Your home for everything artistic

Posts tagged ‘Pittsburgh’

Creative Contortions: Talent in Western PA

The city of Pittsburgh and nearby areas have long been known for cultivating people with great skills and talent. The list of athletes, performers and artists is extensive and growing all the time.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting two of these young ladies, along with a mentor who has helped mold their remarkable skills. And interestingly enough, they sort of fit into all of the categories I mentioned earlier.

Ashley King (21) and Alexa Siska (15) recently wowed audiences on the reboot of “The Gong Show” with their contortion performance. The girls are from the Dance Extensions Performing Arts Center in Canonsburg, a facility run by owner and director Betsy Shuttleworth and co-owner Dawn Churney.

The girls aired as the first performance of the evening and scored one of the highest scores of the night. Watch it here:

 

As you probably expect, a lot of hard work goes into these routines and contortionist training in general. The show was taped in May 2017 and the girls only had about one month before the show to practice the act after the show contacted Betsy when coming across an account on Instagram (@bendytrainer). And while due to unexpected circumstances, the girls has only paired up a few months earlier, Ashley has been working on her craft for about 14 years while Alexa has been in training for 4 years. Ashley is also one of the instructors at the studio.

heart of pittsburgh

The girls flew out to LA for on a Monday, rehearsed the next day, recorded their segment on Wednesday and returned to Western PA on Thursday. The recording session took 12 hours on the Sony Studios lot. While Ashley had been to the International Contortionist Convention in Las Vegas a few years back, this was certainly the most unique experience in Alexa’s dance career so far.

Both girls attend school online, Alexa is in high school while Ashley is working on a business degree. As that it was during the school year when the performance took place, the show had a social worker and a professional approach to making sure younger students would stay focused on their schooling.

Contortion in Western PA

According to Betsy, creative opportunities for dancers and contortion artists are growing in the region partly due to resources like GigSalad and the Global Sisterhood of Empowering Women. That’s wonderful news because both girls have aspirations of owning their own studios some day in the Western PA area.

Advertisements

Album Review – Take A Chance by Abigail Jerri

If you have not yet heard about the music of one Abigail Jerri, it’s about time you do.

This young musician from suburban Pittsburgh, PA released her first album in 2016 and it is well worth checking out.

Entitled “Take A Chance,” the recording includes a total of seven songs. And while the official category according to CD Baby is Pop, it is anything but conventional. Jerri uses classical instrumentation and smooth, soft but strong vocal to create her own unique vibe. The artist meshes what I interpret as elements of jazz, country, rhythm and blues and even light rock to express herself though in a sweet vocal style. She brings out the emotion in the lyrics and I’d recommend you take some time to get to know her work. This young lady could really go places.

abigailjerri

Here’s her Youtube video channel.

 

Book Review – Knitting the Andy Warhol Bridge By Ann Curran

If you are a poetry fan and from the Pittsburgh area, chances are you might know Ann Curran for her work. She’s been writing for publications and putting out poems in the region for several years. This is the first book of her’s that I have had the pleasure to read and thus I wanted to take the time to give credit where it is due.

The book includes more than 100 poems with a variety of themes and styles. Some are very intense while others come off as whimsical or even a bit comedic in nature. All are penned in a literary form that showcases simplicity but still somehow manages to present readers with a lot of description and and keep them engaged.

The author moves between formats as that in some cases she uses rhyme while in others it’s more of a free verse style.

All in all, I enjoyed it and would say it’s well worth checking out for any fan of the poetic arts.

You can find this book on Amazon or get it though your favorite bookseller.

knitting_warhol_bridge_ann_curran_book_review

Taking Photos Through Glass – Minimizing Reflection

Have you ever noticed a wonderful sight that would make for a cool photography while you where riding along in a car or standing in front of a pane of glass somewhere? If you answered yes, and I am pretty sure you probably did, I also bet that you are aware of the sometimes frustrating challenges that come with shooting photos through a glass surface.

Here are a few tips that you might find helpful.

1. Get as close to the glass as possible

The closer you put your camera or phone to the glass surface the better. If you can literally put it up against it that works best. This helps minimize reflection as that there is less of it to be captured by your device.

2. Avoid taking the shot head on

If you take a photo head on, you might catch a lot of glare or the unwanted parts of a reflection. Sometimes stepping off sideways or angling you shot just a little can really work out well for you.

3. Wait for the right moment

If you are in a vehicle, you should probably wait until you get to a location that has less direct sunlight as that it can also mess with the outcome of the shot with reflective glare. The less sun or direct light, the less glare and thus the less reflective.

4. Use a lens hood

If you are using a traditional camera, opt for a lens hood. If you can find one that is rubber, it will allow for more flexibility to do the things mentioned in step 1.

5. Watch out for scratches

It is often the situation that the glass you want to photography through might have scratches or dirt marks or streaks. The bets thing to do to work around this is to try to find the least troubled area or to shoot items that will allow those spots to blend in with the image to some point.

 

This first shot is a good example from Wikimedia Commons that show the problems with reflection.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sliding_door

SKTungwoodsOwn work

640px-HK_TST_Kln_Park_Drive_Yue_Hwa_Int_Building_自動門_Showa_automatic_door

This second one was shot through glass at a public aquarium in my home town of Pittsburgh. The reflective qualities and scratches/dirt on the surface have been eliminated extensively using the skills and techniques listed.

1930764_10153767530912398_1582692358083445558_n

Pittsburgh Made of Playing Cards

In our incredibly artistic universe, people are finding ever more interesting ways to showcase their creative side. A while back, in a trip to the local casino, there was a champion cardstacker who was brought in to build a view of the city of Pittsburgh skyline. Over the period of many days and with the use of thousands of cards, this was the cool stuff he came up with.

His name is Bryan Berg and you can check out is stuff here.

13891807_10205621965143141_7795173480416293143_n

13680676_10205621965183142_2391807162795809684_n

13906704_10205621965223143_6983076413691561742_n

13680967_10205621965983162_7537307908006117913_n

Ravenwood Collective Tattoo and Arts

A long-time friend and amazing all around artist is working on opening a Ravenwood Collective. This is a female owned tattoo shop and art space in the Pittsburgh area.

For details, you can check out the Facebook page or support this through an IndieGoGo fundraising effort.

 

Scenes From the Three Rivers Arts Festival 2016

Each and every year I have to check this out and it never disappoints. What a great festival in a great American city!

IMAG0189 IMAG0188 IMAG0187 IMAG0186 IMAG0185 IMAG0151 (1)

Tag Cloud