Artist, city native Savakis explores local landmarks

Tribune Chronicle/Andy Gray Artist Alex Savakis, left, talks with Vince D’Onofrio of Newton Falls at the opening reception for Savakis’ illustrations of Warren landmarks, which will be on display through December at Trumbull Art Gallery.

WARREN — Folks can tour the city without leaving Trumbull Art Gallery in a new exhibition running through December.

Warren native Alex Savakis, 52, works as a web designer in the San Francisco area but also is an illustrator with an interest in hand lettering. He has been creating images of local landmarks since mid-April as part of the “100 Day Project,” which was founded by Elle Luna to foster creativity and encourage participants to choose an action / activity and continue it for 100 days. In 2015, Savakis did 150 hand-lettering pieces.

“I was just going to do lettering again because I’m a lettering artist,” he said. “Warren has a lot of interesting buildings and architecture, and I just wanted to brush up on my skills and decided I’ll render these buildings.”

Initially, he worked in a sketchbook and then took photographs of the work to share on social media.

“I wanted to go directly from a digital device to social media,” he said. “I didn’t want to go through that step.”

Most of the work on display was created on an iPad Pro using Apple Pencil and the ProCreate app. The technology might be new; the process isn’t.

“I still had to block in the color, block in general details and then highlight and shade things,” Savakis said. “Despite the method, the technical tradition is the same.”

While the project include landmarks like the Trumbull County Courthouse, Packard Music Hall and Warren City Hall, Savakis also was drawn to vintage signs, like the one at Echo Lanes bowling alley.

“I have an interest in old neon signs,” he said. “Warren has a few left, and I wanted to capture those. I think they’re historically significant and reflect a different time. When I started observing them, I noticed others on Instagram are doing it, too. It’s sort of a hot subject … And for lettering nerds and type nerds, it has an appeal.”

Savakis, a 1982 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School, was invited to display some of his work in the group show at TAG that coincided with Warren Homecoming in September. Gallery Director Willliam Mullane then offered him a solo show.

“I like just how referential and localized the work is,” Mullane said. “It celebrates architecture and popular sites in the city itself, which I think is exciting.

“Also we’ve been doing so much around redevelopment the last couple years, working with TNP (Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership) on murals and a couple other exhibits and the brownfields exhibit with the (Western Reserve) Port Authority. This fits right in.”

Savakis is in town for tonight’s opening reception and said he usually gets back to Warren once a year around the holidays. While working on the pieces didn’t make him nostalgic for home, he said, “It made me appreciate there a significant history in Warren that is underappreciated.”

He currently has finished 54 pieces and is determined to complete 46 more before next year’s 100-day project is announced in the spring.

“It was supposed to be a house a day,” Savakis said. “It started that way, but you can tell the work has evolved. Some take a few hours, some take a couple day.”

The most time-consuming was the Trumbull County Courthouse.

“I had to stop and walk away from it, go back, take a chunk out and walk away again,” he said. “The courthouse, there’s a lot of nooks and crannies in that place.”



If you go …

WHAT: “Alex Savakis: Warren, OH!”

WHEN: Through Dec. 31. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

WHERE: Trumbull Art Gallery, 158 N. Park Ave., Warren

HOW MUCH: Admission is free. For more information, call 330-395-4876.


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