Center on Contemporary Arts. Last week I visited their new space on 12th Avenue, which, although small (2,400 square feet), is lovely and light and right in the part of Capitol Hill that is home to a lot of artists and a couple of very good alternative spaces.

CoCA has not been so happily situated in the past, not since its days across from the Seattle Art Museum. Even in Belltown, the gallery was most visible to commuters speeding south toward the 99 on Elliott Avenue. This new location is CoCA's best possible chance to make itself matter again, by existing in the art world, by having to look local artists in the eye. And in honor of this (and perhaps to win back those they alienated), CoCA's board has decided to dedicate the next two years of programming to local work, beginning with the Northwest Annual in June.

The organization's palpable optimism--apparent when you talk to board president Shawn Ferris and new managing director Don Hudgins, who has been a CoCA board member in the past--is a welcome change from the bad luck that has dogged it for the past couple of years. There are plans for more integrated programming (much like that at Consolidated Works), and for doubling the size of the current board. Last weekend's benefit party in the Big Building (a set of metal-working studios beneath the West Seattle bridge) was lively and well attended.

Indeed, with signs like these--the promising new space and the enthusiastic leadership--the naysaying has become like so much background noise. When CoCA puts on a terrific, thoughtful show, as they did so often in their late great days, I'll be the one jumping up and down in the middle of Pike Street. Look for me.