details about the cultural trust’s first night 2015 downtown Pittsburgh new year’s celebration

Huge thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for the press release!


Media Contacts:
Shaunda Miles, Director of Public Relations, 412-471-1578 /
Diana Roth, Communications Manager, 412-471-8717 /

Images available:
Search: HFNP15 or click “Download Assets”



Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. midnight

Cultural District | Downtown Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA—The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced today that new venues and a new look will be utilized for the 21st annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh.  Each year, approximately 40,000 people ring in the New Year at 150 events at 50 venues throughout the Cultural District.  90% of all events are held indoors.  For the fourth consecutive year, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will serve as the presenting sponsor for the event, produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

“Highmark is proud to support the communities we serve,” shared Dan Onorato, executive vice president, Highmark Health.  “We are proud to be the long-time sponsor of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, helping the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust highlight all that is great about our city.  The Highmark First Night tradition brings families together from across the region, in our cultural district, to celebrate art and culture in a manner that reflects the hope and promise we eagerly anticipate with each new year.”

“As the Vice President of Education & Community Engagement, I view Highmark First Night Pittsburgh as one of the most important evenings of the year,” shared Janis Burley Wilson of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “Through music, dance, comedy, visual art and hands-on activities, the Trust welcomes and entertains visitors of all ages, for a joyous celebration of the arts in an alcohol-free atmosphere.  What better way to enter into a new year, than with events that nurture an appreciation and understanding of ourselves through the arts?”

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh will kick off with children’s fireworks at 6:00 p.m. on the Dollar Bank Stage along with a performance by Beauty Slap.  The new local sensation performs electronic music with five horns, a saxophone, a guitar and a DJ.

At the end of the evening, visitors enjoy the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale: the countdown to midnight, raising of the 1,000 lbs. Future of Pittsburgh ball 150 feet in the air above Penn Avenue Place, and a spectacular Zambelli fireworks finale; they will also be serenaded by the rockin’ sounds of The Swon Brothers on the Highmark Stage.  Arista Nashville recording duo The Swon Brothers (Zach and Colton) just released their new single, “Pray For You,” the follow-up to their Top 15 debut single, “Later On,” which shot to No. 1 on iTunes’ Country Top Songs chart within 24 hours of its release and helped earn them a nomination for “Vocal Duo of the Year” at The 48th Annual CMA Awards.  Originally from Oklahoma, the duo first hit the national radar charming fans with their incredible sibling harmonies and fun-loving personalities as finalists on “Team Blake” in Season 4 of NBC’s The Voice.  Find them online at, Twitter@TheSwonBrothers, and on Facebook at

New attractions taking placethroughout the evening includea special vouchered performance by Cello Fury and Texture Contemporary Ballet, which will unite classic, contemporary and rock styles with music and dance.  Lee Terbosic Magic and the one-man variety show, Chris Ruggierro join the Highmark First Night line-up for the first year.  Gemini Theater Company will present a children’s production that utilizes local landmarks and lingo in a story that challenges audiences to help “find a secret treasure on the Great Mon.”

Other vouchered performances will include Arcade Comedy Theater, featuring its in-house improvisation team, the First Night Comedy Club at the O’Reilly Theater, which will feature alternating performances by Player One and Aaron Kleiber and T-Robe.

With all of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust galleries offering extended hours, visitors can take in world-renowned exhibitions, and stroll along their own personalized gallery crawl on New Year’s Eve.  From the creator of The Secret Life of Robots, Toby Atticus Fraley premieres The Lost Search Sound Machine in Pittsburgh, inviting visitors to find and playback old sounds floating by in the atmosphere at 8th and Penn Avenue.  Obsessions, curated by Tom Sarver, highlights six national artists exploring the nature of obsession at SPACE and Sheila Cuellar-Shaffer debuts her Recent Works in 709 Gallery, which opens on Friday, December 5.

Additional performing art highlights include holiday plays by Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company and Playwright FJ Hartland’s Postcards from a Dead Dog, all of which will take place at 937 Liberty Avenue.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh serves as a platform for artists.  Adding additional locations of Trinity Cathedral and First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, the Festival will reach even farther into the Cultural District, expanding participant experiences.

In addition to new attractions and new venues, more traditional Highmark First Night visitors can still participate in Pittsburgh perennial favorites including the FedEx Ground Parade at 8:00 p.m., themed “Imagination: Delivered” and featuring Grand Marshal and WQED Producer, Rick Sebak.  Giant puppets, art cars, marching bands, and a bicycle parade will return as part of the festivities.

Kids and kids at heart can enjoy the hands-on activities in the First National Bank Family Tent.  There, visitors will learn about circuitry with Assemble, help The Children’s Museum’s “First Night Resolution Tree” to bloom by writing and posting reflections from the past year and wishes for the New Year.  Participants can also learn how to make their very own wooden kazoo with the help of the Carnegie Science Center.  Other First National Bank Family Tent collaborators include Citiparks and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.  Be sure to stop by the tent to say hello to Pirate Parrot and Steely McBeam—Pittsburgh’s favorite sport mascots!

River City Brass, the 28-member band, returns to perform in the Benedum Center, continuing its commitment to educating and engaging citizens locally, nationally and internationally in the American music culture.

Enjoy a four-hour long production featuring live ice carvings, fire dancers and a fire-breathing dragon at Fire & Ice Plaza locatedat the 8th Street parking lot, which will again feature Ice Creations and Steel Town Fire.

Music lovers will be pleased that the WYEP music station will return and feature the Appalachian-inspired, three-part harmony group The Early Mays and native-Pittsburgher Joy Ike with her percussive, soulful and powerful-pop.

There a tons of other activities to enjoy including Roland Ford Line Dancing, Belly Dancing with Cattywhomp Tribal, Indian Dance with Aparna Nigam, Japanese Sword Dancing and iQKids Radio at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh at the intersection of Penn and Liberty.  There is truly something for everyone!

All programming is subject to change. Updates will be posted online at  The Highmark First Night Pittsburgh website provides even more event details and allows users to sort through the schedule of events and customize plans. is mobile-friendly and will allow smartphone users to plan on-the-go during New Year’s Eve.

All-Access Highmark First Night Pittsburgh buttons (worn by attendees) are available beginning December 3, 2014 at participating Giant Eagle locations; online at; by phone at 412-456-6666; or at The Box Office at Theater Square, located at 655 Penn Avenue.  Buttons cost $8 in advance or $10 night-of-event. Children age 5 and under are admitted FREE.

Some indoor performances also require seating vouchers, which are free tickets.  They must be reserved to ensure theaters do not fill beyond capacity.  Vouchers can be reserved starting December 4th by phone or at The Box Office at Theater Square only. Events requiring vouchers are listed at

Want your vouchers sooner? The VIP package, permits special “First Night Friends,” to revel with a cause, enjoying priority seating, access, parking, and more! For more information on becoming a part of this special sponsorship opportunity, please call 412-471-6086.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2014 sponsors as of release date include: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield as the presenting sponsor, Dollar Bank, First National Bank, Giant Eagle, PNC, and Bobby Rahal Motor Company.  FedEx Ground returns as the title sponsor for the annual parade with special puppets designed by Studio Capezzuti.  Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2014 community supporters include The Buhl Foundation, The Fine Foundation, and The Grable Foundation.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2014 media partners include KDKA TV, Trib Total Media, and WYEP 91.3 FM/WESA 90.5FM.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is an arts-focused and family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.  It is the largest single-day celebration in the region offering around 150 events at nearly 50 indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District. The celebration offers something for everyone.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District.  A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity.  Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.

Follow us on Twitter @CulturalTrust, and like us on Facebook.

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Disclaimer: If you do not wish to receive further news/releases from The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, please click the following link: [Remove Me]. Requests will take a maximum of 2 business days to process.

Contact information: Shaunda Miles, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, 803 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 152223703

downtown Pittsburgh theater company bricolage will be performing “It’s a Wonderful Life” live on the radio on Friday night!

Jess and I saw this show on it’s opening night and it was AMAZING! The actors were phenomenal and if you closed your eyes it would seem like you were watching the movie.



Bricolage is part of the downtown community and deserves every possible ounce of support the city can give them.

As you saw in the title to this quick post, they are broadcasting the production live over 90.5 WESA on Friday night. The first link I have in this post is to the live player for the station. The broadcast will start on Friday night at 8pm.

Check out this link on the Bricolage site for more details on the show and its actors.

latest wordpress photography challenge entries from Pittsburgh

This is a time line of Pittsburgh downtown living Christmas pictures… the theme is twinkling light:

this is one of the ornaments that mark our engagement

this is one of the ornaments that mark our engagement

the cats pulled the ornament off the tree

the cats pulled the ornament off the tree

this is hard to see but it's supposed to show our Christmas lights from the street

this is hard to see but it’s supposed to show our Christmas lights from the street

I love the entryway into the 100 year old train station that is the Pennsylvanian...

I love the entryway into the 100 year old train station that is the Pennsylvanian…

As always, these were taken using only my cell phone. I’ll get another camera one of these days.

Jess’ review of seeing Annie the Musical at the Benedum in Pittsburgh

Annie the Musical @ the Benedum

By Jess Fink

At the Benedum...

At the Benedum…

My spouse got two tickets for Annie @ the Benedum. Since he couldn’t go – I got to go & take a great friend with me to checkout & enjoy the show.

When we got there – the Benedum was packed full of people. We hussled to get some beverages & were delighted to find that you can now get an adult sippy cup & take into the theater itself which was AWESOME. We were also delighted to see some nice variety in vendors at the show for some light noms before or during or after the show. None of these items were over priced which was super nice. My friend was disappointed by the vendors for the show Annie itself as a lot of those items were a bit over priced which was unfortunate.

When we went to take our sits, I fully expected to be off to the side in the upper back area where we’d be far out of the way but our seats were perfect! We were in the dead center & fairly close to the stage & were at the end of the aisle, which is a preference for me personally so it was nice to have that.

The child actors were amazing & extremely talented. Each did a spectacular job & played their roles wonderfully. We both felt the show was done to perfection. The costumes, the backdrops for each scene, etc were done with a lot of care & were dead-on.

We will definitely go next year if the show is back.


local Pittsburgh artists in the warhol museum store!!

A HUGE thanks again to the Andy Warhol Museum for this press release info!

The Andy Warhol Museum announces a new project and featured artist product series located in The Warhol Store. Exposures features quarterly store window displays designed by local emerging artists and limited edition items designed by local and international artists available for purchase in The Warhol Store. The first installment begins Friday, November 28, 2014, and runs through March 1, 2015.

The series title Exposures refers to artists given the chance to showcase their work in a broad, public arena—The Warhol Store and its street-facing windows. The Warhol Store gives exposure to artists—both local and international—selling limited edition works, and the museum showcases young, emerging artists in a way similar to how a young Andy Warhol launched his career.

Honoring Warhol’s early career as a window dresser in Pittsburgh at Horne’s Department Store and in New York City at Bonwit Teller, the window displays are designed by local masters of fine arts students or recent graduates. In the 1950s, window dressing had become a rite of passage for artists in New York City; painters Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns also designed props and displays for commercial stores. For his 1961 Bonwit Teller windows, Warhol used five of his paintings based on comics and advertisements—Superman, Littl e King, Saturday’s Popeye, Advertisement, and Bef ore and After (1)—as backdrops for mannequins dressed in spring dresses.

The first iteration of the window series features work by Daniel Pillis, a Pittsburgh-based artist pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University. Pillis works with large-scale installation and the fetishistic and mnemonic value of objects. Taking his inspiration from Warhol’s 1948 painting Living Room, Pillis creates a three-dimensional display of the Warhola family living room from their home on Dawson Street in Pittsburgh. The window installation also features museum merchandise reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s—vintage inspired tin toys, home goods, and ceramic milk bottles.

“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to celebrate emerging artists in Pittsburgh while also highlighting a part of Warhol’s history,” says Jessica Beck, The Warhol’s assistant curator. “This series demonstrates the importance and relevance of Warhol’s legacy to contemporary artists.”

The first selection of artist-designed objects available in The Warhol Store feature porcelains by artists Kara Walker, Alexi Morrissey, and Redraven. The objects were selected to evoke Warhol’s obsession with collectibles, most famously his cookie jars. Walker is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes that examine the underbelly of America’s racial and gender tensions. She designed a limited edition pitcher in collaboration with Bernardaud and LizWorks in honor of her 2014 monumental installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, New York. The installation—comprised of a massive, sugar-coated sphinx—represented a hybrid of racist stereotypes of black females.

Pittsburgh-based Morrissey’s most recent project, Have You Seen Me?, features small-scale milk bottles made from plaster casts, four of which are available in The Warhol Store. Using the design and process from the 1800s to 1980s U.S. dairy industry and the European obsession with imported porcelain, Morrissey blends the traditions of missing person’s ads on milk cartons with the names of African slaves from the Atlantic Slave Trade. Drawn from historical slave archives, the fictional dairies on each bottle bring the African slave trade to life by juxtaposing symbols of missing persons with the disrupted histories of African slaves.

Pittsburgh-based Redraven studios features a line of handmade porcelain keepsakes. This independent studio creates finely crafted porcelain jewelry and home décor, inspired by the sentimental value of objects. Available in The Warhol Store are cups and saucers, jewelry, and home décor.

The Warhol receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and The Heinz Endowments. Further support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

About The Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Andy Warhol Museum is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.  Additional information about The Warhol is available at

About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums dedicated to exploration through art and science: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum.


Phone:             412-237-8300

Hours:             Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat, and Sun 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Fri, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Mon closed

Admission:     Members free

Adults $20; Children/Students $10

Good Fridays 5 – 10 p.m., half-price museum admission

The Warhol Store/The Warhol Café – free

a late entry for the weekly photography wordpress challenge from Pittsburgh

Hey everyone,

I’ve been distracted recently with life…and thus are late with a few posts I need to add here.

First, is my weekly entry for the WordPress Photography Challenge the theme this time is “gone, but not forgotten” which lead to a lot of possibilities.

My first thought was taking some shots of my old downtown college campus for Point Park University. My time there may be gone, but it’s definitely not forgotten…

They didn't have these signs up when I graduated from Point Park in the late 90s...haha

They didn’t have these signs up when I graduated from Point Park in the late 90s…haha

I lived on the 17th floor of this building...and sometimes endured three fire alarms a night...haha!

I lived on the 17th floor of this building…and sometimes endured three fire alarms a night…haha!

Those were different times for our city. My friends and I would play hide and go seek in a totally empty downtown…can’t do that the same way anymore and it’s a good thing! The same area near the school is packed with condos and restaurants.

As a matter of fact..I’m trying to get an interview with the real estate agent that is selling some of the condos near my old school. One of them is a penthouse suite that has an amazing view.


I’m also looking to add some shots for the WordPress Photography 101 course..

The theme for this is glass.

I not only love his old building – which is apparently being turned into a boutique hotel – but the old stained glass windows. It’s also apparently haunted.

I love this old stained glass window!

I love this old stained glass window!

This is an old marker that I find fascinating. You can Google about the old fire it marks. This could qualify for the photography challenge and one of the earlier photography 101 courses – edges and lines.

You should Google and read about the fire...

You should Google and read about the fire…