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Short List: January 2 - 8 

Art by Jen Gooch.

Art by Jen Gooch.

FREE EVENT: Fri., Jan. 4 — Art

Chuckle if you must at the phrase "healthy artists." But to Julie Sokolow, lack of access to health care is serious business: Despite spending more on health care than any other nation, the U.S. still doesn't cover everybody, and artists, so frequently underemployed, are often among those who suffer for it. While many of us take for granted that creative types will live lives of economic instability, musician and filmmaker Sokolow — a volunteer for single-payer advocate Health Care 4 All PA — instead launched Healthy Artists. The group's projects include Sokolow's documentary-film series on local creative types' struggles with health care. (Watch them at www.healthyartists.org.) She's widening the frame with the Healthy Artists Movie Poster Exhibition. The exhibit opens Jan. 4 at ModernFormations Gallery as part of monthly gallery-crawl Unblurred. The show features work by 15 selected area artists — including the likes of Stephanie Armbruster, Seth Clark, Mundania Horvath and Jim Rugg — and five Pitt student artists. The event includes the announcement of the three winning designs (as chosen by a panel of judges), who'll receive cash prizes. The first-place winner's work will officially represent the film series. Opening night also features short talks by local health-care educators and music by The Harlan Twins. Bill O'Driscoll 7-11 p.m. Fri., Jan. 4. 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield (part of Unblurred). Free. 412-362-0274 or www.modernformations.com

Fri., Jan. 4 — Variety

It's part variety show, part networking tonight as CREW Productions hosts The Artist Mash: Part I. CREW was founded by Eric A. Smith, managing director of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co., to provide technical services for community-based arts groups. Tonight's event is for producers, arts educators, aficionados and artists themselves — whether actors, poets, dancers, musicians, painters, rappers or writers. The event, held in Pittsburgh Playwrights' space Downtown, includes live entertainment alongside a chance to make connections at the grassroots-arts level. Bill O'Driscoll 7-11 p.m. 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free (or $10 drink pass). www.crew412.com

Sat., Jan. 5 — Words

Sure, people invented science fiction. But meanwhile, stories ranging from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to The Matrix have also been busily reinventing us. As part of its People's University series, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh presents writer and lecturer Chuck Lanigan and his talk "Brave New World: Technology in Literature and Popular Culture." Ideas about technology are embodied in everything from the tales of H.G. Wells to advertisements, TV shows and Bladerunner. Hear Lanigan explore the cultural significance of technology and join in the discussion about both technology's promises and the risks it holds. Please turn off your electronic device before this free afternoon program begins. BO 3-5 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-622-3151 or www.carnegielibrary.org

click to enlarge Art by Theodore Bolha
  • Art by Theodore Bolha

Sat., Jan. 5 — Art

Theodore Bolha's first solo exhibition, Genexodus, showcases his skill at paper-cutting. Bolha is a Latrobe native who specializes in finely detailed nature imagery — from nerve endings to animals and vining plants — sliced in paper by hand, with a razor blade. Some are 2-D, others folded into three-dimensional shapes. Although he's 32, the title of this show at The Gallery doesn't reference an age cohort leaving town; rather, it's a conflation of "genesis" and "exodus." Ask Bolha himself about it at tonight's opening reception. BO 7-11 p.m. 206 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside. Free. 412-363-5050 or www.thegallery4.us

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF BOB WORKMAN
  • Photo courtesy of Bob Workman

Sun., Jan. 6 — Stage

Pittsburgh International Children's Theater presents the local premiere of the live adaptation of We're Going on a Bear Hunt. The 1989 children's book by British author Michael Rosen, with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury, depicts a young family searching for a grizzly and the obstacles they encounter along the way. (In real life, of course, the obstacles would be minor compared to actually encountering ursus arctos horribilis.) Director Sally Cookson's adaptation adds songs and more. The staging, by U.K. troupe KW & NB, Ltd. (the folks behind shows including The Gruffalo's Child) is 55 minutes long and recommended for children ages 3 and up. The first performances are today and tomorrow at the Byham Theater. Seven more shows follow at schools around the region. BO 2 p.m. (101 Sixth St., Downtown). Continues through Jan. 13 at various regional venues. $9.50-11. 412-456-6666 or www.TrustArts.org/kids

click to enlarge sl_camerata_01.jpg

Sun., Jan. 6 — Music

Shadyside Presbyterian Church's Music in a Great Space series marks its 20th-anniversary season with something it's never done before: a candlelight epiphany concert. An Epiphany of Light features the Pittsburgh Camerata performing a late-afternoon program including some 18 selections. The compositions range from the familiar ninth-century chant "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and medieval tunes like "Christe qui Lux Es et Dies" to contemporary works like David N. Childs' "O Magnum Mysterium." The acclaimed professional chamber choir is under the direction of Rebecca Rollett, with soloists including soprano Kathryn Copeland Donaldson. A reception follows the two-part concert. BO 4 p.m. 5121 Westminster Place, Shadyside. $5-10. 412-682-4300 or www.shadysidepres.org

Tue., Jan. 8 — Outdoors

Prairies, or grasslands, are pretty scarce in Pennsylvania. In fact, there's just one such ecosystem preserved in the whole state, and it's an hour north of town, at Jennings Environmental Education Center. The "preserved" part is where you come in: The prairie is under constant attack by woody invasive plants that can crowd out native grasses and wildflowers like the blazing star. Each January, when the ground is frozen and the vegetation reduced, Jennings (a state park) recruits volunteers to spend a few hours clipping and removing the invasives. This year's Jennings Prairie Improvement Day is Jan. 19, but to volunteer you must register by Jan. 11. In return for helping out, you'll get hot soup for lunch and a commemorative mug. And don't worry: That other prairie resident, the masssasauga rattlesnake, will be sleeping this time of year. You can, however, return next summer to admire your handiwork during the spectacular annual prairie bloom. BO 2951 Prospect Road,  Slippery Rock. 724-794-6011 or www.dcnr.state.pa.us

Wed., Jan. 9 — Classes

The repurposed, refurbished church known as The Union Project is one of Pittsburgh's more diverse community spaces. And on Wednesdays, the Highland Park landmark gets even more so with its Community Night. It's a time when you can check out: the center's open ceramics studio (6-9 p.m.); a zumba class (6 p.m.); or hula-hooping with Steel City Hoop Union. At 7:30 p.m., you can try either yoga or juggling with the Pittsburgh Show-Offs. (We don't recommend attempting both at once.) And don't worry too much about price: The ceramics studio costs $10 an hour (including glazing, firing and even clay), and fees for the other classes range from pay-what-you-can to a $5 fee or a $10 donation. BO 6-9 p.m. 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park. 412-363-4550 or www.unionproject.org

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF DENMARSH PHOTOGRAPHY, INC.
  • Photo courtesy of Denmarsh Photography, Inc.

Thu., Jan. 10 — Words

This past May, Phipps Conservatory unveiled its Center for Sustainable Landscapes. The structure was designed to be a "living building" — one that makes all its own energy on site from renewable sources, and captures and treats all its waste- and stormwater, among other attributes. Tonight, members of the CSL team join team members from another living-building project: Seattle's Bertschi School, an elementary school whose features include a river running through a channel in the concrete floor to demonstrate the building's rainwater-harvesting system. The presentation is part of the Inspire Speakers Series, organized by Phipps and the Green Building Alliance to highlight the environmental and social benefits of healthy, high-performance buildings and public spaces. BO 5:30-8:30 p.m. One Schenley Park, Oakland. $25-45 (includes refreshments and pre-event access to Phipps). 412-622-6914 or www.phipps.conservatory.org

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