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Winter Guide

Hopes for the Steelers have melted away. Now what do we do?

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     Now that hopes for the Steelers have melted away, we just gained a bunch of free time on playoff weekends.
      Rather than mope around at home pretending to care about teams we hate, why not shrug off the black-and-gold gloom and get back to enjoying some of our region's other attractions?
      Below we offer a selection of local happenings that should provide entertainment, edification, exercise and laughs.
      And if you want to keep the Pittsburgh-sports pity party going, there's always next weekend's PirateFest.

 

ART and EXHIBITIONS

Many artists create on paper, but Ludovica Gioscia creates with paper. You have until the end of the month to see her wallpaper sculptures that -- why didn't we think of this? -- "mimic the severed heads of monarchs from around the world." Through Jan. 31. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org

SILVER EYE CENTER >> Katraina M. d'Autremont, "Abuelo a la Mesa (Grandfather at the Table)," 2006
  • SILVER EYE CENTER >> Katraina M. d'Autremont, "Abuelo a la Mesa (Grandfather at the Table)," 2006

Photographer Katrina M. d'Autremont documents her relationship to her South American family in Si Dios Quiere (What God Wants), a series of 26 color prints. D'Autremont is the winner of the Silver Eye Center's 2009 Fellowship Award. Through March 20. 1015 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-431-1810 or www.silvereye.com

Argentine installation artist Martin Bonadeo's illuminated works explore how we measure time and space. Alba Magica MMX is a 10-year retrospective of his work, much of it interactive. Fri., Jan. 22-April 3. Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St., Downtown. 412-471-5605 or www.woodstreetgalleries.org

The 1930s were a tough decade, but a fruitful time for American art, including many painters who chose to depict the various struggles of ordinary folks. Some such works make up the new exhibit at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Concerning the 1930s in Art: Paintings from the Schoen Collection. Sun., Jan. 24–May 16. 221 N. Main St., Greensburg. 724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org

CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART >> Charles Rohlfs, Ladder Back Chair, 1901
  • CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART >> Charles Rohlfs, Ladder Back Chair, 1901

Fans of Craftsman design will want to check out the "artistic furniture" of Charles Rohlfs (1853-1936), an American designer whose distinctive work and motifs foresaw that popular art and design movement. The Carnegie Museum of Art opens an exhibit of more than 40 pieces of Rohlfs' work. Jan. 30. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org

FRICK ART & HISTORICAL CENTER >> Earle Richardson, "Employment of Negroes in Agriculture," 1934
  • FRICK ART & HISTORICAL CENTER >> Earle Richardson, "Employment of Negroes in Agriculture," 1934

Sadly, our New New Depression isn't coming with anything as worthy as President Roosevelt's Public Works of Art. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of this visionary, albeit short-lived program, the Frick Art & Historical Center opens an exhibit of 54 paintings, depicting aspects of the country and its people. Jan. 30-April 25. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. 412-371-0600 or www.frickart.org

No, The Onion didn't invent satire, and Tom Tomorrow owes his political-cartoon chops to many antecedents. In fact, there is a long and (ig)noble tradition of tweaking those in power. Learn more at Caricature, Satire, and Comedy of Manners: Works on Paper from the 18th through 20th Centuries, at the Carnegie Museum of Art's Paper Gallery. Feb. 13. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org

It's been roughly 250 years, but George Washington is coming back to the 'Burgh. Or, at least a lot of singular memorabilia about our first president makes a visit from his Mount Vernon home to the Heinz History Center. Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait will be there, as will a set of George's false teeth. Feb. 19-July 18. 1212 Smallman St., Strip District. 412-454-6000 or www.heinzhistorycenter.org

The Mattress Factory has frequently given safe harbor to exhibits that seemed to defy some of our basic constructs about how art is created. Thus, the apt title for its new exhibition, Nothing Is Impossible, a group show of installation pieces and performances organized by the museum's current curators-in-residence. March 19-June 20. 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side. 412-213-3169 or www.mattress.org

 

FILM 

It's your chance to live like an Academy member: Catch this compendium of short films nominated for Oscars in 2010. Quality short films rarely screen in theaters, so plan to attend. Feb. 19-25. Regent Square Theater, 1035 S. Braddock Ave., Edgewood. 412-682-4111 or www.pghfilmmakers.org

Back in 1973, Pittsburgher George Romero helmed The Crazies, a drive-in horror classic about a freaky virus. It's baaaaack, in a remake by Breck Eisner, with the action relocated to Iowa. February

Movie-lovers' alert: The 17th annual Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival is the first of the year here. More than two dozen foreign and domestic films highlighting experiences of Jewish and Israeli people screen at several area theaters. March 4-21. www.UJFpittsburgh.org/filmfestival

Is Tim Burton too freaky to tackle the beloved Alice in Wonderland story? Or did Lewis Carroll beat Burton to a disturbing kiddie tale more than a century ago, what with talking rabbits, cakes that make you grow and vicious playing cards? See for yourself on March 5, when Burton's take arrives -- in 3-D, to boot.

She's Out of My League
  • She's Out of My League

Sure, it looks like another nerd-boy-gets-hot-girl comedy, but Jim Field Smith's film She's Out of My League takes place in Pittsburgh, and promises to have lots of local color. Were you in that crowd scene on Butler Street? March 12

Green Zone
  • Green Zone

Among the most hair-raising books I've read in the past few years was Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone, an account of America's first year in Iraq. It read like a manual on how not to successfully occupy a country. Hope Paul Greengrass' film adaptation, Green Zone, is as illuminating. March 12

 

COMEDY 

Jeff Dunham
  • Jeff Dunham

Comedian-ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is no dummy, but his friend sure is. And hand-held puppets say the most amazing things. Dunham's DVDs sell in the millions, but this voice-throwing wizardry is best seen live. Jan. 30. Mellon Arena, Downtown. 412-642-1800 or www.mellonarena.com

Hey, he's not fat -- he's fluffy! When the Hawaiian-shirted comedian Gabriel Iglesias hits the Byham Theater, he'll unpack his suitcase of funny: storytelling, sound effects, parodies and characters. And like your laundry, it's fluffy and clean. March 4. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

OUTDOORS 

The city is your gym, as Venture Outdoors leads a series of urban fitness hikes. Steep hills, lots of stairs and brisk weather equal hardcore, satisfying work-outs. Jan. 21, Feb .4, Feb. 18, March 4 and March 18. 412-255-0564 or www.ventureoutdoors.org

Western Pennsylvanians have endured their share of ice this winter, but would you like it more if it were shaped like a giant bear? Ligonier hosts its 19th annual Ice Fest, featuring 300-pound blocks of ice transformed into sculptures. Sat., Jan. 23, and Sun., Jan. 24. The Diamond, Ligonier. 724-238-4200 or www.ligonier.com

Now that snowshoes aren't the cumbersome, 5-foot-long Northwest-trapper variety, why not learn to use them? A bit of training, and you'll be hiking nimbly through the deepest, snowiest woods. Let Venture Outdoors show you how. Sat., Jan. 30. Laurel Summit State Park. 412-255-0564 or www.ventureoutdoors.org

It's been a miserable season for commuters, but skiers and snowboarders are having a great winter -- with plenty of "natural snow" and long stretches of below-freezing weather, perfect for snow-making. Stop by both popular Laurel Highlands slopes, Seven Springs and Hidden Valley. Ongoing. www.7springs.com and www.hiddenvalleyresort.com

 

OTHER

National Aviary's Penguin Point
  • National Aviary's Penguin Point

The revamped Penguin Point, at the National Aviary, has been open since May. But why not stop by now, when it's truly penguin weather? Then, warm up with the tropical birds. Ongoing. Arch Street and Ridge Avenue, North Side. 412-323-7235 or www.aviary.org

Hope is never higher than during January's PirateFest, when nary a ball has been thrown (or bobbled). C'mon -- this could be the year the team turns it around. (Or locks in another new record for consecutive losing seasons, which is a win of sorts.) Jan. 29-31. David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. www.pirates.com

Just Harvest's annual Empty Bowls dinner -- which raises money to fight hunger -- could use some more serving vessels. Stop by the Sweetwater Center for the Arts this afternoon and make a ceramic bowl to donate to the event. No experience necessary. It's fun, free and for a good cause. Jan. 30. 200 Broad St., Sewickley. 412-741-4405 or www.sweetwaterartcenter.org

They say the economy is crawling back to life, and you could do your part by buying a new car. But even just visiting the Pittsburgh International Auto Show, and looking, puts some cash back into the system. Feb. 11-15. David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. www.pittautoshow.com

Pittsburgh Knitting and Crocheting Festival - COURTESY OF BECKY JOHNSON
  • Courtesy of Becky Johnson
  • Pittsburgh Knitting and Crocheting Festival

Attention, wool-gatherers: The annual Pittsburgh Knitting and Crocheting Festival returns. There'll be classes, meet-ups, vendors and an intriguing tutorial on "knitting brains," a.k.a. hyberbolic shapes. Feb. 13-14. Four Points Sheraton North, Mars. www.pghknitandcrochet.com

"Please, Dad, can we get a multi-jet shower unit?" All the bathrooms, kitchens and barbecues of your dreams are on display at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden show. March 5-14. David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. www.pghhome.com

A sure sign that winter is over: Food starts growing again! At the Spring Farm to Table event, visitors can talk to local farmers, attend lectures and presentations, and nibble on tasty treats. March 26-27. David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. www.farmtotable.org

It never gets old, looking at all the perfectly behaved, beautifully groomed dogs. Root for your favorite breed to win at the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association Dog Show. March 27-28. David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. www.wpka-inc.org

 

LITERARY

Climate change isn't just about fretting over weird weather -- there are potentially catastrophic consequences that may imperil many of our planet's inhabitants. Dale Jamieson, a professor of environmental studies and philosophy at New York University, lectures on "The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change." Feb. 4. Porter Hall 100, CMU campus, Oakland. 412-268-2084 or www.cmu.edu

Yes, the Arctic matters, and one of the frozen tundra's most passionate defenders is world traveler and nature writer Barry Lopez. His 1986 book, Arctic Dreams, won the National Book Award. The author speaks at the Drue Heinz series. Feb. 8. Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

If you've stayed up late fretting about the future of the novel, then join critic Sven Birkerts and novelist and blogger Maud Newton for a discussion on this very topic. The event is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. Feb. 11. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Oakland. 412-624-6506 or www.english.pitt.edu

Elizabeth Alexander - COURTESY OF CJ GUNTHER
  • Courtesy of CJ Gunther
  • Elizabeth Alexander

"Say it plain: that many have died for this day / Sing the names of the dead who brought us here." Those words rang out over the National Mall when Elizabeth Alexander read her poem "Praise Song for the Day" at President Obama's inauguration. Alexander, who is chair of African American Studies at Yale, speaks tonight. Feb. 22. Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

 

KIDS

Now kids 10 and under have an Omnimax movie designed just for them. Animalopolis features a variety of wildlife -- bears, crabs, cheetahs, flamingos -- doing lots of cute and funny things, while "Suessian" rhymes fill in the story. Ongoing. Carnegie Science Center, North Side. 412-237-3400 or www.carnegiescencecenter.org

It's never too early for kids to start getting their Pittsburgh on. A new Children's Museum exhibit, Yinz Play, helps the little ones celebrate our idiosyncratic town. Work on bridges, design a wacky sandwich or fireworks display, or check out any of the scheduled special guests such as cartoonist Joe Wos, the Jitterbug Club and CMU architects. Jan. 30-June 6. 10 Children's Way, North Side. 412-322-5058 or www.pittsburghkids.org

It's a celebration of African-American children's literature for the whole family, at the third annual Harambee Read-Aloud. Besides reading, there will be other fun activities for attendees of all ages. Feb. 27. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or pgharts.org

Pittsburgh International Children's Theater presents Henry and Mudge, a musical based on Cynthia Rylant's books about the adventures of a boy and his pet mastiff. Having a huge dog takes work, but it's worth it. March 7-14. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown (plus several school locations). 412-456-6666 or www.pghkids.org

Golden Dragon Acrobats
  • Golden Dragon Acrobats

A perennial favorite for kids and adults alike are China's Golden Dragon Acrobats. You won't believe how bendy some people can be. March 13. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

They Might Be Giants - COURTESY OF JAYME THORNTON
  • Courtesy of Jayme Thornton
  • They Might Be Giants

Here's one indie-rock show your adorable little hipster moppets won't be bored at. Brooklyn alterna-funsters They Might Be Giants successfully transitioned to making quirky kids' music, and they play two not-so-late shows at the New Hazlett Theater. March 13. Allegheny Square, North Side. 412-237-8300 or www.newhazletttheater.org

 

STAGE

Mid-winter is the perfect time to vicariously travel to A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ted Pappas helms Shakespeare's popular comedy about lovers and exotic woodland creatures bumbling in an enchanted forest. Through Feb. 21. O'Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

It's an age-old story: An innocent girl is corrupted by a bad man. The drama is re-told by the Pittsburgh Opera in Benjamin Britten's 1946 spiritual "chamber opera," The Rape of Lucretia. Jan. 30-Feb. 7. CAPA Theater, 111 Ninth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

Lots of art is inspired by affairs of the heart, but this world-premiere dance from Bodiography draws inspiration from the actual organ. Choreographer Maria Caruso shadowed cardiologists and surgeons at UPMC, and the ballet -- Heart (Form vs. Emotion) -- is designed to raise awareness of heart disease. Feb. 19-20. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

Xanadu
  • Xanadu

Continuing the neo-tradition of turning dreadful movies into successful Broadway musicals is Xanadu. It'll be an upbeat toe-tapper, and likely the only play this year to combine satin shorts, roller skating and a guy dressed as a horse. Feb. 23-28. Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

Sue's Leg
  • Sue's Leg

The Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet visits to perform Sue's Leg, one of Twyla Tharp's earliest commissioned pieces. It's a lively affair, set to the music of Fats Waller, and riffing on tap and popular 20th-century dances. Feb. 26. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

Set in the 1950s during a mother-daughter trip to Italy, The Light in the Piazza is a melodrama about love and regret. This musical, adapted from Elizabeth Spencer's novella and presented locally by Pittsburgh Playhouse, won six Tony Awards. March 26-April 3. 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. 412-621-4445 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com

 

MUSIC

Long-running jam-band moe is a favorite of the summer festival circuit. If the group's headlining slot a couple of years back at WYEP's summer concert is any indication, tonight's a great opportunity to shake off the winter blues for a spell -- and catch up with fellow music-lovers. Jan. 31. Carnegie Library of Homestead Music Hall, 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. 412-368-5225 or www.homesteadlibrary.org

Legendary post-rock ensemble Tortoise has been at it sporadically since the early 1990s, so it's hard to believe that the new Beacons of Ancestorship is only its sixth full-length album. The mainly instrumental group's combination of electronic music, jazz, dub and more has been so cool for so long, it's almost a cliché -- but this is still a not-to-be-missed show. Feb. 17. Mr. Small's Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

Phyllis Hyman didn't live to see the new August Wilson Center, devoted to African-American arts. But she'll be there in spirit as local and national artists take to the stage, performing in a tribute concert to the late Pittsburgh vocalist. Feb. 19. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-258-2700 or www.augustwilsoncenter.org

Country-pop crooner Kenny Rogers has survived bad TV movies, ill-advised duets, the failure of a rotisserie-chicken chain, tabloid dramas and some questionable surgical procedures. And yet, the hit-maker is still not ready to fold 'em. Feb. 20. Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse, 565 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. 724-947-1900 or www.pepsiroadhouse.com

St. Vincent
  • St. Vincent

St. Vincent -- a.k.a. Annie Clark, former guitarist for Sufjan Stevens and Polyphonic Spree -- combines instrumental chops and art-pop ambition with lyrics sometimes sweet, sometimes sardonic. Her live show is worth a look, especially for its seamless integration of numerous instruments and electronics. Feb. 21. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-431-8800 or www.dieselpgh.com

It's a classic-rock smackdown: Eric Clapton and The Who's Roger Daltrey on the same bill. More likely it will be a mellow night for boomers, as everybody flashbacks to when Rock Gods Ruled the Earth. Feb. 25. Mellon Arena, Downtown. 412-642-1800 or www.mellonarena.com

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Most folks became aware of Ladysmith Black Mambazo when the South African group lent its talents to Paul Simon's Graceland LP. Tonight, the long-performing ensemble, known for its artful marriage of native rhythms with soulful harmonies, takes center stage in its own right. Feb. 28. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

Guitarist Bill Frisell has long inhabited the intersections of jazz, rock, folk and the avant-garde -- everything from playing in John Zorn's Naked City to his latest, Americana-influenced release on the Nonesuch label, Disfarmer. Despite his inventive, effects-heavy approach, Frisell also has that very desirable trait among guitarists -- a recognizable touch. March 3. Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-381-6811 or www.rextheater.com

John Hiatt started out in the 1970s as another angry young man, snarling through his own brand of Americana-rock. He's mellowed some over the years, but expect a WYEP-friendly evening, with some bite. March 12, Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-368-5225 or www.druskyentertainment.com

If you don't already know everything you need to know about Jay-Z, you've got 100 problems, not 99. Celebrated rapper; wealthy entrepreneur; put a ring on Beyoncé. Jealous much? Young Jeezy's also on the bill. March 16. Mellon Arena, Downtown. 412-642-1800 or www.mellonarena.com.

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