Short List: December 4 - 12 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

FREE EVENT: Fri., Dec. 6 — Art

Though best known as a performer, Bill Shannon is also skilled in visual art and movement/installation hybrids. Shannon grew up largely in Pittsburgh before moving to Chicago and New York City and earning world-wide fame for his dancing on crutches (a skill that grew from his experience with a degenerative hip disease). His international résumé includes a choreography credit with Cirque du Soleil. Shannon (pictured) returned to Pittsburgh in 2005, but still hasn't staged a formal exhibit or performance here. That changes Friday, when Shannon's solo exhibit Make Moves opens with a reception at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination as part of gallery crawl Unblurred. The show features assemblage work — "literally heavy, dirty and urban in its aesthetic" — plus drawings, video and artifacts from some of his many performances. Unblurred also includes attractions at some 20 additional venues, with new shows at ModernFormations Gallery, Garfield Artworks and Artisan Gallery; Assemble's third annual Hyperlocal Show (featuring artists from the immediate neighborhood); and Pittsburgh Glass Center's holiday glass sale. Also holiday-themed: shows at both Studio 5013 and the Stuff N Such Society celebrating Krampus, European folk culture's demonic original Bad Santa. And international dance party Pandemic marks eight years with late-night tunes at Brillobox and an exhibit of local artists' Russian nesting dolls at Most Wanted Fine Art. Bill O'Driscoll Most venues 7-10 p.m. Fri., Dec. 6. 4100-5400 Penn Ave., Bloomfield/Garfield/Friendship. Free (Pandemic: $7-10).

Thu., Dec. 5 — Stage

The Theatre Festival in Black and White turns 10, and you know how 10-year-olds love the holidays. Each year, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.'s singular initiative pairs white playwrights with black directors, and black playwrights with white directors, for two programs of original one-acts. This year, all 10 plays are holiday-themed. The playwrights include such familiar names as Tammy Ryan, Wali Jamal and Kim El. If past fests are any guide, expect comedy, drama and tones as diverse as the creators. It starts tonight with Program A. BO 7 p.m. Continues with rotating programs through Dec. 17. 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20-25.

Fri., Dec. 6 — Art

As kids, many of us loved playing with Wham-O's "Super Ball." Reconnect with the colorful orb at SUPER•BALL, an exhibition by the International Sphaeralogical Society at The Mine Factory. The show, an expanded version of one that premiered in New York City two years ago, features: videos, photography, specimen boxes, historical information, merchandise and a ballistics testing space where visitors can study and play with a variety of old and new Super Balls. Be careful they don't bounce away! Brett Wilson 6 p.m. Through Dec. 28. 201 N. Braddock Ave., Point Breeze. Free. 412-370-6916 or

Fri., Dec. 6 — Art

Artists Image Resource hosts its Second Annual National Juried Exhibition. The artist-run, nonprofit printmaking studio and gallery on the North Side showcases work by some two dozen printmakers from around the U.S. The notable curator is Tina Kukielski, the former senior curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art who also co-curated a little show called the 2013 Carnegie International. The opening reception is tonight. BO 7-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 31. 518 Foreland St., North Side. Free.

Fri., Dec. 6 — Music

"It's a mash-up ... between Bach & Biggie, ballerinas & b-boys," says the promo copy for Bach Boom Box, tonight at Alloy Studios. What's that sound like? Probably good, if Anqwenique Wingfield is involved. This "multidisciplinary marriage of hip hop and opera" (hip hopera?) features the talented Wingfield on vocals ranging from classical to rhymes, with help from: MC Shad Ali; jazz band Trio +; choreographer Anthony Williams; DJ team Tracksploitation; MC duo Creative Chemistry with Yah Lioness; visual art; and more. The show, presented by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and Groove Aesthetic, is followed by a dance party. BO 8 p.m. 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship. $10.

Sat., Dec. 7 — Books

Running With Scissors author Augusten Burroughs is the special guest at Heinz History Center's 12th annual Books in the 'Burgh fair. Burroughs, a Pittsburgh native, speaks at noon and signs books. But he's just one of 60 local authors on the premises, including notables like Cyril Wecht, Dan Rooney and Eleanor Schano, and literary names like Paola Corso, Sharon Flake and Yona Harvey. The History Center also launches its own The Civil War in Pennsylvania: The African American Experience, a new collection of essays by nationally recognized experts. BO 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 1212 Smallman St., Strip District. Free (museum admission applies for regular exhibits). 412-454-6000 or

click to enlarge Upcycled Designs, at handmade arcade
Photo courtesy of Joey Kennedy
Clothing by Upcycled Designs.

Sat., Dec. 7 — Crafts

For those seeking the fulsome consumerism of the mall experience but with imaginative hand-crafted goods and an in-person audience with the hands that crafted them, here's Handmade Arcade's Decade of DIY. The region's first and largest craft fair has grown dramatically, from 32 vendors and 1,000 shoppers in 2004 to last year's 150 vendors and more than 9,000 attendees. The collective's big holiday event returns to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where you can buy local from vendors from 15 states (mostly) in our region, selling purses made from recycled books; jewelry made from found objects; hand-bound journals; art posters; organic bath-and-body products; and much more, at all price points. BO11 a.m.-7 p.m. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown. Free.

Sat., Dec. 7 — Art

Buying local for the holidays is the thing to do, and one marketplace to check out is the third annual Highland Park Pottery Tour, with its five venues all in one neighborhood. Four are homes of local potters, who will be displaying their work and that of others, and will be on hand to discuss their craft. The fifth stop is the Union Project, which will feature work from members of its community ceramic studio. BW Noon. Also 11 a.m. Sun., Dec. 8. 5505 Avondale Place; 5511 Avondale Place; 716 N. Sheridan Ave., #2; 5800 Wellesley Ave.; and 801 N. Negley Ave, Highland Park. Free. 412-363-4550 or

click to enlarge ART BY ERIN KO
Art by Erin Ko

Sat., Dec. 7 — Art

Erin Ko makes paintings with something extra she calls "Augmented Reality." The works contain sensors so that, when viewed through a smartphone or tablet, they animate. The triptych "Disconnected," for instance, depicts an astronaut floating in space who actually starts floating; the effect is trippy and meditative. Ko, based in Mexico, has exhibition credits in London, New York and Beijing. Today's the opening of her Gallery 4 solo show PRESENT, with a reception. BO 7-11 p.m. Exhibit continues through Dec. 28. 206 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside. Free. 412-363-5050 or

Sat., Dec. 7 — Music

Even if you can't tell a lute from a sackbut, there's something about Renaissance-era music that keenly evokes the holidays. So welcome Piffaro, The Renaissance Band. The seven-member Philadelphia-based troupe performs everything from the rustic music of peasants to works by early professional wind bands. Tonight's Renaissance & Baroque concert at Synod Hall, Drive the Cold Winter Away, includes hymns and chorale setting for Advent by German composer Michael Praetorius (b. 1571); Sephardic tunes for Hanukkah; English ballads; dances; and more. With guest soprano Laura Heimes, it's all played on recreated period instruments including the guitar-like lute and the sackbut, a trombone ancestor. BO 8 p.m. 125 N. Craig St., Oakland. $10-35. 412-361-2048 or

Sun., Dec. 8 — Screen

Artist Alisha B. Wormsley created Afronaut(a) Film Club to showcase work that inspires her. The seven-part series concludes tonight with German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Ahmed. The 1926 film — considered the oldest surviving animated feature — uses stop-action shadow puppets to tell fantastical tales of a magical prince battling a wicked sorcerer. The free screening, at the Alloy Studios, features a live score supplied by singer-songwriter Ricardo Iamuuri. BO 2 p.m. 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship. Free. 412-363-3000 or

Tue., Dec. 10 — Stage

You might know local playwright and filmmaker Gab Cody from Fat Beckett, her clever 2011 play at Quantum Theatre; from Bricolage's groundbreaking immersive theater work STRATA, on which she was lead writer; or from her short film comedy "Mombies." It's résumé enough to recommend The Alchemists' Lab, the new comedy Cody wrote and devised with some Point Park University theater students. The play deploys wild characters, improv and standup to loosely update The Alchemist, Ben Jonson's 1610 satire on human greed. The show's run of eight shows starts tonight at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. BO 8 p.m. Continues through Sun., Dec. 15. 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $18-20. 412-392-8000 or

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