Photos and direction by Mandee K. Hammerstein
"Begg stands proudly with her near-completed, custom wood creation, standing over 5ft tall. When finished, what you see here will be the leading element of a commissioned railing installation"
MKH continues to represent some of the finest artists in and around Bucks County and beyond. It’s our mission to introduce the community to the amazing and talented artists living in our neighborhood and creating works worth getting to know!
Next week, we are excited to launch a hand-picked line of Cathy’s work for sale on-line and of course, at her Gallery. Cathy is also available for custom, commissioned work – where your imagination is your only limitation in working with her. Learn more about one of our artists in her words:
Meet CATHY BEGG, Story by Susan Welsh
Cathy Begg is an artist and a storyteller. Whether she’s working with pen and ink, watercolor, sawdust or wood, she’s telling a story. “Every experience I’ve had in my life comes through in my art,” she says.
Begg has used her art as both voice and self-therapy. In 2005 she had the first of several neurological events brought on by Parkinson’s Disease which rendered her, at one point, without the use of her right side and in a wheelchair. After a year of therapy, she could recapture more movement and mobility, devising her sawdust art after growing bored with traditional physical.
therapy. Sawdust and wall spackle helped her regain some movement and in the process, create unique and beautiful dimensional art. Story continues below...
Begg’s first memory of artistic inspiration goes back to her childhood neighborhood of Chula Vista, California and a neighbor who was a painter. Though he was traditional in style, she was intrigued and he gave her an old tube of oil-paint. From there she began experimenting with every media she could find.
Later, Begg’s family moved to Atlantic County, NJ where she attended high school and was mentored by Florence Miller, an instrumental artist in the Atlantic City arts and founder of the Atlantic City Fine Arts Commission. Begg won her first competition for a pen and ink poster and her work appeared in the Valore Miller Gallery in Caesar’s Hotel. Begg earned a degree in Art Education from Trenton State and worked as an educator and counselor before retiring and entering the art world full time.
Sometime around 2004 Begg took a sculpting class with Ron Bevilacqua and her medium shifted from sawdust to wood because she could hold the thicker, heavier tools. She began entering her work in shows and has been a regular contributor to New Hope’s “Naked in New Hope” art show, sponsored by Sidetracks Gallery and now entering its 12th year.
Begg’s woodwork is stunning and evokes all the movement and story she emphasizes in conversation. Her wood is often locally sourced, either from pine in her backyard, pieces traded with woodworker friends, or from Bucks County Hardwood in Doylestown. “I love Black walnut,” she says. Another favorite is African Mahogany which is tropical, so it can be used outside,” she explains.
One of her biggest commissions, the “Mississippi Project,”— consists of an altar, lectern, and sculpture stand carved from Black Walnut for a church. Upon the pastor’s request, Begg shaped the pieces to look as if “they’re growing out of the ground.” It’s this kind of organic nuance that seems to flow from all Begg’s work and she would love to do more, large-scale pieces like this. A dream project for her, in fact, would be “a relief carving for the entranceway of a large corporation or railings in a corporate interior.”
In the interim you’ll find Begg in her studio on 43 Canal Street working on any number of artistic projects to tell her stories: wood carvings like “Check Please” inspired by New Hope and being in restaurants, or “Lady Luck” inspired by the poplar and cherry wood shapes that looked like horseshoes. “Shape and texture make a story evolve,” explains Begg.
“I’m always working, even if I can’t work physically, I’m working in my mind,” she says. Begg draws every day and considers her art a blessing in the face of the physical limitations of her Parkinson’s disease. Whether working on her sculptures or drawings or her collaborations on books with fellow artists she’s constantly inspired by the blue herons of the Delaware River, walks along the Towpath, and the stonework, trees, and wildlife of Bucks County.
In cast you missed it, watch Cathy's Story with Mandee K. Hammerstein below