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Art All Night, and All the Day as Well

on Wed, 04/23/2014 - 00:00

Pablo Picasso once said that “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Thomas Merton, meanwhile, remarked that “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” And then there’s Groucho Marx, who observed that “Art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” In short, art means many things to many different people, but there are certain constants that remain the same nonetheless. Art is democracy at its finest, for instance, a medium that anyone is free to pursue. It is both a unifier and an equalizer. It has the ability to unite us and make us stronger. And once year, it brings Pittsburgh together as a community during Art All Night in Lawrenceville.

“We are now in our seventeenth year,” Abby Vanim, a member of the Art All Night press team, explains of the annual event, which takes place on Saturday, April 26th, and Sunday, April 27, 2014. “When the event began, it was just a hundred local artists who wanted to participate in a community-based art event. Last year, we had over 1,200 submissions from artists of all levels and ages. Children’s activities were introduced and became a huge hit when parents found out they could bring their kids to participate in hands-on activities. Other activities and performances, like Cartooning All Night and On-Site Painting were added to the event, and last year we began a live auction for the works created as part of the On-Site Painting collaborations. When we saw how popular these additions were, we included them in the growing roster of things that return to Art All Night each year. New ideas also come from our volunteer Planning Committee, and that desire to experiment keeps Art All Night exciting year after year.”

Steel City Secret Cinema: Bill Murray Edition

on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:19

When it comes to comedy, few people have as impressive of a resume as Bill Murray. Former performer with the famed Second City improv comedy troupe in Chicago, cast member of the original Saturday Night Live. Star of such comedy classics as Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. Academy Award nominee for Lost in Translation, regular feature actor in Wes Anderson films. And on Friday, April 25, 2014, the focus of the fourth edition of Steel City Secret Cinema at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. “For Part IV, I knew I wanted to do a Bill Murray film from the start,” organizer Colin Matthews explains. “I’ve noticed a lot of Bill Murray art over our last couple of events and it just seemed like it would be a big draw for the fundraiser. I didn’t have any problems booking the film I wanted to show so it was an easy match.”

The first Steel City Secret Cinema was held on October 25, 2012, and has since evolved into a twice-a-year event at the Hollywood Theater. Modeled after the Mondo Mystery Movie at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, Steel City Secret Cinema features the screening of a movie, the name of which is kept a “secret” until minutes before the opening credits begin to roll. The event is more than just about the film, however, as various local artists produce artwork specifically designed for the screening, and a special limited edition screenprint based on the selected movie is also commissioned. Food and beverages are available beforehand, as well as music provided by the Pittsburgh-based DJ duo Tracksploitation, all adding up to a full night of entertainment.

Arcade Comedy Theater and the Carousel

on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 00:00

In February 2013, five improv comedy compatriots launched the Arcade Comedy Theater on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. The quintet of writers/actors—Abby Fudor, Randy Kirk, Jethro Nolan, Kristy Nolan and Mike Rubino—had performed together numerous times during late nights at the Cabaret at Theater Square, and had reached the conclusion that the Steel City needed a standalone comedy club that offered a wide variety of local and national talents, as well as comedic genres, on a weekly basis. More importantly, the group of comedy entrepreneurs firmly believed that such a theater needed to be located in the downtown area as opposed to nearby neighborhoods.

“There’s still a perception of downtown and Liberty Avenue,” Kristy Nolen told the Pittsburgh City Paper at the time. “First of all, that nothing goes on here. Secondly, that people don’t go downtown after dark. I don’t think everyone in Pittsburgh is aware that there is an up-and-coming arts scene emerging downtown.”

Although they themselves were unaware of it at the time, the founders of the Arcade Comedy Theater picked the perfect location for their endeavor as the 800 block of Liberty Avenue once contained another entertainment venue known as the Carousel. Little Jackie Heller, a nightclub singer born in the Steel City who went on to become a Las Vegas headliner, opened the Carousel shortly after the conclusion of World War II and brought a steady stream of A-list entertainers to the venue during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, for instance, performed one of their earliest shows together at the Carousel, while everyone from Chico Marx, Jackie Gleason, Victor Borge, Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett likewise took the stage at 815 Liberty Avenue, just doors down from where the Arcade Comedy Theater now resides.