'Alternative Photography' installation this weekend at White-Ellery House

·3 min read

Jul. 15—In the preface of her best-selling memoir, "Pentimento," the late American playwright Lillian Hellman explained that her choice of title was taken from painting: "Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called 'pentimento' .... to see and then see again."

The same could be said of the works of Patricia Scialo, who calls herself "an alternative photographer" and is exhibiting some 20 recent works this weekend at Gloucester's 311-year-old White-Ellery House.

Scialo is not of course a painter but a photographer, a fine arts photographer whose painterly photos have a multi-layered depth that really does let the viewer "see and see again."

Case in point? Using 19th century photo processing, she has recently been working with "an incredible collection of vintage glass photo plates from the archives of the Cape Ann Museum." One print was produced from a mid-19th century glass plate of the Gloucester's Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage. Here, as in many of her works, layers and depth of evocative imagery lets the viewers, as in pentimento — "see the original lines."

A self-described "art programmer," Scialo has conducted workshops and events in multiple museums, A native New Yorker, she and her engineer husband moved to the North Shore three years ago, and — not surprisingly — " the first thing she did when she got here was to connect with local museums, becoming a familiar presence at Salem's Peabody Essex Museum, and at Gloucester's Cape Ann Museum, where she recently conducted a "community workshop."

That workshop, under Scialo's direction, produced one of three murals, printed on textiles, that are on view at the White-Ellery House starting Friday, July 15, and remaining through Sunday, July 17.

Scialo's local roots go back to her student days at her alma mater, the Boston Fine Arts Academy, and her two daughters have chosen to settle down in Boston, so there are family roots, too.

"I am thrilled to be on the North Shore," she told the Times.

It is very fitting that this weekend's installation of works should be held at the White-Ellery House. Home to generations over the centuries, the house — beautifully preserved — evokes in a viewer the same sense of layered depth that Scialo strives for in her works. In this case, a sense of "the original lines" of First Period New England life.

Sciola will be on hand Friday at the White-Ellery House for the opening of the installation, 11 to 4 p.m. The installation will remain on view Saturday, July 16, from 11 to 4 p.m., and Sunday, July 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. The exhibition is free to the public.

The White-Ellery House, part of the Cape Ann Museum Green campus, is just off Route 128's Grant Circle, at {span}247 Washington St. in Gloucester. {/span}

For more informations on the artist, visit www.patriciascialo.com. For more information about the White-Ellery House, visit https://www.capeannmuseum.org/collections/white-ellery-house-1710/