Art For Change
Art For Change

From fashions made out of leaves and glass to Kreepy Doll crafts to cocktails inspired by Broadway shows – there’s a lot to love about April.

1. Pittsburgh Fringe Festival on the North Side: April 6 – 8

Where can you wander into a vaudeville club, get hypnotized and watch a sideshow artist perform on a bed of nails? It’s time to experience culture on the fringe. For the fifth annual edition of this global theater phenomenon, Pittsburgh Fringe will host 30 international, national and local performers in five North Side venues. Many of this year’s performers are veterans of the venerated Edinburgh Fringe Festival. From a “cringe-inducing” twist on Judy Blume’s iconic puberty novel to a one-man show about video games and a dance piece showcasing feminine hygiene, no two performances will be alike. History buffs will love the productions exploring the Falklands War, Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and 19th-century philosopher Karl Marx. Help Peter Michael Marino use an arsenal of Post-it Notes to create a one-of-a-kind interactive show, and watch as footnotes come to life in “Shakespeare Annotated.” Buy tickets.

© Max Lowe-Forest Woodward, Sky Migrations.

2. Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Byham Theater: April 7 & 8

Kayak across Greenland, go deep-water rock climbing on Mallorca and live off the grid in the Amazon — all from the comfort of your chair. If this gets your adrenaline pumping, then Banff is your ticket. The world’s leading mountain festival is rolling into town with action-packed flicks you won’t be able to catch elsewhere in Pittsburgh. The breathtaking cinematic roster includes 17 award-winning action, environmental and adventure films selected from 400 submissions. Meet 90-year-old ice skater Yvonne Dowlen, explore raptor conservation with ecologist Charles Post and cheer on extreme athlete Aaron Rice as he attempts to break a world record by skiing 2.5 million vertical feet. You’ll leave in awe of the courage of one-armed climber Maureen Beck and the gravity-defying stunts of the “air surfing” Flying Frenchies. Adventure enthusiasts will bond at the Après Banff party at the Allegheny Elks Lodge. Buy tickets.

Photo by Haley Stanish.

3. Out of Hand: Remix at Contemporary Craft: April 14, 7 – 10:30 p.m.

Forget spring cleaning, it’s time for spring crafting. Remix your style with hands-on and hands-off fun in Contemporary Craft’s galleries, studios and shop. Spin, mix, turn and twist the night away during a showcase of all things local — from cuisine to crafts to conversation. Check out the new “Visual Voices” ceramics exhibition and chat with artists about their creative process and inspirations. Bid on 100 handcrafted pieces, and watch Kreepy Doll, woodcarving and cookie decorating demonstrations. Architect and audiophile Paul Rosenblatt will spin an all-vinyl soundtrack so you can show off those freestyle dance moves. Make your own dreaming pillow, wax painting and adjustable ring, and fuel up on fare from Baby Loves Tacos, Choolaah, Michigan & Trumbull and more. Proceeds will support Contemporary Craft’s free programs for all ages. Buy tickets. Attendees can buy a $300 joint ticket to Remix and Q Ball.

Courtesy Quantum Theatre.

4. Q Ball at the Gym at Butler Street Lofts, April 14, 7 p.m. – midnight

Cabaret Voltaire: to some it’s the avant-garde Zürich nightclub where Dadaism was born in 1916, while to others it’s the pioneering musical group from Sheffield, England. Come April 14, it will be the place you want to be — and be seen — in Pittsburgh. Summoning a 1930s European café vibe, Quantum Theatre’s Q Ball hosts a subversive underground party appropriately tucked away inside Lawrenceville’s Butler Street Lofts. Think the Parisian heyday of entertainer and French Resistance agent Josephine Baker — or the epic Expressionist films of Fritz Lang. The throwback theatricality will feature artistic collaborations, enthralling performances and live music by the Boilermaker Jazz Band. A DJ spinoff between Big Phill, Hank D and Doc Hood will offer fresh musical takes on 1930s cabaret culture. All divas, wallflowers and voyeurs welcome. Buy tickets. Attendees can buy a $300 joint ticket to Remix and Q Ball.

Christina Emilie Photography.

5. Farm to Table Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: April 14 & 15

The journey from the farm to the table is good for you, good for the planet and incredibly delicious. A regional hub for the grow/eat/cook local movement, the 12th annual conference is packed with tastings, talks, demonstrations, and 150 vendors — plus new offerings on the menu. Connecting the dots between growers, purveyors and consumers, the locavore gathering also features exhibitors and activities exploring mind, body and spirit wellness. Not to miss are the Last Call and Farm to Flask happy hours showcasing local mixologists, distilleries, breweries and wineries, plus live music by The Mackins and Slide Worldwide. Wake up Sunday with a sustainable brunch featuring Bloody Marys and ‘Burgh Bits & Bites. Nurture your green thumb during gardening demos and get renewed at yoga sessions. Learn hands-on tips for making your recipes more nutritious, and get to know the food you eat and the people who produce it. Register now. 

Jennifer Baron

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...