FREE EVENT: Sun., April 3 — Talk
Jews first settled in Western Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s, and Pittsburgh remains the hub of regional Jewish life. This week, the Heinz History Center unveils a project exploring something that’s quickly fading into history: Jewish life in the region’s small towns. For the past year, two researchers with the Center’s Rauh Jewish History Program and Archives, Susan Melnick and Eric Lidji, have crisscrossed Western Pennsylvania, gathering boxfuls of historical documents and some 40 oral histories from these once-thriving (if never terribly large) communities — a first round of five. Donora, Latrobe, Newcastle, Sharon and Uniontown all had Jewish populations that most recently peaked in the 1950s, quickly followed by a decline echoing the fall of Big Steel. Now, their synagogues are “all either shrunk or closed,” says Lidji. The Sun., April 3, launch event Every Town Had a Community showcases the researchers’ findings, with images like 1915’s Tifereth Israel Picnic, in New Castle (at left), blueprints and letters, audio and more. There will also be info on preserving family treasures and researching family history online. Lidji says that the History Center isn’t the only party researching this past, but notes the urgency of documenting communities that are nearly vanished: The Rauh Archives are already fundraising for a second year of research. Bill O’Driscoll 1-4 p.m. Sun., April 3. 1212 Smallman St., Strip District (www.jewishfamilieshistory.org). Free with RSVP at 412-454-6402 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Art by Rodney Allen Trice
Fri., April 1 — Art
Two free opening receptions highlight Shadyside’s monthly First Fridays Artwalk tonight. At Gallerie Chiz, there’s new work by Pittsburgh-based Dyer Fieldsa, whose Basquiat-like paintings are described as “intimate portraits of his inner dialogue,” and New York-based Rodney Allen Trice, who creates functional furnishings from found and repurposed objects, like an umbrella that’s now a chandelier, and a vacuum-cleaner become a surrealistic floor lamp. Right next door, Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery opens its 10th annual teapots! invitational, with 13 regional and 50 international artists offering whimsical takes (functional and otherwise) on that coziest of kitchen items. Bill O’Driscoll Both events 5:30-8:30 p.m. Gallerie Chiz: 5831 Ellsworth Ave.; 412-441-6005 or www.galleriechiz.com. Morgan: 5833 Ellsworth Ave.; 412-441-5200 or www.morganglassgallery.com
- Art by Kels Pennell
Fri., April 1 — Art
Plato’s theory of anamnesis — the idea that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations — is illustrated in a new group show by the same name. Anamnesis: Perceptions of Memory, Family and Self features work from six artists, including Dominique Hildebrand and Ren Rathbone. The exhibit, mostly photos and paintings, examines how memories are recalled and how they degrade, while interpreting ideas of family. Tonight’s reception is at UnSmoke Systems Artspace, whose own past incarnations include Catholic grade school. Courtney Linder 6 p.m. Exhibit continues through Sun., April 3, by appointment only. 1137 Braddock Ave., Braddock. Free. email@example.com or www.unsmokeartspace.com
- Art by Lori Hepner
Fri., April 1 — Art
What does it mean to go someplace? Or to be there? Tonight, three studio artists at Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center offer interpretations of three distinct places. Matthew Conboy presents 200 pairs of portraits of himself and Chinese citizens he shot in two days in Beijing. Lori Hepner uses photography to explore Arctic communities affected by climate change in Finland and Iceland. And conceptual artist Jimmy Riordan “highlights the difficulties in capturing a measured understanding of place” right here in Pittsburgh. The Seen and The Unseen, curated by Hannah Turpin, opens with tonight’s reception. BO 6 p.m. Exhibit continues through May 27. 1000 Madison Ave., North Side. Free. 412-322-224 or www.neukirche.org
Fri., April 1 — Art
Size matters at the Pittsburgh Society of Artists’ 51st season-opening exhibition.
The group called on its 380 members to submit works no larger than 12 inches by 12 inches. See what they’ve come up with when Small Works opens with a reception tonight, at Framehouse & Jask Gallery. The exhibit is curated by Charlie Humphrey, former executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. BO 6 p.m. (free). Exhibit continues through May 13. 100 43rd St., Lawrenceville. 412-586-4599 or www.psaguild.org
Fri., April 1 — Talk
Kaz is a major figure in the world of contemporary alt comics; his darkly humorous weekly strip “Underworld” has been a staple since 1992. But his best-known work is for TV: He’s a longtime writer for SpongeBob SquarePants, and won an Emmy for his writing for The Cartoon Network’s Captain Lazlo. On the heels of his new comics collection, Underworld: From Hoboken to Hollywood, Kaz (who’s also in town for the Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo) visits Point Park University for a free talk tonight. BO 6:30 p.m. GRW Auditorium, 414 Wood St., Downtown. www.pointpark.edu
Sat., April 2 — Music
On its third trip stateside, France’s Ensemble Linea is visiting just four cities. But Pittsburgh is among them, for two Music on the Edge concerts. Tonight, at The Andy Warhol Museum, these acclaimed champions of contemporary music perform six short works by French composers, including a world premiere by Frédéric Durieux. On Mon., April 4, at Bellefield Hall, the ensemble performs a free concert of eight works by Pitt composition students. The troupe (performing variously with six or seven musicians on woodwinds, brass, strings and piano) is directed by Jean-Phillippe Wurtz. BO 8 p.m. (117 Sandusky St., North Side; $10-15; www.warhol.org). Also 8 p.m. Mon., April 4 (315 Bellefield Ave., Oakland; free; www.music.pitt.edu).
Sun., April 3 — Outdoors
Though this region still struggles with the lasting impacts of coal mining, notable stretches of reclaimed land include one just 10 miles from Downtown. The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden has transformed 460 acres of abandoned minelands into one of the 10 largest botanic gardens in the country. Venture Outdoors has organized a relaxing, two-mile stroll of the garden, located near Settlers Cabin. Guides will explain the landscape’s ecology and its metamorphic restoration. CL 1 p.m. 799 Pinkerton Run Road, Oakdale. $10-15. Register at 412-255-0564 or www.ventureoutdoors.org.
- Photo courtesy of Todd Meier
Mon., April 4 — Words
The paths of an unlikely duo cross when the blind French girl Marie-Laure and Werner, a German orphan, meet in occupied France during World War II. Tonight, at the Carnegie Music Hall, learn about the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See with its multiple-award-winning author, Anthony Doerr. While this Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ Monday Night Lecture Series event is sold out, you can still join the waiting list. CL 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-35. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org
Mon., April 4 — Screen
In 1991, the critically acclaimed Daughters of the Dust became the first wide-release feature film directed by an African-American woman. Filmmaker Julie Dash, whose filmography also includes documentaries, TV movies and music videos, visits for events tonight and tomorrow. Tonight, see Dash at Carnegie Mellon’s University Lecture Series. Tomorrow, Sembène — The Film & Arts Festival hosts her at the Carnegie Library in Homewood for a talk that includes clips from her work and a Q&A. Dash is in town to work with CMU’s Center for the Arts in Society on The Requiem for Rice, a live multimedia performance that honors the enslaved African Americans in the rice country of the American South. Both events are free. BO 4:30 p.m. (Porter Hall 100, CMU campus, Oakland). 5:30 p.m. Tue., April 5 (7101 Hamilton Ave., Homewood; RSVP at www.requiemforrice.com).
Mon., April 4 — Talk
Life as a spider is precarious and Jonathan Pruitt knows this well. Every year, 60 to 90 percent of spider colonies collapse. Pruitt, a behavioral ecologist, has uncovered how spider societies select traits in their offspring to ensure group survival. As a part of the Carnegie Science Center’s Café Scientifique series, the Pitt researcher will discuss his work and engage in a Q&A session through his brief talk, “Spider Societies.” Crawl over, tonight, for drinks, food and an engaging conversation about docile and aggressive spiders in group settings. CL 7 p.m. 1 Allegheny Ave., North Side. Free. 412-237-3400 or www.carnegiesciencecenter.org
- Photo by C. Brett Hall Jones
Thu., April 7 — Words
Rosemary spent the first 18 years of her life defined by memories of her sister — a chimpanzee. So begins Karen Joy Fowler’s Pen/Faulkner Award-winning 2013 novel about what it means to be human, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Fowler, the author of six novels and three short-story collections, visits Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Building for the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. Discover Fowler’s “astonishing narrative voice,” as praised by the San Francisco Chronicle, tonight. CL 8:30 p.m. 650 Schenley Drive, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6508 or www.pittsburghwriterseries.com