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Short List: April 2 - 10 

The Geek Art/Green Innovators Festival catches fire; tentacles embrace Sweetwater Center for the Arts; and visits from legendary Irish novelist Edna O'Brien and transgender activist Janet Mock, among other highlights.

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FREE EVENT: Fri., April 4 — Festival

Last July, city firefighters saved most of Penn Avenue's mural-highlighted Bride Row houses from a blaze. Christine Bethea's Geek Art/Green Innovators Festival is saying thanks, partly by giving this eco/art/tech street fair's fifth annual incarnation the theme "Earth, Wind and Fire." The "fire" part includes actual firefighters, who on Fri., April 4, will be out on Penn offering fire-safety info (and seeking recruits, too) alongside fire-wielding performers from the Pyrotopia festival (pictured) and local troupes like Steel Town Fire and Sirkus Daze. GA/GI, which coincides with this month's Unblurred gallery crawl, features events at dozens of venues including: Hotter Than Hell, a fashion show celebrating firefighters, at Pittsburgh Glass Center; a flame-shooting "fire piano," also at PGC; and outdoor raku pottery firings. At Most Wanted Fine Art, famed balloon-sculptor Brian Kane does his thing alongside TED-style tech talks about apps. At Assemble, two Chatham grad students offer The Drop Project, an interactive installation educating visitors about water in the region. At the newly merged GBBB/Edge Studio, see "Pi Guy" Louis Boston's art from mathematical equations and anomalies. Or, at Verde, try El Bombero ("the fireman"), a flaming cocktail sold to benefit GA/GI, which is produced by Passports: The Art Diversity Project and the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. Bill O'Driscoll Starts 6 p.m.; closing times vary by venue. 4800-5500 Penn Ave., Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship. Most events are free. www.gagifest5.blogspot.com

click to enlarge Sweetwater Center for the Arts

Fri., Feb. 4 — Art

Sweetwater Center for the Arts is promoting its "wild things"-themed summer in a big way. The Sewickley mainstay commissioned U.K. street artist Luke Egan (a.k.a. Filthy Luker) and Pedro Estrellas to adorn its landmark, classically styled headquarters with 30-foot-long inflatable tentacles. Tonight, the illumination of the sculpture coincides with the opening of Wild Things, a 45-artist group show of 2-D, 3-D and kinetic artworks juried by artist Cynthia Shaffer, whose own work employs things like bugs and bones. The reception includes live music and performance art. Bill O'Driscoll 6-9 p.m. 200 Broad St., Sewickley. Free. 412-741-4405 or www.sweetwatercenter.org

Fri., April 4 — Stage

As fundraisers go, Bricolage Urban Scrawl is a highwire act. Each year, Bricolage Production Company invites six playwrights to each take a city bus ride and write a 10-minute play inspired by it ... then challenges six directors and their actors to mount those spanking-new plays within 24 hours. For the ninth B.U.S., the adventuresome company that brought you STRATA and Midnight Radio corralled writers like Gab Cody, Vanessa German and Martin Giles, and directors including Sheila McKenna and Cameron Knight. Tonight, at Bricolage, watch it all start to come together with a VIP reception and actor parade. The performances proper (plus an after-party) are tomorrow night, at the New Hazlett Theater. Tickets are for either both nights or Saturday's events only. BO 7-9 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., April 5 (6:30 p.m. VIP reception). $40-150. www.bricolagepgh.org

Fri., April 4 — Showcase

Hakan Dances bills himself as "Pittsburgh's only professional male belly-dancer," and you know, that's probably true. But he's not stopping there. Hakan has created Pittsburgh Festival Nouveau, a weekend of belly-dance and circus performances and workshops at Bloomfield's Pittsburgh Dance Center. The shows start with tonight's evening of aerials and sideshow acts with visiting performers like belly-dancer Madam Onça and internationally known jester Paolo Garbanzo. Saturday night spotlights world dance, including salsa, bhangra and Filipino, and belly-dance headliner Maria Hamer. Saturday and Sunday lectures and workshops for professional performers focus on dance and comedy. BO Performances: 7 p.m. ($15). Also 8 p.m. Sat., (Saturday show: $20; $35 with VIP dinner). Workshops: $20-40. 4765 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. www.hakandances.com/pfn

click to enlarge Fracking
  • Art by David Pohl

Fri., april 4 — Art

They're preparing to frack for natural gas under the airport, and county officials want to lease Deer Lakes Park for the same purpose. Add some 100 local artists to the long list of folks saying "no" to the latter. Tonight, Garfield Artworks opens Pittsburgh Artists Against Fracking, a group exhibit featuring the likes of Rick Bach, Gabe Felice, Carolina Loyola-Garcia, Laura Jean McLaughlin, James Simon and David Pohl. The opening reception is part of the Unblurred gallery crawl; a portion of proceeds benefits the group Protect Our Parks. BO 7-10 p.m. 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. Donation requested. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.org

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Fri., April 4 — Stage

Juggling family and career is a dilemma for many women. But what if your job involves controlling drones in Afghanistan? Grounded, a 2013 play by George Brant, is a one-woman show starring Kelly McAndrew, last seen at City Theatre in 2011's Precious Little. McAndrew plays a fighter pilot whose career is derailed by a surprise pregnancy; when she returns to the workforce, she controls drones from a Las Vegas trailer while navigating the turbulence of motherhood. Directed by Jenn Thompson, the show opens tonight. Angela Suico 8 p.m. 1300 Bingham St., South Side. $15-55. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org

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Sat., April 5 — Screen

Climb mountains, harvest ice in Ecuador and consider the Colorado River — all from the comfort of your seat. The annual touring Banff Mountain Film Festival returns with two programs of short films, packed full of extreme-sport action, environmental messages and gorgeous scenery. Look for: profiles of athletes and adventurers; unsung heroes, such as the 90-year-woman who has recorded Himalayan journeys since 1960; and even a tiny South American tree toad. Al Hoff 7 p.m. Also 5 p.m. Sun., April 6. Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, 4141 Fifth Ave., Oakland. $10-20. www.ventureoutdoors.org

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF EDNA O'BRIEN.
  • Photo courtesy of Edna O'Brien.

Sat., April 5 — Talk

In honor of the 10th anniversary of its master's program in creative writing, Carlow University hosts a talk by one of Ireland's most celebrated authors. Edna O'Brien's first novel, 1960's The Country Girls, was infamous for depicting female sexuality in a small Irish town. The book was banned by the government. Her husband at the time told her, "You can write and I will never forgive you." But the prolific O'Brien went on to win the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award. AS 7:30 p.m. Antonian Theatre, 3333 Fifth Ave., Oakland. $15 ($5 for students). 412-578-6120 or www.carlow.edu

Mon., April 7 — Talk

"If you never, ever talk to people and you meet all your needs on the Internet, you wake up one day and you're the Unabomber," Ann Patchett told Stephen Colbert in a 2012 interview about opening her bookstore in the Amazon age. Patchett, a New York Times best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, discusses her new essay collection This Is a Happy Marriage at Carnegie Music Hall tonight. She appears for the Monday Night Lecture Series, presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. The talk is sold out, but you can try the waiting list. AS 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-40. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

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Tue., April 8 — Talk

The LGBT movement has sparked legal and cultural change that would have seemed unfathomable just a few years ago, from last year's Supreme Court's ruling against federal bans on gay marriage, to opinion polls that suggest growing tolerance. Still, there remains a great deal of stigma — within the LGBT community and without — about transgender people, or those who feel their gender identity doesn't match their biological sex. On Tue., April 8, Janet Mock, a transgender activist who did not publicly talk about being transgender until 2011, speaks at Carnegie Mellon University about her new book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. The increasingly prominent Mock has talked about growing up in poverty, getting gender-reassignment surgery in Thailand, being a sex-worker in her teens and coming to terms with her parents — and herself. Her story has been featured in several national news outlets, and in 2012 she started the #GirlsLikeUs campaign, which "encourages trans women to live visibly." CMU hosts a reading and moderated conversation about her book. Alex Zimmerman 7:30 p.m. Tue., April 8. Porter Hall, Carnegie Mellon University campus, Oakland. Free. www.janetmock.com

Thu., April 10 — Music

Continuing his residency at Carnegie Mellon's Center for Iranian Music, Turkish musician Önder Özkoç celebrates his country's sonics with a recital tonight. Özkoç is a man of many talents; using the guitar, mandolin and his native country's instruments, his work dips into Turkish folk, rock and jazz. His recital includes five folk and contemporary selections. Accompanying him is a chamber ensemble led by Daniel Nesta Curtis, the School of Music's contemporary-music ensemble director, and conducting and composition student Erberk Eryilmaz. AS Kresge Recital Hall, CMU campus, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 860-838-1991 or www.centerforiranianmusic.org

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