‘Familiar Spaces’ exhibit open at Sweetwater in Sewickley

Building by Lauren Scavo

Lauren Scavo has seen one or two of her artworks framed here or there when they were hanging in an exhibition with pieces by other artists, but it is different to see a lot of her charcoal drawings in frames at once.

“It’s really exciting to see everything framed,” said Scavo, 23, of Indiana, Pa. “I’ve never framed pretty much my entire body of work.”

It likely is even more exciting for her now as her framed drawings are on display at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley. Her solo show — “Familiar Spaces” — exhibition concludes with an artist reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 9.

This is the second year Sweetwater has taken applications from artists for a summer solo show, said Alexandra Watrous, the center’s artistic coordinator.

“We saw a need for more opportunities for artists to have solo exhibitions in our region, so we wanted to offer one,” she said.

About 35 artists from within 200 miles of Pittsburgh applied this year, Watrous said. She chose Scavo for the exhibition and called her drawings “beautifully crafted.”

“Her work stood out to me because of its intimacy. …,” said Watrous, 42, of Springdale Borough. “There’s an intimacy to her work that draws you in.”

Scavo said she just finished her first year of study toward a master’s of fine arts with a major in drawing and a minor in painting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She said the show is a great opportunity.

“I was really excited and kind of surprised, but obviously in a good way,” Scavo said about her reaction to finding out she had been chosen for the exhibition.

She said she had heard about Sweetwater and is somewhat familiar with Sewickley because she lived in Beaver Falls until she was 7, when her family moved to New Kensington. She was home-schooled and then received a bachelor’s degree in drawing/painting and English from Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.

Scavo said her charcoal drawings are influenced by photography, especially the “deadpan aesthetic,” which she described as an effort to make photographs as objective as possible.

She said there is an idea that drawing is inherently subjective and expressive while photography is objective, and she wanted to make her pieces look more like photos.

“I think landscapes are big, and they’re all encompassing, but the way we interact with the landscapes are personal,” Scavo said.

Although she thinks landscapes are big, the images Scavo will have in the show are small. She said her show will have about 20 drawings, most which are 5 inches by 7 inches — a common size for photos, and all will be in 18-inch-square frames.

Scavo said the landscapes, which she did over the past nine months, show places from her childhood or that she is familiar with in some other way.

“All of the landscapes are western Pennsylvania landscapes. They’re all pretty local,” Scavo said.

She said the Romantic Movement, particularly landscape painters J.M.W. Turner and John Constable, also is one of her influences.

Scavo is looking forward to showing her work at Sweetwater.

“I’m excited to share it with people beyond my cohort at school,” she said.

Watrous said solo shows give people a chance to learn more about an artist.

“What tends to happen more often is artists have one or two pieces in a group show, and you don’t get a sense of everything they do,” she said.

Madelyn Dinnerstein is a Tribune-Review contributor.

“Familiar Spaces: Exhibition of Work by Lauren Scavo” will be on display through Sept. 9 at the Sweetwater Center for the Arts inside the Old Sewickley Post Office building, 200 Broad St. in Sewickley. Admission is free. Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call 412-741-4405 to find out other times the gallery will be open.

An artist reception is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 9.


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