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Free jazz pops ups in unexpected hot spots

Pittsburgh's summer jazz scene just got a whole lot hotter -- and it won't cost listeners a cent.

A few surprising venues are popping up in Pittsburgh to draw jazz aficianados outdoors during July, August and September. 

Pittsburgh's Smallest Jazz Club was installed at a bus shelter on Liberty Avenue across from 9th Street in Downtown Pittsburgh on July 6 thanks to a $1,000 grant from Awesome Pittsburgh last year. 

MCG Jazz, which is a music program of the nonprofit Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, dreamed up Pittsburgh's Smallest Jazz Club as a bus shelter on Liberty Avenue across from 9th Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from Awesome Pittsburgh, the project was installed on July 6 and will run through the end of September. The shelter's interior walls feature photos of Pittsburgh's jazz legends, while speakers pump out a Grammy Award-winning recordings from MCG Jazz, which has hosted luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams and Stanley Turrentine through the years.

"The intent is to promote jazz music as Pittsburgh's greatest arts export, and to remind people that jazz music -- and art -- is fun, familiar, and everywhere," Kline says. 

A patron waiting in the bus shelter simply pushes a button, which connects to an iPod playing the songs. Lamar Outdoor, which owns the bus shelters in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, helped to put the idea into action. MCG Jazz, whose mission is to preserve, present and promote jazz, aims to introduce both national and international audiences to Pittsburgh's jazz legends.  

Meanwhile, across the Allegheny River on the North Side, City Of Asylum is introducing a series of free concerts from local jazz icon Roger Humphries and RH Factor every Wednesday from now through Sept. 16. 

Jazz Wednesdays are part of Summer on Sampsonia, the summer programming series from exiled writers sanctuary City of Asylum. The events will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday at the City of Asylum's pop-up venue, the Alphabet City Tent, at 318 Sampsonia Way in the North Side. 

The free tickets for Jazz Wednesdays are available online.

To learn more about Pittsburgh’s Smallest Jazz Club, visit the project’s Facebook page.

Art Institute alumni exhibit turns practical on its head

Each year, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh celebrates its alumni. This year’s exhibit, Impractical Magic: The Other Side of Practical, defies the expression long told to art students: “You can’t do that!”

Works from departments across the school will display the unusual and unexpected paths this group of alumni have paved. The disciplines represented include media arts and animation, fashion illustration, fashion and retail management, digital film and video production, industrial design, visual communications and game art and design.

Curated by Media Arts and Animation Professor Angela Love, the exhibit demonstrates achievements in different vocations, all built on a foundation learned at their alma mater.

Impractical Magic is showing now through July 22 at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 420 Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about the Art Institute of Pittsburgh's alumni, call (412) 291-6200.

Pittsburgh to host national safety conference

Construction safety and health professionals from across the country are set to arrive in Pittsburgh next week for the annual Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) 2015 Annual Safety & Health Committee Conference. The AGC is the leading association for the construction industry, representing more than 26,000 firms.  

The conference will showcase new safety training programs and products. Attendees will receive updates on the latest initiatives from Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and other industry experts.

“The AGC Safety & Health Site Selection Task Force chose Pittsburgh based on the reputable safety image that regional commercial contractors have built over the years,” said Jack Ramage, executive director for the Master Builders’ Association (MBA). The MBA was among the first trade associations in the country to place an emphasis on safety and hire a full-time safety expert in the 1960s, before the federal government’s launch of OSHA in 1971, according to Ramage.

The MBA and the Constructors Association of Western PA (CAWP) will co-host the conference, which unites construction industry professionals to participate in the development of regulatory and legislative activity on national and local levels. 

The AGC 2015 Annual Safety & Health Committee Conference takes place from July 8 through July 10 at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, Downtown.

Opposition grows against Azalea as Pride 2015 concert headliner

So far, Pittsburgh Pride has generated more conflict than its “All You Need Is Love” theme implies.

The choice of Australian rapper Iggy Azalea as the headliner for the region’s largest gay pride concert sparked protests among the city’s LGBTQ community against The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, which organized this year's Pride in the Street concert. The controversy stems from past racist and homophobic remarks the pop star made publicly.

Reaction came swiftly after Delta’s announcement of the June 13 concert headliner, and opposition continues to grow. At publication of this story, more than 900 followers have joined the “Shut it down” Facebook campaign. Other LGBTQ groups and faith communities from around the city are rallying strong support of the campaign.

“The Iggy Azalea thing was just a last straw for folks,” Michael David Battle of the Garden of Peace Project told the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Arts organization Dreams of Hope plans to use the concert itself to express opposition.

“The best way we can affect the change we seek is to use the visibility of Pride Fest to share our vision of what Pride should be,” said the group’s Executive Director, Seth Rosenberg. “We will march, we will staff our information table, our theatriQ youth performance ensemble will take the stage -- and we will use all of these platforms to express our displeasure with the current state of Pittsburgh Pride.”

Last week, Azalea cancelled her upcoming fall tour though she assured fans that special events -- including Pittsburgh Pride -- will remain as scheduled. Delta, likewise, has shown no sign of cancelling at present.

“If we believed that Iggy Azalea was racist or homophobic, we certainly would not have selected her to headline Pittsburgh Pride. We also don't believe she would have agreed to come if she was racist or homophobic,” Delta said in a full statement to the City Paper. “We believe that the push back is part of a larger discussion happening across America as it relates to race and gender. We believe that same conversation needs to happen here in Pittsburgh and today [we] reached out to several community leaders about facilitating a discussion about race and gender specifically as it relates to the LGBT community.”

Pittsburgh parks curator receives national honor

Thanks to her role as parks curator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Susan Rademacher will receive one of the highest national honors from the American Society of Landscape Architects. 

The ASLA bestows the honorary member title on those who've provided notable service to the profession of landscape architecture. Since its founding the 1899, the society has granted honorary membership to only 176 recipients, including former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Robert Redford and Ladybird Johnson. 

Since joining the conservancy in 2007, Rademacher has served as the project leader for the recent renovation of Downtown's Mellon Square and wrote the 2014 Princeton Architectural Press book Mellon Square: Discovering a Modernist Masterpiece.

Rademacher was editor in chief of Landscape Architecture magazine from 1984 to 1987 and was a founding editor of Garden Design magazine. She served as both president of Louisville's Olmsted Parks Conservancy and assistant director of Louisville's Metro Parks Department from 1991 to 2007. 

As parks curator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Rademacher has completed master planning and project design for the Walled Garden in Mellon Park and Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain. She is currently working on Cliffside Park renovations; master plans for Arsenal Park, Leslie Park, and McKinley Park; Heth's Run in Highland Park; and the Northeast Fountain in Allegheny Commons.

Local companies make Forbes list of best employers

Four major companies from our region are among Forbes magazine’s 2015 best U.S. employers: The University of Pittsburgh, PPG, Alcoa and Mylan.

Of the four, Pitt came in at No. 91 -- the only one that placed in the top 100. With a local, full-time force numbering upwards of 12,000 workers, Pitt also stands among the city’s big three non-government employers.

Not far behind, PPG landed on the list at No. 159. Alcoa followed at 223. The pharmaceutical giant Mylan claimed its spot at No. 292; its Washington County headquarters made it the only ranked Pittsburgh-area company located outside of the city.

Also listed within regional proximity was Sheetz. Headquartered in Altoona, Blair County, the massive convenience center-gas chain continues to hold a hefty presence in Pittsburgh. It came in at No. 181.

The top 500 U.S. employers were chosen based on an independent survey given to 20,000 employees across 25 different industries. All employees responded anonymously. The survey was administered to larger companies and institutions with a minimum workforce of 2,500, including U.S. divisions of international firms.

View all 500 companies here.  


Earth Day celebrates sustainability and success

The worldwide Earth Day event on April 22 has special significance here in Pittsburgh. This year, Pittsburgh Earth Day marks the recent advancements our city has created in sustainability, technology, and innovation.

Involvement in the day’s lineup springs from sources ranging from the local business community gathering for a speakers’ breakfast to the fashion shows, exhibitors, music, pop-up dance party and the food truck festival that will follow.

Events will take place throughout the day in Market Square and Mellon Square in Downtown and Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

See the full lineup of events here.


Three Rivers Arts Festival now voted No. 1

The probability of rain during the Three Rivers Arts Festival’s 10-day run each year can't spoil the fun of festival goers. Nor has it dampened the interest of the experts at USA Today, who nominated 20 arts festivals across the United States so that readers may cast their votes for the top 10.

Of those 20 nominations, USA Today readers are currently ranking the Three Rivers Arts Festival at No. 1. It leads similarly sized arts events in major metro centers like New York City, San Francisco and Chicago.

Readers can vote until 11:59 a.m. on April 13 and may cast no more than one vote per day.

Check current rankings and cast your vote.

Highbrow Magazine calls Pittsburgh 'a foodie playground'

Pittsburgh's restaurant scene is attracting ambitious young chefs intent on creating the next big food town, according to a recent article in Highbrow Magazine. 

In "How Pittsburgh Became a Dining Destination," Pittsburgh native Beth Kaiserman details the evolution of Pittsburgh cuisine from smothered under French fries to full-blown foodie playground, thanks to an annual Restaurant Week and inventive hot spots in the Cultural District and beyond.

Read the full article here.

Penn Ave. bike lane among top 10 nationally

National bicycling group PeopleForBikes named America’s top 10 new bike lanes of the year and included Pittsburgh’s Penn Avenue bike lane in the mix.

Green Lane Project staff writer Michael Anderson details protected bike lanes in cities including San Francisco, Portland, and Memphis before describing the rapid execution of Pittsburgh’s on-street biking network.

“Pittsburgh has always been a city of action, and that’s its style with bike lanes too,” writes Anderson.

To read the full story, click here.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is key to city's recent renaissance, says The Atlantic

In the latest installment of its American Futures series, The Atlantic magazine digs into Pittsburgh’s recent past, particularly the role of an organization created three decades ago – the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

In the article “How the arts drove Pittsburgh’s revitalization,” reporter John Tierney explains that Pittsburgh’s turnaround efforts are widely regarded for its sensible, clearheaded approach based on preservation.

Tierney writes:

“In looking at Pittsburgh’s impressive revival, it’s important to take note of the key role played over the last 30 years by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, an organization that has managed one of the city’s most vivid transformations, turning a large part of downtown that had been overtaken by porn shops, strip clubs, massage parlors and sleazy bars into a lively, safe and attractive district for cultural arts and entertainment.”

Read the full article here.

Huffington Post praises restoration of Mellon Square

The restoration of Mellon Square recently landed at the top of Huffington Post’s national list of notable landscape architecture developments of 2014.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation President Charles Birnbaum writes “modernism got a big boost” due to the efforts of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh to bring the iconic Downtown park back to its original splendor.

The first park built over a parking garage, Mellon Park was conceived as an oasis, a gathering space amid dense corporate buildings, Birnbaum explains.

Read the full article here.

For Millennials, Pittsburgh is 'Land of Opportunity'

The Atlantic’s latest investigation into what makes our region tick dives deep into the youthful enthusiasm of a cross-section of Pittsburgh boosters.

In an article titled “What Millennials Love About Pittsburgh,” writer John Tierney expounds upon recent research showing that Pittsburgh – with its abundance of both affordability and mobility -- still offers a shot at the American Dream when many U.S. cities are unable to.

“It’s a very good time to be in Pittsburgh if you’re a young person (need we call them ‘Millennials?’),” Tierney writes. “So, if you’re roughly in that age cohort and now living somewhere else – in a place where opportunities seem limited – consider a move to the City of Bridges.”

Meet Pittsburgh’s biggest proponents here.

A Luxury Travel Blog shares Pittsburgh's top five treasures

Looking for the lap of luxury in Pittsburgh? The finest elegance in the City of Steel can be found in five exquisite places, according to A Luxury Travel Blog.

Among the treasures: the Grand Concourse Restaurant, The Frick Art & Historical Center, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, and Wigle Whiskey.

“A beautiful city of contrasts full of grand historic sites mixed with modern dynamic sites firmly rooted in the future,” writes blogger Jennifer Berg.

Travelers with a taste for the finer things in life would do well to explore Pittsburgh’s luxurious offerings, Berg says.

Read the full blog post here.

One last shot of summerís supermoon

An almost supernatural photo of the September supermoon looming over PPG Place, shot by Pittsburgh photographer Dave Dicello, made a chilling appearance when it was featured on Time.com earlier this month.

“I knew that the moon would make its way over the city about an hour after it rose, giving me time to get to Point State Park, where this photo was made,” DiCello said. “With the moon sitting in the spires above the PPG Building and using a 70-200 lens and a 2X teleconverter, I was able to capture a haunting scene of the harvest moon over the Steel City.”

When the full moon hits its closest point in Earth’s orbit, the result is a larger and brighter-than-average natural phenomenon. When it hangs amid clouds over an illuminated PPG Place, the result is something close to a larger-than-life Gotham City.

See the stunning photo here.
78 Downtown & The Cultural District Articles | Page: | Show All
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