For weeks, no one said anything to the National Portrait Gallery about "A Fire in My Belly," a four-minute video in its exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. On Nov. 30, a month after the show opened, in Washington, D.C., the video was pulled -- literally hours after the first public complaints, some by Republican congressmen who questioned federal funding of the Gallery's parent institution, the Smithsonian. What set the congressmen off was a statement by William Donohue, president of the right-wing Catholic League, who called the video offensive to Catholics. And what set Donohue off was ... the video's repeated image of ants crawling over the body of Christ on a small crucifix. "Fire" excerpts a longer piece artist David Wojnarowicz made in 1986-87 after the death of his partner from AIDS, and after learning that he himself was HIV-positive; versions of the video are widely available online. The Christ passages are surrounded by other images of suffering, including hands dripping blood and a man sewing his lips together. (Apparently, conservatives haven't caught up with art from the Reagan era -- nor with the millennia-old practice of using the crucified Christ to represent human suffering.) Hide/Seek is a high-profile show: Featuring work by names like Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz and Thomas Eakins, it's the first survey at a national museum to explore same-sex portraits and intimacy. And the censoring of "Fire" has drawn high-profile criticism: The Warhol Foundation, which helped fund Hide/Seek, announced that it would stop funding Smithsonian exhibitions if "Fire" weren't restored. Meanwhile, at press time, dozens of art venues in 19 states and the U.K. had responded with ongoing screenings of "Fire in My Belly." In Pittsburgh, venues include The Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory and Wood Street Galleries. "The so-called Culture Wars have begun again," said Warhol director Tom Sokolowski, referencing past flaps over public arts funding. Sokolowski called Wojnarowicz (who died in 1992) "one of the most important artists of the 1980s." Mattress Factory co-director Barbara Luderowski called the National Portrait Gallery's removal of the video "a violation of our freedom of speech and expression." "Fire in My Belly" screens continuously at Wood Street through Jan. 30, and at the Mattress Factory and the Warhol through Feb. 13 -- the date Hide/Seek closes. Bill O'Driscoll Warhol: 117 Sandusky St., North Side (412-237-8300). Mattress Factory: 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side (412-231-3169). Wood Street: 600 Wood St., Downtown (412-471-5605).
Thu., Dec. 23 -- Art
Critics often trash him, but LeRoy Neiman says he doesn't care (much). Since the 1950s, he's been too busy palling around with Hefner and Sinatra, lionizing famous athletes on canvas in bright splashy colors, and generally becoming America's most famous (and possibly best-paid) painter. While Neiman, who's now 89, isn't in town himself, local sports-art specialist Maser Galleries is hosting what it calls "the largest LeRoy Neiman show ever held in the Tri-State area." The one-artist show runs one more week. Bill O'Driscoll 11 a.m.-8 p.m. this week; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. next week. 5427 Walnut St., Shadyside. 412-687-0885 or www.masergalleries.com.
Fri., Dec. 24 -- Calendar
Want a last-minute gift item for that bicyclist, that babe or that Pittsburgher on your list -- one that's both timely and benefits a good cause? The 2011 Pittsburgh Babes on Bikes Calendar features our town's tough and sporty women on two wheels in a variety of locations; the group cover shot, on the riverfront with Downtown in the background, is a knockout. The calendar, brainchild of Jessie Buckner ("Miss July"), let each woman choose her own photographer, style and location. All proceeds benefit the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh -- and for the next few days, you can buy it in time do Miss January justice. BOwww.pghbabesonbikes.com
Sat., Dec. 25 -- Roller Disco
Whether Santa brought you some new roller skates, or you're just overflowing with holiday spirit, nothing says Christmas like a roller disco ... or something like that. Tonight at Belvedere's bar, Down and Derby offers a night of skating, drinking and dancing, with tunes provided by DJs Professor Purple and Hank D. Even if you didn't find skates under the tree, you can easily rent some on site. And if you're one of the many Pittsburghers out of town for the holidays, you might still be able to get in on the action: While Down and Derby began in Pittsburgh, it now includes satellite events in New York, San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Aaron Jentzen 9 p.m.-2 a.m. 4016 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $6 (w/ RSVPat www.skatedrinkdance.com). 21 and over. 412-687-2555
- Photo by Christopher Little, courtesy of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Sun., Dec. 26 -- Exhibit
Some say winter is the best time to visit Fallingwater: The bare trees allow for a better view from more vantage points, and the snow frames the cantilevered domestic spectacle just right. Today begins the last week to see Frank Lloyd Wright's famed house in its wintry Fayette County splendor before it closes for the balance of the season (when conditions often make it tough to visit). Tours are available daily through Jan. 2 (except New Year's Day); the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy re-opens the house in March. Consider pairing the tour with a visit to another nearby Wright house, Kentuck Knob -- reservations can be made through the same office as those for Fallingwater. Andy Mulkerin 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. 1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run. $12-18. 724-329-8501 or www.fallingwater.org
Sun., Dec. 26 -- Sports
Given that their eternally hopeful opponents, The Washington Generals, haven't beaten them in four decades, The Harlem Globetrotters need something to keep their games interesting. This year it's the four-point shot, which the beloved basketball showmen debuted during a game earlier this month. (The four-pointers are shot from two spots at each end of the court, each one 35 feet from the basket.) That, plus the fact that the Globetrotters' 220-city North American tour marks the franchise's 85th anniversary, make today's two contests at Consol Energy Center a good bet for all-ages day-after-Christmas fun. A better bet than the Generals, anyway. BO 1 and 6 p.m. Uptown. $17-150. 800-745-3000 or www.harlemglobetrotters.com
Tue., Dec. 28 -- Exhibit
If comparing your holiday decorations to those of your neighbors is getting old, see how the other half lived ... circa 1890. Tours of Clayton, the Frick family mansion, are a local evergreen, and not just for the fine-china table settings and the breakfast room decorated as if for a Victorian-era children's party. Also on display at the Frick Art & Historical Center are personal gifts the Fricks gave each other, and it's all wrapped up in live poinsettias and pine boughs. In any case, look at it this way: A century from now, will anyone want to see how your house was decorated? BO 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Holiday tours continue through Jan. 2. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. $6-12. Reservations are recommended at 412-371-0600.
Wed., Dec. 29 -- Jazz
Whether you're entertaining relatives, or just looking for a civilized night out between the holidays, try the JazzLive series at the Backstage Bar at Theater Square. This week's shows feature regional jazz talents, and are easy on the wallet -- as in, free. Starting at 5 p.m., tonight's show features drummer and percussionist Jevon Rushton and, at 8 p.m., trumpeter James Moore. Tomorrow night, Wed., Dec. 29, it's the duo of vocalist Patrick Arena with jazz guitarist Mark Lucas, whose selections include jazz classics as well as fresh interpretations of pop tunes by the likes of The Beatles and James Taylor. AJ 5 p.m.-midnight. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. All shows free. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org
Wed., Dec. 29 -- Comedy
Even during the several years he lived in Seattle, Ron Placone returned to his hometown for his annual year-end holiday show. Now that this touring comic has moved back to Pittsburgh, no surprise that he's continuing the tradition. The fourth annual Holiday HaHa features Second City alum T.J. Amick; Billy Lyday (Last Comic Standing); and Placone himself, who's appeared on CNN, opened for the Upright Citizens' Brigade and more. Expect some sketches with your standup at tonight's early (and kindly priced) show at cozy Club Café. BO 7 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $5 ($7 at door). www.clubcafelive.com
Wed., Dec. 29 -- Karaoke
Admit it: Sometimes you stand in front of the mirror at home, singing along to "Suspect Device," and you just know you're owning it. Fortunately for you, Howlers in Bloomfield offers you an opportunity to show off your skills. Live Band Punk Rock Karaoke, celebrating its one-year anniversary, is basically what it sounds like -- a karaoke night wherein the soundtrack is provided by a house band. The band's repertoire stretches from fairly mainstream (The Go-Gos' "We Got the Beat") to relatively obscure, at least to those outside of the Oi! circuit (Cock Sparrer's "Riot Squad"). AM 9 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $3. 412-682-0320 or www.howlerscoyotecafe.com