Sweetwater Community Spotlight: Studio 419

Our vision is to thrive as regional asset and to lead innovative, relevant arts and cultural programming throughout the region. Our values of Community, Classes, and Culture help us focus on serving communities as a regional asset, providing programming of the highest artistic quality, and creating an environment that supports excellence in the arts.


If the Old Sewickley Post Office — home of Sweetwater Center for the Arts — is the Mona Lisa, then Studio419 is Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Located in the heart of the Village at 419 Beaver St., the studio is 3,000 square feet of possibility. For now, pops of color greet visitors to the contemporary space, but Studio419 will be a place capable of morphing into whatever young artists and the community want it to be.

“We’re 44 years old. To be successful in what you do, you have to change and make sure you’re working toward a mission, and you have to make sure that mission is relevant,” said Thomas Walters, Sweetwater executive director. “Part of my vision for the organization … is to figure out what we do best, and what the community wants us to do.”

Sweetwater offers classes, workshops and lectures in the visual, performing, literary and culinary arts for children through adults. Where Walters and others saw a need was with middle and high school students, an age group they don’t see a lot of at their 200 Broad St. headquarters, which was built in 1910.

“What is there has been there and will be there, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we wanted a space that could transform and alter,” Walters said. “Our core programming will feature working artists in the studio for partially guided instruction.”

Studio419 will also be a gallery space, the hub of community art pieces, and a place where adult artists can work during the day.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air for the staff,” Walters said. “For about 30 years, it’s been business as usual — and that’s not a negative thing — but we needed something to get excited about.”

The space is under lease through October by Kirsten Recker, who owned gift shop Barberry Handmade until it closed in December. Recker started discussing the idea of a community art space with artist Thressia Kriebel in 2018. Walters said the hope is to secure a long-term lease by securing funding and sponsorship.

In the future, Walters can see offering STEAM programming and building relationships with Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy to enrich students’ art exposure.

The community will get a chance to explore Studio419 during a “Spill the Tea Party” from 6 to 9 p.m. April 4. Recker, Kriebel, their children and Quaker Valley students have been transforming the space for the grand opening, when student artwork will be on display and guests will be able to participate in interactive projects that will later be a part of public art pieces.

“It’s exciting,” Walters said. “We’re starting a new conversation. It’s the right time and place to do that.”

AUTHOR: Natalie Miller, Tribune-Review
PHOTOS: Gwen Stonesifer, Tribune-Review

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Message from the community team

Dear friends,

I know everyone is looking forward to sunny days and warmer weather – I know I am! Now that we’ve released our Spring and Summer catalog, I feel like it’s just around the corner!

We have a lot in store for the next several months and we’re so excited to share everything with you. Of course, you will have the opportunity to continue learning and exploring traditional media, but we encourage you to take advantage of the many new classes and workshops we have planned.

I’m very excited to announce the opening of Studio419 located at 419 Beaver St. This new studio space is a way for us to reach a new audience, programming new and different classes, and serving as the hub for our innovative public art initiative. I’d like to invite you to our opening “Spill the Tea Party” on Thursday, April 4 to learn more about our vision and plans for the Studio. In addition to the new space, we have a new Master Series of workshops, featuring artists of national and international renown who will come teach multi-day classes beginning in June. You don’t need to be a Master yourself to come study with these phenomenal artists!

We have several events lined up for the spring and summer: Throwdown Showdown II is back by popular demand on April 18, the 2nd annual Spring Luxe Jewelry sale will take place May 2-5, three exhibitions will be featured in our gallery, and a new weekly summer acoustic music series will begin in July.

We hope you take advantage of some of these exciting new endeavors. We value your dedication to Sweetwater and can’t wait to see you soon!



When you or a family member is looking to take an art class, view an exhibition, or attend a cultural event, where do you turn? If you're like most in our community, you go to Sweetwater Center for the Arts.

$1,000 provides enough materials to fund a semester-long community outreach program.
$500 allows two senior citizens to take an oil painting class.
$250 provides enough clay for every student in an 8-week ceramics class.
$200 will send a child to summer camp for a week.
$100 provides the food for a culinary workshop.
$50 provides materials for two weeks of painting camps.

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