Daniel Kuhn grew up in the Allegheny Valley and studied at California University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree and Indiana University of Pennsylvania for his MFA. He has worked as a teacher and technician at Wortendyke Studio, Chautauqua School of Art, Society for Contemporary Crafts, Touchstone Center for Crafts and Community College of Allegheny County. I am very excited that Daniel is opening a wonderful new business in Lawrenceville called Ton Pottery. It is a teaching facility and retail space dedicated to the Ceramics Arts. This is such an exciting addition to a vibrant section of the city that is growing at a really rapid pace.
Pottery is our oldest handicraft. It originated during the Neolithic period or New Stone Age when humans first starting using tools, machines, crafts, etc. Water was carried in woven baskets lined with river clay. After the water was poured out of the container the layer of clay dried. The loss of moisture caused the shape to shrink and separate from the sides of the basket. When the clay was removed it was shaped like a pot and retained the pattern from the basket after being dried in the sun. A clever person discovered they could harden the molded pottery in hot ashes and make sturdy containers to transport and store foodstuffs. This pottery is still being discovered in tombs and varies greatly in shape and size.
Pottery is great way to unwind and a very sensual process. Just think of that memorable scene between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in the movie Ghost. If you haven’t seen it and are thinking of learning to make pottery, you should seriously check it out. It has been known to reduce stress and create euphoria. Some people take their art very seriously. It is also a fun activity for children and a great way to introduce art into their lives.
Ton Pottery will kick off with a grand-opening community party on February 22nd and 23rd, 2014, 10am-4pm. This event is free and open to the public. It will feature demonstrations, door prizes and a chance to try your hands at the potter’s wheel. They will be offering 12-week beginner, advanced and children’s pottery classes, one day workshops, open studio time and professional services beginning March 1st at their new studio. Pottery parties are available for all occasions as well. This is a breath of fresh air for anyone planning children’s birthday parties. You can only take so much Gymkhana and Fun Fest Bowling. Just visit their website www.tonpottery.com for more details!
Familylinks serves nearly 8,000 people annually through its service locations throughout Southwestern PA. It plays a unique role in keeping troubled families whole, strong, independent and productive while providing services that benefit children, youth and families. It provides each of its clients with a compassionate response designed specifically to deal with their own distinct problems. They provide critical services in three broad areas: behavioral health, education/community services and youth/family services. Last year they assisted a total of 7, 737 people who turned to them for help.
They are having a fabulous fundraiser on March 21, 2014 at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland called Just Jazz II that they are combining with a YouTube video contest. I just love people who think outside the box! Applicants need to be students in high school or college. They can perform individually or in dance combos, trios, quartets and quintets. To apply just upload a video to Familylinks’ Dropbox account by 11:59 p.m. on February 1 (log-in information is available at familylinks.org). Judges that include vocalist Lisa Ferraro and jazz trumpeter Benny Benack III will choose five finalists for the public to vote on.
Finalists will be announced on February 8 and those videos will be posted to Familylinks’ YouTube page. Voting will run from February 8-28 and will be calculated by each like the video receives. The video with the most likes will be declared the winner on March 1 and the video will be marketed through social media and e-blasts prior to the event. The winners will then perform during Just Jazz II’s cocktail hour!
Benny Benack, III and Elevations are scheduled to open the show and you can cap off the night at an after party at the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy on the Northside. One of my favorite jazz artists, Houston Person, is performing along with Lisa Ferraro, Roger Humphries, Dwayne Dolphin and Max Leake. VIP tickets are $150 while general admission tickets are $75. Click here to purchase tickets!
One of the best things about living in Pittsburgh is being privy to the wealth of artistic exposure offered by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. They are responsible for bringing high quality performing and visual arts to our city and are currently celebrating their 20th Anniversary of First Night downtown. In case you are not familiar with this event, it is a free family friendly New Year Eve’s party held downtown. For a mere $10.00 you can purchase an all-access button that will give you entry to all 150 art focused activities and events. It is a fantastic way to bring in the new year and a real memory maker for children. You can check out their schedule of events on the website which includes a walk through an ice maze infused with colorful lights.
Over the past 20 years the trust has literally transformed a downtrodden section of our city near Liberty Avenue that now stands as a national model of urban revitalization. They are the ones responsible for bringing that awesome rubber duck to town and made us the first city in the U.S. to host this floating art form. We have the largest concentration of arts per capita of any other city and have performances that rival those seen on Broadway. I will never forget the uplifting performance of John Davidson in Oaklahoma or the sight of Mary Poppins taking flight over the audience at the Benedum. You can sign up for the trust e-mail newsletter online so you never miss an event and special ticket offers. If you volunteer you get to work with a great group of people and see incredible shows for free. They have an impressive lists of options that include ushering, marketing and public relations. There are flexible options to accommodate personal preferences and there is an activity to fit any schedule.
Mark your calendar now for the upcoming Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater that kicks off the new year with a production of Stuck about a little boy with his kite caught in a tree. It is perfect for ages 3-10. To make it ultra convenient you can catch performances at the Byham Theater or several area high schools. Look for Teacher From The Black Lagoon in February and Junie B. Jones in March.
Your also don’t want to miss Mamma Mia! in February or Porgy and Bess in March. Celebrating the arts is great way to reduce tension and enjoy life. Kick off this new year with a focus on entertainment and treating yourself well.