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Monday, April 11, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 6:29 PM

A locally shot thriller’s Kickstarter campaign to raise finishing funds concludes on Friday.

click to enlarge Bingo O'Malley in "A Fancy Piece of Homicide"
Bingo O'Malley in "A Fancy Piece of Homicide"
The producers of A Fancy Piece of Homicide must raise about $9,000 to meet their Kickstarter goal of $15,000.

Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Joe Varhola, who wrote, directed and self-financed the film, describe it as “a psychological murder mystery that contributes a unique chapter to the popular private eye film noir genre.”

The film stars legendary local stage and film actor Bingo O’Malley as Thomas Anderson, “a retired private eye [who] once served an extended prison sentence for the killing of a man he was hired to investigate. He now approaches the completion of his memoir to set the record straight, when one night envelopes containing photographs with connections to the past anonymously begin to show up at his front door, along with a mysterious man ([played by] Mark Tierno) who is receiving photographs of his own.”

The film was shot using local SAG-AFTRA actors also including Patrick Jordan, Sharon Brady, James Howard and Adrienne Wehr. The film itself is all but complete: A private screening for the cast and crew was held in March at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

In 2005, Varhola, then 22, completed his first feature-length film, Dogplayers, and premiered it at the Three Rivers Film Festival. A subsequent short, “The Underwood Company,” screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner and was an official selection of the 2008 Raindance Film Festival, in London.

As of midday today, about $6,000 had been pledged. Varhola is seeking the $15,000 mostly for film-festival application fees and for a graphic designer to create a poster and other marketing materials. Kickstarter funds go only to applicants who make their fundraising goal; otherwise, the pledged funds are forfeited.

The deadline to pledge is about 8 p.m. Fri., April 15.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 10:48 AM

This week Bike PGH launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund its organization for next year, with an emphasis on safer streets. This launch comes the same week that the bicycling and pedestrian advocacy organization is pushing greater driver accountability in car/bike crashes as a way to increase public safety in the region’s streets.

click to enlarge Morners attending the vigil of Susan Hicks, who died in October after being crushed in between two cars on Forbes Avenue in Oakland. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BIKE PGH
Photo courtesy of Bike PGH
Morners attending the vigil of Susan Hicks, who died in October after being crushed in between two cars on Forbes Avenue in Oakland.
Jane Kaminski of Bike PGH says that money donated will feed into all of the organization's programming, but there is a special emphasis on “getting people to feel more comfortable biking.”

She says that Bike PGH’s main focus areas for next year are as follow:
  • Finish the city’s Complete Streets Policy (Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order in April calling for streets to be designed with pedestrians, cyclists, public transit and cars in mind).
  • Connecting the Penn Avenue protected lane to Point State Park (it was recently extended a block to Stanwix Street, but still has one and half blocks before reaching the park).
  • Expanding the OpenStreets festival events to new neighborhoods.
  • Continuing work on increasing safety on Oakland streets.
  • Further developing our education program, including the City Cycling program for adults and the Positive Spin program for youths.
Bike PGH is crowdfunding through GlobalGiving.org, which can be viewed here, and all donations $10 and over include incentives that show where the gathered funds can specifically go. For example, $25 will provide a student with a bicycle helmet and $100 dollars pays for an hour instruction session for an adult taking Bike PGH’s city cycling class.

And in addition to their crowdfunding initiative, Bike PGH will launch further donation campaigns and will feature stories of Pittsburghers who have been positively affected by their work starting Dec. 1. These campaigns are all part of the organization's yearly drive to raise general funds for the upcoming year.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 8:42 AM

For more than a decade, Mark Clayton Southers has been a big part of the local theater scene, most notably as a playwright and as founder and artistic director of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.

Playwrights has produced work by numerous local talents living and dead, but would be worthy of acclaim if only for its regular stagings of plays by August Wilson, which have been arguably the best such productions in town.

In fact, Southers himself was only days past premiering a production of Wilson’s Fences that he had directed when he was seriously injured in a car accident.

That was May 11. Southers would spend the next five weeks unconscious and nearly five months hospitalized while he underwent numerous surgeries, including efforts to save one of his legs from amputation. (Southers is pictured in the hospital with one of his young sons.)

Those efforts succeeded, and Southers finally returned home, to the Hill District, where he grew up. He is even back in the director’s chair, helming a new production of Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, set to debut next month, at Downtown’s August Wilson Center.

However, Southers' household’s finances were slammed. A new gofundme campaign is looking to help.

The campaign’s goal is $25,000, and it culminates with a Nov. 23 benefit and tribute for Southers, to be held, appropriately enough, at the Wilson Center.

A $25 donation to the gofundme campaign gets you a ticket to the event.

More details are here.


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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 2:13 PM

click to enlarge Andre Gray and his dog Boss - CROWDRISE.COM
crowdrise.com
Andre Gray and his dog Boss
The family of Andre Gray, the LGBT community and the city as a whole have mourned the death of Gray since his body was finally discovered in the Ohio River in West Virginia four months ago. Now, they are ready to celebrate and commemorate the life of the young man.

Gray, who identified as bisexual, was set to start a job at Project Silk — an organization that serves young minorities in the LGBT community, before he and his dog, Boss, were killed sometime in late October of last year. Gray was 34.

As a joint effort of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation, Lawrenceville United, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents and Gray's family and friends, a crowdfunded memorial project has started with the hopes of creating a memorial bench to Gray in the Benard Dog Run in Lawrenceville.

"He was very much like a father figure to lot of people,” Nayck Feliz, a volunteer and former associate director of Silk told City Paper in February. "He wanted to help out even if he wasn’t paid."

Sue Kerr, of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, worked with Gray’s mother and both decided a memorial bench in the dog park was best. Kerr says that Gray “always had animals in his life” and since his dog was killed too, the dog run was the obvious choice.

“The reason we wanted to create the memorial came out of the fact that Andre’s life story was kind of getting lost in all the media attention,” says Kerr. “They focused on his death, not his life.”

The groups are hoping to raise $5,000: $3,500 to acquire permits and construct the bench, and $1,500 to start a project that will maintain funds to provide future maintenance. As of print, $2,180 has been raised.

“Hopefully this sends a message to gay and bi men of color that they will be honored and not forgotten,” says Kerr.

If you would like to contribute to Gray’s memorial fund, visit the crowdfunding site here.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 1:03 PM

A pair of notable local indie filmmakers are doing a Kickstarter campaign to complete an unusual project.

click to enlarge Still from the trailer of a scene from "Inside Passage"
Still from the trailer of a scene from "Inside Passage"
Inside Passage is an experimental documentary about producer Gab Cody’s real-life search for her Tlingit Native American foster siblings, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a small child in Alaska.

According to press materials, the feature-length film will blur the line between the “real” and the “designed.” While the core of the film is verite-style footage of the actual journey to Alaska, the finished product, as co-directed by Cody and Sam Turich, will include interviews both staged and informal, found and historical footage and more. (A press release about the filmmakers’ approach references such innovative recent documentaries as Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing.)

A novel element of Inside Passage is its “pre-enactments” — fictional interludes in which the filmmakers explore what a reunion of Cody and her siblings might look like, question their own motives and more. Here’s a trailer of one of them, and you can find more on the Kickstarter page. (The accompanying photo, featuring local actors, is a still from one pre-enactment.)

Funds are needed to send a two-person crew to Alaska in August. The Kickstarter campaign is for $21,000. As of today, with nine days left, about $16,000 was still needed.

Cody and Turich are perhaps best known for their award-winning feature-length comedy Progression, and their comedy short “Mombies,” which has screened at film festivals nationally, and on WQED-TV. They’ve also done work for the PBS Kids program Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Cody and Turich, who are spouses, are key figures in the local stage community as well. Both are actors, and in recent years Cody has written or co-written several plays staged by top local companies, including Bricolage Productions, Quantum Theatre and Point Park’s The REP.

The Kickstarter campaign for Inside Passage ends July 31.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 1:57 PM

With 70 hours to go in their Kickstarter drive, producers of a feature film on a world-renowned Pittsburgh-based artist and performer need less than $10,000 to meet their goal.

“Crutch,” 14 years in the making, tells the story of Bill Shannon, who was born with a degenerative hip condition and in his younger years was on and off crutches. He developed a street-dance-inspired performance style incorporating crutches and sometimes a skateboard. He grew up largely in Pittsburgh and after moving away became an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and performance artists with credits around the world, from the Tate Modern and the Sydney Opera House to a stint with Cirque du Soleil.

Shannon's street performances often critique the way society views people with disabilities. He is also an accomplished visual artist.

Shannon now lives in Stanton Heights. Here’s a profile of him I wrote for City Paper in 2007, a year after he moved back to Pittsburgh to raise his family.

While he’s kept a low profile in Pittsburgh, he’s continued working outside the area and around the world.

The California-based producers of “Crutch,” Sachi Cunningham and Chandler Evans, have been documenting Shannon for 14 years. The footage for the planned feature-length film is largely shot (or, in the case of archival footage, gathered). The additional funds are needed for post-production, mostly editing and music licensing.

As of noon today, the Kickstarter campaign had raised nearly $91,000. The deadline for contributing is 10:57 a.m. this Friday.

Contribute here.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 5:10 PM

A local artist whose “Robot Repair Shop” was a favorite pop-up attraction Downtown, as well as a nonprofit trying to supply “clay cases” to area schools, are seeking your support.

click to enlarge Toby Atticus Fraley at his SPACE gallery show last year - PHOTO BY HEATHER MULL
Photo by Heather Mull
Toby Atticus Fraley at his SPACE gallery show last year
Bridgeville-based Toby Atticus Fraley is best known for Fraley’s Robot Repair, a whimsical art installation that for 18 months occupied the storefront that’s now the restaurant, Butcher in the Rye. Fraley uses repurposed materials from old appliances to shoe-trees to craft “robots," most of which don’t actually move at all, and which look like what people 50 years ago imagined robots would look.

Fraley says he has a chance to reboot his installation at Pittsburgh International Airport, and that the airport even has some temporarily vacant space to house it. But he needs $10,000 to actually make the art, which would be “entirely new” rather than a reprise of the Downtown incarnation and three times as large. Construction would start in July for a late-summer opening

Here’s a CP feature on Fraley on the occasion of his 2014 solo show at SPACE gallery.

You have until June 17 to contribute to Fraley’s Kickstarter campaign. Also see this website.

click to enlarge A clay case - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNION PROJECT
Photo courtesy of the Union Project
A clay case
Meanwhile, this educational Indiegogo campaign comes courtesy of the Union Project, the Highland Park-based arts and community nonprofit. The group wants to supply 200 clay cases to local schools, along with a ceramic teaching artist.

A clay case is a small kit stocked with basic ceramics gear including a work mat with instructions, ceramics tools, clay and glazes. The Union Project would fire finished artworks in its own kilns. The group calls the cases “studios to go.”

Funds raised via Indiegogo will be used to purchase all the materials, assemble the cases, underwrite programming costs for schools, and pay for the ceramic teaching artists.

All this for $5,000, which is the Union Project’s goal. If the goal is exceeded, the program will be expanded to teach more than 200 children. The deadline is next Friday, May 29.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 2:20 PM

Illustrator and writer Ilene Winn-Lederer plans to publish Notes From London: Above & Below in September. But she’s looking for funds to complete it.

click to enlarge An illustration from "Notes From London" - ART BY ILENE WINN-LEDERER
Art by Ilene Winn-Lederer
An illustration from "Notes From London"
As of today, the nationally published illustrator still needs about $2,300  toward her Kickstarter goal of $3,000. The project’s Kickstarter page is here.

The book is a 42-page “collection of annotated illustrations culled from journals carried on her travels [in London] between 2002 and 2009,” mostly whimsical interpretations of her experiences on the streets, done in her lush, earthy style. “It is a city whose streets, roundabouts, lanes and mews are lines in the map of human history,” she writes.

Last year, Winn-Lederer successfully Kickstarted her book An Illumination of Blessings, a collection of her “original illustrations and calligraphy in a unique interpretation of 36 blessings … chosen from among the many that have been composed in the Jewish tradition over the centuries.”

Her earlier works included Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary, a contemporary take on the Jewish holy book. Here’s CP’s article on that 2009 book.

The Kickstarter campaign for Notes From London ends this Sunday.

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