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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Unblurred, the artful holiday edition

If you have yet to take a stroll on the artful side of Penn Avenue, the corridor's monthly Unblurred culture crawl -- set for this Friday, December 7th from 6 p.m. to midnight -- is the perfect place to start. And it will be your last chance to do so in 2012.

Swinging open the doors of galleries, boutiques, cultural destinations, and eateries located between 4800 and 5500 Penn, the popular monthly showcase of neighborhood-based culture, community and cuisine features new and in-progress work by local artists alongside renovation projects that are transforming blighted properties into arts and commercial spaces along the corridor.

The eclectic stretch of the Avenue forms a welcoming and walk-friendly menu of free exhibitions, performances, hands-on activities, and special events that draw large monthly crowds to the area's spaces and sidewalks, where a rich array of new work by emerging and established artists is produced and presented within the urban fabric of the neighborhood.

Launched in 1998, the oirignal concept behind Unblurred encouraged people who often only drove past Penn Avenue's storefronts and businesses--hence getting only a blurry view of the neighborhood--to stop and slow down, take part in and interact directly with their surroundings. Hence the moniker Unblurred, which refers to new perceptions about and ways of seeing the Avenue. Ten years later, the name has stuck and the event has become a fixture on the East End's art scene, drawing between 500 and 1,000 patrons every month.

Get your art on
Feeling ghostly? Head to ModernFormations Gallery to encounter other worldly graffiti, sound art, installation, poetry, photojournalism, video, and sculpture created by eight Pittsburgh-based artists. Dubbed Ghosts, etc., the multimedia show explores the intersection between representation and abstraction, documentation and storytelling and subjective and objective experience. Featured artists include David Bernabo, Danny Devine, Ben Filio, Mark Mangini, Chris Mucci, Talon Smith, James Storch, and Emily Zuzack.

To cure those impeding winter blues, check out a new exhibition of travel photography by John Ubinger at Imagebox. View images from India, Nepal, Morocco, Australia and New Zealand, peruse greeting cards, prints and framed pieces for sale and sip vino at this special Imagebox reception.

Don't miss the opening reception for Dolls3 at The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. An eclectic exhibition of artistic doll interpretations, the show features work spanning traditional embroidery to contemporary assemblage. With a new twist on the identity and role of this timeless toy, the show will be augmented by a series of Doll Making Workshops and a "buy off the walls" program. Featured are works by Jane Street Art Doll Collective members Joyce Compton, Emily Eckel and Chris Fondi. The opening reception will also feature music by Elaine Gozion and the Moving Picture Show Cranky Box and Elaine Fuller's four-piece dulcimer band.

Most Wanted Fine Art hosts a free opening for The Doors of Perception, an exhibition of new mixed media paintings by Gary D. Owens and Kristofer Work. Owens mines daily life in order to tap into new perspectives of old things, while Work's vision tunes in and drops out in a blur of stretching blobs and trippy colors. Exploring the transitory and subjective nature of perspective--from the kitsch to psychedelia--the show will also feature a musical performance by Planet Deep.

Move over St. Nick, here comes Krampus! Swing by the Stuff N Such Society to check out Christmas with Krampus and The Art of Collectible Culture. Interpreting the legend of Krampus--aka The Christmas Devil, who according to alpine folklore accompaned St. Nick during the Christmas season to punish mischievous children, the new show features timely work by Danielle Bartone, Sam Thorp, Jim Kappernaros, Jessica and Dan Franklin, Steve “Pittsburgh Punk Rock” Cetra, Katie Moran, Nina Sauer, Josh Suchoza, Mike Galone, Kathryn “Go Carr Go” Carr, Jamie Sauer, and Tara Helfer. Expect a special visit from Krampus himself, warm up with hot chocolate, make your own ornament, and shop for nostalgic collectibles in the gallery's market.

Mr. Roboto Project, known for its staunchly DIY presentation of local bands and punk culture, will host the debut group exhibition from Cowboy House Presents, a collective of artists Fred Frances, Jeff Gibbons, Matt Glove and Mike Madsen.

Make and shop local
Looking for one-a-kind stocking stuffers or unique white elephant gifts to spice up the office party?

Don't miss the Holiday Glass Sale at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, open for just three days. Peruse festive, funky and fanciful glass gifts for sale, including unique vessels, sculptures and jewelry by regional artists. Warm up as you witness heat defying acts of art in the center's state-of the-art glass studios and view American Idols in the Hodge Gallery.

Over at Assemble, Penn Ave's arts and tech community space, roll up your sleeves for some all-ages interactive tinkering. Check out Assemble's HyperLocal Show and Art Bazaar, featuring artwork, crafts and technology created by Friendship, Garfield and Bloomfield residents.

For the bookworm in your life, choose from among thousands of titles at Awesome Books, including art and architecture, history, poetry, fiction, biography, local interest, GLBT, and gardening. ARTica is unveiling a shop facelift designed by Joesph Hall, and celebrating the season with store-wide deals and new finds throughout the eclectic antique emporium.

Be sure to swing by Tee Rex Syndicate, to shop for one-of-a-kind hand printed apparel and locally made products. The open house-style event even includes a while-you-wait tee printing station for those seeking last minute gifts. Among the locally produced goods for sale will be infused local honeys, healing beeswax balms, fashionable yarn, and eco-friendly luxury hand-knitted and crocheted wearables.

Shop guilt-free, because 10% of Tee Rex Syndicate's sales during Unblurred will be donated to featured nonprofit, the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse. While there, stay sated with gourmet hot dogs from Franktuary, sweets from Dozen Bakeshop and libations from East End Brewery.

Need a wind down?
Balance your chakras and stay sane with a candlelight yoga class at Yoga Hive, where participants will welcome December amidst a warm cocoon of light.

Head to Garfield Artworks for the Evolutionary Art Faire, a first-of-its-kind gathering of holistic practitioners. Celebrate the potential human possess to make make the world a better place, along with local artists, healers, mystics, crafters, performers, and "earth pioneers," who will share their wares and resources during an evening of gifts, learning and inspiration.

If caffeine is more your cure, pull up a chair at Commonplace at Voluto to sample the java and some tasty treats during the cafe's special pie day Friday.

View a complete list of Unblurred events.

Read all the Pop Filter picks.
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