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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.

Two summer TV series feature illusionist with Pittsburgh roots

Illusionist and West Mifflin native Michael Grandinetti will appear on two television series this summer: "Masters of Illusion" on The CW and "Don’t Blink" on Pop TV. 

Grandinetti’s levitations and vanishing acts were popular with audiences in last year's "Masters of Illusion" series and will return for a second season. The 13 half-hour episodes will present such cutting-edge illusions as interactive mind magic and comedy routines, performed in front of a live audience in Hollywood. Hosted by actor Dean Cain, "Masters of Illusion" premieres at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 10. 

"Don't Blink" on Pop TV delves inside the world of underground street magicians as they perform publicly and before celebrity guests. Grandinetti, now residing in Los Angeles, carried out his illusions at Venice Beach, The Grove, Universal Studios and on Hollywood Boulevard for the series.

"I'm so proud of how both shows turned out and can't wait for people to see the new magic we spent the last year creating,” said the Duquesne University graduate.

Now 37, Grandinetti started practicing card tricks more than 30 years ago in his bedroom. He also performed in shows throughout Pittsburgh and has gone on to perform his magic on prime-time television, NFL and NBA half-time games, and as a headliner at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev.
View Grandinetti’s 2015 reel here.


Pittsburgh celebrates its champions

The inaugural Celebration of Champions reception and awards ceremony recognized six locals as leaders in Pittsburgh's industries on June 18 at the Station Square Sheraton. 

After the community nominated and voted on the winners earlier this year, the award recipients each received $1,000 to donate to their favorite local charity.

In addition to living or working in the Pittsburgh region, the winners were chosen for demonstrating excellence in their field through leadership, achievement and volunteerism.

The six industry categories included health care; technology; education; tourism and hospitality; first responders/military/veterans; and sports/arts and entertainment.

The following individuals accepted their awards:
  •  Health care: Nancy Stitt, co-founder of International Transplant Nurses Society
  •  Technology: Jim Jen, executive director and co-founder of AlphaLab
  •  ?Education: Cindy Bostick of Communities In Schools Pittsburgh Allegheny County, mentor coordinator within the Be A Mentor Program
  •  Tourism and hospitality: Sylvia McCoy, founder and owner of ‘Burgh Bits & Bites
  •  First responders/military/veterans: James O’Conner, veteran and local platoon leader of The Mission Continues organization
  •  Sports/arts and entertainment: Joe Negri, jazz guitarist and teacher at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University

Additional information about the Celebration of Champions can be found here.


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.

Local chef hopes to conquer Cutthroat Kitchen

When Isabela on Grandview’s Executive Chef Jacqueline Wardle competes on the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen on June 21, viewers will learn just how far she’ll go to create fine food.

Wardle caught the attention of the show’s producers through an Instagram photo that showed the duck specialty she created for the Mt. Washington restaurant’s menu. The producers selected her to join three other chef contestants from across the country to the challenge.

Wardle, an alum of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh's culinary program, will attempt to prepare the tastiest dish while outsmarting her competitors. In addition, she’ll be handed $25,000 and the opportunity to spend that money on helping herself or sabotaging her fellow contestants.  

"I enjoyed everything about being on set, meeting Alton Brown and competing with other chefs on a national level," said Wardle.

On June 21, fans can stop by the Bigham Tavern in Mt. Washington beginning at 9 p.m. to meet Chef Wardle and to see the show broadcast at 10 p.m.

National photo shoot shares local women's stories

San Francisco-based photographer Amy Friedman wraps up a weeklong photo shoot in Pittsburgh for A Day in My Shoes, a fundraising and awareness project for women of partner abuse. Friedman partnered with the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (WCS) and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office for the project.

Friedman traveled to Pittsburgh and to cities across the country for the project, whose mission is to support women of partner abuse and help them share their stories. In addition to posing in their favorite shoes, the women were asked to write a brief story about how they’ve discovered a sense of empowerment or achievement since the abuse. The photographs reveal none of the model’s faces to protect their anonymity. Their stories will accompany the photos in a book at an upcoming gallery show in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.   

The project initially started as an effort to raise funds for the Asian Women’s Shelter of San Francisco. It then spread to organizations that support victims and survivors of domestic violence across the United States and Grand Cayman. Each photo shoot invites a number of shelter survivors to participate at no cost, while other participants donate to the project.  

Local contributions for A Day in My Shoes cover the costs of the photo shoots and include a donation to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Donations can be mailed to: 

A Day in My Shoes Pittsburgh
40 Linden Place
Sewickley, PA 15143

All donations are tax deductible, according to Cynthia Liefeld of the nonprofit 501(c)3 organization A Day in My Shoes.

"Our proceeds will go to the women's center and shelter and perhaps another smaller shelter, depending upon our proceeds or if someone so directs," Liefeld added.

The City of Pittsburgh proclaimed June 19 as "Father's Day Pledge to End Gender Violence Day" and has planned a public pledge signing ceremony at 12 p.m. at the Allegheny County Courthouse Courtyard, Downtown.

Pitt ranks no. 2 worldwide in the discipline of philosophy

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Philosophy, which has long been recognized for excellence, placed second in its field by the QS World University Rankings. The rating system evaluated more than 3,500 universities in 36 disciplines for its 2015 subject rankings.  

Anil Gupta, chair of Pitt’s Department of Philosophy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, credits the creativity of the faculty and their exploration of unfashionable ideas for the achievement.
The faculty’s research has made a significant impact as numerous authors worldwide have written about Pitt philosophy professors and their work. According to Gupta, 18 books have been published on Robert Brandom, 14 on Nicholas Rescher, and 11 on John McDowell beyond the hundreds of books published by faculty members themselves. He adds, “Pitt faculty, particularly Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Robert Brandom and Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy John McDowell, are among the most influential philosophers working today.”

Pitt placed second behind New York University but ahead of Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge universities. Read more about the QS World University Rankings criteria and the complete listing here.

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh named among America's top 10 facilities for kids

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has once again been named one of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, making this the sixth consecutive year the hospital has been listed on the Honor Roll.

Children’s Hospital ranks eighth on the magazine’s 2015-16 Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals and also in each of the 10 pediatrics specialties ranked. These highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric hospitals in each of 10 specialties: cancer; cardiology and cardiac surgery; diabetes and endocrinology; gastroenterology and GI surgery; neonatology; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopedics; pulmonology; and urology.

In nine of the specialties, Children’s ranked in the top 25 including: second in gastroenterology and GI surgery; third in diabetes and endocrinology; sixth in pulmonology; and 10th in cardiology and cardiac surgery, neonatology, and neurology and neurosurgery.

The 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings has been released online and will be published in the U.S. News “Best Hospitals 2016” guidebook, available in September.

Read the complete listing of all of the hospitals named on the U.S. News Honor Roll here.

Book collects and captures personal moments of Pittsburghers

Last year, the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art launched A People’s History of Pittsburgh. The project invited Pittsburghers to share personal photographs and stories. The collection task that followed gathered everything from large format black-and-white portraits dating back to the 1880s to color Polaroids of the 1970s to camera phone pictures from the 21st century.

From 2014 to 2015, the project grew into a digital archive of over 1,500 images, illustrating the ways in which snapshot photography has been used to document everyday moments while more broadly attempting to unearth a city’s cultural history through the photos of its people.

In the end, more than 200 images were selected for the accompanying print version of A People’s History of Pittsburgh: Volume One. The book contains a seamless flow of images that cycle through common family suppertimes, sports outings, dance recitals, first kisses, and more. The editors intentionally stripped the photos of their accompanying captions, allowing the viewer’s own history to be evoked and revisited.

Last month, the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh and the music collective VIA celebrated the launch of A People's History of Pittsburgh with the multi-faceted event #NOWSEETHIS.

And now, a People's History of Pittsburgh Volume One is on sale for $20 online and at Spaces Corners, an artist-run photobook gallery and project space in Troy Hill.

To learn more about the initiative and to explore the digital archive, visit www.nowseethis.org.

It's camo time: Upcoming events honor hometown heroes

As summer's patriotic holidays approach, the iconic camo print that's synonymous with U.S. soldiers is flexing its muscle at special local sporting events honoring veterans.

To commemorate Flag Day on June 14, the Veterans Leadership Program (VLP) invites veterans and the public to attend the Kids & Camo 5K / Family Fun Day in White Oak Park. The 5K Run/Walk begins at 10 a.m., with a BBQ lunch after the race. Those not participating in the 5K are also invited to enjoy the BBQ lunch and festivities including a three-legged race, sack race, arts and crafts, volleyball, horseshoes and a corn hole competition.

Participants can register for the 5K or one-mile run/walk at www.vlpwpa.org/5k.  Registration is requested for the free lunch and activities.

In addition, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC) just released a second Pirates Collector Series beer can -- the “Camo” can -- to its 2015 lineup through select distributors. To tie in to the Pirates camo jerseys worn at Thursday home games and to pay tribute to local vets, PBC will donate tickets and camo merchandise to area VFWs for every Thursday home game.

Proceeds from each case of IC Light camo cans sold through July 5 will benefit the local It’s About the Warrior Foundation and will be presented at the Pirates game on July 9. The evening ends with a stadium-wide salute to the veterans and troops.

National pancreas nonprofit matures from local origins

If you or a loved one had pancreatic cancer 18 years ago, little information was available to help, and only a limited amount of research funding existed for the physicians and caregivers treating the disease.

Consequently, the very first chapter now known as The National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) started here in Pittsburgh in 1997. 

Today, the NPF advocates for research and therapies for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer and has given more than $2.5 million toward groundbreaking research. The foundation has grown to 22 chapters nationwide thanks to volunteers and doctors around the country who donate their time and talents to raise money through events each year. So far, 2015 festivities have included a family bowling night, followed by the summertime gala on June 19 and a Pancreatic Awareness Walk on Aug. 16. Funds raised support patient care, along with education and research for healthcare providers in the form of one-year grants of up to $25,000 toward local research.
For more information about the Foundation, visit http://www.pancreasfoundation.org/. To purchase tickets for the Courage for a Cure Gala on June 19 at the Heinz Field East Lounge, go to http://bidpal.net/npfgala2015.

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.”

Anti-litter commercials from amateur filmmakers wanted

The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) invites local filmmakers to create Pittsburgh-centric public service announcements to send the message of the impact littering has on the local environment.  

Last fall, the PRC launched a campaign to encourage residents to share anti-litter messages via 21st-century technology such as social media and electronic communication. This year, the PRC continues its battle against littering by launching the second phase of its Crying Steelers Fan campaign, a take reminiscent of the widely aired 1970s campaign depicting a tearful Native American looking upon a spoiled urban landscape.

"Serving as the centerpiece of our campaign is the Crying Steelers Fan video, which strives to forge a connection between the region's pride and litter prevention," says PRC Regional Director Justin Stockdale.
According to Stockdale, notable Pittsburghers will select two winners. The winning entries will air on KDKA-TV later in the year. Submission deadline is July 3, 2015. Complete contest instructions available at http://prc.org/littercontest/.

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.

Students from YMCA Lighthouse Project in Homewood strut their stuff

Teen filmmakers, poets, step dancers, performers and photographers from Homewood will share their talents on stage at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre tonight at 6 p.m. as part of an end-of-year celebration for the YMCA Lighthouse Project.

High-school students will perform original hip-hop songs, rock 'n' roll acts, film, artwork, fashion designs and culinary treats. The YMCA Lighthouse Project's two hip-hop groups -- Exclusive and Young, Wise & Motivated -- will be selling their albums during the event.

The YMCA Lighthouse Project is an after-school program at Westinghouse Academy, a low-performing high school in Homewood. Despite the high dropout rate at Westinghouse, every Lighthouse Project participant goes on to graduate from high school, according to a press release from the YMCA.

The Kelly Strayhorn Theatre is at 5941 Penn Ave. in East Liberty.
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