Bill Miller, Chimes of Freedom.
Bill Miller, Chimes of Freedom.

6. Artist of the Year Opening at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts: August 19

If Pittsburgh had an Oscar for the arts, it would be The Artist of the Year Award presented annually by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Don’t miss the auspicious unveiling of two major accolades, when the Shadyside venue debuts its 2016 Artist of the Year and Emerging Artist exhibitions—along with two additional group shows. The quadruple whammy art opening runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and is free for PF/PCA members ($10 for non-members). Being honored as Artist of the Year is Richard Pell, founder of the Garfield-based Center for PostNatural History—the world’s only museum dedicated to living organisms that have been intentionally bred or engineered by humans. The first-of-its-kind exhibit, The Myth of the Great Outright Extraordinary!, showcases Pell’s collection of objects, oddities, sounds and photos—many never before shown—ranging from shards of titanium from an experimental supersonic plane that crashed in 1963 to stereoscopic photographs of skulls. Receiving the Emerging Artist honor is Sarika Goulatia, who will present Dressed with D.R.E.S.S., a selection of site-specific sculptures and large-scale installations. Also opening is the group exhibit, surface | material, and River, Stream, Tap, featuring glass sculpture by Barrie Kaufman.

Courtesy BikePGH.
Courtesy BikePGH.

7. BikeFest: August 19-28

Ditch that car and spin your way through summer, because the best way to explore Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, topography and architecture is on two wheels. Boasting 10 wheel-fueled days of urban adventuring, BikeFest is uniquely crowdsourced by clubs, organizations and individuals who cook up nearly 100 creative cycle-themed events. There is truly a ride, race, pace and program for all ilks and ages—from speed seekers to cruisers. Riders can choose from a dizzying array of offerings—from the Try-A-Bike Jamboree, to the Roberto Clemente trek. One ambitious 72-mile ride spans all 90 Pittsburgh neighborhoods, while another traverses 12 bridges, 21 miles and our three mighty rivers. You can even play Pokémon Go during the Gotta Catch ’em All! Midnight Ride. En route, BikeFesters can tour city landmarks and destinations such as Allegheny Cemetery, the Cathedral of Learning and PNC Park. Don’t miss the epic BikeFest Kick-Off Dance Party on August 19 at Ace Hotel, featuring DJs Naaem, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Eyejay, and Nate Da Phat Barber, and visuals by Julie Malice and Zero Fossil. (buy tickets). BikeFest culminates August 28 with the 17th edition of PedalPGH. The beloved city tradition features signature events such as the leisurely Peoples Local Loop (2 to 12 miles), popular 25-mile Highmark City Tour, and the rigorous 62-mile PJ Dick and Lindy Paving Metric Century ride.

Photo by Corey Appleby.
Photo by Corey Appleby.

8. Steel City Mods vs. Rockers Rally in Millvale: August 20

Unleash your inner Johnny Strabler or Jim Stark—and evoke the days of swinging London, sleek Vespas and custom-made suits at the 7th annual Steel City Mods vs. Rockers. No matter where your allegiance lies—or if you’re more of a wallflower—join fellow motorbike and scooter enthusiasts to celebrate the wheels, styles, music, and mayhem embraced by mods and rockers. The area’s only event of its kind invites Pittsburghers to relive the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s—so dust off that black leather jacket or smartly pressed suit, slick back your locks, and cruise over to sleepy Millvale. Moral panic will prevail as vintage motorcycles, scooters and cafe racers vie for trophies in 10 categories. Rally-goers can peruse 300-plus vintage vehicles, enjoy performances by Nox Boys and Vertigo Go, check out pin-up contests, and shop in a vendor market. DJ Ian will spin all of your Northern soul, ska and reggae needs. Fans of Bill Haley and Small Faces alike should not miss this summertime fun in the streets. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Millvale Community Library.

Photo by Christina Shields.
Photo by Christina Shields.

9. Riverlife’s Rhapsody in Blue Party at the Pier on the North Shore: August 26

Pittsburgh is largely defined by its three mighty rivers, and their innovative transformation over the past decade has led to new and refurbished trails, parks, wharfs, waterways, and more—all making our city a top place to live and visit. Central to this waterfront revitalization is Riverlife, a public-private partnership working to reconnect Pittsburgh with its rivers via recreation, ecological restoration and economic opportunity. If ever there is one night to eat, drink and be merry—all in support the nonprofit’s achievements—it’s at Party at the Pier. Leave that LBD and black tie in the closet, because this year’s “Rhapsody in Blue” gala is all about the bright, restorative hue of water itself. Overflowing with all things blue—fashion, lasers, and a breathtaking setting—the gala will feature live music by the Elite Showband, a boat dock dance party with DJ Underdog, surprise entertainers, and creative fare from the Rivers Casino culinary team. River revelers can hop aboard the Gateway Clipper Fleet for a scenic cruise, and watch a blue laser installation created by Lightwave International. Buy tickets today, because this not-to-miss event always sells out.

Bombardo, featuring Aubrey Plaza. Courtesy Pittsburgh Comedy Festival.
Bombardo, featuring Aubrey Plaza. Photo by Handerson Gomes.

10. Pittsburgh Comedy Festival at Henry Heymann Theatre: August 25-28

Make room for LaughsBurgh. Featuring 34 local and national acts—from LA to Brooklyn to Bloomfield—and eight workshops spanning four rip-roaring days, the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival is back to heat up—and crack up—Oakland and the public. The 3rd annual event aims to elevate the profile of comedy as an art form, and put Pittsburgh’s comedy scene on the international map. Not-to-miss are headlining performances by stand-up comedian Quincy Jones—who has his own HBO and Netflix specials, and who recently appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to share his remarkable story of being diagnosed with Stage 4 mesothelioma. Also headlining is the high-energy improv duo, Sheldon, featuring Chicago comedy fixtures Rob Belushi and Tim Stoltenberg. Pittsburgh’s funniest people and brightest improv groups will take center stage during featured performances, “Stand-Up Explosion” showcases and midnight stand-up events. The laughs are not all R-rated at this fest, which includes a family-friendly neighborhood improv show, kids comedy cabaret and improv games. If you’ve got the itch for comedy, sign up for one of the festival’s many workshops. Who knows, the next Dennis Miller or Jeff Goldblum could be among us. See a schedule and buy tickets.

Photography by Maranie Rae at UnSmoke Systems.
Photography by Maranie Rae at UnSmoke Systems.

Check out more events every week in NEXTpittsburgh, including these coming up in August:

Syria Iraq and Jordan: Displacement | Resilience | Hope at UnSmoke Systems in Braddock: August 5
Downtown Rooftop Shindig at the Theater Square Garage: August 6
Horror Fan Craft Fair and Flea Market at the Castle Shannon VFD Memorial Hall: August 6
HillFest in the Hill District: August 6 & 7
Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures at the Senator John Heinz History Center: August 7
1Hood Day Hip-Hop Festival: August 11 & 12
Pittsburgh Triathlon and Adventure Race: August 13 & 14
Little Italy Days in Bloomfield: August 18 – 21
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally at the Benedum: August 21
Three Day Blow Festival: August 25, 26 & 27

Looking for live music? Read our Everything you need to know about Pittsburgh concerts in August feature.

Looking for events for families and children? Check out our Top 10 things for families to do in August in Pittsburgh feature.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.