Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Japanese folk tales take center stage at Pittsburgh's City of Asylum on Saturday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 2:25 PM

  • Photo courtesy of City of Asylum
  • Kuniko Yamamoto

Visiting storyteller Kuniko Yamamoto will take families on a journey to Japan this Saturday at City of Asylum’s Alphabet City tent. Her Origami Tales continues a new series, Summer on Sampsonia, named after the North Side street that the nonprofit literary center calls home.

Combining origami, masks, musical instruments and mime to tell traditional tales, Yamamoto gives audiences a chance to experience firsthand the culture of Japan.

Yamamato is a native of Japan currently based in Florida. Trained by renowned mime/actor Tony Montanaro, Yamamoto has performed extensively at venues throughout the U.S., including Disney’s Epcot Center and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Thanks to her magician husband, she also incorporates subtle illusions into her ancient stories.

As City of Asylum preps for the upcoming opening of its new Alphabet City cultural center, in the former Masonic Building, near the Garden Theater, it continues using a large tent adjacent to its headquarters to host literary, jazz and cultural events.

Origami Tales takes place on Sat., Aug. 20, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 318 Sampsonia Way, on the North Side. The event is free to the public, but reservations are encouraged.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wigle Whiskey starting crowdfund to create a new whiskey museum in Pittsburgh

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Chris Moehle of Robotics Hub (left) and Meredith Meyer Grelli of Wigle Whiskey (second from left) at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse in the North Side. - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Chris Moehle of Robotics Hub (left) and Meredith Meyer Grelli of Wigle Whiskey (second from left) at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse in the North Side.
The company that brought back whiskey pride to the birthplace of the Whiskey Rebellion is taking another step toward spreading the traditions of Pennsylvania distilling. Wigle Whiskey is seeking to start an interactive whiskey museum here in Pittsburgh, adding to their mission of reigniting interest in the rye whiskey heritage of Western Pennsylvania.

“It’s time to reclaim our place in whiskey history,” Wigle co-owner Meredith Meyer Grelli said to a small crowd at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse in the North Side yesterday. 

Grelli said that while Kentucky and the Bourbon Trail get most of the attention when it comes to whiskey heritage in the U.S., Western Pennsylvania actually deserves most of the credit for popularizing the spirit in America. After all, following George Washington’s quashing of the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania in the late 1700s, many distillers moved to Kentucky, where they created Bourbon shortly after.

The Whiskey of America Museum, or WAM!, will include exhibits on whiskey’s history in America, cultural displays detailing the spirit’s rise in popularity, do-it-yourself cocktail stations, and interactive exhibits that engage visitors in the science behind distilling. Grelli says that the Pittsburgh community will be an integral part of the process, and local artists, scientists and makers will contribute to the museum. Chris Moehle, of the Robotics Hub, a Carnegie Mellon University-General Electric collaboration, says the group has plans to create and showcase a robot for the museum that will automate the malting process of making whiskey.

“It’s going to be like a kids museum for adults, with alcohol,” says Grelli.

A bottle shop and tasting room will accompany the museum and will feature local spirits, beer, ciders and wine for sale. The museum site will also serve as the trailhead for the new Rye Whiskey Trail, which will stretch from Pittsburgh to George Washington's historic estate Mount Vernon, just south of Washington, D.C., following the Great Allegheny Passage and C & O Canal Towpath bike paths.

Many regional and national groups have already signed on to help create the museum, which Grelli emphasizes isn’t a Wigle museum, but a whiskey museum. A 16-member committee has formed and includes representatives from the Smithsonian Institute of American History, Heinz History Center, George Washington's Mount Vernon, Allegheny County Economic Development and Pittsburgh City Councilor Dan Gilman.

Wigle is contributing $250,000 to the project and is hoping to raise an additional $35,000 via a Kickstarter campaign. Pledges to WAM!’s crowdfunding campaign come with prizes like t-shirts, party invites and even engraved mini oak barrels. Grelli says the museum will start as a pop-up at a to-be-determined location in Downtown this November. Then they hope to find a permanent location somewhere in Pittsburgh that could open sometime in 2018. 

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

House-sized artwork premieres at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 11:02 AM

Detail of Dennis Maher's "A Second Home" - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE MATTRESS FACTORY
  • Image courtesy of the Mattress Factory
  • Detail of Dennis Maher's "A Second Home"
Buffalo-based artist Dennis Maher premieres A Second Home, his new work that that fills all three floors of the Mattress Factory’s galleries at 516 Sampsonia Way.

As City Paper glimpsed in a walk-through while the site-specific installation was in progress, Second Home packs the building with an array of architectural elements — from wooden archways to miniature curving staircases.

That was about two months ago, which suggests how extensive a process this is for Maher, an artist, architect and educator whose recent projects “have focused on processes of disassembly and reconstitution through drawing, photography, collage and constructions,” according to press materials.

Maher is a professor in the Department of Architecture at Buffalo-SUNY whose works have been exhibited across the U.S. and as far afield as Spain. His award-winning work has been featured in publications from the The New York Times to Architectural Review.

Second Home will be on view “for an undetermined amount of time.”

An opening reception is 6-8 p.m. tomorrow, in the museum’s lobby at 500 Sampsonia Way, on the North Side. Guided tours of Second Home will be given throughout the evening.

Admission is free.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pittsburgh's inaugural Re:NEW Festival to celebrate sustainability and reuse through art

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 4:27 PM

Artist and Pittsburgh resident Bill Miller's "Three Sisters" was made from vintage linoleum flooring. Miller has exhibited with Drap-Art for four years. - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE GREATER PITTSBURGH ARTS COUNCIL
  • Image courtesy of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
  • Artist and Pittsburgh resident Bill Miller's "Three Sisters" was made from vintage linoleum flooring. Miller has exhibited with Drap-Art for four years.
Local officials today announced the inaugural Re:NEW Festival, which unites more than 20 organizations and dozens of artists to celebrate the themes of sustainability, transformation and creative reuse citywide.

Re:NEW, taking place Sept. 9 to Oct. 9, will be highlighted by the North American premiere of Drap-Art, the international festival of recycling art from Spain, at the Wintergarden at PPG Place. Drap-Art will feature about 80 works of art all constructed from discarded materials.

Other art installations will go up at Gateway Center, U.S. Steel Tower Plaza and in the North Side's Deutschtown neighborhood. Exhibits are scheduled at 709 Gallery and the Big Room at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, in Downtown; Sweetwater Center for the Arts, in Swickley; and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, in Shadyside.

The festival will also feature walking and biking tours to explore green community initiatives, study native trees Downtown with artist Ann Rosenthal, and discover green spaces throughout the Hill District.

Leadership behind the new festival includes the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Sustainable Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Resources Council, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
The festival also includes the latest installment of Art Olympics, on Sept. 17 at 613 Smithfield St., with teams of artists putting their creativity to the test with items donated by Goodwill.

Other events include bestselling author Sebastian Junger discussing his latest book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, on Sept. 15 at the Carnegie Lecture Hall.

In addition, music and dance performances, workshops for families, film screenings, TEDx speakers, school visits and even a dinner cooked using "rescued" grocery-store produce will color the month-long festival. Prepare to start looking at "garbage" in a whole new light.

To learn more about the Re:NEW Festival and its lengthy list of events, visit

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pittsburgh’s Inaugural Homewood-Brushton Self-Guided Arts and Culture Tour this Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 11:42 AM


Cultural treasures past and present are the focus of this free neighborhood tour, which takes place in conjunction with this year’s Harambee Black Arts Festival.

After picking up your tour map at the festival’s registration table (located on Kelly Street between North Lang and North Homewood avenues), head out to see sites associated with pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn, photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, pioneering black supermodel Naomi Sims, jazz musician Erroll Garner and more. All these luminaries lived, worked or played in Homewood.

Architectural landmarks include Mystery Manor, home to the National Negro Opera Company (the nation’s first African-American opera troupe), and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — Homewood.

The tour is presented by Operation Better Block, Inc., and the Homewood-Brushton Business Association and Homewood Artist Residency. Organizers include historian and author John Brewer, Jr., Operation Better Block’s Demi Kolke, art historian Kilolo Luckett, and the HBBA’s Diane Turner.

Free transportation is available for seniors and those with physical disabilities. For more information, see here.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Exhibits at Wood Street Galleries and SPACE Gallery are a highlight for attendees of Downtown Pittsburgh’s Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Downtown Gallery Crawl
Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl Downtown Gallery Crawl

Downtown Gallery Crawl

Photos by Stephen Caruso

Click to View 39 slides

Attendees of Friday’s Gallery Crawl Downtown had to be prepared to be engulfed when they entered Wood Street Galleries’ second floor.

On display was Pêle-Mêle, a work by visual artist Olivier Ratsi, which aims to “simulate immaterial three-dimension space.” To do this, red light is projected in patterns onto structures strewn around the room. A low buzzing sound also filled the air. The end result is a trance like sensation as the room envelops the viewer.

Matthew Spangler, a Wilkinsburg resident, stood contemplative in the back of the room, taking in the whole experience.

“You just have to come with an open mind and see where it takes you,” Spangler said.

Such an open mind was key for the many participants in Friday’s crawl, organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Gallery goers could find painting, printing, video games, live music and improv comedy — along with food and beer — scattered along Penn and Liberty avenues at 27 different stops, and all for free.

The most popular exhibit, John Riegert, was located at SPACE Gallery. Curated by Brett Yasko, the exhibit gave 250 Pittsburgh artists an assignment — make a portrait, in whatever medium they chose, of the eponymous man.

The artists’ originality was on full display, as audio visual displays, an impressionistic bust, even a wooden chair all worked together in harmony presenting their image of Riegert — sometimes with one of his two dogs, Jack and Zoe.

Riegert, himself an artist, wandered the exhibit as a living docent, to create, in his words, a “mind boggling” experience.

The long-white-haired subject managed to escape many people’s attention — perhaps the lack of the equally long white beard that appeared in most of the portraits can be blamed. But Riegert wasn’t there for attention.

“I’m not a very big egomaniac,” he said. “All I need is a clipboard and a sharpie marker, and I’m happy.”

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Friday, June 24, 2016

“Interactive video bath” premieres tonight at Pittsburgh’s Neu Kirche

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Internationally exhibited, California-based artist Tra Bouscaren will open Projection Theory Slant Rhyme Institute, a cutting-edge video-based installation.

Image of a video installation by Tra Bouscaren
  • Image of a video installation by Tra Bouscaren
The work promises to immerse viewers “within images of themselves, literalized by interactive video software via live surveillance feeds from within the gallery,” according to press materials. “The projection mapping functions as an ‘interactive video bath’ constructed from multiple live surveillance feeds mashed together with drone footage, GIS imaging, and poached live webcams from all over the world.”

The purpose is to explore “the crossroads of addiction and demolition.”

Bouscaren is a lecturer in the Department of Art at the University of California Santa Cruz. His work has been exhibited at venues in Barcelona and Madrid, in Spain, and the Museum für Naturkunde, in Berlin.

Tonight’s reception starts are 6:30 p.m. The suggested donation is $10.

Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center is located at 1000 Madison Ave., on the North Side.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Three Rivers Arts Fest brings musical acts Leftover Salmon and Charles Bradley to Downtown Pittsburgh

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 4:09 PM

Musical acts continue to draw crowds to Point State Park this week, as the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival brings 10 days of free performing and visual arts to Downtown Pittsburgh. On Tuesday night, Leftover Salmon, a jam band from Boulder, Colo., brought its rootsy, string-based music to the main stage. Old-school soul singer Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, dubbed “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” was the headliner on Wednesday night.

Check out photos from both performances in our photo slideshows below; plus, don’t miss our photos from last Sunday night’s headliners Ibeyi here.

The Arts Festival continues through Sun., June 12. That night, headliner Lake Street Dive, a soulful pop band frequently heard on local independent radio station WYEP's playlist, takes the stage at 7:30 p.m.

Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley Charles Bradley Charles Bradley Charles Bradley Charles Bradley Charles Bradley Charles Bradley Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley

Click to View 35 slides

Leftover Salmon
Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon Leftover Salmon

Leftover Salmon

Click to View 25 slides

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SPACE hosts Pittsburgh's third annual Performance Art Festival tomorrow and Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 3:14 PM

After drawing more than 500 visitors last year, the Performance Art Festival (PAF) is back, featuring performances by 22 artists from all over the globe, and now as part of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

PAF performer Hannah Thompson, of Pittsburgh - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo courtesy of the artist
  • PAF performer Hannah Thompson, of Pittsburgh
Founded by Bunker Projects, a gallery and artist residency based in Friendship, the festival plans to showcase 16 combined hours of performance. Cutting-edge pieces will include public interventions as well as site-specific performances centering on themes that connect across cultural and political boundaries.

The performers in the third annual festival, curated by Abagail Beddall, hail from as far away as Norway, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Mexico, and from Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City and, of course, Pittsburgh. 

Bunker Projects chose to expand the festival from its home base, which has a gallery area of about 500 square feet along with apartments and studios for resident artists.

PAF performer Lara Salmon, of Los Angeles - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo courtesy of the artist
  • PAF performer Lara Salmon, of Los Angeles
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust offered Downtown's SPACE Gallery as part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

PAF 2016 will take place 4-10 p.m. both tomorrow and Saturday. Admission is free. To learn more, visit

SPACE Gallery is at 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Photos from refugee camp a highlight at Pittsburgh’s Arts Festival

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 10:52 AM

One of the more powerful statements at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival is Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp 04.01.16-04.21.16: Displacement / Resilience/ Hope. This installation by locally based photographer Maranie Staab turns the old Liberty Avenue visitors’-information kiosk into a moving testament to the humanity of people who have nowhere to go.

A photo from "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp" - PHOTO BY MARANIE STAAB
  • Photo by Maranie Staab
  • A photo from "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp"
Staab made the 18 photos during her recent three-week stay at the camp, which is located in Jordan and is now what she calls “a semi-permanent home” for about 100,000 people who have fled war and other terrors. Most of the refugees are from Syria.

The camp, which opened four years ago, occupies three square miles of desert. Run by the Jordanian government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, it was designed to shelter 60,000, but has instead been home to as many as 250,000 at a time (making it, says Staab, the fourth largest “city” in Jordan).

And Zaatari is of course only one of many destinations for such refugees, of whom Syria alone has produced more than 2.5 million.

Exterior view of "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp" - PHOTO BY BILL O'DRISCOLL
  • Photo by Bill O'Driscoll
  • Exterior view of "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp"
Staab says her goal was to show the refugees as individuals, not as the faceless masses so often depicted in the media, and to communicate their resourcefulness in the face of dire circumstances.

Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp is located right next to Carrie Mincemoyer's highly visible Dandelions installation on the Liberty Avenue sidewalk. Staab herself is frequently staffing the installation and says she’ll be there especially during high-traffic times, like the weekend. This past Friday, the first day of the festival, she told CP that her photos had already sparked dialogue about the refugee crisis with visitors to the exhibit.

The installation, like the festival as a whole, continues through this Sunday, and attendance is free.

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