Walk among the colors at 13th Sewickley Spring Gallery Walk

Kurt Shaw
| Thursday, April 28, 2011

Friday evening marks another installment of Sewickley's long-running Spring Gallery Walk. The 13-year-old annual tradition invites the entire Pittsburgh area to come and see artwork displayed in galleries and shops throughout the tiny town nestled in the Ohio River Valley.

One of the highlights of the event is the variety of work available, from fine artworks by local established artists to more avant-garde works by young emerging artists and everything in between. This year is no exception, with impressive showings at several of the participating venues.

Because the gallery walk opens on Arbor Day, Elan Fine Art Gallery (427 Broad St.) has partnered with Fern Hollow Nature Center to produce the exhibit "Tree Lines," which features the work of more than a dozen regional artists. Ranging in media from oil paintings to photographic works, the tree-themed pieces will be complimented by custom-made furniture crafted from fallen trees by Urban Tree Forge and rain barrels painted by local schoolchildren, which will be raffled off to benefit Fern Hollow's Natural Outdoor Classroom.

For anyone craving a taste of Sewickley past, be sure to stop by the Sewickley Gallery and Frame Shop (549 Beaver St.) to see the exhibit "Elgin Park or Sewickley." Featuring new works by Michael Paul Smith, the show is a re-creation in photographs of small town America in the mid-20th-century that was inspired by Smith's youth, growing up in Sewickley.

Expect to see photographs of craftsmen-style houses, ice cream stands and gas stations, complete with mid-century automobiles parked outside. All of these scenes were first created as scale models inside Smith's apartment in Winchester, Mass.

"Everything is done old-school, no Photoshop. They are dioramas like you've never seen." says gallery owner Mark Rengers. "He uses a generic point-and-shoot camera, and bare light bulbs ... to light them."

Photos are the focus, too, at International Images (514 Beaver St.) where the exhibit "Beautiful/Gritty: Nature City" will feature the highly detailed floral photographs of Rafaelo Kazakov and landscapes photographs of the Southwest by Michel Hersen.

A Bulgarian artist living in New York City, Kazakov is a master of mood and tone, and his close-cropped photos of flowers create personal pieces that demand time and attention of the viewer. Hersen -- who currently lives in Portland, Ore., but some may remember as a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh from 1974 to '92 -- creates works that seem to imply a story with their gaze alone, and the collection of images here is both beautiful and eerie -- a definite must-see.

"I think it's an interesting juxtaposition," says gallery director Emily Page, of the two-photographer showing, "They are very different in a lot of ways, but the exhibit has come together nicely."

For something more contemporary, there is no better place to look than the vacant space behind the Clearview Federal Credit Union (510 Beaver St.). That's where Andrew Ames, a Robert Morris University assistant professor of media arts, will display four "modified games" in the exhibit "Bending the Rules."

For example, "Argument" combines Chinese checkers with elements of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and "Last Resort" is a modified chess game in which one side of the board is all pawns. "You're forced to play in a new way," Ames says of his games, which take old standards and make them anew in interesting and challenging ways.

Another spot to mark on the map is House of Two Sisters, next to the Sewickley Hotel (509 Beaver St.). This month, the ever-expanding gallery will feature the work of widely acclaimed Sewickley painter Claire Hardy next to local up-and-comer Max Nungesser, a Quaker Valley High School student, among others.

"His mom and his grandmother have surrounded him with art from Mexico and this is the result, " says Molly Amsler, of Max's brightly colored paintings that are sure to grab the attention of all who enter Amsler's dark, mysterious space, quite different than that of a typically sterile gallery.

Former Quaker Valley student Sarah Zeffiro (class of 2001), now living in Squirrel Hill, will show her latest paintings at Penguin Bookshop (420 Beaver St.). Zeffiro was the artist who, along with onetime Sewickley gallerist and artist Tom Mosser, created the "Two Andys" mural on the side of the Wiener World building at Strawberry Way and Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh, which also graces the cover of the book, "Pittsburgh: A New Portrait," by Franklin Toker.

These selections are just the tip of the iceberg, with more than two dozen participating venues. And to make things more accessible, the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce has arranged for free parking at the meters after 4 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday.

Additional Information:

Sewickley Spring Gallery Walk

When: 5-9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free

Where: Various locations on or adjacent to Broad and Beaver Streets in Sewickley

Details: Website

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