Shadyside Nursery

July 27
5 – 9 p.m.

The Lovelace Puppet Festival is popping into one of Pittsburgh’s newest outdoor summer concert series.

Featured at Weather Permitting on Sunday, July 27th, The Lovelace Puppet Festival will present original performances by local puppetry artists and collectives. From 5 to 9 p.m., the festival will showcase art and performances by Cheryl Capezzuti, Creative Citizen Studios, Cyber Punk Apocalypse, Joann Kielar, Langston MacDiarmid, Miko Miko and The Schmutz Company. Within the whimsical environs of Shadyside Nursery, the festival will incorporate local puppeteers, musicians and food trucks to create a setting that replicates and celebrates the atmosphere of the Lovelace Marionette Theatre.

The unique festival is celebration of the legacy of puppetry artist and theatre founder Margo Lovelace, who founded the original Lovelace Marionette Theatre just two blocks away from the nursery. In 1964, Lovelace founded the pioneering Lovelace Marionette Theatre after purchasing a property located at 5888 1/2 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside, and renovating it to create what became the first professional puppet company in the US to stage regular performances in a permanent theatrical venue. Focusing on what Lovelace called the “magic of puppetry,” the intimate 100-seat marionette theatre continued to operate through 1978.

In 1977, the Lovelace Theatre worked in residence for five seasons at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Lovelace, who studied at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon), began her puppetry career as an apprentice to Cedric Head and his Kingsland Marionettes in the 1940s. In 1976, The Puppet Proposition, a 28-minute film produced by Lovelace and directed by her son David Visser, won a CINE Golden Eagle Award. Her short film, Museum Piece, was nominated for a 1975 Academy Award. Upon retiring in 1984, Lovelace donated her collection of puppets and masks to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. In June 2012 then Pittsburgh City Councilman William Peduto introduced a resolution declaring July 24th to be “Margo Lovelace Day” in Pittsburgh.

Those who grew up attending birthday parties in the 1970s in Pittsburgh will likely remember experiencing an imaginative Lovelace show, and the artists of the contemporary festival aim to share her inspired work with new and old audiences alike.

Among Pittsburgh’s newest live music series, Weather Permitting brings live music, local fare and libations, and summery family-friendly activities to Shadyside Nursery. Local food trucks and breweries, as well as a farmer’s marketplace, BBQ section and space for informal children’s activities, help to create a picnic-like setting for the event’s creative use of the nursery, which carries a wide selection of plants, mulch, landscaping supplies, pavers, treated lumber and garden art. The homespun Sunday night series, which is the brainchild of local DJ and event producer Pete Spynda, is exactly the right vibe for winding down your weekend and gathering steam for the week ahead.

Now in its second year, Weather Permitting transforms the nursery into a vibrant and welcoming event space (expect squirt gun battles, sandbox action and hula-hoop twisting for the kids!) for all ages. For 2014, Weather Permitting debuted a larger stage and additional space for local farm stands and vendors.

Admission: $10 (includes beverages w/ID). Free for kids. Enter through the parking lot on Ellsworth next to Harris Grill. View a complete 2014 Weather Permitting schedule.

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...