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Short List: September 3-10

Unblurred gallery crawl; Pittsburgh New Works Festival; OPEK plays Strayhorn at the Frick; National Beat Poetry Festival

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FREE EVENT: Fri., Sept. 4 — Art

With Labor Day arriving late this year, the holiday weekend has more arts activity than usual. A good bet for kicking it off remains the Penn Avenue Arts District’s monthly gallery crawl, Unblurred. A dozen or more venues along Penn will be open. Highlights include the opening reception for Adopting Identity: The Exploration of Lies, Luck and Legitimacy, at Most Wanted Fine Art. This show of works created and curated by Liana Maneese and Dylan Demanski explores the challenges adoptees face in claiming their identities; more broadly, the exhibit seeks to “take ‘inclusion and diversity’ and the struggle for identity a step further” for people of color in trans and multiracial families. Big ideas are also on display at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, with Spiritual & Socially Conscious Art, an exhibit of work by Scottish artist Benjamin Crème. Across Penn, Assemble has Dashain, honoring the traditional Nepalese kite festival with kites created by Nepalese refugees living in the region. Comedy shows up as improv troupe the Amish Monkeys launches its “World Tour” (of Pittsburgh) with three sets at ModernFormations Gallery ($4). At Pittsburgh Glass Center, there’s Out of the Archives and Into the Gallery, a unique presentation of works inspired by ancient glass from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; the show closes Sept. 13. Bill O’Driscoll 7-10 p.m. Fri., Sept. 4. 4800-5400 Penn Ave., Bloomfield/Friendship/Garfield. Most events are free. www.pennavenue.org

Thu., Sept. 3 — Music

Classical music is complemented by African dance and drumming, visual art and poetry in a special night at the Hill House Kaufmann Center. The exhibit Dignity: Renditions and Inspiration features story quilts by Tina Williams Brewer and photographs by Bill Double. Dance and drumming by the Legacy Dance Project, and student poets from the Life Stages in Pages program preface an hour-long Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert featuring works by C.P.E. Bach, Samuel Barber, Vivaldi and more. Proceeds benefit the Hill House Association. Bill O’Driscoll 6 p.m. (PSO concert at 7 p.m.). 1825 Centre Ave., Hill District. $5-15. 412-281-1026 or www.hillhouse.com

Thu., Sept. 3 — Stage

PICT Classic Theatre bids farewell to its longtime home at the Stephen Foster Memorial with a production of Educating Rita. In Willy Russell’s 1980 comedy, Frank, a downtrodden and alcoholic British university professor, is inspired by his relationship with tutee Rita, a hairdresser who defies her husband to enroll in a university English program. The show, starring local favorites Martin Giles and Karen Baum, is directed by PICT’s Alan Stanford. Joseph Peiser 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19. 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $30-54. 412-561-6000 or www.picttheatre.org

Thu., Sept. 3 — Stage

It’s Pittsburgh New Works Festival’s 25th season of brand-new one-acts from playwrights from across the country. Over three weeks, four programs of three plays each will be staged by local troupes at Carnegie Stage (formerly Off the Wall Theater). The festival begins tonight with Program A, including: “Prodigal Returns,” a drama by La Crescenta, Calif.-based television writer Garry Kluger (staged by CCAC South); “Empty Plots,” about a pregnant couple making a pilgrimage to the past, by Lexington, Va., novelist Chris Gavaler (Stage Right Boyd); and “Two,” about a pair of rag dolls, one suicidal, by Carnegie Mellon graduate student Eugenie Carabatsos (Thoreau, N.M.). Program B premieres on Fri., Sept. 4. BO 8 p.m. Program A runs through Sept. 12; festival continues through Sept. 27. 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. $12 (festival passes: $40). 800-718-4253 or www.pittsburghnewworks.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SWENSEN
  • Photo courtesy of Jeff Swensen

Thu., Sept. 3 — Stage

The REP, Point Park’s professional theater company, opens its season with The Country House, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies (Dinner With Friends). Cary Anne Spear plays Anna Patterson, a former Broadway titan turned summer-stock star who’s hosting a houseful of weekend guests whose personalities collide before rehearsals begin at a local theater festival. John Amplas directs; Country House, an homage to such Chekhov classics as The Seagull and Uncle Vanya, debuted on Broadway last year. The first REP performance is tonight. JP 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 20. 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $25-30. 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com

Thu., Sept. 3 — Contest

Can you spell “ratatouille?” How about “kohlrabi”? If so, maybe you’re ready for tonight’s Food Words adult spelling bee, at Brillobox. With Root 174 chef Keith Fuller hosting, contestants compete for gift cards to local restaurants. There are also prize raffles for spectators. The bee, which benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, is the latest in a long-running series of themed bees conceived by writer Cara Gillotti. Contestants should register on Food Words’ Facebook page. BO 8 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $10 donation. foodwordspgh@gmail.com

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Fri., Sept. 4 — Music

Ben Opie founded OPEK in 1999, and the noted saxophonist and composer’s adventuresome “reduced-size big band” has since played shows devoted to the likes of Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Sun Ra. Tonight, OPEK honors a homegrown talent as First Fridays at the Frick’s season concludes with OPEK plays Strayhorn. Sit on the Frick Art & Historical Center lawn and hear OPEK explore the catalog of Pittsburgh native Billy Strayhorn, the pianist and Duke Ellington collaborator whose compositions included “Lush Life” and “Satin Doll.” BO 7 p.m. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. $5 suggested donation. 412-371-0600 or www.thefrickpittsburgh.org 


ART BY JOHN SOKOL
  • Art by John Sokol
Sat., Sept. 5 — Art

John Sokol’s new show at Percolate Art Space, Lighting the Cave Wall, might comprise only canvases, but that medium hardly encompasses Sokol’s artistic prowess. Sokol, a former Pittsburgher now living in Canton, Ohio, has a resume that includes a solo show at New York City’s famed Gotham Book Mart. His imagery ranges from calming and warm scenes of nature to chilling and direct portraits of death and the macabre. Sokol is also a published poet, fiction writer and sculptor. Cave Wall, which opens with today’s reception, features more than 40 works priced at $300 or less. JP 2-5 p.m. 317 Trenton Ave., Wilkinsburg. Free. 412-606-1220 or www.percolateart.weebly.com

Sat., Sept. 5 — Words

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs — proof that growing up in post-World War II America wasn’t as rosy as the Greatest Generation made it seem. These writers revolutionized literature, and their bohemian lifestyles influenced many. Tonight, the National Beat Poetry Festival hosts the first of two Pittsburgh events this weekend: “beat paths,” at East End Book Exchange, features poets George Wallace, Elly Finzer, Russ Green and more reading work celebrating the Beat Generation. On Sun., Sept. 6, many of the same poets read at “bridging the beats = poetry + futuremusic,” at Brillobox. JP 7-9 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. 412-224-2847 or www.eastendbookexchange.com

Tue., Sept. 8 — Winemaking

Imagine if you had your own renewable source of wine right in your home. Would you ever leave? Tonight, the Penn State Extension, which offers the university’s resources to regular citizens through specialized programs, holds a winemaking class at the Penn State Center in the Hill District as part of its Urban Homesteading program. Learn from a master gardener how to ferment fresh juice from a vineyard to make your very own wine. Next stop: renaming your kitchen “the chateau.” Register by Sun., Sept. 6. JP 6-8 p.m. 1435 Bedford Ave., Hill District. $35. 412-482-3458 or extension.psu.edu

Tue., Sept. 8 — Anglophilia

On the one hand, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. On the other: a common language and heavily overlapping pop cultures. In the third hand lies Britsburgh, a new festival organized by British-American Connections Pittsburgh, which promotes ties between this city and that nation. The inaugural Britsburgh falls during the week Queen Elizabeth replaces Queen Victoria as the nation’s longest-reigning monarch. The week-long festival begins tonight with a Proper British Dinner at Gaynor’s School of Cooking. Other events around the region feature music, food, libations and Sept. 13’s free Sports Extravaganza, at Highmark Stadium, with soccer, cricket, live music and a Queen Elizabeth look-alike contest. BO Festival continues through Sept. 14. Venues and prices vary (some events are free). www.bacpgh.com

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Thu., Sept. 10 — Words

When you think of Transcendental Meditation, do Iowa cornfields come to mind? They should, because Fairfield, Iowa, is both a major cultural center of the practice and the setting of Julie Long’s debut novel, Rooville. Owen Martin returns home to Fairfield from sunny Southern California to find his once very Midwestern hometown overrun with vegan cafes and gurus. Long, who was born in Fairfield and now lives in West Deer Township, reads from and signs copies of her book tonight at Penguin Bookshop. JP 6:30-7:30 p.m. 417 Beaver St., Sewickley. Free. 412-741-3838 or www.penguinbookshop.com.


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