Skip directly to content

SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2015

on Mon, 03/09/2015 - 08:42

It all started with a car ride and a stop for pizza. Chicago film critic Jan Lisa Huttner, who was instrumental in the 2004 formation of WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now), and Martha Richards, founder of the WomenArts Network, were returning to Chicago from the 2007 American Association of University Women conference in Bloomfield when they pulled over for a bite to eat. The ensuing discussion centered on additional ways to connect women artists with women audience members, and by the end of the trip across Illinois, SWAN Day had crystallized as an annual worldwide event held in celebration of women artists of all mediums and genres.

Initially launched in 2008, SWAN Day quickly grew in a only few short years, encompassing over 700 events by 2011, not only in the United States but practically every continent on the planet. Although the last Saturday of March—which is also Women’s History Month—is the official designation for International SWAN Day, a variety of activities are likewise held in cities across the globe throughout March and April as well. Thanks to Pittsburgh theater troupe No Name Players and their artistic directors Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio, the Steel City is a regular participant in SWAN Day, and Pittsburgh was even named an official SWAN Day partner in 2012 alongside producers in Kenya, Bulgaria, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida. 2015 again brings SWAN Day to the region with a full evening of performances on Saturday, March 14th, at the Twentieth Century Club on Bigelow Boulevard in Oakland.

Horror Realm Celebrates the Genre

on Mon, 03/02/2015 - 00:00

Zombies. Alien vegetation. Killer cars. Like any city, Pittsburgh has had its fair share of the supernatural through the years. Although George Romero can be cited as the main culprit behind such occurrences, author Stephen King based his 1983 novel Christine in the Steel City, and “Chilly Billy” Cardille likewise played as large of a role as anyone in transforming the horror genre into a Saturday night tradition with his Chiller Theater television series on station WIIC. Pittsburgh is also fortunate to have not one but two annual gatherings of horror fans in the region—Monster Bash, which caters to the classic monster films of the 1940s and 1950s, and Horror Realm, which focusses on the more nightmarish productions that evolved in the ’70s and ’80s.

“We were involved early on with organizing zombie walks in the city and produced two conventions in conjunction with them in 2007 and 2008,” Horror Realm promotor Sandy Stuhlfire says of the convention’s roots. “We decided to move forward in 2009 with the convention arm to expand and encompass more of the horror genre while the other part of the group continued with the walks. We’ve heard from horror fans for years that they would like to have our own convention instead of having to travel to another city. Being fans ourselves who do travel, we saw the value of a hometown horror show and started our own. We feel we are a modern complement to the classic horror focus of the long running Monster Bash show in the area.”

Salt Lake City, Cosplay and Charity

on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 00:00

Pop Culture and comic book conventions are filled with an assortment of sights, sounds and activities to keep one busy for hours on end. Artists’ Alleys contain numerous illustrators and graphic artists—some legendary while others are just beginning to receive their due recognition—ready to create specially-commissioned sketches. A multitude of celebrity guests are available for autographs and photo opportunities, while vendors have a full-array of merchandise available for purchase. Fans dressed as Jedi Knights, hobbits and zombies, Ghostbusters and time-travelling Doctors are also an integral part of the experience. A series of panel discussions throughout the day round out the activities, as both celebrities and fans alike meet to converse on a multitude of Geek and Pop Culture issues and genres.

There’s even more to a modern day Pop Culture extravaganza, however, as many fan-based organizations have begun using the convention scene as a way to raise both awareness and donations for an assortment of non-profit charities. The Salt Lake FanXperience in January 2015 was no different as the vendor room contained an assortment of local fanclubs to go along with the merchandise on sale, including the Rebel Legion of Star Wars, the Ghostbusters of Salt Lake City, the Utah Browncoats, H.E.R.O.I.C. Inc., the Legacy Initiative and the Kids Heroes Foundation. In addition to cosplaying for fun, members of these organizations don their capes, masks, proton packs and lightsabers for charity events across the state of Utah, combining their love for their respective fandoms with the opportunity to do some good and give back to their communities in the process.