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Short List: June 27 - July 3

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Art by Kadir Nelson
  • Art by Kadir Nelson

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It began with a simple commission for a painting about Negro League baseball. But then artist and illustrator Kadir Nelson was inspired by Negro Leagues legend Buck O'Neil's narration in Ken Burns' PBS series Baseball. Nelson embarked on seven years of research culminating in his 2008 children's book We Are the Ship: The Story of Major League Baseball. On June 29, a touring exhibit based on that book arrives at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum (part of the Heinz History Center). The Story of Negro Leagues Baseball: We Are the Ship features nearly 50 of Nelson's large oil paintings and sketches of subjects including Pittsburgh's Josh Gibson (pictured) and teams like the storied Homestead Grays. The museum adds a new life-figure of fabled slugger Gibson; an authentic Homestead Grays uniform; and Gibson's recently discovered employee ID from his 1930 stint at Westinghouse Air Brake Company. Gibson, incidentally, is Los Angeles-based Nelson's favorite player: "Josh Gibson represents the triumph and the tragedy of Negro League baseball" — embodying both the players' greatness, and the fact that we'll never know what they'd have achieved in the major leagues. "When you look at Josh, he's very strong," Nelson says. "But when you look in his eyes, there's a bit of sadness." Bill O'Driscoll Exhibit runs Fri., June 29-Aug. 26. 1212 Smallman St., Strip District. $5-10 (free for kids 5 and under). 412-454-6000 or www.heinzhistorycenter.org

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Occupy Pittsburgh vacated its Mellon Green campground months ago, but two upcoming events suggest the movement is far from dissipated. On June 28, a band of traveling activists known as the Occupy Caravan convenes in Schenley Park for an afternoon picnic, followed by an improv-theater performance. Two days later, at ModernFormations gallery, Occupy Pittsburgh itself hosts a release party for the sixth issue of its monthly publication, Occupy Pittsburgh Now. The paper, available both online and in print, affords readers a perspective on current events they won't encounter in regular outlets, says staffer Jeff Cech. "The marketplace of ideas got turned into something the size of a strip mall," he says. "We decided to put out information you might not see in more mainstream media." The June 30 party, which doubles as a fundraiser, features live music, dancing, and food and drinks. Andy Tybout Picnic: 3-8 p.m. Thu., June 28 (Anderson Shelter, Schenley Park; free. 412-689-9099 or occupypittsburgh.wikispaces.com). Occupy Pittsburgh Now release party: 7 p.m. Sat., June 30 (4919 Penn Ave., Garfield; $20 suggested donation; 724-973-8777 or www.occupypittsburgh.org)

Thu., June 28 — Art

Children don't have to enroll in expensive camps this summer to receive personalized arts-and-crafts instruction. Through August, the Citiparks' Roving Art Cart lets kids in various neighborhoods experiment with painting, papier-mâché, comic-strip creation and other hands-on activities. Today, the Cart stops for three hours at the Beechview Spray Park. Also this week, it visits Riverview Park near the Allegheny Observatory and, on July 3, the Hill District's Ammon Community Center. Andy Tybout 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Westfield Street at Orangewood Avenue, Beechview. Free. 412-665-3665 or www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us

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Fri., June 29 — Stage

Craig Wright was already known for plays including Recent Tragic Events, and his writing for TV's Six Feet Under. And his first Broadway production, Grace, is coming this fall. Now here's the Pittsburgh premiere of Wright's Flower Water, a drama about infidelity that the Chicago Sun-Times called "brutally honest." This No Name Players production is directed by Steven Wilson, of Chicago's A Red Orchid Theater, who worked closely with Wright on the show. The sharp local cast includes Tressa Glover, Ricardo Vila-Roger, Mike Mihm and Robin Abramson. The first performance at Pitt's Studio Theater is tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Cathedral of Learning, Forbes Avenue at Bigelow, Oakland. $15-20. www.nonameplayers.org

Fri., June 29 — Music

The latest pop act to jam with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is En Vogue. The R&B divas rose to prominence in the 1990s as a million-selling quartet, with a string of hits like "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" and "Free Your Mind." Now touring the world as a trio, original members Maxine Jones, Cindy Herron-Braggs and Terry Ellis stop by Heinz Hall for the PSO's ninth annual Community Partners Concert. The show's first half is the PSO performing with guest soloist Gabriel Cabezas. The second half features the ladies backed by the orchestra, as led by the PSO's Lawrence Loh. BO 7:30 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $25.75-85.75. 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org

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Fri., June 29 — Screen

The action-comedy bonanza Let the Bullets Fly remains relatively unknown among American moviegoers, but in China it's a record-grossing sensation. Set in the 1920s, the film opens with sly gangster "Pocky" Zhang (Jiang Wen) assuming false governorship of a provincial town, to the consternation of local kingpin Master Huang (Chow Yun-Fat). Bloody mayhem ensues, which should appeal to fans of John Woo thrillers and recent martial-arts movies. Director Wen Jiang's 2011 film plays at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Harris Theater for five days starting tonight. AT 8 p.m. Continues through Tue., July 3. 809 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $4-8. 412-681-5449 or www.pghfilmmakers.org

Sat., June 30 — Regatta

Boating races typically draw a fairly niche crowd, but the EQT-sponsored Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta has long prided itself on the diversity of its entertainment options. Starting today, the 35-year-old festival returns with five days of attractions both familiar —  the "Anything that Floats" race, the sand sculpture, the makeshift beach, live music — and new, including an artificial ice-skating rink and a laser show featuring animations, aerial beams and flame projectors. As always, the festivities culminate July 4 with an elaborate fireworks display. AT Noon-10 p.m. Continues through Wed., July 4. Most events at Point State Park, Downtown. Free. 484-695-0670 or www.threeriversregatta.net

Sat., June 30 — Activism

Amnesty International is famed for working on behalf of political prisoners like newly elected Myanmar parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi. But the group is busy year-round on lower-profile cases involving everything from women's rights and free speech to the death penalty. Tonight, prospective members can learn more as Amnesty International Pittsburgh Group 39 holds a membership event. Visit Downtown's Bricolage Productions space for rights-themed spoken word, poetry, short films and more, including a talk by Majede Nazari on human rights in Iran. The cover includes food and drink. BO 7-11 p.m. 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $12 (21 and over). www.amnestypgh.org

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Sat., June 30 — Art

Fate and unpredictability are central themes in countless novels, films and musical compositions, but rarely do artists allow chance to dictate their creative process. Tonight, New Hampshire-based artist David Nelson speaks at Box Heart Gallery about integrating unpredictable elements into predetermined, easily recognizable visual patterns. Of Choice and Chance, his new exhibit, features paintings created by dropping colors onto a grid of squares, some of which were removed using randomly generated numbers. The resulting images are vibrant collages of shapes and styles. An opening reception follows Nelson's talk. AT 4:30 p.m. 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-687-8858 or www.boxheart.org

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Sat., June 30 — Music

Citiparks' summer-long Stars at Riverview Jazz Series is in full swing. For a family outing (or a cheap date), visit Riverview Park's Observatory Hill every Saturday evening for a full set of live jazz by local standouts, followed by Cinema in the Park. Tonight the band is Chico's Quintet. The five-piece, led by trumpeter Carlos "Chico" Ortiz IV and featuring vocalist Kim Hasara, promises "reinvented standards, funk, Latin and R&B grooves." Afterward, remain on your blanket for the popular (if thematically divergent) film Captain America: The First Avenger. BO 7 p.m. (film at dusk). Riverview Park. Free. 412-255-2493

Sun., July 1 — Exhibit

Longtime residents have probably noticed the Cold War-era submarine perpetually docked outside the Carnegie Science Center, but few have taken the time to learn its backstory. Though self-guided tours of the U.S.S. Requin are available year-round, today visitors can participate in the first of this year's summer-only, behind-the-scenes Tech Tours. The guided tours explore unrestored compartments and discuss the challenges the crew faced at sea. Subsequent Tech Tours are scheduled for July 15 and 29 and Aug. 12 and 26. Reservations required. Participants must be 15 or older. AT 9-11 a.m. One Allegheny Ave., North Side. $15-20. 412-237-1637 or www.carnegiesciencecenter.org

Sun., July 1 — Zombies

Zombie events won't die. The latest twist is today's Zombie Car Wash. The Strip District event is a dual fundraiser: Most of the proceeds will help independent filmmaker Jacob Mulliken produce his locally shot zombie film Meltdown; 10 percent of the take benefits Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Have your car washed by professionally made-up zombies (hopefully, relatively nimble ones); there will also be zombie face-paint for kids, a zombie grill-master and more. BO 1-6 p.m. Iron Workers Union, 2201 Liberty Ave., Strip District. www.facebook.com/meltdownmovie

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