Fifth annual SWAN Day features more than 90 new works by Pittsburgh women artists
March 21, 2013 4:00 AM
Karen Baum, left, Dana Hardy and Jackie Baker perform during last year's SWAN Day event.
By Sharon Eberson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
More than 90 artists have created original works that will be revealed Saturday at Pittsburgh's SWAN Day, the fifth annual event produced by the No Name Players.
Nine months in the making and one day in the presentation, SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day starts with finding and interviewing girls and women to create a video to inspire the artists' new works. Tressa Glover, producing artistic director of No Name Players and co-founder of SWAN Day Pittsburgh, said the ages of interviewees this year range from 9 to 65, and every decade in between is represented. From 20 hours of interviews, a 40-minute video is produced and sent to participating artists, who may create a fabric or a painting, or a 10-minute dance, film or theatrical work.
"I want to stress that the performance is under 2 1/2 hours, because I think when you hear all this, you think, am I going to be there for eight hours? The performance is about the length of a play or movie," Ms. Glover said. "Throughout, we will show specific clips that inspired certain artists. And when you enter the lobby of the New Hazlett, it's treated as a gallery with art and fashion, so you will always be surrounded by art."
Last year, SWAN Day co-founder Martha Richards named No Name Players one of seven international SWAN Day partners, along with producers in Kenya, Bulgaria, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida. Ms. Richards has been spreading the word about her visit here, and "that's putting Pittsburgh women artists on the map internationally," Ms. Glover said.
Participants include dancers from the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, Texture Contemporary Ballet and Continuum Dance Theater. From the worlds of theater, art, fashion, film and music, SWAN Day has attracted Tammy Ryan, Kim El, Ginny Cunningham, Gayle Pazerski, Linda Haston, Alaina Dopico, EMay, Bridgette Perdue, Laurie Klatscher, Camelia Road, Jennifer Buck, Jen Rocket, Kathleen Mulcahy, Sherri Roberts, Becky Thurner Braddock, Patty Tran and Lori Hepner.
Although questions asked of interviewees are meant to be general, a through line always emerges, Ms. Glover said. This year, it was familial -- mother-daughter and sister relationships. Chats with three 9-year-olds from Pittsburgh Charter Schools were followed by interviews with their mothers, which made for an interesting dynamic to inspire the artists.
"When we began this, our hope was first of all to feature and draw more attention to the work women artists are doing in Pittsburgh, and to foster collaboration among artists, which is part of the mission of No Name Players," Ms. Glover said.
Dancers and poets and musicians who may never have met have been finding each other in the process, and the blending of audiences who tend to frequent a single genre has spread awareness for the artists beyond the one-day event.
The SWAN Day reception at the New Hazlett Theater, North Side, begins at 6 p.m., with performances (for mature audiences) at 8 p.m. Tickets for the performance only are $25 in advance or $30 cash only at the door. With reception, tickets are $35 -- advance purchase only -- at www.showclix.com/event/3721255. The reception includes a champagne toast, hors d'oeuvres by big Burrito Group, Atria's and Blue, and live music, plus donated giveaways.
New this year is a SWAN Day Jr., with teenage artists performing for audiences ages 10 and up. Showtime is 1 p.m. and lasts just over an hour; tickets are $5 at the door.