Art Notes: Arts project aims to bridge communities

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Have you caught wind of Knit the Bridge? It's among the most outlandishly inventive and joyful plans yet devised to play off of Pittsburgh's iconic structures.

Following on the heels of Fiberart International 2013 (at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Society for Contemporary Craft through Aug. 18), the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh is guiding a community-led arts project that will result in a large-scale fiberarts installation on a Downtown bridge this summer.

"We don't have a bridge yet, we don't have a signed contract, and we don't have a date," said guild member Jay van Wagenen, "but we are working with Allegheny County to get those things and are confident that we will get them." A formal agreement reached recently with the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts that will ensure such necessities as institutional insurance is a major step toward finalizing plans with the county.

Participants have been knitting panels in communities throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, and everyone's invited to join in. Completed panels and panel pieces will be accepted through June 1. Sign up at, where sizing, design and other particulars are given.

Guild member Amanda Gross, who has been leading the project, said that more than 800 individuals had signed up so far. Approximately 70 groups of knitters have been gathering in classrooms, at senior centers and at organizations like the YWCA and YMCA. Programs have been held at a number of sites like the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh where 142 people participated. The Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival held a knit-all-night this year to make panels.

Knit the Bridge "has drawn in a lot of people who are not interested in art or don't think of themselves as artists," Ms. van Wagenen said. "But they like to knit and crochet and are seized with the idea."

More than 100 panels have been completed and turned in, Ms. Gross said. The goal is 600 to complete the installation and to provide backup pieces for any required maintenance.

Most important now is that those who have signed up follow through, Ms. Gross said, and coming in sooner than deadline would be a bonus. Volunteers are also needed for prep work, installation and to make coverings for bridge railings.

Also on the website are a list of 67 community partners ranging from The Andy Warhol Museum to the Vintage Senior Center, CAPA to the Zelienople Area Public Library; drop-off sites for finished panels; a calendar of knit-ins and meet-ups; volunteer opportunities; and maps that show participant communities throughout the city and county.

Shady Side Academy opening

A public reception for an exhibition featuring several of the region's most interesting and accomplished artists will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts, 423 Fox Chapel Road, on the Shady Side Academy campus.

While the private school has regularly exhibited alumni and student work, this is the first large exhibition of local artists held there. Artists were selected by an art committee chaired by Linda Cangiano, wife of the academy president; art teachers from the school's three campuses; and artist Mia Henry.

Exhibiting in "Art Beat" are Atticus Adams, Stephanie Armbruster, Kim Beck, Seth Clark, Sarika Goulatia, Mia Henry, Ryder Henry, Lori Hepner, Deborah Hosking, Peter Johnson, David Montano, Thaddeus Mosley, Meghan Olson, Elise Rugolo, W. Benjamin Thomas, Laurie Trok, Scott Turri, Barbara Weissberger and Ryan Woodring.

The exhibition continues through May 24. Hours are 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment on weekends. Admission is free. Information:

Race in Cuba

"AFRICAMERICAS," a week of visual and performing arts, films, talks and discussions addressing race in Cuba, will be held Monday through May 11 at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Young Men and Women's African Heritage Association.

The focus of the week is "Crossing Havana: Encounters With the Other City," an exhibition of social documentary photography comprising images of Cuba's African descendents, at the heritage association, 1205 Boyle St., North Side. The exhibition will open at 4 p.m. Monday culminating in a 7 to 9 p.m. reception with the photographer, Juan Antonio Madrazo, who is national coordinator of the Citizens' Committee for Racial Integration, and several other Cuban civil rights activists.

The exhibition also will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through May 10 and noon to 3 p.m. May 11.

Five films will be screened followed by discussions led by local experts. They are "Roots of My Heart," 2001, 5 p.m. Tuesday, heritage association; "Raices," 2001, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, CMU; "My Footsteps in Baragua," 1996, 5 p.m. next Wednesday, heritage association; "Breaking the Silence: 1912," 2010, 7:30 p.m. May 9, CMU; "Suite Habana," 2003, 5 p.m. May 10, heritage association.

At 7 p.m. next Wednesday, Juan Antonio Alvarado, editor-in-chief of the bilingual journal ISLAS, Mr. Madrazo and other Cuban activist-scholars will discuss ways of creating dialogue about racism and discrimination at City of Asylum, North Side. (Space is limited; reserve at

At 7:30 p.m. May 10, "Poetry in Motion," an evening of Hispanic-style spoken word, will be presented at CMU.

Family-friendly workshops will be given from 4 to 5:30 p.m. May 11 in Pitt's Frick Fine Arts Building: Afro-Cuban arts, crafts, music, dance and Spanish for children; Afro-Latin percussion for teens and adults; Afro-Latin dance for children, teens and adults; Steel Pan for children, teens and adults; and a session on Cuban civil rights for teens and adults. The workshops require pre-registration at the heritage association between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through May 10; 412-322-4008.

Closing the week will be the AFRICAMERICAS concert from 7 to 9:30 p.m. May 11 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Performers include Coro Latinoamericano (choral music), the Balafon West African Dance Ensemble and the Slippery Rock University Afro-Colombian Dance Ensemble.

Admission is free to all events, but those noted require pre-registration. For film descriptions, participants and campus locations, visit


Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: or 412-263-1925.


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