It’s not often you’re standing under a fancy old railroad rotunda, watching a crazy marching band perform, and you look to your left and Thurston Moore is next to you videotaping the show on his smartphone.
But so it was last night at Downtown’s Union Station and the second stop of artist Doug Aitken’s rail-based “liquid platform for artistic expression.” Pittsburgh is one of just nine announced cities for the touring, somewhat carnivalesque amalgam of bands, visual and performance art, with different performers in each city.
With tickets at just $25 for four hours of entertainment, Station to Station (whose corporate sponsor is Levi’s) sold out. About 700 folks attended. Some milled around the rotunda, with its yurts containing art installations and a Wild Purveyors booth. (Inside one yurt, you donned a headband-light and were treated to a brief illustrated lecture on the theory of relativity.)
Most attendees, however, spent most of the evening inside Union Station’s ornate and cavernous old lobby, which used to be where people waited for trains. Now it’s part of the landmark building’s condo complex, though transformed into a concert hall for the night.
Redwood Time, a new comedy series developed by Carnegie Mellon School of Drama students, will screen its first episode Sunday afternoon, at CMU’s McConomy Auditorium.
The event is free. You can see a tease of the episode, titled, “I Like You, Like You,” here (including the show’s theme song).
Redwood Time was created, written, directed and co-produced by CMU student Clarence Williams IV. It’s a fictionalized version of the on-campus life of CMU acting student and actor Carter Redwood, who grew up in the Hill District.
In a press release, Williams says the series was inspired by sitcoms like Seinfeld, The Fresh Price of Bel-Air and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The first episode centers on Redwood dealing with a visit from a dubious love interest.
Redwood himself is familiar to local theater audiences from appearances over the years in shows at Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, New Horizon and more.
Sunday’s screening is at 4:30 p.m., and the opening event runs until 6 p.m.; the talent is sure to be on hand to answer questions. McConomy is located inside the University Student Center on the CMU campus.
The educational component demonstrates the varied functions of beaks in the wild. Through a series of demonstrations narrated by a trainer, the show highlights the “uniqueness of beaks as multifunctional tools,” says Robin Weber, the Aviary's director of marketing.
The show starts when the lights dim in the Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone Theater. On the stage, trees, shrubbery and rock structures stand in front of a big screen.
After a brief video slideshow of bird glamor shots, two parrots fly in from either side of the screen, just barely clearing the heads of the audience, for a dramatic start.
For the parrot obstacle course race, the William Tell overture plays; the southern ground hornbill struts on stage to the crooning of Ella Fitzgerald.
The screen flashes with footage of the birds in the wild as they mirror the beak behavior on stage. Two flamingos use their filter mechanism to eat feed from a Tupperware container full of water. The southern ground hornbill knocks a rubber snake against a rock and a trumpeter hornbill uses its beak to catch a grape, midflight. The show also features several varieties of parrot, a hawk and a hamerkop.
Through Labor Day, the show runs daily at noon. Tickets are $4 (on top of the price of admission). Starting Sept. 3, the show costs $5 and runs twice daily, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Jan. 1. For more information, visit aviary.org.
The City of Play Festival is back, with a new line-up of what it bills as “the best new games in the world.”
Radio host Bev Smith says, “It’s time for black women to unite.” She wants to see the African-American community take up the fights against racism, sexism and homophobia. To that end, Smith has organized next week's four-day A Challenge to African American Women conference.
On The Bev Smith Show, Pittsburgh-based Smith tells listeners across the country to “stand up, be counted and get involved.” Starting Aug. 28, women from across the country will gather at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown to discuss matters of health, education, employment and spirituality in the African-American community.
The goal is to create a working community plan to present at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in September.
You couldn't have missed the Bridge itself — the Andy Warhol Bridge, that is, covered in colorful hand-knitted panels — but you might use a reminder about the big party there.
The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh and other sponsors of the big volunteer yarn-bomb host a shindig Sunday from 3-7 p.m. The community art party includes food, live music and, of course, arts-and-crafts activities for the family.
Here's a CP slideshow. The knitwork will adorn the bridge until Sept. 6.
The party is free. It's on the yarn-covered bridge. And that's about all you need to know. But if you do have questions, try firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local and visiting artists perform tomorrow at the Union Project to mark the 70th birthday of Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, who has spent most of the past 30 years in solitary confinement in prison in Pennsylvania.
Performers include Pittsburgh-based spoken-word artist Vanessa German; Yumi Kurosawa, master of the Japanese stringed instrument called the koto; acclaimed New York City-based hip-hop vocalist spiritchild, of Zulu Nation and Mental Notes; and New York-based saxophonist and composer Benjamin Barson, whose performance credits include Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Other speakers include Joyce Wagner, of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Bret Grote of the Pittsburgh-based Abolitionist Law Center; Shandre Delaney, of the Human Rights Coalition; and Nazura Asaseyeduru of the National Black United Front.
The event, and an Aug. 24 concert in New York, are sponsored by social-justice group Scientific Soul Sessions and meant to spotlight not only to Shoatz’ case but also to the practice of solitary confinement, which human-rights activists call cruel. (More about that here.)
Shoatz is serving a life sentence for the 1970 murder of a Philadelphia policeman. His advocates contend that Shoatz — a former Black Panther and founding member of the Black Unity Party — has spent so much time in solitary because of his prisoner-rights work. He is currently in solitary at SCI Mahanoy, in Schuykill County.
In May, a suit was filed to get Shoatz out of solitary. Groups involved in the suit include such nationally recognized organizations as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild and Solitary Watch.
Pittsburgh’s Black August B’Earthday Celebration Honoring Russell Maroon Shoatz takes place 7-9 p.m. Fri., Aug. 23. Tickets are $10 ($15 at the door) and are available here.
The Union Project is at 801 N. Negley Ave., in Highland Park.
If you don’t know what a Style Week event looks like in Pittsburgh, that’s because there has never been one. Until last night, that is.
Wadria Taylor, founder and CEO of the event-planning company Style & Steel, has spent four months organizing the inaugural Style Week Pittsburgh, which runs through Aug. 11.
The four-hour affair was swanky from the start. Models, sponsors and fashion-industry folk mingled, milling around with champagne flutes and exchanging business cards. A short red carpet lay in front of a Style Week backdrop where guests got their pictures taken. Flashbulbs overpowered the elegant lounge lighting as a hoard of photographers from local publications and blogs snapped pictures of the fashionable party-goers. Women wore evening gowns and sparkly party dresses; men wore suits.
DJ Que played remixed versions of pop songs and club music. Though the lyrics of Katy Perry, Rihanna and Robin Thicke began to dissolve in the noise as the crowd swelled with the arrival of the fashionably late.
A few tables were draped in displays of jewelry and there were three brief fashion-show segments to show off local talent. The first showcased earthy looks from Younique Boutique. The second segment was a procession of suits and slacks, menswear designs from Apparel House. For the finale fashion show, models strutted down the runway in looks from local Brazilian designer Lana Neumeyer, whose creations boasted bright colors and bold tropical prints.
Style Week includes another fashion show, the Decades Fashion Show, which will take a retrospective look at style, starting in the 1970s. Style Week also includes the Superwoman in Heels Style Awards, which is a style networking party at the Pittsburgh Urban Winery; a Beauty Boot Camp event at LaLa's Salon; and a free boutique crawl.
Tickets for individual ticketed Style Week events start at $10; see www.styleandsteel.net or call 412-208-0249.
If you were wrapped up in the national media's coverage last month of the National Botanical Gardens' blooming corpse flower, you're going to be REALLY excited about this one. As we tend to remember only once every few years, Phipps Conservatory has a corpse flower of its own, which is nicknamed Romero (after the Night of the Living Dead guy) (they nickname their flowers there?!). And — get ready! — it's going to bloom SOMETIME THIS MONTH!
Why is it called a corpse flower, you may ask, if you are uninitiated? Because it smells absolutely disgusting! Know how most flowers smell all sweet, so as to attract honeybees and butterflies? The corpse flower smells like gross rotting flesh, to attract flies! (And probably my dog, if I let her near it.) While most people would probably flee from such a plant, shrieking, Phipps is banking on some of you sickos actually wanting to get near it — and promoting the flowering (which only lasts about a day) as "a smell to wake the dead."
Look at this graphic, is it not amazing?
The last time this particular flower — the only one in town, that we know of, unless some crazy in the suburbs is harboring one for personal use — bloomed was around Halloween of 2010, so don't miss it this time, or you'll be regretting it for a few years.
Other interesting things to note:
— The scientific name of this plant is seriously "Amorphophallus titanium." Do with that information what you will.
— For a long time, it was the official flower of the Bronx. This is supposedly because that's where the first one in the U.S. bloomed, but really. Do you want this to be your official flower? Wouldn't astilbe do?
A street market for neighborhood-based and citywide vendors, including food trucks from Franktuary and other favorites, are a new feature of the Unblurred gallery crawl. More in Program Notes.
Love this episode. I'm already looking forward to visit. :)
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