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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM

More donors than ever participated in the Pittsburgh Foundation’s fifth annual 24-hour race for matching funds for local nonprofits. But fewer overall dollars were given — something that might have more to do with a PittsburghGives rule change than with locals’ generosity.

Nearly 18,200 donors participated on Oct. 3, contributing $6.4 million to more than 720 groups, according to a statement from the Pittsburgh Foundation. That's up from 17,719 donors last year.

Combined with $750,000 in matching funds administered by the Pittsburgh Foundation, the donations placed about $7.15 million into the groups’ coffers. (A Day of Giving for Westmoreland County channeled a total of $575,000 to groups based there.)

However, despite the increase in people giving, the $6.4 million in public donations was a drop of nearly 10 percent from last year’s record of $7 million.

Given the regular growth in donations to PittsburghGives over the years, that drop likely had to do with the initiative's new rules for matching funds. This year, for the first time, only the first $1,000 given by each individual to any group would be matched. The previous cap was $10,000.

Pittsburgh Foundation spokesperson Christopher Whitlach said the lowered cap was meant to spread donations around more and increase the match percentage, measured in cents per dollar.

In Allegheny County, every donor dollar given this year became $1.13 for a favored group, up from $1.09 last year. And gifts of under $1,000, which last year totaled $4.1 million, this year totaled $6.8 million.

The group with the most donors was the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, with 1,245 donors. Next was the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (1,010), followed by 90.5 WESA (769), Animal Friends Inc. (757), WQED Multimedia (743) and the Animal Rescue League of Western PA (742).

In terms of funds donated by the public (not counting matching funds), the biggest recipients were the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (($191,547), the Food Bank ($176,137), Central Catholic High School ($122,640), Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh ($118,141), the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust ($115,544), Rodef Shalom Congregation ($98,652) and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh ($95,538).

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 1:10 PM

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and cartoonist Joe Wos have reached an agreement over Wos’ use of the image of the giant rubber duck that’s part of the Trust’s Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

The gist is that the Trust won’t object to Wos’ “Quack N’ At” T-shirts as long as all of the proceeds benefit The Toonseum, the nonprofit museum of cartoon art he runs Downtown.

Wos had previously said that only a portion of the proceeds from T-shirt sales would benefit the Toonseum.

A few weeks back, Wos had upset the Trust by announcing he was taking orders for T-shirts bearing an image of artist Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck Project, plus the motto “Quack N’ At.” The Trust wrote Wos to ask him to stop selling the shirts because he was infringing on the festival and its own merchandise sales.

Wos refused, and in fact last Friday was selling “Quack N’ At” shirts at the Trust’s Rubber Duck Bridge Party, from a booth perhaps 100 yards from the Trust’s own official merchandise booth, featuring duck buttons, hats and T-shirts.

The party drew thousands who filled the Clemente Bridge and lined both sides of the river to witness the arrival by river of the 40-foot-tall inflatable yellow duck. Both booths seemed to be doing brisk business, though the line at the Trust booth was considerably longer.

But bygones appear to be bygones. Here’s the statement the Trust issued about 11 a.m. today:

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Toonseum have come to a positive resolution regarding Quack N'at T-shirts with 100% of the proceeds now benefiting the non-profit Toonseum. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is an ardent supporter of Toonseum and independent artists. Both organizations share a common goal of getting people to flock to Pittsburgh's Cultural District for outstanding arts and entertainment. We look forward to focusing on the incredibly favorable attention the Rubber Duck Project is bringing our city.”

The Trust was not taking additional questions. Wos could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Last week in our Local Beat column, I told you about the singer-songwriter competition going on in Lawrenceville for the past couple of months. Last night was the finals, and here are the results:

WYEPs Bruce Mountjoy, left, with winners, from left to right: Zach Austin Longoria, Jay Stenger, Jordan Auth
  • WYEP's Bruce Mountjoy, left, with winners, from left to right: Zach Austin Longoria, Jay Stenger, Jordan Auth

First place went to Louisville, Ky.-based Zach Austin Longoria. New Kensington's Jay Stenger took second place, and third place went to Jordan Auth of the North Side.

Congrats to the winners!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Remember when we warned you that the corpse flower was about to bloom? Guess what? IT IS NOW BLOOMING. AS WE SPEAK. IF YOU ARE ANYWHERE IN OAKLAND OR SQUIRREL HILL, YOU CAN PROBABLY SMELL IT FROM YOUR HOUSE. OK, that's an exaggeration. But still.

Phipps Conservatory announced via email just after 7 p.m. tonight that the flower was in bloom, and that tonight and tomorrow, the conservatory will be open late — we mean super late. 'Til 2 a.m. So that you can come and experience the worst-smelling plant on the planet. More info on Phipps' website, here. It could be in bloom for as little as 24 hours, so get there ASAP if you want to smell it!

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Posted By on Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 9:26 AM

In a gathering that united some of Pittsburgh’s fashion icons and trendsetters, Style & Steel hosted their first ‘Superwomen In Heels’ Style Awards. Thursday evening at the Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District, men and women dressed their best for the ceremony that celebrated women working in a variety of areas in the style and fashion business. Style Award categories included Designer of the Year, Make-Up Artist of the Year, Model of the Year, and Stylist of the Year, among others.

“It’s not often that women get together and celebrate one another,” says Style & Steel founder Wadria Taylor. “I feel great seeing the women feel good about themselves.”

Lakisha Pattin has been a freelance stylist for about seven years. She also does make-up and runs her own company, Focused Fashion Consulting, LLC. At the ‘Superwomen In Heels’ Style Awards, she received the award for Stylist of the Year.

“It feels good to be appreciated for your hard work,” Pattin says. “This is something that’s very exciting, and it really helps to jump-start more fashion works in Pittsburgh by bringing different arts together, from make-up’s and hair, to styling, to photography.”

21-year-old Makayla Wray was an arts feature and City Paper cover-girl in the month of July. Honored with the Style & Steel award for Young Stylista On the Rise, she agrees with Pattin on the potential network and creative opportunities that can develop from the initiative Style & Steel is presenting.

“It’s kind of like a sorority of women who are doing something in Pittsburgh,” says Wray. “You know, Beyonce used all women in her concert sets — guitarists, drummer, her background dancers were all women. That’s amazing, women really have to stand together and be strong. I think we’re here to better each other.”

Thursday’s Style Awards is part of Style & Steel’s first Style Week. On Wednesday, the company founded by Wadria Taylor held their launch event which welcomed a local celebrities, fashionistas, and socialites. Continuing into the weekend, Style & Steel will be presenting a fashion show, boutique crawl, and concluding Sunday with a beauty boot camp in collaboration with CitySTYLE.

List of Style Awards Honorees:

Style Icon of the Year: Debbie Norrell
Superwoman of the Year: Demeatria Boccella
Model of the Year: Ernesta Pollard
Make-Up Artist of the Year: Patty Bell
Designer of the Year: Lana Neumeyer
Stylist of the Year: Lakisha Pattin
Most Stylish Host: Vanessa Doss
Most Stylish Artist: Vanessa German
Young Stylista on the Rise: Makayla Wray
Fashion Photographer of the Year: Mary Beth Kratsas

According to a press release from Style & Steel, a Style Committee comprising of fashion industry insiders evaluated nominees and determined the honorees. Style Award Committee members were Sabrina R. Clark, Fashion Editor with Soul Pitt Media Consultant and Stylist at Sabrina’s Fashion Consulting, Eric Gaines, Founder of Emage Models, LaMont Jones, a Pittsburgh fashion icon, Allegra Johnson, founder of CitySTYLE and journalist with American Urban Radio Networks, and Leigh Pugliano, founder and CEO of Straight Forward Consulting. Prior to the awards ceremony, which was hosted by KDKA’s Lynn Hayes-Freeland, singer Anqwenique Wingfield & Groove Aesthetic impressed the audience with a live performance blending opera, jazz, and soul.

Style & Steel Presents Style Week, upcoming events:

Saturday, August 10 — Boutique Crawl, 12p-5p
Boutiques throughout the city will be featuring trunk shows and special promotions exclusively to Style Week patrons. Participating locations will be announced shortly. Free and open to the public.

Sunday, August 11 — CitySTYLE presents Beauty Boot Camp — LaLa’s Salon, 1p-4p | $25
Get glam. Get fab. Get fierce. Stylistas will be treated to massages, make-up and style makeovers, facials, demonstrations, and a variety of vendors.

Style & Steel founder Wadria Taylor
  • Style & Steel founder Wadria Taylor

Makayla Wray receives award for Young Stylista On the Rise
  • Makayla Wray receives award for Young Stylista On the Rise

Lakisha Pattin receives award for Stylist of the Year
  • Lakisha Pattin receives award for Stylist of the Year

Lana Neumeyer receives award for Designer of the Year
  • Lana Neumeyer receives award for Designer of the Year

Anqwenique Wingfield and Groove Aesthetic open the ceremony with a music performance
  • Anqwenique Wingfield and Groove Aesthetic open the ceremony with a music performance

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 10:25 AM

If you haven't had a chance yet, check out my interview with Chelsea Baratz in this week's paper: The Upper St. Clair-raised jazz saxophonist is a bandleader and session player in New York, and is doing her hometown's jazz scene proud. By way of a quick update, I wanted to note that in addition to tomorrow's free show at Riverview Park, Chelsea is playing tonight at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy — which was one of her old haunts when it was James Street Tavern. She let me know she'll be joined by Jevon Rushton, an old collaborator with whom she hasn't played in a while.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM

As we noted yesterday, the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the expansion plans of Lawrenceville's Thunderbird Cafe.

In its ruling, the ZBA ruled that there would be no detrimental impact on the neighborhood — as some opponents of the plan fear.

The board granted the adjustments and variances sought by Lawrenceville Holdings VI LP as long as the city's zoning administrator reviews the final site plans and that developers provide a plan for valet parking within 30 days.

In response to the ruling, community groups Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation sent out a statement yesterday saying they would appeal the decision.

Thunderbird owners and developers say they are pleased with the ruling and are flummoxed by the LC/LU response. Chris Lasky, Vice President of Massaro CM Services LLC and designer/consultant on the plan, sent us this statement:

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 3:45 PM

The city's Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the expansion of Lawrenceville's Thunderbird Cafe.

In the ruling issued July 11, the ZBA approved the variances and special exceptions requested by Lawrenceville Holdings VI LP as long as the city's zoning administrator reviews the final site plans and that developers provide a plan for valet parking within 30 days.

As City Paper reported in April, club owner John Pergal is pursuing a $3 million project that would consolidate several properties in the block between 41st Street and Almond Way along Butler Street. The plan would create a new two-story building that will house an expanded Thunderbird, raising the venue's capacity from 246 to 600, and a new three-story building that would hold a restaurant kitchen and residential units above. Pergal wants to expand his concert venue to have more of a "supper club" feel.

But residents, community groups and former city councilor Patrick Dowd raised questions about the plan and its impact on the neighborhood.

After an April 11 hearing before the ZBA, at attorney representing community groups Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation filed a "Findings of Fact" detailing concerns with the plan. In it's ruling, the ZBA said the expansion would not be a detriment to the neighborhood and wrote that "an unnecessary hardship would result if the variance is denied, and that the proposed use would not be contrary to public interest — it would, in fact, enhance the public interest."

In a statement emailed to the Lawrenceville community this afternoon, the LU and LC wrote that the decision was disappointing, and that "It is clear that the proposed project will have an detrimental impact the neighborhood. LU and LC are working with legal counsel to appeal the ZBA decision."

I've emailed Chris Lasky, vice president of Massaro CM Services LLC and designer/consultant on the plan, for comment on the ruling and we'll post that as it becomes available.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Bricolage Production Co.’s immersive-theater work STRATA was among 2012’s arts highlights around here. Now the show is one of several immersive or interactive works highlighted in the cover story of the current issue of American Theatre Magazine.

The article, “The Walls Come Tumbling Down,” by Diep Tran, explores the burgeoning phenomenon of theater that patrons participate in rather than merely watch.

It's a fun, accessible read that documents the explosion in recent years of these sorts of shows, an early example of which was British troupe Punchdrunk’s MacBeth-inspired Sleep No More, whose U.S. premiere was in 2003, in Boston.

For STRATA, which ran last summer, Bricolage took over the former Bally’s building, Downtown, and turned it into a “refitnessing center” run by an imaginary company that promised a kind of existential self-improvement.

The building was dressed as a variety of rooms, from doctor’s offices and archives to gymnasiums and multimedia isolation booths. Patrons “played” STRATA customers, who then underwent individualized experiences depending on the choices they made, as partly determined by interactions with actors playing STRATA employees (some friendly, some more menacing, some simply puzzling).

STRATA (produced in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust) was Bricolage’s biggest-selling show ever, and a massive undertaking for the small company. I loved it, and so did CP’s reviewer, Michelle Pilecki.

While STRATA is just one of the shows featured in American Theatre, the online version of the article leads off with a short video about the show’s set and lighting design, narrated by Rob Long, of Clear Story Creative, one of the many groups and artists that collaborated on the show.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Pittsburgh’s first two experiments with “community-supported art," launched in May, are off to a good start.

CSAs let subscribers buy a share in an art-subscription service, and in return receive a series of original artworks — or, in one case, admission to a series of new performances.

The concept is borrowed from community-supported agriculture, the trendy way to patronize local farmers. Folks in Minnesota pioneered art CSAs in 2010. The idea is to fund artists when they most need it — when they’re creating new work.

On June 7, CSA PGH held its first art pick-up, at The Andy Warhol Museum. Visual artworks by three local artists — a hand-lathed record album (David Bernabo), small photographs of local scenes (Ed Panar) and 50 pieces of a shirt belonging to Andy Warhol (Lenka Clayton) — were distributed to the 50 shareholders, who had ponied up $350 apiece.

And last night, The New Hazlett Theater welcomed shareholders and other guests to a preview event for its own CSA program.

The New Hazlett’s CSA is unique nationally in being dedicated to performance art. Four of the six CSA artists spoke, including Sarah Parker, of Continuum Dance Theater, and “audio/visual astronaut” Dan Wilcox (whose interactive work will ask, “Would you go to Mars if you had to leave tomorrow and you couldn’t come back?”

New Hazlett shares cost $100. Executive director René Conrad says that as of the conclusion of last night’s event, 89 of the target of 150 shares had been sold.

Hmmm — CSA PGH sold out its $350 shares in a month, while the New Hazlett is still trying to sell its $100 shares (albeit rather more of them, but still). Is performance a tougher sell than physical artworks? Certainly it’s non-collectible, which might deter some potential patrons — even though $100 is dirt-cheap for six original live performances.

Still, the first New Hazlett CSA performance isn’t until August, so there’s time for the other shares to sell. The theater does plan to offer non-subscription tickets to individual performances. But as Conrad says, “I really want to support the farm and not just the carrots.”

CSA PGH, meanwhile, has started a waiting list for next year’s offerings.

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