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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Thousands gathered Downtown Monday for the city's annual Labor Day Parade. The event was highlighted by a visit from Vice President Joe Biden and Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate. City Paper intern Luke Thor Travis was there to capture the happenings.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 3:31 PM

Final week for "Seven Guitars" at Pittsburgh Playwrights, staged at August Wilson House
Photo courtesy of Gail Manker
Jonathan Berry (left) and Leslie "Ezra" Smith in "Seven Guitars."
Seeing August Wilson’s Seven Guitars performed in the very Hill District backyard in which it was set should give anyone chills, but also a sense of an artistic birthright restored: Wilson was raised on the Hill, and grew up in the house in front of that Bedford Avenue backyard, but who knows how long it’s been since one of his plays was actually staged in the neighborhood?

It’s not too much to call this fine Playwrights production “historic.” But if you want to see it, you’d better hurry: There are just five more performances through Sunday, and one of them (Saturday night’s) is already sold out. Fortunately, bowing to popular demand (all six performances the first two weeks sold out), Playwrights added weekend matinees this week, which has effectively doubled your chances of getting a seat.

With straw blanketing the yard’s bare dirt, and live chickens pecking away, the outdoor production takes you back to 1948, with seven characters (the “guitars” of the title) attached to the mystery of who killed bluesman Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton (though Barton, played by Jonathan Berry, is alive for most of the play, in extended flashback).

Director Mark Clayton Southers’ staging of the 1996 play runs about three and a half hours, including an intermission; it’s probably Wilson’s most discursive work. But it takes time to create a world on stage, and Seven Guitars features some of Wilson’s most pungent dialogue: As one character says, “You get a hit record and the white folks call you ‘Mister.’”

Here’s Michelle Pilecki’s review of the show for City Paper.

Bonus: The house is the under-construction arts center known as August Wilson House, so you can get a sneak peak at that, too. And you’ll be sitting within blocks of the real-life settings for several other Wilson plays, including Fences and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

Seven Guitars takes place at 1727 Bedford Ave.

Tickets are $35 and are available here.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 2:32 PM

A big crowd gathered in Lawrenceville last night for late spring’s most anticipated sport. Wait, if you thought we were going to say the Pens playoff game, you should probably check out this photo essay from earlier today instead. No, we’re talking about the first Pittsburgh Underwear Bike Ride of the year!

Men and women, dressed in bras, boxer shorts and tighty whities, met at the corner of 46th and Butler streets in Lawrenceville and rode their bikes through the city to Penn Brewery on the North Side. The event is about “having fun and promoting a positive self-body image,” according to the Facebook event page. Miss the fun and want to join the next one? A new ride happens on the last Thursday of every month through October, with the next one scheduled for June 30.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 3:12 PM

On March 18, 1816, Pittsburgh officially became a city when it received notice of incorporation, granting its citizens the right to local elections and self-governance. 

Today, the city announced it would be celebrating the 200th anniversary of that milestone with a series of events throughout the year.

"We now today want to begin a year long celebration of Pittsburgh's 200th birthday," said Andrew Masich, president and CEO of the Senator John Heinz History Center and chair of the Bicentennial Commission. "And toward that end, the mayor has assembled a volunteer commission and 300 community organizations have rallied around the Pittsburgh bicentennial." 

click to enlarge Pittsburgh to celebrate bicentennial with events year-round
Photo by Aaron Warnick
Mayor Bill Peduto with members of the Pittsburgh Bicentennial Commission

When Pittsburgh turned 100, then mayor Joseph Armstrong commissioned the building of the City-County Building where today's press conference was held.

"That was the legacy of our first 100 years: this beautiful building," said Mayor Bill Peduto. "Well we don't have money, so we have to find more creative ways to celebrate." 

The bicentennial celebration this year will begin with a kickoff celebration on March 18, the day of Pittsburgh's incorporation. Commemoration events will continue in July with an event at the John Heinz History Center, a Bicentennial Parade, a festival at Point State Park, and recognition of descendants of Pittsburgh's former mayors. There will also be smaller events in different city neighborhoods.

"We're going to give every city resident and those that come to visit the city a passport to see it. We often say we don't cross rivers, we don't go to other neighborhoods," said Peduto. "It will be a year of celebrating the greatness that is this city and that's its people."

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 4:10 PM

News spread quickly over social media yesterday that East Liberty's "Lend Me Your Ears," a Sprout Fund mural created by Jordan Monahan in 2004, was being painted over to make way for new development.

City Paper photographer Heather Mull photographed local filmmaker Chris Ivey in front of the mural in 2007 for a feature highlighting his documentary East of Liberty: A Story of Good Intentions. "The documentary explores the past, present and uncertain future of a long-suffering Pittsburgh neighborhood now facing gentrification." 

#TBT: A photographic comparison of Chris Ivey and East Liberty's gentrification
Photo by Heather Mull

Coincidentally, Ivey was also  photographed in East Liberty for our main news story in this week's issue , where reporter Ryan Deto questions whether Pittsburgh's future growth includes the city's African-American community.

#TBT: A photographic comparison of Chris Ivey and East Liberty's gentrification
Photo by Heather Mull

With the recent developments about the mural unfolding online, we thought it interesting to post the photos together, as a throwback comparison to how much things change over the years, and perhaps, how much they stay the same.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2015 at 9:29 AM

To be a true Pittsburgher, you need a Thanksgiving-themed pierogie ornament
Photo courtesy of Jenna Johnston

Happy Thanksgiving!

We took the day off, but not before finding you this adorable Thanksgiving-themed turkey pierogie Christmas-tree ornament, made locally by Etsy shop ArrayOfHappiness

Jenna Johnston, the Beaver County native and brains behind the decorated pierogie ornaments, says she started playing around with clay and this is what she came up with.

"I still have my original pierogi ornament on my Christmas tree. It doesn’t look anything like they do now," Johnston says. "I’ve come a long way with the design."

And, she's not just selling pierogies disguised as turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday. "Mainly, the Santa and the Pittsburgh [-themed] ones are the most popular." There are also little leprechaun pierogies for  St. Patrick's Day and pierogies donning hearts for Valentine's Day.

Johnston says she loves having an Etsy shop because it allows her to get to know people.

"You actually have a relationship with customers, as opposed to selling on something like eBay," she says. "I don’t really look at money aspect of it. I love meeting people. It is exciting to sell a pierogie though."

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Monday, November 23, 2015

A photo essay from Light Up Night in Downtown Pittsburgh

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 1:15 PM

The holiday season officially kicked off in Pittsburgh on Friday night as people filled the Downtown streets for the city's 55th Annual Light Up Night festivities.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

By many accounts, independent bookstores are a dying breed. But some are bucking trend. And in Oakmont, Mystery Lovers Bookshop celebrates 25 years this weekend — a testament to the fact that, more than just where you buy your books, bookstores can also be staples of a community.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop opened in 1990, and was honored by the Mystery Writers of America with a Raven award in 2010. The store carries new copies of a wide variety of crime, thrillers and espionage fiction, and hosts an annual Festival of Mystery.

The store celebrates its longevity with a free event tomorrow from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The event includes a special edition of its Coffee & Crime series, with local mystery author Nancy Martin, at 11 a.m. Martin will speak about her newest book, Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything (Minotaur Books), which will be available for purchase before its official Nov. 3 release.

Founders Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman then arrive for a meet-and-greet, and to make a  special announcement. (The store's current owners, married couple Natalie Sacco and Trevor Thomas, took the place over this past May.)

The annual $0.10 book sale follows. Proceeds will be donated to a local charity that has yet to be announced.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop is located at 514 Allegheny River Blvd., in Oakmont. Light refreshments will be provided, and costumes are encouraged.

Click here for more info.

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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, October 15, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM

In 2005, Andy Kehoe had his first art exhibition in his hometown. Kehoe was a recent graduate of New York’s Parsons School of Design, and the venue was ModernFormations Gallery, a four-year-old storefront on a blighted, largely vacant stretch of Penn Avenue, in Garfield.

click to enlarge ModernFormations Gallery to hold final show in November
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Quinio
The exhibition, which Kehoe shared with his twin brother, Ben, “was the first big show I had,” recalls Kehoe.

By the time Kehoe showed in ModernFormations’ 10th-anniversary show, in 2011, things were a lot different for him. The year following the 2005 exhibit, Kehoe had placed three paintings in a group show in Brooklyn. An exhibit at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, in Chelsea, followed in 2008.

“My whole career as an exhibiting artist really took off from there,” writes Kehoe today, via email. “I think I was pretty much able to make a living off my work a couple years later.”

While Modern Formations in 2005 didn’t get nearly the foot traffic a gallery in, say, Shadyside might have, Kehoe says that making his dozen paintings for that first show — wryly dreamlike scenes of imaginary forest-dwelling beings, done in a distinctive graphic style — was a turning point. “It really did kinda push me to think what I wanted to do with my work,” he says. That more mature work led, eventually, to Chelsea — and the $5,000 price tags his paintings command today.

“ModernFormations was there at the beginning when I really started to figure things out,” he adds. “It’ll always have a special place in my heart for giving me one of my first real opportunities to showcase my work.”

While Kehoe is unusually successful for a Pittsburgh-based painter, his story exemplifies what’s notable about ModernFormations, which after 14 years will close in November after one last show. As the oldest surviving gallery on what’s now known as the Penn Avenue Arts Corridor, ModernFormations has been an anchor of the local scene and a launching pad for emerging Pittsburgh talent.

Gallery owner Jennifer Quinio tells CP she is selling the building. “I love the place, but I just can’t afford it any more,” she says. “I’m also ready to move on,” adds Quinio, who plans to focus on her career in senior health and fitness.

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