Friday, April 24, 2015

Trailer for Sale or Rent: Little Boy

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 5:00 PM

This film was not screened for critics locally, so we took a look at the trailer.

Film: Little Boy
Opening Date: Fri., April 24
Stars: Jakob Salvati, Emily Watson, Michael Rappaport
Necessary Info: “From the producers of Son of God”

Sample dialogue: “But if I have enough faith, nothing’s impossible, right?”

Trailer Analysis: In a perfect vintage movie town — soda fountains, bungalows and clean boys in cloth caps — a kid believes he has the extra-ordinary power to bring his dad back from World War II. The kid makes “magic” shapes with his hands a lot. The words “miracle” and “courage” are used. Two sunsets are shown. (Side note: If I was making a gee-whiz inspirational movie about WWII, I wouldn’t call it “Little Boy,” which was the name of the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima.)

Based on these 2:17 minutes, should you go? If there’s nothing new playing on the Hallmark Channel

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History Center Exhibit Exploring Pittsburgh and World War II Opens Tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 4:29 PM

Like the rest of the country, Pittsburgh weathered World War II. But it also had an outsize impact on the war.

The exhibit includes this early jeep, made in Butler. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HEINZ HISTORY CENTER.
  • Photo courtesy of Heinz History Center.
  • The exhibit includes this early jeep, made in Butler.
We Can Do It! WWII is the title (playing off the famous Rosie the Riveter poster) of the new Senator John Heinz History Center exhibit exploring wartime Pittsburgh, during the 1940s. The exhibit is timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the war, which began with the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939.

“The 10,000-square-foot exhibit will explore Western Pennsylvania’s incredible impact on the home, industrial, and battle fronts during World War II,” according to a History Center press release. “Visitors … will learn about the development of the jeep, a uniquely American invention produced by the American Bantam Car Company in Butler, Pa., and reveal the stories behind ‘Rosie the Riveter’ and the local Tuskegee Airmen whose contributions helped to turn the tide of the war.”

The exhibit features more than 275 rare artifacts, including four jeeps, plus photography, interactive displays and interactive installations.

Four new “life-like museum figures” include local people prominent in the war effort, including Uniontown-born Gen. George C. Marshall, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Carl J. Woods, Sgt. Michael Strank and Rosie the Riveter, a figure inspired by the Westinghouse Company.

Other aspects focus on the contributions of local industry. There’s also a recreated 1940s living room and the Veterans Voices room, “featuring recordings from Western Pennsylvania [World War II] veterans and 7,000 recreated dog tags suspended from the ceiling.”

The exhibit was developed by the History Center in partnership with institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, Veteran’s Voices, Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Fort Pitt Chapter, the Tuskegee Airmen of the Western Pennsylvania Region, Zippo/Case Museum, Butler County Historical Society and more.

The History Center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. We Can Do It! runs through Jan. 3.

The History Center is located at 1212 Smallman St., in the Strip District. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (ages 62 and over), $6 for students and children (age 6-17), and free for children (age 5 and under) and History Center members. 

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August Wilson 70th Birthday Festivities Tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 11:05 AM

  • Photo courtesy of PBS

The Pulitzer-winning playwright died 10 years ago, but WQED's August Wilson Education Project, the Hill House Association and the Kaufmann Center are marking his birthday with performances, artwork and a screening of the recent PBS American Masters documentary about him, all in the neighborhood where Wilson grew up and came of artistic age.

Wilson wrote Fences, The Piano Lesson and eight other plays in his so-called "Pittsburgh Cycle," chronicling African-American life throughout the 20th century. (Nine of the 10 were set in the Hill.)

Saturday's free community celebration includes students performing monologues from Wilson's plays; a community collage; and the August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, which incorporates archival interviews with Wilson, scenes from his plays and commentary from theater experts. There'll also be a scene from the winning entry in WQED's 11th Play Competition, written by CAPA senior Alexis Payne.

The afternoon even includes birthday cake.

Those who can't make it to the Kaufmann Center can still participate by sharing student poems, essays and art inspired by August Wilson, or your own community, for the virtual exhibit "Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?" You can also email a birthday tribute to Wilson, to be read alongside those spoken in person. (Email to 

The event runs from noon-3 p.m. on Sat., April 25.

The Kaufmann Center is located at 1825 Centre Ave., in the Hill District. RSVP here.

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FutureFest 2015, Half-Price Phipps Admission Tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 9:06 AM

This free new day-long family-friendly festival on the Phipps Conservatory front lawn is dedicated to envisioning a fun and sustainable future.

And the displays and activities – electric-bike test rides, anyone? – are complemented by half-price admission to Phipps, where current attractions include the Butterfly Forest and Tropical Forest Congo.

The festival itself includes live music by the likes of Black Little Birds, Gene Stovall, Devin Moses & The Saved, Proper People and Misaligned Mind. Plus: an aquaponics demo; demos by Food Revolution Pittsburgh cooking club and Phipps Café; and tours of Phipps’ new modular classroom.

Along with the e-bike rides and a scavenger hunt, try your hand at making a seed bomb or printing with reclaimed materials. There are also vendors of upcycled or sustainability-minded products.

Also look out for food trucks, from Las Chicas and Mac & Gold.

FutureFest is a project of Communitopia, a group trying to reclaim environmentalism from images of gloom and disaster (though it acknowledges that environmental disasters are quite real). Here’s a recent CP profile of Communitopia president Joylette Portlock, known for her humorous video series "Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!"

The festival runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Phipps’ front lawn, rain or shine. (Many activities are tented.)

Organizers encourage attendees to bike or take transit to Phipps, located at 1 Schenley Plaza, in Oakland.

More info is here.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bloomfield residents up in arms over bike share stations

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 5:07 PM

  • #KeepBloomfieldBikeShare Facebook Page
A group of Bloomfield residents, who say bike share stations will disrupt businesses, have sparked the furor of cycling advocates.

In a meeting earlier this week with city officials, Bloomfield Citizens Council head Janet Cercone Scullion, along with Gloria LeDonne of the Bloomfield Business Network, said the three bike share stations along Liberty Avenue "would cause disruption on the sidewalks and disrupt the businesses there," according to mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty.

The city, along with non-profit Pittsburgh Bike Share, are set to launch a program called Healthy Ride in May that will for the first time allow residents to rent bikes and return them at any of the proposed 50 docking stations around the city. Three stations are planned for the Bloomfield area on Liberty Avenue.

News of Scullion's meeting made its way to local bike supporters who expressed concern that the city might re-think the placement of bike share stations in Bloomfield. 

"Liberty Avenue is a very Pittsburgh street," says Bruce Chan, a Bloomfield resident and chairman of neighborhood group Bloomfield Livable Streets. "It runs through so many neighborhoods; it’s very crucial to the network of the city and cultural aspects of the community. We have a bike lane on Liberty Avenue – what better place to put a bike-share station?”

Scullion, who apparently objects to the placement of bike stations in Bloomfield, would not explain precisely what those objections are. Reached by phone, a woman who identified as Janet Cercone said “I don’t have any information on that for you,” before hanging up. She did not return messages.

"We’re trying to show the mayor and city administration that this small group doesn't speak for the entire community,” Chan adds.

For its part, city spokesman McNulty says placement of bike share stations have "always been in flux.”

City Planning Director Ray Gastil wrote in a statement that the meeting with Scullion and LeDonne "was a meeting that, frankly, should have happened earlier in the process of designing the network of station locations. Given the serious concerns we heard, we are now reviewing station locations and will be looking at options with the Bloomfield community.

"We have also heard your strong support for the Bikeshare program, and its importance to you," the statement continues. "We will be working with everyone to create the best opportunity for residents, businesses, and cyclists."

Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker says “it’s a very hot button issue,” but did not immediately want to comment further.

A Facebook page in support of the bike share stations in Bloomfield had 231 members at press time and Chan is organizing a meeting to discuss the issue 6 p.m., Tues. April 28 at the East End Book Exchange.

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Play Art Bingo at Lawrenceville's Art All Night

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 11:34 AM


The highlight of the spring art season in the 18th annual Art All Night. At this Lawrenceville event held from 4 p.m. Sat., April 25, through 2 p.m. Sun., April 26, 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.

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.

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. 97 40th Street, Lawrenceville. Free.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Omni William Penn Hotel will no longer regularly feature Joe Negri; Local jazz fans really pissed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 4:45 PM

  • Photo by Alex Zimmerman
  • Joe Negri
This Friday, April 24, will mark the last time Joe Negri fans will get a chance to catch him play his regular set at the Omni William Penn Hotel — a decision made by management that has angered some in the local jazz community.

"When he announced the gig was ending and it wasn’t by his choice  — and he’s being replaced by a DJ-turned-amateur-singer ... it just [felt] like this isn’t the way to treat Joe Negri,” says Michelle Kienholz, a fan who has regularly attended his shows at the Omni Downtown. She's encouraging supporters to attend his last show in solidarity. He'll perform with pianist Daniel May from 5 to 7 p.m.

Negri, who has played at the hotel once a month for five years, is a renowned classical guitarist who co-starred as "Handyman Negri" on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Negri says that hotel management approached him about two weeks ago and said they "wanted to change the music format, try some different things. It kind of came out of the blue."

"They treated me pretty well for a long time," the 88-year-old Negri adds, surmising they "might be looking to go for a younger crowd.”

Bob Page, the Omni's director of sales and marketing, says the decision to end Negri's residency was made to "freshen things up."

"We just needed to make a change in entertainment for a little bit of variety to stimulate some additional business," he says, adding Negri may still be invited to play special events. "Joe has always been very respected by this hotel. It’s a little frustrating that people are making this out to be a negative thing.”

Page would not say who the hotel planned to book as entertainment down the road, but Carlton Leeper, a local DJ and vocalist who performs jazz, R&B and pop, confirmed he will start performing at the Omni in May, two Fridays a month.

"We’re catching flak for this," Leeper says, noting he had no idea the hotel was ending Negri's residency when Leeper auditioned. People have approached him to encourage him not to take the job, Leeper says, but he's planning to honor the commitment, because "whether we do it or not, someone’s [doing] the gig."

The hotel's move puzzled Tania Grubbs, who is a vocalist and helps organize jazz concerts offered Wednesday through Saturday at Downtown's Fairmont Hotel. “There are people that are really pissed off, because they see it as a nice thing in our jazz community that’s gone," Grubbs says. "Joe is a national treasure. ... I think it might be a little shortsighted on their behalf to eliminate him from their lineup."

Regardless, she adds, “Friday, that lobby will be packed.”

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Collect all four #CPMusicIssue covers for a chance to win a CP Concert Prize Pack

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 3:00 PM

For the first time ever, City Paper set out to produce four different covers for one weekly issue. We came up with the concept to recreate four iconic album covers and enlisted the help of four great photographers and 10 fantastic kids to make it happen. And after a little help from the Rock Gods — and a Michael Jackson wig and a couple trips to the thrift store — we managed to make our annual music issue one for the record books!

Collect all four of our Music Issue covers and win one of two concert prize packs! Two ways to win: Tweet a selfie of you holding all four covers to @PGHCityPaper using the hashtag #CPMusicIssue, or post that selfie of you on Facebook and tag Pittsburgh City Paper with the hashtag #CPMusicIssue. (There will be one winner per platform and just one prize pack per household). The prize pack includes a restaurant gift card and concert tickets for a great night out. 

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Attractions at Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 12:21 PM

It’s shaping up as a busy Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Michael Arcega's "Baby: Corps of Re-Discovery" - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • Michael Arcega's "Baby: Corps of Re-Discovery"
The free festival runs June 5-14. Programmed by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, it includes the familiar Artists’ Market and free concerts in Point State Park. (As previously announced, performers include the likes of Neko Case, Richard Thompson, Benjamin Booker, Rhiannon Giddens and The Felice Brothers.)

But there are also a theme and some new wrinkles.

The theme, as announced at yesterday’s press event Downtown by the Trust’s Veronica Corpuz, is Unseen/Unheard. That means a focus on “social justice, equity and empowerment” for marginalized communities, including people of color and people with disabilities, Corpuz said.

Attractions include performances and other programming by Pittsburgh's 1Hood, which teaches media analysis and production to young people.

Corpuz also promised a focus on literary arts, so look for poetry readings and the like, even on the festival's main stage, in Point State Park.

  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • Dance by Alexandra Bodnarchuk
Another big addition is the CREate Festival, organized by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. The festival welcomes national presenters to the Wyndham Hotel June 10-12, showcasing 50 new technology projects, with workshops and hands-on opportunities.

TRAF also expands its public-art offerings, from three last year to four this year. The projects, curated by writer and art historian Nadine Wasserman (who's also a frequent CP contributor) include: Michael Arcega’s “Baby: Corps of Re-Discovery,” an outrigger canoe at the Point that plays off Lewis & Clark’s journey; Rudy Shepherd’s "Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber," a 25-foot statue; Fernando Orellanga’s “Confluence,” composed of 60 military-style hospital beds, topped with concrete dogs; and, in the old Visitors and Convention building, M. Michelle Illuminato’s Lost & Found Factory, where artists will recreate lost items for their original owners.

Meanwhile, the festival’s Juried Visual Art Exhibition (at the Trust Arts Education Center) will be selected not by a group, as in recent years, but by a single juror: Astria Suparak, the nationally known curator who formerly ran Carnegie Mellon University's Miller Gallery. Also, for the first time in its more-than-50-year history, the JVAE accepted submisions from outside the region. Corpuz said 500 submissions came in, “from as near as Tarentum and as far away as Teheran.”

  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • Poet Michelle Naka Pierce
Why the new submissions policy? Corpuz said that with the festival already hosting a Pittsburgh Society of Artists show for local talent, it made sense to have an exhibit that cast a wider net. “I think Pittsburgh is really primed to start thinking globally about art-making,” Corpuz said. “Broadening the scope of the show is the evolution of the new Pittsburgh.”

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Artist group Dadpranks explores mall culture in Sensory3

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 2:56 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Dadpranks
  • A "prank"
Dadpranks, a local artist collective, explored the concept of mall culture in an exhibit at West Mifflin's Century III Mall this past weekend.

Sensory3 used retail and digital art to investigate contemporary uses of brick-and-mortar mall structures. In a decade where online shopping and social networking have encroached on the economic and social purposes malls once served, malls have to rebrand themselves in order to survive.

“Sensory3 started as an idea to create an artist-in-residence program at the mall. ... Where do you have this access to power and light and air? It’s kind of utopian in a sense,” Dadpranks member Nina Sarnelle said about the inspiration for the exhibit. In essence, the project is meant to build a mutually beneficial relationship between artists and businesses striving to maintain foot traffic and relevance in a unique setting.

The exhibit consisted of a kiosk and storefront, emblazoned with the name Dad Pranks. Shoppers were invited to “create a prank” — take a picture of items they bought in the mall and upload it to a website, where others could download it for personal use. These images are free, and the information accompanying each photo lists every store in the mall where a shopper bought items, thus creating both an artistic image and free advertising for certain bought goods. 

The exhibit also included a tour of the mall, in which people were encouraged to meditate in quiet, spiritually significant places there. Tour members could listen on their phones to “mallcasts” that corresponded to specific sites in the mall. Each mallcast consisted of samples of music found in the mall, naturally occurring mall sounds, like fountains, and other sound effects. The tour also contained facts about the mall's architecture and concluded with a ride on the two-story carousel housed on the first floor.

“Where do you have this huge, public indoor space where you don’t have to buy anything?” said Kate Hansen, another Dadpranks member. “You can just walk in. It’s not weird to hang out in the mall.”

Dadpranks, which describes itself as a 21st-century quilting bee, hope to launch this project long term and expand into other Pittsburgh area malls.

“2007 was the first year when a new mall wasn’t built in the United States,” said Dadpranks member Laura Warman. “There’s a lot of potential for cities around the country for projects like this that can embody the community they’re in.”

The exhibit was a featured project in Open Engagement 2015, a three-day-long local arts convention based around the theme of "Place and Revolution." The project was on display this past Friday through Sunday. 

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