Festival of Flame: Fire art creations will light up Waterfront
Performer Vicki will perform in the Pittsburgh Festival of Fire Arts Show at the Waterfront.
Fire performer Carolina.
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Pyrotopia, Pittsburgh's first Festival of Fire Arts, will be held Saturday at the Historic Pump House & Water Tower in the Homestead Waterfront. Family-specific activities will be offered from noon to 5 p.m. and evening performances from 8 p.m. to midnight. All events, and parking, are free.
Western Pennsylvania is such a hot bed of contemporary artists, no pun intended, it was inevitable that we'd get a fire arts festival like those that have infatuated viewers in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York in recent years. The Carrie Blast Furnaces, now part of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, will be dramatically illuminated (with bulbs, not flame) for the evening.
"The furnaces are right across the river," said Drue Miller, festival marketing director, "and they're really going to look spectacular."
Ms. Miller should look pretty spectacular herself. While not on the program schedule, she'll be wandering about wearing one of her creations made using electroluminescent wire, which glows when a current runs through it. She wore one such El-Wire Costume to the fabled Burning Man event, the art extravaganza held annually in the Nevada desert that attracts thousands of participants.
In the afternoon, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh will offer hands-on art projects such as making Black Light Bubble Prints and LED Lanterns. Carnegie Science Center will teach visitors about the science of fire and how fireworks get their color, and will demonstrate the kinds of activities that made parents wary of giving their children chemistry sets, such as "exploring the fire triangle with a volcano that erupts when lycopodium powder is combined with heat, a lot of oxygen, and a fire, in a 5-gallon water bottle," how different salts produce various colors when hydrogen balloons explode, and a dancing fire in a Rubens' tube.
The night will include flamenco dancer Carolina Loyola-Garcia with fire fans and musical accompaniment, ground-effects fireworks by New Castle's Pyrotechnico, which created last year's Three Rivers Regatta display, a crackling 6-foot-high Megavolt Tesla Coil by engineer Mark Barlow, and Steel Town Fire, "Pittsburgh's premier fire performance troupe," with fire spinners and dancers. Glass blowing, pewter casting and plasma torch cutting will be demonstrated.
Between stage performances, DJ Zombo will provide "blazing hot musical interludes [of] fire-themed music," Ms. Miller said. Evening co-hosts are jazz chanteuse Phat Man Dee and performance artist Andrew the Impaled.
If all that sounds a mite perilous, the festival release assures that the production team includes "artists, technologists, producers and other experts with long-term experience in working safely with fire and employing fire in artistic practice."
"Fire can be used safely," Ms. Miller said. "You have to understand it. You have to take precautions. But it can be mesmerizing."
Two trucks from the Munhall Volunteer Fire Bureau will be on site, as well as a first aid station and an ambulance. Alcohol and smoking will be prohibited.
"The entire event is family-friendly," Ms. Miller said, an inclusiveness reflected in funding from the Sprout Fund, the Heinz Endowments and the Grable Foundation.
"The rapid growth and interest in festivals like Burning Man and The Crucible Fire Arts Festival on the West Coast signal a deep fascination with fire used in performance, installation and sculpture. We are creating this festival to unleash Southwestern Pennsylvania's own unique brand of fire art," said festival founder and lead organizer Eric Singer in a press release. A musician, artist, engineer, programmer and founder of LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots), he will show a fire-driven version of his electronic game "Simon."
Ms. Miller said the intention is to make the festival an annual event, and she's optimistic that can happen, but that will depend upon factors such as future funding and the success of this year's festival.
For information and event schedule: www.pyrotopia.net.
The 2012 season of the Carrie Furnaces Hard Hat Tours begins Saturday with tours scheduled every half-hour between 9 and 11:30 a.m. Guides will be stationed throughout the site and participants may set their own pace. The grounds close at 1:30 p.m. Other dates are May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 4, Sept. 15 and Oct. 13. The site also offers conducted tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, May through October.
This Saturday a 20 percent discount will be given to retired or active steelworkers. On May 19, active and veteran military will be admitted free and a 50 percent discount will be given for up to five immediate family members. A visitor center with gift shop and theater have been added, and the Stationary Car Dumper is a new tour stop. The complex, once part of the U.S. Steel Homestead Works, is managed by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Tickets, $25, must be reserved in advance at 412-464-4020, ext. 32, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irish artist Duncan Campbell will give a lecture at 6 p.m. Friday at Carnegie Museum of Art preceding an opening reception for a solo exhibition of his filmic portraits and large-scale screen prints. Mr. Campbell constructs historic narratives around newsmaking figures such as Irish civil rights activist Bernadette Devlin and carmaker John DeLorean. (Free; 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org.)
The 2010 Juried Biennial opens with a reception for 101 artists who live within 150 miles of Greensburg from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at Westmoreland Museum of American Art. (Free; 724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org.)
The 15th annual Art All Night Lawrenceville will be held from 4 p.m. Saturday until 2 p.m. Sunday at 97 40th St., Lawrenceville. Today is the last chance to submit work. Volunteers are still needed for parking, fire patrol, stage, green team, and teardown and cleanup. In 2011, more than 12,000 people looked at work by 1,280 artists. (Free; www.artallnight.org.)
"What can we continue learning from Fred?" is the question at the core of a series of videos by conceptual and visual artist Paul Zelevansky based on Fred Rogers' wise and warm "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Ten of the short works will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave., N. Oakland. A reception begins at 6 p.m. Mr. Zelevansky will introduce the videos and conduct a Q&A after the screening. While the artist hopes that the TV "Neighborhood" will continue to speak to children, he feels it is adults who are truly now in need of Fred Rogers. (Free, but reservations requested to email@example.com.)
Artist Helne Aylon's book "Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released; My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist" will be launched Thursday in New York by publisher Feminist Press. Ms. Aylon spoke at The Andy Warhol Museum last year as a participating artist in The Word of God exhibition series.
The Andy Warhol Museum introduced a major summer project, "Factory Direct: Pittsburgh," during a luncheon hosted by Alcoa on Monday. Fourteen artists from Pittsburgh and as far afield as Germany, Japan and Mexico have been invited to conduct artist residencies in Pittsburgh-based factories. Warhol director Eric Shiner, who conceived the project, said the museum had received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to cover educational aspects of the project. An exhibition of resultant artwork will open June 24 and continue through Sept. 9, with accompanying programming. Artists and their industrial partners will be announced soon.
Monday architect Tatiana Bilbao of Mexico City spoke at the Carnegie Lecture Hall, detailing a work aesthetic that combines a diverse, multicultural design approach and imaginative use of, at times, atypical materials. Ten countries are represented by the employees of her firm, and they additionally collaborate with specialists when appropriate.
"You need a very strong team of not only architects but different disciplines for a better result," she said, with the goal of "giving something to society in this urban tissue or social tissue." Her Observatory House for artist Gabriel Orozco and the Botanical Gardens project in Culiacan, Mexico, will be featured in the exhibition "White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes" opening at the Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, in September.
First Published April 25, 2012 11:18 am