Best of Culture: May
Get out and experience the offerings of our rich arts scene — whether it's taking in an exhibit, play, reading or dance performance.
Wood Street Galleries
through June 22
“Current” describes the ongoing exhibit at Wood Street Galleries in more ways than one. “Electrified” is a two-artist salute to inventor Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American genius whose contributions to science include discoveries in the field of alternating-current electricity. In their North American premieres, Edwin van der Heide and Alexandre Burton celebrate Tesla’s experiments in electricity, X-rays and wireless communication in two installations: “Impacts” (Burton) and “Evolving Spark Network” (van der Heide).
>> 601 Wood St., downtown; 412/471-5605, woodstreetgalleries.org
By Mike May
Lawrence Hall Gallery at Point Park University
through May 18
“Visions and Revelations” explores such themes as the natural world and figuration. The 16 exhibit participants are members of the New York-based National Association of Women Artists — including Pittsburgh artist Elizabeth Castonguay, represented by an oil on canvas, “Spatula-Tailed Hummingbird (Endangered Body of Work).” Expanding on the figuration, the show’s curator, Sarah Hall, director of curatorial affairs at The Frick Art & Historical Center, sees a demonstration of “psychological acuity — an awareness of facial expressions and gestures and the ways we interpret and use them to both reveal and hide ourselves from the world.” Jack Tomayko, a member of Point Park’s board of trustees and president and CEO of the Tomayko Group, organized the show.
>> Lawrence Hall Gallery, Wood Street at Boulevard of the Allies, downtown; 412/392-8008
Society for Contemporary Craft
April 25-Nov. 1
At Society for Contemporary Craft’s latest show, “Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics,” clay is the focus. One of the 31 participating artists will receive the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize, named for the late SCC founder. The name of the award recipient was under wraps at press time but was to be announced at the opening reception April 25. “Transformation” is a biennial exhibit that operates round-robin style, rotating every two years among five traditional craft media: wood, metal, glass, found objects — and in 2014 — clay. Look for that last medium in just about every conceivable way — including Thaddeus Erdahl’s colorful sculptural portrait, “King for a Day, Queen for the Night”; Lauren Gallaspy’s semi-abstract “Giving Up the Ghost”; and Linda Swanson’s minimalist “Cypreus Lumen.” “We are thrilled with the range and diversity of work demonstrated by this year’s artists and look forward to a fascinating show,” says SCC Executive Director Janet McCall. “Since its inception, the Raphael Prize competition has provided a valuable opportunity to recognize emerging talent in the field as well as introduce the public to new ways of thinking about contemporary craft.”
>> 2100 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/261-7003, contemporarycraft.org
By Elvira DiPaolo-Hoff
Point Park Conservatory of Performing Arts
Select Point Park Conservatory of Performing Arts seniors soon will leave for the university’s May 12 showcase in New York, where they’ll audition before key industry professionals. Be among the first to see these gifted students at the conservatory’s yearly showcase and fundraiser, in which 20 pupils will perform original works that include a finale ensemble presentation. Keep your program — you may see a future Tony winner.
>> Lawrence Hall, 212 Wood St., downtown; 412/392-8114, pointpark.edu; photo by Ramesh Santanam
Prime Stage Theatre
Modern-day New Rochelle, N.Y., is a far cry from a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Or so you would think. In “The Devil’s Arithmetic” — a world-premiere adaptation by Barry Kornhauser — 13-year-old Hannah is bored with her family’s annual Passover Seder. When she’s the one chosen to ritually “open the door for Elijah,” she finds herself transported to Nazi-occupied World War II Poland; there she learns a lesson or two about bearing witness, family and faith. Following the May 11 show, there will be a presentation and signing with author Jane Yolen, who wrote the eponymous book. Yolen says of Kornhauser’s script: “[It] got to the heart, the blood, the bone of my story.”
>> New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Shore; 412/320-4610, primestage.com
Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre
Poor Charles Condomine is feeling more than a little henpecked. When looking to gather material for a new book, he invites a medium for a séance — expecting an imposter. She ends up being the real deal. Madame Arcati conjures up the spirit of his dead wife, so there’s hell to pay with his current one. Noel Coward’s dark comedy “Blithe Spirit” kicks off Artistic and Executive Director Alan Stanford’s first season at PICT. Acclaimed local actress Mary Rawson stars as the nutty spiritualist.
>> Charity Randall Theater, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412-561-6000, picttheatre.org
By Karen Dacko
Shana Simmons Dance and Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra
Pittsburgh’s first Fringe Festival presents a nonjuried roster of emerging artists. Acts that wanted to participate in the inaugural fest had to apply by Dec. 30; some participants performed at a few first-come-first-served shows, while names of the remaining groups were drawn from a hat at the Jan. 16 launch event. Shana Simmons Dance premieres “We Sing the Body Eclectic.” Dancer/choreographer Shana Simmons and E.L.C.O. created the work, which fuses movement and words with orchestral and electronic instruments as it transits from sparseness to density, searching for balance between technology and creativity.
>> Boys and Girls Club, 6 Brownell Place, Shadyside; 888/490-8884, pittsburghfringe.org
STAYCEE PEARL dance project
This troupe’s works often spring from the namesake and founder’s personal experiences, social issues and pop culture. Pearl focuses her creativity on the physical language of play in “Playground,” a rhythmically driven work-in-progress connecting childhood memories to adult concepts of fun. Her husband, sound artist Herman “Soy Sos” Pearl, contributes the score.
>> Alloy Theater Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org
Murphy/Smith Dance Collective
In “I Am Woman” (2012), modern-dance choreographers Jamie Erin Murphy and Renee Danielle Smith draw on popular music and recorded speeches to explore gender identity, female stereotypes and the relevance of women’s traditional and nontraditional roles.
>> Pittsburgh Fringe Festival: Boys and Girls Club, 6 Brownell Place, Shadyside; 888/490-8884, pittsburghfringe.org
By Kristofer Collins
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are The Minimalists. Millburn walked away from a six-figure salary to simplify his life and search for a more meaningful existence. In “Everything That Remains,” Millburn recounts his story, written with asides from his best friend, Nicodemus. The pair brings its vision of a new American Dream to Amazing Books.
>> 929 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/471-1899, amazingbookspgh.com
Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
To celebrate Hill House’s 50th anniversary, award-winning journalist Wil Haygood comes to the Byham Theater. The Washington Post contributor and former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff writer has been a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow. He’ll discuss his book “The Butler: A Witness to History,” detailing the life of Eugene Allen, who served on the White House staff under eight presidents. That volume inspired the 2013 motion picture of the same name.
>> 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org
Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series
Hosts Jimmy Cvetic and Joan Bauer again present some of the finest poesy slingers to grace our city via this annual reading series. This season, The Pittsburgh Poetry Society is one of four organizations planning special group readings. Listen to past recitations online at hemingwayspoetryseries.blogspot.com.
>> 3911 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/621-4100