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Short List: Week of November 4 - 11 

Among Pittsburgh's more reliable monthly venues for good art and lively company is Unblurred, the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative gallery crawl in Friendship and Garfield. Like most crawls, it's mostly free, and some of the couple dozen venues even feed you snacks. The Fri., Nov. 5, offerings of visual art, music and more look especially promising. On the 5400 block of Penn, Unblurred's charms are downright transparent: Pittsburgh Glass Center opens The Way of Samsara, a new installation by local artist Fumino Hora that fuses glasswork, paper, photography and video to explore Zen ideas. Across the street, the Glass Lofts condos join in with "The Nine Mile Run Watershed," 15 windows of mosaics by Daviea Davis inspired by Frick Park. Just a block away, Dance Alloy Theater shows off its three new dancers in the latest installment of the Alloy on Alloy series, in which company members both choreograph and perform. (The 7 p.m. Alloy show repeats on Sat., Nov. 6; tickets are $10). A few blocks east, the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination hosts a closing reception for its shows, including a retrospective of Pittsburgh photos by Brian Cummings, plus live music by Daryl Fleming, Secret Tombs and Amoeba Knieval. Meanwhile, ModernFormations has a new show, with work by Christian Breitkreutz (pictured) and Jason Rosemeyer. Shows also open at Most Wanted Fine Art, C Space Collective, Garfield Artworks, Imagebox and more. There's even tango dancing, at the law office of Richard J. Walters. Most Unblurred spots open their doors at 6 or 7 p.m. and keep them open till 10 p.m. or later. Bill O'Driscoll Free unless otherwise noted. 4900-5500 Penn Avenue, Friendship/Garfield. www.pennavenuearts.org

 

Thu., Nov. 4 -- Stage

This year's response to Future Ten's call for 10-minute plays was the biggest ever. Now 170 submissions have been whittled to the eight scripts featured in Future Ten 7: Too Big to Fail. The writers include local names like Tammy Ryan, F.J. Hartland and Carol Mullen, while the directors guiding local actors at Downtown's Future Tenant stage include Todd Betker, Don DiGiulio, Joanna Lowe and Brandi Welle. All eight plays will be performed nightly for six shows over two weekends, starting tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Shows continue through Nov. 13. 819 Penn Ave., Downtown. $10 ($12 at the door). www.futuretenant.org

 

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Fri., Nov. 5 -- Rock

Whatever you think of today's post-emo singer-songwriter pop, it's popular with the kids, and Caleb Lovely is a local guy who does it really well. He's been a touring guitarist for Rookie of the Year, and for good reason: He shreds, at times turning his otherwise subdued songs into balls-out rockers for a few bars with a blazing solo. His vulnerable but spot-on vocals are sure to melt hearts. (Recorded, they get subtle modification, but don't sound like the self-parody of most Auto-Tuned material.) He releases a new album tonight at Diesel. With Kiernan McMullan, Chances Are High, Michael Cali. Andy Mulkerin 6:30 p.m. 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $10-12. 412-431-8800 or dieselpgh.com

 

Fri., Nov. 5 -- Opera

The work widely regarded as the first modern opera drew on one of civilization's oldest myths, about reclaiming a lover gone beyond the grave. Now Pittsburgh's Opera Theater resurrects Orpheus and Euridice, Christoph Willibald von Gluck's still widely performed 1762 classic. Performers Kara Cornell, Diba Alvi and Anna Singer (singing in English with live orchestration) enact the story in a grand (if borrowed) space: the North Side's William Penn Snyder Mansion Ballroom. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 6, and 2:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 7. 850 Ridge Ave., North Side. $65. 412-456-6666 or www.operatheaterpittsburgh.org

 

Fri., Nov. 5 -- Rock

Calling all sanctuary-sellers and fire women, wild-hearted sons and love-removal machines: The Cult is comin' to town. Since forming in the early 1980s, the English alternative band has continually morphed between atmospheric mysticism, raunchy rock boogie and gothy attitude, led by vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy. The band's most recent release is Born Into This; opening tonight is special guest The Black Ryder. Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.). Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. $35-42. All ages. 412-368-5225 or www.librarymusichall.com

 

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Sat., Nov. 6 -- Words

Lots of people say they have a story worth telling, but how many can sell it? Book agent Arielle Eckstut and author David Henry Sterry present Pitchapalooza, an American Idol-style contest where the average Joe or Jane gets one minute to pitch a book idea to a panel of judges. The contest comes to Joseph-Beth Booksellers with local author Vince Rause as guest judge. The winner gets a half-hour consultation with Sterry and Eckstut, authors of the upcoming The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It Successfully! Weenta Girmay 2 p.m. 510 S. 27th St., South Side. Free. 412-381-3600 or www.josephbeth.com

 

Sun., Nov. 7 -- Performance

Perhaps because they adorn the walls of a river-town church, rather than a museum, the murals of Maxo Vanka are among Pittsburgh's most neglected cultural treasures. But new project Hi-Rez is about bringing people to art, and art to the people. The brainchild of Alexi Morrissey and Justin Hopper recruits artists to create work responding to a particular site. Today, the Croatian painter's stunning anti-war, anti-capitalist murals inspire both Hopper's poetry and new music by atmospheric post-pop duo Action Camp. The performance is at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, where a show of Vanka's work closes today; next Sunday there's another show, at the home of the murals themselves, Millvale's St. Nicholas Catholic Church. BO 6:30 p.m. (6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside; 412-361-0873). Also 3 p.m. Sun., Nov. 14 (St. Nicholas, 24 Maryland Ave., Millvale). Free. 

 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF TOMS MIA
  • Photo courtesy of Toms Mia

Sunday, Nov. 7 -- Music

Omara Portuondo could be called the first lady of Cuban music: The jazz singer has been active since her teen-age years, and in the '50s, before the revolution, she sang with Nat King Cole and recorded in the United States. More recently, her name has been associated mainly with the Buena Vista Social Club, the collective formed by Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and Ry Cooder in the mid-'90s whose first album hit No. 1 on the Billboard world-music chart and won a Grammy. Tonight she appears at the Byham Theater in a show put together by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Global Beats. AM 7 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $25.75-42.75. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

Sun., Nov. 7 -- Rock

If Dark Side of the Moon is the perennial middle-school discovery, Bob Dylan would be the artist you're nearly required to discover in college (along with, depending on your temperament, Leonard Cohen or Bob Marley). Appropriately, Dylan and his band are playing the Petersen Events Center tonight, and tickets for Pitt students are just $22. This tour finds Dylan revisiting classics from his early career, alongside music from his prolific recent years. Dylan has just released The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964, the ninth and latest installment in his ongoing Bootleg Series, and a box set of mono mixes of his first eight albums. Don't look back? Well, sometimes it's OK. AJ 8 p.m. 3719 Terrace St., Oakland. $46.50 (Pitt students $22). 412-648-3054

 

Tue., Nov. 9 -- Film

Susan Retik and Patti Quigley were both pregnant mothers of toddlers when they lost their husbands on Sept. 11th. The Boston women quickly realized that the imminent U.S. war would mean Afghan women widowed, too. "We couldn't bear the thought," says Retik. Their organization Beyond the 11th joins Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen tonight at the New Hazlett Theater to screen Beyond Belief, Beth Murphy's award-winning documentary about how Retik and Quigley turned their grief into compassion for their Afghan counterparts. After a Q&A with Retik, Conflict Kitchen hosts a reception with complimentary Afghan food. WG 7:30 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $10 ($15 at the door). 412-320-4610 or www.newhazletttheater.org

 

Thu., Nov. 11 -- Stage

For the first time ever, two of Pittsburgh's most venerable actors take the stage together. In tonight's staged reading of Elder Hostages, a trilogy of one-acts by Ray Werner, the "hostages" are older people trapped by their infirmities, their pasts and more. The actors, meanwhile, include both Tom Atkins (known for roles including Art Rooney Sr., in The Chief) and Bingo O'Malley, whose string of lauded stage turns dates to the 1970s. The evening at the New Hazlett Theater is a fundraiser for a full production of Elder Hostages next year at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater. BO 8 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $25. 412-320-4610 or www.pghplaywrights.com

 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF BEN RUSSELL
  • Photo courtesy of Ben Russell

Thu., Nov. 11 -- Words

The New York Times' rave review of Michael Thomas' novel Man Gone Down put the unknown author on the map. The novel chronicles four desperate days in the life of Thomas' unnamed protagonist, a black man with Boston roots struggling to write and support his family in Brooklyn. Race -- a barrier between the man and his mixed-race family -- is at the foreground of the plot, complicating this story of an American dream. Winner of the Fred R. Brown Literary Award, Thomas speaks tonight as a part of the University of Pittsburgh's Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers' Series. WG 8:30 p.m. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Drive, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6508 or www.creativewriting.pitt.edu

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