Point State Park, Gateway Center, Cultural District

June 5 – 14
Various times

Where can you experience art as psychic healing, watch artists attempt to return lost items to their owners, catch a free concert by L.A. songstress Jenny Lewis and take a hip-hop yoga class?

Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Recently nominated by USA Today.com as one of the country’s Best Art Festivals, the 56th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) will again fill Downtown’s Point State Park, Gateway Center and Cultural District with world-class, multi-disciplinary arts programming. And you’ll want to be there when it all kicks off this Friday, June 5th.

The grandmother of Pennsylvania festivals, TRAF is completely free and all within walking distance, attracting some 400,000 visitors for 10 days packed with music, theater, dance, public art, gallery exhibitions, a signature visual artist market, hands-on cultural activities, and of course, plenty of festival food. And did we mention it’s all free?

Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Produced by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, this year’s edition is inspired by the theme of Unseen/Unheard, which aims to provide an open forum for stories, ideas and perspectives that are often marginalized and not typically shared via public art events.

Always highly anticipated is TRAF’s lineup of free concerts. This year’s multiple stages feature everything from guitar god Richard Thompson, Canadian jangle pop quintet Alvvays and folk-rockers The Felice Brothers, to bluesy singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker, L.A. pop band Milo Greene and Alynda Lee Segarra’s Nola ensemble, Hurray for the Riff Raff.

Jenny Lewis

Public art has long been a focal point at TRAF, and this year, festival-goers can experience art as psychic healing during the induction ceremony for Rudy Shepherd’s Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber, visit Michelle Illuminato’s Lost & Found Factory to watch artists work to recreate and return lost items to their owners, learn about the 60 million Native Americans who perished between 1492 and 1600 in Fernando Orellana’s Confluence and explore migration and via Michael Arcega’s Baby: Corps of Re-Discovery.

Stroll down Liberty Avenue to discover how artists are activating downtown storefronts, including Community Supported Art’s unique Small Mall Pop-up Store, artist Daniel Baxter’s insightful installation, #CRAFT YOUR MIND, and Matt Forrest’s compelling Trophy Cam projections that depict the Pennsylvania wilderness.

What else is new?

Hurray for the Riff Raff

For the first year in nearly two decades, TRAF’s juried visual art exhibition—founded in 1962—opened its call for applications to artists living outside Pittsburgh. After reviewing 500 entries from 39 states—some from as far as Tehran—41 works by 31 artists were selected for showing that underscores TRAF’s overarching Unseen/Unheard framework. Curated by Astria Suparak and designed by Carin Mincemoyer, the group show features range of media, including painting, sculpture, fiber works, carved wood furniture, digital landscapes, contemporary art and craft and more.

Also new is a focus on literary arts, with programs featuring Jasiri X, Tameka Cage Conley, David Newman, City of Asylum, Third Mind Poetry, Michelle Naka Pierce, Creative Nonfiction, Anjali Sachdeva, Words Without Walls, Dreams of Hope and more.

Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Pittsburgh Society of Artists will present Intr(au)spective, a juried show featuring 34 pieces by 30 member artists juried by Freya Spira of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Looking for children’s activities? Head to the Giant Eagle Creativity Zone to participate in hands-on activities and demonstrations presented by some of Pittsburgh’s most preeminent art and outreach organizations, including a special performance by Signshine, a student group from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

During TRAF’s closing weekend, don’t miss the exciting B-boy style break dance battles between the Hidden Characters and The Get Down Gang crews.

Since this is just a taste, be sure to check back with our events section and view a complete TRAF schedule with background about all of this year’s artists and performers, local maps and directions, and helpful information about parking and lodging.

Jennifer BaronEvents & Jobs Editor

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.