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Sharpsburg’s Alexander Sands draws national attention with Lawrenceville art gallery

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By Tawnya Panizzi

Fox Chapel Area graduate Alexander Sands opened his Lawrenceville art gallery in February and has been blown away by the number of requests he gets from artists to display their work, from as far as Alaska and beyond.

But Sands, a Sharpsburg resident, is staying true to his focus to bolster local and regional artists at his Vestige Concept Gallery.

“It’s better for business and we enjoy meeting people, hosting events and creating a culturally relevant experience for our friends and visitors,” said Sands, who graduated from FCA in 2002.

For people who can’t attend in-person at his location at 5417 Butler St., there are online tours that Sands said might appeal to “virtual folks, national artists and for posterity.”

Sands launched his art gallery after being underwhelmed by the lack of local opportunity for creative types like himself.

Vestige Concept Gallery has quickly gained popularity, Sands said, for its non-pretentious vibe that belies the rigid quality standards for display and sale.

Sands and media Director Kelsey Dennis create themed exhibits each month that feature 35 artists with one or two headliners.

“Diverse, short and fun” exhibits pique patrons’ interest more than slow solo shows, Sands said.

“There is an abundance of great art out there but we have to be able to group, market and sell that work,” he said.

Having shown more than 240 works since opening the Butler Street doors, Dennis said “we work very hard to keep the exhibits fresh and the audiences love it.”

Guest curators create added appeal, including the recent spring show which featured Kyle Houser, director of Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media, and “Hot Summer City” by Rafael Fuchs, an internationally recognized photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

In July, the gallery featured rare works from photojournalist Ron Haviv, and in August, Robert Andy Coombs.

In addition to art openings, other monthly events include small music performances and film screenings.

The gallery also carries casual gifts along with collector-grade works of art.

“If you don’t see it on the walls, we can get it or create it for you,” Dennis said.

“We want people to realize that starting an art collection is something that is personally enriching and important for your well-being, especially now,” Dennis said.

Next up is “Art In The Fast Lane” which opens on Sept. 11 and “Primal Disposition” on Oct. 16.

For more information and for gallery hours and events, visit vestigegallery.com