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Art Gallery Painting Community Through Music

The Rest Gallery continues to hold live shows, opening opportunities for local bands.

Music and art in the same space at the Rest Gallery. (Jack Berth/Ithaca Week)

Started in 2021, The Rest Gallery aimed to be an accessible space for local artists to present their space for the Finger Lakes and Ithaca community, but soon enough, they were also supporting local bands and musicians as well.

Gallery Aiming to Stand Out

Rest Gallery founder, Ben Bookout, initially thought that the Rest was going to be a short pop-up art gallery, but after two years, he continues to support the arts.

“I thought it was just gonna be that and then be out,” Bookout said.

Bookout and gallery curator Camaron Cohen have an open call for submissions.

Bookout prefers a more communicative way to start a show and feature artists, with most of the artists featured being attendees of previous shows, and Bookout encourages them to have a show at the Rest.

“My running line is, ‘show me what you got, and we can talk about a show,’” Bookout said.

One of these types of interactions led to Jake Van Langeveld’s work being shown at the Rest, and for it to have eyes on it.

Van Langeveld’s art featured during the last concert. (Jake Van Langeveld)

“It’s a cool way to get more exposure to my work and to meet a bunch of people,” Van Langeveld said.

Art and Music Combine to Make Unique Experiences

Besides the Rest offering a different type of venue for concert-goers, Bookout uses the concerts as another opportunity for people to see the art.

“Getting people in front of the work is the job of the gallery,” Bookout said. “So if we can get more eyes on the work, we’re doing our job.”

Bookout additionally called out for more experimental spaces in Ithaca to provide art of music in hope of luring more people in the community to be inspired.

Cam Holmstead, a member of Calabungus Flats echoed the interesting combination of music and art, adding that it can provide a less intimidating space for new bands.

“It [the Rest] not being a music venue adds to the character,” Holmstead said. “It makes it more welcoming.”

Holmstead and fellow members of Calabungus Flats Andy Enciso-Oddy and Nora Hones performing at the Rest. (Jack Berth/Ithaca Week)

Sam Martinez, a member of touring New Jersey band Screenager, says art and music go “hand in hand,’” and how music, even without art “evokes a certain image sometimes.”

Van Langeveld built his canvases and believed they would be able to withstand the potential ruckus show, leaving him to see a new dimension of the art with people around it.

“I think it’s really interesting to have any person stand in front of artwork,” Van Langeveld said. “Something happens.”

Besides the additive of art being paired with music, the Rest is a small space, being only able to hold around 30-40 people, but Bookout does not see that as a bad thing.

“There is something to the energy of a lot of people in a small space,” Bookout said.

Middle-Tier Venues Needed

Ithaca’s venue population remains on a steady increase but still restricts local bands from breaking onto the scene.

Angry Mom RecordsSacred Root Kava Lounge and Tea Bar and the Rest stand out as the middle-tier venues in Ithaca, with all of them being alternative spaces not solely dedicated to music, as even visiting bands like Screenager took notice of the lack of venues.

Members of Screenager, Adri Mailia and Xander Haselmann, performing at the Rest on their first tour. (Jack Berth/Ithaca Week)

Bookout, like many of these places, advocates for all-age venues to uplift the music scene, but the space needs to be present for them to perform.

“They need a forum to play,” Bookout said. “And they need a forum to play for people who are under 21.”

Bookout adds that places in Ithaca have the potential to house shows, and should not shy away.

“All these spaces that have one modality for their whole life have an opportunity to say, ‘tonight let’s try something different,’” Bookout said.

Bookout will continue to house concerts and provide space for local bands and artists, looking forward to the diversified acts to come.

“I hope we attract the wild and weird,” Bookout said.

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