Events | Program Notes: Arts Blog |


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Outdoor free-flight shows return to the Aviary on Saturday

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 1:49 PM

The National Aviary’s new outdoor free-flight show, called Taking Flight: An Aerial Adventure, is all about the spectacle of motion. With a new set designed by Pittsburgh CLO Construction Center for the Arts installed in the Aviary's historic rose garden, the show is designed not just to spotlight its strangest and most beautiful birds, but also its highest fliers.

Attendees can expect playful kookaburras, enormous Eurasian eagle owls and a variety of colorful parrots and macaws, as well as the augur buzzard, a large African bird of prey known for its fearsome aerial displays and striking patterns of black, red and white plumage.

Narration and music will accompany this show, the National Aviary’s first outdoor summer show in five years, and the audience will be able to see some of these amazing birds up close.

The show will run twice a day, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., beginning this Saturday and continuing throughout the aviary’s summer season. Taking Flight is free with admission,which is $12 for children, $13 for seniors (60+), and $14 for adults.

More information is available here.

The National Aviary is located at 700 Arch St. in the North Side.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Free Chamber Music Tonight at Bar Marco

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Classical Revolution Pittsburgh performs Austrian early Romantic composer Franz Schubert's 1824 octet tonight at 7 p.m. at Bar Marco.

Classical Revolution is a chamber orchestra featuring members of both the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Opera. And to match their radical-sounding name, they’ve got a mission statement that reads in a decidedly punk-rock way.

Their goal is bring classical music to the people by taking it out of the concert hall and doing free concerts in venues like Bar Marco, where musicians and non-musicians, classical novices and afficionados alike can relax, eat, drink and enjoy music from all eras of history. They hope to isolate the power of music while avoiding all the stuffiness, rigidity and pretense that often comes with it.

Inspired by Beethoven’s then-20-year-old septet, Schubert composed this octet during his creatively vital late period, and you can see it performed tonight at Bar Marco (2216 Penn Ave., Strip District).

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Assemble's MakerDate Auctions Dates with Artists is Saturday

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Assemble, Garfield’s all-ages arts and creativity space, continues its devotion to the marriage of art, craft and technology with an unusual auction this Sat., May 17.

The 2014 MakerDate invites people to bid on "dates" with each of 20 artists, crafters and technologists, with whom they can spend a day making a one-of-a-kind piece of personalized art.

Participating artists include jeweler/metalworker Anya Weitzman, photographer/interactive digital artist Jakob Marsico, local food initiative Café con Leche, and Alternate Histories, which fabricates postcards, comic books, historical maps and more to incorporate zombies, robots and aliens into American history.

Assemble is non-profit and staffed entirely by volunteers, so all proceeds from this event go directly to itsSTEAM initiative, which seeks to incorporate Art and Design into the curricula of American schools. The event also includes food, drink and music.

Tickets are $30, but for $100 you can purchase a VIP package that includes a gift bag, various exclusive demonstrations and performances, and chances to meet the artists behind Assemble. The event is at 6 p.m., at the Hill House Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Ave.

Click here for tickets.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Billy Porter Chairs Annual PERSAD Art Auction on Monday

Posted By on Thu, May 8, 2014 at 12:03 PM

On Monday, UPMC hosts the 26th annual Art for Change auction, with proceeds benefiting co-presenter the Persad Center.

The auction will feature more than 200 works of art, including pieces by both local and national artists, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewelry and even an original portrait of Pee Wee Herman (pictured) by esteemed fashion photographer Herb Ritts. All of these pieces will be available for the public to purchase through both silent and live auctions.

The auction also marks Tony Award-winner and Pittsburgh native Billy Porter’s latest return to his hometown; in the past, the Kinky Boots star has delivered lectures at his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University, and attended the local christening ceremonies for his namesake sandwich (fried kielbasa, cole slaw, french fries and tomatoes, guess where from) and city-council-designated tribute day (Oct. 1, to be exact).

He’s serving as honorary chair for Art for Change, continuing his advocacy for LGBTQ and HIV+ communities.

The auction is at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, 600 Commonwealth Pl., Downtown. General admission tickets are $85, and VIP tickets are $185, and are available here.

The Persad Center is a service organization, whose mission is to improve the well-being of the LBBTQ and HIV+ communities in Western Pennsylvania.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Union Project Hosts "Mother of All Pottery Sales"

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Makers of everything from mugs to sculptural ceramics will gather Saturday at this first annual event.

The Union Project, an arts, enterprise and events center, has counted pottery among its missions since it was founded in a former Highland Park church.

Appreciators of ceramics are invited to the marketplace, and to watch some of Pittsburgh's best clay artists demonstrate their skills on the potter's wheel and in hand-building techniques, according to a press release.

The Mother of All Pottery sales takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. this Saturday. The sale is part of the Union Project's welcome-spring weekend, also including a house party with live music, to be held 5-8 p.m. tomorrow.

The Union Project is located at 801 N. Negley Ave.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Garfield Gallery Opens Second Location at The Waterfront

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 3:56 PM

The newest addition to Homestead’s Waterfront shopping complex isn’t what you’d expect — a spin-off of Most Wanted Fine Art, Jason and Nina Sauer’s somewhat edgy storefront gallery on Penn Avenue.

The Waterfront Most Wanted holds its grand opening tomorrow, in a vast, 5,500-square-foot space right next to The Gap.

Most Wanted Fine Arts new space at The Waterfront
  • Photo courtesy of Jamie Sauer
  • Most Wanted Fine Art's new space at The Waterfront

“This is definitely a dream of mine come true,” says Jason Sauer.

The grand-opening exhibit, from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., will feature artwork by Sauer and several other local artists, including Darrell Kinsel, William Wright, Sam Thorp, Jason Woolslare and Nina Sauer (Jason’s spouse). Attractions will include free beer samples from nearby Rock Bottom Brewery for those 21 and over.

Sauer, reached today by phone, says he’s excited about the chance to find new audiences.

Indeed, the new location — a former Hollister store in close proximity to Waterfront tenants like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dave & Buster’s, Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond — is likely to draw a rather different crowd from the one that frequents Penn Avenue’s Unblurred gallery crawls, which include Sauer’s seven-year-old gallery.

So Sauer is stocking the frontmost of its three rooms with his own more traditional work — landscapes and such that he calls “my travel paintings.”

The middle room will house Bizarre! Bazaar!, an installation by Dr. Morose & Miss Macabre’s House of Oddities featuring dark-humored art by Macabre Noir, Nick Noir and others.

The back room will contain edgier work by Sauer and others.

The new space is probably three times the size of his original location, even if you include the funky, rec-roomy basement, with its curious bathroom. But Sauer — an Army veteran and former demolition-derby driver — says he’ll have no trouble filling it: A prolific painter, he says his own back catalog (including works that sometimes incorporate car parts) is nearly enough to fill the space all by itself.

Meanwhile, Sauer says that programming at the original Most Wanted location, including its new artist-residency program, will continue as before.

A larger question might be how a storefront gallery that leans toward underground art ended up in such a big space in a mass-market retail district — and how Sauer can afford such a space.

The answer seems to lie with M&J Wilkow and BIG USA Shopping Centers, the firms that in 2012 jointly acquired most of the Waterfront development from DDR Corp.

“The Waterfront, under new ownership and management, contacted MWFA as a part of their community outreach plan to partner with independent artists, musicians, and organizations,” says Nina Sauer via email.

While Jason Sauer says Most Wanted has a lease at the Waterfront, he declines to discuss its terms. But he sounds like he wants to do his best to bring something new to the Waterfront while still fitting in.

“We’re gonna have regular hours there,” he says proudly, “just like The Gap.”

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Women Poets Perform Downtown Tomorrow Night

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 12:57 PM

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust honors Women’s History Month and National Poetry Month with “Being … She Said,” with performances by 10 local poets.

Featured are such high-profile talents as Tameka Cage-Conley, Christiane D. and Vanessa German. Other poets include Heather Arnet (who heads the Women and Girls Foundation), Veronica Corpuz, Barbara Dahlberg and Shaunda Miles, plus Young Writers Institute poets Carlee Benhart, Kate Bour and Amanda Tybl.

The show is at 8 p.m. tomorrow, at the Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Tickets are $10-12 and are available here.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free "Forest Devil" Artist Talk at the Carnegie Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Sculptor Kenneth Snelson gives a talk tomorrow at the Carnegie Museum of Art, where his 1977 cables-and-cylinders work "Forest Devil" now resides, after being moved from its longtime spot in Downtown's Mellon Square Park.

Forest Devil, in the rear of the Carnegie Museum of Art
  • "Forest Devil," in the rear of the Carnegie Museum of Art

Snelson will discuss the artistic concept he developed: tensegrity, defined in a 2004 Slate article on Snelson as a system in which “forces simultaneously push and pull against each other to maintain a strong but flexible shape.”

Snelson’s work spans the globe, from major cities like Tokyo, Berlin and Washington D.C., to Columbus, Ohio, and Cedar Hills, Texas. "Forest Devil" was created in Pittsburgh for an art event known as Sculpturescape, which promoted collaboration between local industrial firms and artists who had exhibited around the world. The 1,500-pound sculpture is made from aircraft cables and steel tubes.

Though his work has been compared to that of an engineer, Snelson is careful to assert that his art is separate from engineering.

“Engineers make structures for specific uses, to support something, to hold something, to do something,” he writes on his website. “My sculptures serve only to stand up by themselves and to reveal a particular form such as a tower or a cantilever or a geometrical order probably never seen before; all of this because of a desire to unveil, in whatever ways I can, the wondrous essence of elementary structure.”

Snelson’s talk takes place at the CMA theater at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cirque du Soleil Wackiness at Strip Primanti’s

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Three performers from the touring Cirque Du Soleil show Varekai invaded Primanti’s Brothers in the Strip District this morning to publicize the show’s upcoming performance in Pittsburgh.




There was Kamikaze, who sported a reflective blue outfit with fins on his head and back; the Guide, dressed in all black and sporting a helmet with a lightbulb ; and Skywatcher, a shirtless blonde wearing brown pants and green leaves sprouting from his waist.

Faces covered in elaborate makeup, they stepped behind the lunch counter to help the restaurant’s long-time manager, Toni Haggerty, make a pastrami sandwich. The three spoke only using short grunts (though Skywatcher did let out a “Madonna!” as he held up two Styrofoam cups to his nipples.)

On Thursday, you can see them in their element at the Petersen Events Center, where Varekai debuts at 7:30 p.m.

The show (a big-top version of which played Pittsburgh in 2007) follows a young man who falls from the sky and lands in the forest ofVarekai, a place where whimsical creatures roam. Attendees can expect to see jugglers, aerial acrobats, contortionists, and of course, clowns.

The show continues through Sunday, with a Friday performance at 7:30 p.m., Saturday performances at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday performances at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tickets are $32-100. Buy them here.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GIF Contest Taking Submissions Until Friday

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Since its creation in 1987, the GIF has become a relic of online culture. And now there's a locally based contest to find the best one.


The acronym stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” and refers to a graphics file containing compressed video. It’s a versatile and popular art form: Message-board users stake their identity by using animated GIFs as their avatars; others use them to spread the gospel of Grumpy Cat; and some have even argued over the term’s correct pronunciation — with a “j” sound, like the peanut butter, or with a hard “g” sound, as in “gift”? (The GIF’s creator, Steve Wilhite, has officially said it’s pronounced the first way.)

To celebrate this medium, the artist collective VIA is holding T.GIF, a bracket-style contest for original GIFs.

More than 80 artists have been asked to submit their GIFs to the contest, but until Friday, you can submit your own GIF to the official website, too.

Acceptable files may range in size from 500 pixels by 500 pixels to 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels; submissions should be no larger than 2 MB, and they must have been created between March 2013 and March 2014.

According to the press release, the final 64 participants will be chosen by “a guest panel of [extreme] gif enthusiasts.”

Via will announce the final contenders on its website and social media on Sun., March 16. To decide the winner, the public will then vote on their favorites from March 20 to April 7.

The winner gets a $100 "Gif" certification to GIFPOP, a tool to make custom cards from animated GIFS, using lenticular printing.

Submit your best GIF here.

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