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Local artists debut collections at Ithaca’s Gallery Night

Artist Courtney Beglin’s painting, “Broken Buddha,” hangs on the wall of Lot 10. Photo credit Mallery Rockwell.
By Rachel Mucha and Mallery Rockwell

While most people are sleeping and fitfully dreaming, artist Courtney Beglin is actively participating in her dreams. She is a lucid dreamer, which leaves her with a head full of vivid images and tangible feelings each morning; it’s like living in three or four different movies every night. When there’s a certain dream or feeling she just can’t seem to shake, Beglin paints.

Beglin has created an entire collection called “Lucid Dreams” that debuted on March 4 as a part of Ithaca’s Gallery Night. Her work is currently hanging in Lot 10, the canvases filled with images of pure imagination.

Gallery Night is a monthly event organized by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. On the first Friday of every month, community members can wander around the Commons, filtering in and out of businesses that feature new artwork. Allison DeDominick is in charge of assembling the artists for the show. After finding the artists, DeDominick sources venues for them to display their work.

This time around, DeDominick secured Beglin a spot at Lot 10, where her artwork will hang for two months.

Beglin is a 2012 Cornell graduate who majored in art history and American studies, though she says her art is mostly self-taught. For the past two months she has prepared for Gallery Night practically non-stop.

“I’ve just been preparing this show, painting eight hours a day at work and then painting three or four more when I get home. I’ve gotten tendonitis,” she said, laughing a little as she showed off her wrist brace.

Beglin said she has always been an active dreamer and an imaginative and creative person. Her paintings are focused on these lucid dreams.

“My concentration is just on lucid dreaming and sort of examining different realms of perception, whether waking or sleeping, visceral or tangible,” she said.

Beglin said she knows a lot of people haven’t experienced lucid dreams, so she wanted viewers to see her perspective through the paintings.

“That’s sort of what I focused on because…a lot of art is trying to help a viewer understand your perspective or see things in a way they might not have otherwise,” she said.

Beglin said she mostly wants to communicate feelings from her lucid dreams.

“That’s sort of the message I’d like to impart throughout this show: it’s not just an image, it’s an experience,” she said.

Beglin said she loves how encouraging the community is towards the local artwork, and she is glad to be a part of this environment.

“I’m just grateful the community is supportive of it. You walk around this town and it’s everywhere,” she said. “It’s really a supportive and welcoming community, and I’m happy to feel a part of it finally.”

DeDominick helped another artist, Marika Chew, display her art on the first floor of Waffle Frolic.

Chew’s showing for Gallery Night consists of a series of watercolor animals she has been working on since graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Chew said post-grad life was stressful because she was worried about her portfolio and felt she had to make each piece her best. She started painting birds just for fun, but it soon turned into an entire collection.

“Then I really liked it, and I was like, I should just do this instead of worrying about making the most amazing piece ever,” she said.

Chew said all of her paintings are made with watercolors, which she paints from an original sketch.

“I’ll do a pretty complicated pencil sketch and then transfer that onto the watercolor paper, and then start painting it,” she said.

Chew was surprised to find that the most stressful part of the Gallery Night process was the very end.

“Hanging stuff was another very time consuming step that I never calculated into it,” she said. “It felt weird to leave it after I finished installing it, like I hope nothing breaks!”

Chew said she ultimately wants her art to make people happy.

“I just want to make people smile and take in the details,” she said.

DeDominick loves coming out for Gallery Nights, and thinks it has a unique and positive effect on the community.

I like it because I don’t have to have separate openings for each person; we all do it at once with all the other places that are hosting this, so it’s more of a community effort.”

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