Arts

Friday, April 22, 2016

Play Art Bingo at Lawrenceville’s Art All Night and win a City Paper prize pack

Posted By and on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 3:29 PM

art-all-night-lawrenceville-city-paper-bingo.jpg

The highlight of the spring art season is the 19th annual Art All Night. At this Lawrenceville event, held from 4 p.m. Sat., April 23, through 2 p.m. Sun., April 24, anybody can display their artwork, and plenty do. Frankly, it can be overwhelming for visitors.

To help you focus, City Paper designed four bingo cards just for Art All Night. In the squares are art forms and subjects to look for: string art and things made with branches; photos of the Pittsburgh skyline and sunsets; portraits of dogs and babies; plus the ever-popular zombies, Steelers and wizards.

Art-All-Night-Bingo-Card-1.pdf
Art-All-Night-Bingo-Card-2.pdf
Art-All-Night-Bingo-Card-3.pdf
Art-All-Night-Bingo-Card-4.pdf
Download and print one or all four. To win, complete any row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally). Tweet a photo of your winning card in front of winning art (the one that completed your B-I-N-G-O) to @PGHCityPaper using the hashtag #CPArtBingo, and be eligible for a City Paper prize pack, which will include CP T-shirts and two tickets to three upcoming Stage AE shows — Say Anything on May 11; The Avett Brothers on May 12 and Ellie Goulding on May 13.

True lovers of art in all forms will want to play blackout (finding all the squares). And why not? You’ve got all night.

Art All Night. Arsenal Terminal at 39th and Foster streets, Lawrenceville. Free. www.artallnight.org

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Final Performances of "The Flick" at Pittsburgh’s The REP

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 11:18 AM

I know, I know, it’s all about Prince this morning, as it should be. But I hope you recover in time to check out this exceptional production of Annie Baker’s 2015 Pulitzer-winning play.

Sarah Silk and Saladin White II in "The Flick" - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SWENSEN
  • Photo courtesy of Jeff Swensen
  • Sarah Silk and Saladin White II in "The Flick"
The Flick is a real anomaly that sounds daunting and maybe even shouldn’t work: Who these days writes a low-key three-hour comedy, played on one dingy set, where all three main characters are underpaid dorks and two of them are depressives? And which, as Michelle Pilecki points out in her review for CP, is for long passages so shy on dialogue that it's practically a dance show?

But Baker (whose Circle Mirror Transformation was staged by Pittsburgh Public Theater a few years back) is a virtuoso of the space between words: While Baker has a peerless ear for the inarticulate way people really talk, what isn’t said in this play, set in a rundown small-town movie theater, and for how long it’s not said, is at least as communicative as what is (both between the characters themselves and for the audience).

So Baker loves her silences. But because she therefore gives the cast both nothing and everything to work with, The Flick – I’d call it a discontiguous love triangle, though it’s also more – only works if the director and cast get it. And at The REP they surely do: Robert A. Miller guides an amazing ensemble cast led by Sarah Silk, John Steffenauer and Saladin White II.

Three hours is long, yes. But just bring a snack, and come ready to really watch, and really listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Four performances remain of The Flick, tonight through Sunday, at Point Park University's black-box Studio theater, 222 Craft Ave., in Oakland.

Tickets are $10-29 and are available here.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Final week for 12 Peers’ Compelling “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” in Pittsburgh

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 10:49 AM

Theater doesn’t get much purer than this show: For each night of an 18-performance run, it’s a different actor reading a script that he or she has never seen prior to hitting the nearly bare stage. Each performance is literally a show no one can see ever again.

Ingrid Sonnichsen performs "White Rabbit Red Rabbit" - PHOTO COURTESY OF PRAISE WATERS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo courtesy of Praise Waters Photography
  • Ingrid Sonnichsen performs "White Rabbit Red Rabbit"
The material is exceptional, as well: Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour has his actor present a series of variations on stories mostly about animal characters (anthropomorphized and not), with themes exploring isolation, conformity, authoritarianism and group-think. There’s also some clever audience participation, and a darkly comic sub-narrative that involves the lone performer and a risky onstage choice.

I shouldn’t say much more – though the play is hardly plot-based, critics and audiences are admonished not to provide spoilers. Suffice it to say that, in more ways than one, White Rabbit Red Rabbit reaches well beyond the confines of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre space.

For instance, its theatrical novelty, its themes, and its author’s longtime (but recently ended) confinement in his home country have made it a cause celebre, performed internationally by famed actors. An ongoing run at New York’s West Side theater has featured or will feature Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, Mike Birbiglia, Cynthia Nixon, David Hyde Pierce and George Takei, among others.

The 12 Peers Theater production is Pittsburgh’s first White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Some top local talent has already contributed. This past Sunday, for instance, I saw Alan Stanford, artistic and executive director of PICT Classic Theatre – a witty performance that both exploited the script’s opportunities for ad libs and appropriately elicited its darker tones.

And here’s Gwendolyn Kiste’s review for CP of a performance earlier in the run by Rich Keitel.

Just four performances remain. Tonight, the performer is Brian Edward. Tomorrow night, it’s Jeffrey Carpenter of Bricolage Productions, followed on Saturday by Diana Ifft, and on Sunday by an actor to be announced shortly.

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre is located Downtown at 937 Liberty Ave., on the third floor.
Tickets are pay-what-you-desire, but can be reserved here.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: The 2016 Pittsburgh Fringe

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 12:50 PM

One show was canceled, and the central ticketing venue had to be relocated at the last minute. But overall, Pittsburgh’s first-ever fringe festival made some gains in its third year.

Michael Burgos in "The Eulogy"
  • Michael Burgos in "The Eulogy"
Pittsburgh Fringe executive director Xela Batchelder – who took over this year from fest founder Dan Stiker – says the three-day showcase drew about 720 people for 50 performances of 20 individual productions by cutting-edge performance-art acts from around the nation.

For the second year running, Fringe shows were staged in makeshift venues in the North Side’s Deutschtown neighborhood, including James Street Gastropub, Max's Allegheny Tavern and two private clubs (St. Mary’s Lyceum and the Young Men’s Republican Club).

Batchelder tells CP  that her attendance goal for this year was 800, and in fact total attendance was down from the 2015 festival (when 796 folks bought tickets). But because this year there were fewer shows, per-show attendance rose to about 14 per show (compared to 10 in each of the first two years). 

So even though the festival was unable to secure any outside funding, as it had in years past, “I think we’re going to get close to break-even,” says Batchelder.

Some of the increase in per-show attendance was probably due to moving the festival off of the Mother’s Day weekend slot it occupied its first two years; while she hadn’t broken out the numbers yet, Batchelder said that Sunday attendance seemed stronger than in the past.

Based on the three shows I saw this year, all on Saturday, the Fringe deserved much bigger crowds.

Continue reading »

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Arts Festival announces lineup, new features

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Squonk Opera's "Cycle Sonic" - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • Squonk Opera's "Cycle Sonic"

The festival’s 57th annual incarnation, June 3-12, will be broadly familiar: a Point State Park-based footprint, lots of bands, the artists’ market, large-scale outdoor public artworks, a juried visual-art show, festival food.

There’s even the welcome, lately near-annual tradition of a new show by performance-art rock-band faves Squonk Opera.

And it’s all still free, thanks largely to the title sponsor in what’s officially titled the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

But according to info released today by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, there’ll be a few new wrinkles in the festival-going experience, and this year’s public art has a local bent.

For one, the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s CREATE Festival, which last year merely happened in conjunction with the arts fest, is more fully integrated – and it, too, is now free. The day-long festival, will take place June 9 at the Fairmont Hotel, with talks, the Innovation Salon exhibition and more.

Things will also be more comfortable and culinarily pleasing for some fest-goers. Sarah Aziz, the Trust’s new program manager for special events, announced that for the first time the festival will include sensory-friendly “breakout areas” for people on the autism spectrum. Also look for the fest’s first ever feeding room for parents and kids, with a changing station, quiet space for breast-feeding and more.

For those on solid food, there will also be extended availability of food trucks.

At today’s press conference, at the Trust’s Peirce studios, Downtown, Aziz also recapped the previously announced musical guests, including opening-night headliner Michael Franti.

The public art, which in years past has often featured work by visiting artists, this year offers work by three locals.

In Gateway Center, look for large-scale installation “Multiverse Wall,” by Jesse Best (CREATE Festival’s featured artist of the year), and “Dandelions,” street signs mimicking the ubiquitous plant, by Carin Mincemoyer. Meanwhile, Point State Park will host the visionary “WindNest Prototype,” a quarter-scale model of a proposed artwork that doubles as a renewable-energy generator, by Trevor Lee (of Philadelphia-based Suprafutures) and Pittsburgh-based Land Art Generator Initiative.

The surrealism-minded Squonk Opera’s latest, Cycle Sonic, gets six performances June 11 and 12.

Also on the performance front, for the first time Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.’s Theatre Festival in Black and White (with black playwrights directing one-acts by white playwrights, and vice versa) is part of the arts fest.

For a full schedule, see here.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Dance classes and storytelling at Pittsburgh's Market Square this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 8:21 AM

A series of special programs take place in Market Square tonight and tomorrow to highlight Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn's audio installation Mix-n-Match, a larger-than-life illuminated "record player."

The "spindle" of "Mix-N-Match" - PHOTO COURTESY OF OFFICE OF PUBLIC ART
  • Photo courtesy of Office of Public Art
  • The "spindle" of "Mix-N-Match"
This weekend's selections include public dance classes from Arthur Murray Dance Studios, an outfit with more than 260 dance studios in 21 countries. Three of its studios will converge tonight to lead an outdoor class including salsa and line dancing after house artists perform a spotlight performance. The event takes place from 7-9 p.m.

Tomorrow, volunteers from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — Hazelwood will recreate their performance for Mix-n-Match; their track, "Flower Beds," was one of the eight featured on the giant jukebox's playlist. The track features the sounds of tape ripping and a group of Hazelwood residents speaking amongst themselves.

In addition to the live performance, the library will offer other forms of full-fledged family fun including a visit from the story mobile, readings by Hazelwood residents, stories from the library's Reading Buddy program, kite-making and other games, all in honor of April being the Month of the Young Child. Free copies of Will Hillenbrand's book Kite Day (Bear and Mole) will be distributed. The event takes place 1-3 p.m.

Both events are free and open to the public, courtesy of the Office of Public Art and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Volunteers work on the "Mix-N-Match" audio installation earlier this year - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ART
  • Photo courtesy of the Office of Public Art
  • Volunteers work on the "Mix-N-Match" audio installation earlier this year
Mix-N-Match runs through April 30.

For more information, contact Rachel Klipa at 412-391-2060 ext. 237 or visit www.publicartpittsburgh.org.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A conversation with this week’s Pittsburgh City Paper cover illustrator Vince Dorse

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 1:44 PM

Vince Dorse's 2016 Primary Election Guide cover, and a self-portrait of the artist
  • Vince Dorse's 2016 Primary Election Guide cover, and a self-portrait of the artist

Vince Dorse and I have been cheering every single time Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump win another primary race or caucus. That’s because Vince finished this week’s cover illustration a month ago. and the entire image would have been ruined if one of the three candidates pictured on our cover had dropped out before our Election Guide hit the streets today. (See This Week in City Paper History for what happened to us back in 2012 when Rick Santorum dropped his presidential candidacy.) Usually, artists that work with Pittsburgh City Paper only have a few days to begin and complete their illustrations. But we knew we wanted to use Vince for our concept back in February, so I assigned it out to him then, letting him know he had over a month to take his time and stew over it. An entire month! Only, he sent me a sketch two days later and finished the piece on March 10 … 34 days ago.

That eagerness is one of the reasons Vince is so much fun to work with. Having someone getting excited about the projects you assign out doesn’t just make our jobs easier, it really shows in his work. Vince, who lives just south of Pittsburgh and shares a studio with an “attention-starved cat,” is an award-winning cartoonist: His web comic Untold Tales of Bigfoot won an esteemed Reuben comics arts award for Best Online Comic, Long-Form. This week’s Election Guide is his 10th cover for us, but not the first to feature a controversial figure. We talked to him over email about political cartoons and his first City Paper hate mail.

We finished this cover a month ago! How relieved are you that Clinton, Trump and Sanders are all still in the race?
It’s nice to finally stop worrying whether you’ll make me erase someone from the composition before it goes to print. Normally, I don’t get more than a long weekend to do these covers, but this was finished waaaay early and the suspense over whether it would be killed at the last second has been excruciating. I don’t know — part of me might actually enjoy those rush jobs.

Do you have a favorite political cartoonist?
Every so often, I run into award-wining editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers [from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] at a Pittsburgh Cartoonists Lunch, so I should probably name him here so he doesn’t spill his drink on me — but mostly because he’s really good at what he does. Thing is, I don’t normally seek out political humor/commentary. Despite all the politically-themed illustrations you’ve hired me to do, I’m really not an overtly political guy, so I don’t have a deep well of experience to draw from for this answer. What I will say about Rob’s stuff is that, regardless of the message, he manages to make his cartoons both funny and poignant, and that’s a killer combination when you’re trying to catch even the casual reader’s eye.

If you could put any celebrity in your dunk tank, who would you choose to get soaked?
Any celebrity? From any age? I don’t know. Maybe later-period Orson Welles or Marlon Brando because they’d displace a lot of water and their level of indignation would be epic. It’s a comedy one-two punch.

Have you ever wished a politician you didn’t like would win a race, just because s/he would be so much fun to draw?
All politics aside, I was really glad Bill Peduto ran for mayor of Pittsburgh because that guy is just a blast to cartoon. He’s got really identifiable features that lend themselves well to comedic exaggeration. During the run-up to his election I was doodling Pedutos (Pedoodling?) every week so I’d be ready if you tapped me for a cover or spot illo. And you did! I’m actually mildly disappointed he hasn’t done anything really scandalous enough to warrant more editorial cartoons. But, just so you know, if he does, I’ll be ready.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Pittsburgh?
You probably know this already, but Pittsburgh’s got this robust community of illustrators and cartoonists that’s amazingly supportive of its members. Interacting with that community, you improve at your craft, you network, you hone oft-neglected social skills — and, honestly, in my experience, the creative community in Pittsburgh has always been very welcoming and generous with their time and energy.
Two of Vince Dorse's past Pittsburgh City Paper cover illustrations
  • Two of Vince Dorse's past Pittsburgh City Paper cover illustrations

Where did you learn your skills?

I’ve been drawing stuff since I was a kid, and I studied art in school, but the learning never really stops. I’m still running through tutorials online, devouring art books and magazines, and pestering other illustrator/cartoonist friends incessantly in an effort to get better at this. I mean, ask a few of your other City Paper cover artists. Vince? Yeah, if I have to have one more discussion with him about line weight, composition or color theory, I'll block his email. But really, learning new skills and improving the old ones is a constantly rewarding facet of the work.

You won a Reuben comics arts award for your popular web comic Untold Tales of Bigfoot, featuring a super cute Sasquatch and his buddy, Scout the dog. What are Bigfoot and Scout up to these days?
Bigfoot and Scout are currently helping me put together an upcoming Kickstarter campaign (that should launch in the next couple months) to get their first story in print. They’re also running around in my head on their next adventure. Still in the outline stage, but I hope to start putting images on paper soon. Can’t wait, really. In the run-up to all this, I’ll probably post some shorter Untold Tales of Bigfoot adventures to work the fandom into an appropriate frenzy.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever received from a fan of your comics?
I get a lot of news stories and links about Bigfoot sightings. But I don’t think of them as strange, I think of them as research.

I’m not sure if you remember, but your very first cover for us — a 2011 Christmas-themed illustration of an Occupy Pittsburgh couple protesting in a manger scene, featuring a baby wearing a Guy Fawkes mask — caused someone to rip the page out of the paper and mail it back to us with handwritten insults scrawled all over it because they disagreed with our politics. Have you ever gotten any hate mail for other things you’ve drawn?

Oh, I remember that incident, all right. If I recall correctly, the reader circled my signature and drew an arrow to the word “evil.” That was jarring. In fact, it still comes to mind whenever there’s a politically-charged illustration job from you waiting in my in-box. Who’s Lisa gonna have me rile up this time? But no, most of the time I’m drawing puppies and kitties and Bigfoot, so it’s hard to get worked up too much over that stuff. But who knows? This week’s CP cover’s got trouble written all over it.

I love your behind-the-scenes process blogs, where you give really great details into what goes into making an illustration come to life. Will you have one of those for this week’s cover we can check out?
Of course! Because we had so much lead time on this assignment, I was able to put together a bunch of process images while I was working on it. The finished how-to is up at my process blog, vincedorse.wordpress.com.

You see also see more of Vince’s work at www.vincedorse.com and by following him on Twitter at @vincedorse.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Dance performance highlights gallery event in Downtown Pittsburgh tonight

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 9:10 AM

"Waterfall Vision" (detail), by Jennifer Nagle Myers - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • "Waterfall Vision" (detail), by Jennifer Nagle Myers

A performance of an original, site-specific work by local dancer and choreographer Gia T. Cacalano marks the closing reception of Waterfall Vision, an exhibit of new work by Jennifer Nagle Myers at 707 Penn Gallery.

Gia. T. Cacalano rehearses at 707 Penn - PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER NAGLE MYERS
  • Photo courtesy of Jennifer Nagle Myers
  • Gia. T. Cacalano rehearses at 707 Penn
Tonight's event runs 6-8 p.m. A talk by Pittsburgh-based Myers follows the performance.

Cacalano’s performance will respond to the exhibit, which Myers says explores “the relationship between the earth body and the human body.”

The exhibit in the storefront gallery is dominated by “Waterfall Vision,” Myers’ 40-foot-long painting on 69 reclaimed slate roofing tiles that cascades down one wall of the gallery, across the floor, and up the other wall. Though essentially an abstract in black and white gesso and acrylic paint, the painting suggests, among other things, how forms in the human body and the rest of nature echo each other.

The exhibit also includes several smaller works by Myers and a soundscape by Sonarcheology Studios.

Waterfall Vision runs through Sunday. Admission is free.
707 Penn Gallery is located at 707 Penn Ave.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pulitzer-winner in final week at Pittsburgh Public Theater

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 12:00 PM

The word “provocative” is tossed around a lot in the arts, but it genuinely applies to Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar’s 2014 Pulitzer-winner. The Public is staging the local premiere of this drama about Islam, Islamophobia, race, art and more in a post-9/11 New York.

From left: Nafeesa Monroe, Fajer Kaisi, Lisa Velten Smith and Ryan McCarthy in "Disgraced" - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH PUBLIC THEATER
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater
  • From left: Nafeesa Monroe, Fajer Kaisi, Lisa Velten Smith and Ryan McCarthy in "Disgraced"
The play’s set amongst the privileged few, for sure: Its central character, Amir (played by Fajer Kaisi), is a mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer, and other characters include his artist wife; a curator at the Whitney Museum; and the curator’s wife, who happens to be a law colleague of Amir’s.

In his review for CP, Ted Hoover found Disgraced rather too calculatedly provocative. I can see his point: After all, Amir’s wife, who’s into traditional Islamic art, is white; the curator is Jewish; and Amir’s colleague is African-American. Amir himself is a self-described Muslim apostate, a good portion of whose dialogue consists of the sort of condemnations of Islam you might hear at the occasional Republican presidential rally. The only practicing Muslim in the play is Amir’s younger cousin, who’s linked to a local imam who’s up on charges of fundraising for terrorists.

But I’m more on the side of Hoover’s playgoing companion, who found too much of interest in Disgraced not to enjoy it. (To enjoy, I mean, besides the smart performances and Tracy Brigden’s clever direction of the lightning-fast 85-minute show.)

The show’s got a dozen juicy themes and 50 chewy ideas. To name just one throughline: One thing that Amir’s wife, Emily, loves about Islamic art is that because it’s nonrepresentational, it seems to transcend the personal — to efface ego, as the curator suggests. This leads to a discussion (more of an argument, really) about whether the Renaissance, which apotheosized the individual, was such a good thing after all.

Yet the play’s central visual motif is a portrait painted by Emily of Amir after a famous work by Velasquez — who’s nothing if not an exemplary artist of the Renaissance. No spoilers, but the trajectory of this portrait through the play (especially as bounced off of Emily’s Islam-influenced works) is a pretty fruitful one to follow.

Disgraced has seven more performances through Sunday, starting tonight (including matinees tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday).

Tickets are $15.75-60 and are available here.

The Public’s O’Reilly Theater is at 621 Penn Ave., Downtown.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Cartoonist Keith Knight gives free presentation tonight at Pittsburgh's Point Park University

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 1:10 PM

If the weekend's run of comics events wasn't enough for you, there's another one tonight, and it looks like a good one.

Keith Knight, a veteran, nationally syndicated cartoonist known for his provocative takes on race and other issues, speaks at Point Park University.

knight.jpg
Knight, who's based in San Francisco, is the creator of strips including "Knight Life," "K Chronicles" and "(th)ink." It's funny stuff, with Knight weaving more personal stories in with commentary on issues ranging from everyday racism to police violence against unarmed civilians. Point Park is promoting the free talk, puckishly titled "Red, White, Black and Blue," as "an evening of race, media, politics and satire." 

A sampling of Knight's work is currently at Pittsburgh's ToonSeum through May 1.

The talk is at 7 p.m., in the GRW Theater of Point Park University Center, 414 Wood St., Downtown. Knight's presentation will be followed by a discussion with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers and P-G columnist (and noted comics afficionado) Tony Norman. An audience Q&A follows.

Here's more info.

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