Enjoying Art at Corners Gallery

Our peculiar suburban development that is more than well known in this area is spoken of with pride by long-standing residents of the Village and with confusion by the rest of Ithaca residents who prefer to find other ways around town. The founders of the Village were intentional in the laying down of the windy, narrow roads that mimic rather than scar the natural shape and beauty of the land. Rarely do you see such planning and care in a small residential community, but that is one of the things that makes Cayuga Heights stand apart. This early philosophy that shaped the Village that we know today is still alive and well among the members of our planning board. To Ariel Bullion Ecklund this makes the perfect backdrop for her art gallery. She applauds the founders and current leaders that have resisted the rapid development and constant construction that has begun to define the rest of Ithaca.

The Corners Gallery, located in Community Corners at 903 Hanshaw Road, Suite 101A, directly behind Flower Fashions, has been open since the late 1980’s. There have been several different owners over the years, but Ariel purchased the small gallery and custom frame shop in 2010. Before she was the owner, Ariel went to work with the previous owners as a young mom, fresh out of graduate school. Ariel has a B.F.A in art photography and a M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Syracuse. She supported herself through school, training with a paper conservationist at Cornell University Library, a book conservator at E.S. Bird Library in Syracuse University and as a freelance photographer. Ariel was looking for a part-time job to keep her creativity fresh but not fill her days with stress and long hours in a studio. Instead, she was offered a full-time management position at the Corners Gallery on the spot. She accepted and everything else, as they say, is history!

It is not hard to imagine why she accepted the job as manager all those years ago and why she eventually became the owner of the Corners Gallery. Ariel is someone who loves to work with her hands and she loves the variety and challenges that arise with her work at the gallery. It hasn’t always been easy, but she has worked hard to create a name for herself, build a client base and make the gallery her own in the last 15 years. Many visitors comment how inviting the space is, one even telling her it has a “great vibe”. She confirmed that visitors to the gallery seem reluctant to leave instead they end up staying to chat and take in the atmosphere. Even Ariel admits that she enjoys her gallery space more than her own home at times. The gallery space has been carefully arranged with a large bright orange couch as its focal point set against stark white walls. In 2014 Ariel made some major changes to the gallery and studio. She expanded into the medical offices that had previously occupied the suite directly behind her and renovated the existing and new space with new flooring, ceiling tiles and track lighting. Currently the gallery is displaying the work of Sylvia Estes and Laurie Snyder in Exposure: A Survey of Light. This is an alluring group of photos and paper mâché sculptures, each of which calmly draw the eye in and keep your attention all with very simple materials. It is a very uncluttered and satisfying experience. As lovely as all this was to take in, I believe the “vibe” could be attributed to Ariel herself. I very much enjoyed my time with her, sitting on chairs in the middle of the gallery for our interview. She was kind and unassuming and I immediately felt at home there. I am sure that everyone who enters her door feels similarly.

Corners Gallery, a beautiful space for the viewing of artwork, is also a great place to pick up a gift or special item. Immediately inside the “back” door is a selection of curated items for sale. These are a collection of products and books that Ariel has chosen to promote for various reasons. You can find her entire shop on her website at www.cornersgallery.com/shop. Ariel is also a skilled custom framer and takes individual appointments for framing and design consultation. With her experience and trained eye, she gives each of her clients a tailored finished product. Periodically she will be contracted by art museums such as our local Johnson Museum of Art to assist with the framing of exhibits. The purpose of an art gallery is to provide a quiet, set apart space for the viewing and appreciation of art. As technology steamrolls ahead a lot of creative ventures seem to be losing ground, becoming obsolete and forgotten. With the rise in online….well, everything, taking time to visit an art gallery in person or seeking out a professional to frame your artwork could become something of the past if we let it. I can appreciate the convenience of ordering framing online and home delivery but as a fellow freelance artist, I can sympathize with Ariel. I do know for certain that no amount of technology can replace the experience of a visit to a gallery or museum. Corners Gallery, owned, operated, managed and cherished by Ariel Bullion Ecklund, is an experience worth exploring. She treats each framing job with care, she seeks out and engages artists she believes in, and she invites the community into her space with humble hospitality. The Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 11-4 and Saturday 10-2, and other times by appointment, I encourage you to stop in!

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