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Short List: May 7 - 13 

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts presents its Artist of the Year; Kendra McLaughlin claims You Can't Have an Orgasm With Me; the Kelly-Strayhorn hosts the BlackStar Film Festival; the Pittsburgh International Children's Festival moves Downtown.

Fri., May 9 — Art

Hyla Willis grew up mostly in Yuba City, Calif. In 1985, Rand McNally's Places Rated Almanac named Pittsburgh "America's Most Livable City" ... and little Yuba City its least. The Sacramento Valley town, a prune and rice capital, responded with both indignation and imagination. "People burned Places Rated," recalls Willis. "They started a prune festival." (A Yuba prune orchard is pictured.) While Yuba lacked cultural amenities, Willis says it was welcoming: economically and ethnically diverse, with, for instance, a huge population of Punjabis — and a place where her own divorced mom raised three kids with lots of help from other women. Willis became a graphic designer and artist; she's now also a media-arts instructor at Robert Morris University. Pittsburgh Center for the Arts named her its Artist of the Year; her exhibit, America's Least Livable City and Other Works, opens May 9. While the mixed-media installation includes past work from subRosa — the internationally exhibited art collective of which Willis is a founding member — it focuses on video, photography and drawings telling historical and personal stories about "a place where no one is really from there or belongs there." The opening reception also marks an exhibit of new work by the PCA's Emerging Artist of the Year, painter Mia Tarducci Henry. Bill O'Driscoll Opening reception: 5:30-9 p.m. Fri., May 9. Exhibits continue through July 20. 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. $5. 412-361-0873 or www.pittsburgharts.org

click to enlarge May Market gardening
  • Photo courtesy of Paul G. Wiegman.

Fri., May 9 — Gardening

It's not easy being green ... except when it is. Today and tomorrow, shoppers at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' May Market will find organic herbs, tropical plants, rain-garden varieties and sustainable shrubs and perennials for sale. Held on the conservatory's front lawn, May Market offers hand-dipped fondant strawberries for snacking, and Phipps employees will be on hand to talk shop. Guests can also enjoy half-off Phipps admission during event hours, to mark National Public Gardens Day. Angela Suico 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Also 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sat., May 10. One Schenley Park, Oakland. Free. 412-622-6914 or www.phipps.conservatory.org

Sat., May 10 — Talk

Flowers and food are always nice gestures. When you combine the two, it's a double whammy. The book Eat Your Roses, by local horticultural consultant Denise Schreiber, covers 51 edible flowers and ways to use them in your cooking. Schreiber — the Allegheny County Parks greenhouse manager — gives a talk and signs copies of Eat Your Roses today at Mystery Lovers Bookshop. Make a reservation via phone or the contact form on the store's website. AS 1 p.m. 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Free. 412-828-4877 or www.mysterylovers.com

click to enlarge BlackStar Film Festival Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Sat., May 10 — Screen

Today only, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater hosts the Philadelphia-based BlackStar Film Festival. The day-long event strives to illuminate the black experience by showcasing both short and feature-length works from filmmakers around the world. Among the many offerings are Boneshaker, a drama about the cultural struggles of a Ghanaian family living in Louisiana, and Diary of a Decade, a documentary about 1990s soul music. The latter film will be followed by a Q&A with director Jason Orr. Dan Willis 1-11 p.m. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $15 festival pass or $5 per screening. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

click to enlarge ART BY ALEX BLAU
  • Art by Alex Blau

Sat., May 10 — Art

In April, artists associated with Unsmoke Systems ArtSpace, in Braddock, exhibited their work at COOP Gallery, a venue belonging to the Nashville-based curatorial collective of the same name. Now, seven COOP members are returning the favor, with their show Terrestrial debuting tonight here. The work ranges from painting and sculpture to video, with inspiration drawn from the artists' influences like "their personal home or work environment" and "the strange environment of a foreign land." An opening reception for the show, curated by Virginia Griswold and Karen Seapker, is tonight. AS 6 p.m. 1137 Braddock Ave., Braddock. Free. unsmoke@gmail.com or www.unsmokeartspace.com

Sat., May 10 — Art

Ryan Lammie is an up-and-coming local artist and arts entrepreneur; his ventures include launching and managing Radiant Hall, a studio space for artists in Lawrenceville. But tonight, you'll find Lammie and his art in another space: Point Breeze's Mine Factory, for the opening of Origins & Gravity, his first Pittsburgh solo show. The exhibit presents 45 pieces of new work in sculpture, assemblage, painting and collage. Bill O'Driscoll 7-10 p.m. Exhibit continues through May 22. 201 N. Braddock Ave., Point Breeze. Free. www.ryanlammie.com

Sat., May 10 — Talk

Especially since 2006's The Omnivore's Dilemma, author Michael Pollan has staked out his place as a sage of the real-food revolution. Pollan's still at it, with his new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. And tonight he'll be interviewed onstage at the Hillman Center by Big Burrito Group chef Bill Fuller. A book-signing follows. BO 7:30 p.m. 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. $55. www.thehillman.org

click to enlarge Kendra McLaughlin at Grey Box Theatre
  • Photo courtesy of Becky Thurber

Sat., May 10 — Stage

Local actress and playwright Kendra McLaughlin used to be a therapist, helping women work through emotional trauma. That experience inspired her one-woman show You Can't Have an Orgasm With Me. On a Tuesday evening, three women visit their therapists. "One woman loves snakes, one woman talks on the phone and one woman believes in the transforming power of butterflies," says the show's synopsis. The show explores "universal truths about vulnerability." The play, presented by McLaughlin's company Playground Productions, debuts tonight at the Grey Box Theatre. AS 8 p.m. 3595 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $10-15. 412-779-4449 or www.playgroundproductions.net

Sun., May 11 — Outdoors

It's been rainy, yes, but the fat part of biking season is upon us nonetheless. If not knowing basic bike-repair skills is holding you back from more road or trail time, check out Bike Maintenance 101. Today's free class, out by Dippy at Oakland's Carnegie Library, is courtesy of both the Free Ride bike-recycling and education outfit and The Big Idea Bookstore, which will bring cycling zines and other literature. BO 3 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. www.thebigideapgh.wordpress.com

Mon., May 12 – Food

The local-food season begins in earnest today at 3:30 p.m., when Citiparks' East Liberty Farmers Market opens. The six other Citiparks markets take their seasonal bows daily all week, in South Side, Carrick, Bloomfield, Beechview, Downtown (at the City-County Building) and North Side. They're joined on Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's popular market in Market Square — and by plenty of other markets this week and in the weeks to come. Local produce this time of year is largely limited to greens, but lots of markets have prepared foods. And can tomatoes really be that far away? BO www.citiparks.com

Mon., May 12 — Talk

Ever consider surrendering all your worldly possessions? Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the blogger/author duo known collectively as The Minimalists, don't necessarily endorse loincloths and subsistence farming. But they have written several bestselling books about their journey from six-figure, sports-car hedonism to a minimalist lifestyle with, as they put it, "less stuff, and more meaning." Tonight, the pair stops by Downtown's Amazing Books to talk about the dangers of materialism, the wonders of letting go, and their latest book: Everything That Remains. DW 7 p.m. 929 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-471-1899 or www.amazingbookspgh.com

click to enlarge Pittsburgh International Children's Festival

Wed., May 14 — Stage

The Pittsburgh International Children's Festival, which this year moves from Oakland to Downtown, features kid-friendly theater from all over the world, as well as an array of free activities for the whole family, in spots including the outdoor LilyPad Park. Featured performances, at venues including the Byham Theater and the Trust Arts Education Center, include: Animals, a show that turns ordinary objects into creatures, from Spain's El Retablo; Invisi'BALL, a live-action soccer game played without a ball, by Israel's Nadine Animato Theater Dance Company; Hands Up, featuring Dutch puppeteer Lejo using his hands to create different characters (pictured); Little Steps, the story of a small child's memories of family and friends, from Denmark's Teater My; and Pinocchio, the classic story of the puppet who wants to be a real boy, by Quebec's Théâtre Tout à Trac. Miracoco, an art installation from the U.K.'s Architects of Air, offers immersion into a colorful world created by an inflatable structure forming various tunnels and domes. Free activities like face-painting, hula-hooping and art shows will also be held throughout the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust festival, presented by EQT. For more details on show times, locations and activities, visit TrustArts.org/PGHKids. Angela Suico 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Continues through Sun., May 18. Cultural District, Downtown. $8 for performances, $5 for Miracoco. 412-456-6666 or TrustArts.org/PGHKids

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