If you've ever had a hankering to end a perfect day of hiking or biking with a relaxed evening of good music, good art and good food, you can do so from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Touchstone Center for Crafts' "Summer Evening Arts 2."
Touchstone is near Farmington, Fayette County, within the Laurel Highlands. Dress code for the free public event is "super casual," said executive director Adam Kenney.
The center is nationally known for workshops conducted by accomplished artisans/craftsmen from the region and across the country. Founded in 1972 as the Pioneer Crafts Council to champion traditional Appalachian crafts, it now offers weekend and weeklong workshops that combine time-honored technique with contemporary expression. The 150-acre campus also houses a shop and galleries.
"Summer Evening Arts 2" combines a reception for exhibitions of work by noted blacksmith and sculptor Greg Gehner and members of the metalsmiths and jewelers collective Alloy, performance by folk musicians Phil Smith and Steve Weber, and refreshments by chef Roger Clatterbuck and the War Eagle Rations culinary team, who also prepare meals for workshop attendees.
When Mr. Kenney arrived at Touchstone two years ago he envisioned a program of summer events that would complement the ongoing workshops and draw outside visitors, but he needed funding to bring it to fruition. The 37-year-old Dormont resident and graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's master of arts management program attended an event at the Penn State Fayette campus that introduced funding agencies with interest in the region. There he met representatives of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield who agreed to back this summer's series.
The first "Summer Evening" was held May 25 and included exhibitions by the Uniontown Art Club and glass artist Lindsay O'Leary. Mr. Kenney said more than 100 people attended.
Mr. Gehner earned a bachelor's of fine arts in metalsmithing and blacksmithing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and lives in Cambridge Springs, Crawford County. Mr. Kenney describes his functional and sculptural work as a synthesis of classical forging skills, industrial fabricating techniques and a contemporary artistic sensibility. Alloy comprises established and emerging artists who live in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Weber, who have performed as a duo since 2009 and live in southwestern Pennsylvania, were selected with the help of Pittsburgh-based Calliope, as are all musicians in the series. Their inspiration includes folk traditions, the blues recording boom of the 1920s and '30s, early jazz and the '60s folk revival, as well as recent singer-songwriters.
"The great thing is that's sort of what we're doing," Mr. Kenney said. "We're all about honoring the material culture and craft traditions of this region but at the same time bringing in instructors who are classically trained in their respective craft forms but taking them in inventive new directions."
Chef Clatterbuck is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., with experience at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and four-star New York restaurants.
The last 2013 "Summer Evening" will be held Aug. 24 and will feature Patrick Daugherty, who is teaching painting at Touchstone July 22-26, and Rachel Sager Lynch, who will lead a mosaic class Aug. 19-23. Mr. Daugherty is also the 2013 Touchstone Center for Crafts Artist of the Year and director of the Frank L. Melega Art Museum in Brownsville, Fayette County.
"This is one of the best residential craft schools in the country, and it's in our backyard," said Mr. Kenney. "I think that Pittsburgh is a city that's ready to fall in love with Touchstone again."
Information, including directions: 724-329-1370 or www.touchstonecrafts.org. Touchstone suggests avoiding Scott Run Road, recommended by services like GPS, because it is in disrepair. Exhibitions continue through Aug. 4. Admission is free. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
An opening reception for "Atticus Adams: Summertime" will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Borelli-Edwards Galleries, 3583 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Mr. Adams recently exhibited two sculptures in the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual at Carnegie Museum of Art, one of which received an award. The exhibition continues through July 27. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 412-687-2606 or www.begalleries.com.
An opening reception for the six Pittsburgh artists of "In Good Company" will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Panza Gallery, 115 Sedgwick St., Millvale. Exhibiting are Zivi Aviraz, Lila Hirsch-Brody, Joel Kranich, Lilli Nieland, Phiris (Kathy) Sickels and Susan Sparks. The artists are "united by the spirit of their work" said Ms. Hirsch-Brody. The exhibition continues through July 27. Hours are 10 a.m.. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 412-821-0959 or www.panzagallery.com.
CMOA web redesign
The re-designed, now spiffy, Carnegie Museum of Art website has been launched. Check it out at www.cmoa.org.
Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: email@example.com or 412-263-1925.