Three Rivers Arts Festival | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Three Rivers Arts Festival

Selected Highlights

I AM MY MOTHER'S DAUGHTER. Pittsburgh doesn't know Tavia La Follette as a performer. For instance, her other TRAF project this year, the play American Humbug, instead showcases the set-design and puppet-making skills she's been providing to local stages since moving here a few years ago. She's also the founder and head of Artists Upstairs, a Downtown-based multi-genre arts presenter. But La Follette's profile will grow with this original, darkly humorous monologue, in which she explores her relationship with her mother in the context of the depression, addiction and obsessions that afflicted them both while she was growing up in New York City. The performance space, on the TRAF gallery's third floor, houses a set designed by La Follette to resemble an attic, full of what she calls "ghosts and memories" -- photos and relics with which she evokes emotions and builds characters. Directed by Mikelle Johnson, and with video projections by Carolina Loyola-Garcia, La Follette investigates the mental-health industry, myths surrounding creativity and more in the 45-minute performance. "Here's a chance for me to reveal a lot," says La Follette, perhaps speaking of her talents as well as her personal history. "I don't consider my past a secret." Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, June 7-16. 937 Liberty Ave. $5.

JAGGERBUSH JUNCTION. In the comics world, independent work has typically been both inspired by everyday life and very adult. Pittsburgh-based collective Unicorn Mountain bucks that trend with its TRAF installation Jaggerbush Junction, in Market Square all day Sat., June 9. Jaggerbush Junction features interconnected groupings of interactive sets and larger-than-life comic characters. Guests can walk through the playful landscape and discover tree houses, swing from tire swings and explore other childhood haunts. "With Jaggerbush Junction, we are capturing the unique feel of being a kid in summer in Western Pennsylvania," says Unicorn Mountain artistic director Mike Wolf. In creating this colorful microcosm's vignettes, Unicorn Mountain encouraged artists -- including such names as Beano, Ben Kehoe, Andy Kehoe and Thad Kellstadt -- to collaborate. This teamwork makes Jaggerbush Junction a seamless joyride through the youthful world of comics. "We strive to keep a child-like sense of wonder and fantasy in our art," says Unicorn Mountain co-founder Curt Gettman. There's also live music, starting at 5:30 p.m. with sets by Wax Fang and Pittsburgh's own Centipede E'est. The headliner, Brooklyn dance-punk band Oxford Collapse, performs at 9 p.m. Brendan Purves Noon-11 p.m. Sat., June 9. Market Square. Free.

STEPHEN PELLEGRINO. Wandering Penn Avenue during last year's First Night celebration, Downtown, you might have seen a bunch of guys dressed as construction workers, hauling a big metal frame up and down the street and intermittently stopping to bang on it, while others among them blew horns, sang and shouted through a megaphone. The ruckus was instigated by veteran musician, performance artist and professional drywaller/plasterer Pellegrino, whose good-humored, off-the-wall shows have also been eccentric highlights of recent TRAFs. This year, Pellegrino and his collaborators (loosely known as LOSER's Dragging the Stone and Ensemble) invade PPG Plaza June 11-13 for three weekday lunchtime performances -- staged versions of the First Night street show. Those gigs, in turn, are scaled-back versions of Pellegrino's mainstage June 11 concert at TRAF. That night, Pellegrino, on accordion and vocals, will be joined by Maurice Rickard on laptop and treated ukulele, plus a horn section and two guitars, for a retrospective from Pellegrino's songbook about work, life in Pittsburgh and life in general. Numbers include "Steel Mill Scat," "The Drywall Hanger's Polka," "Prostate Surgery" (dedicated to "all the males over 50"), "Take It to the Bridge" (an homage to James Brown and his band) and a new version of a song from one of Tony Buba's short films, "Braddock -- City of Magic." The June 11 show is Pellegrino's first-ever TRAF mainstage performance, about which he says, "I'm at Woodstock, man." BO 12:30-1 p.m. daily, Mon., June 11-Wed., June. 13 (PPG Place). Mainstage show: 7:30 p.m. Mon., June 11 (Stanwix Triangle Stage). Free.

Three Rivers Arts Festival
Tavia La Follette explores a multimedia attic in I Am My Mother's Daughter. For complete festival info, 412-281-8723 or