Pittsburgh on the cheap

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Pittsburgh on the cheap

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

Matt Hawley | Staff Photographer

By Brooke Rountree / For The Pitt News

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Spending a summer in Pittsburgh without much money to spend may seem daunting.

But do a little research, and you will find there are countless activities and events in the city for free — or for relatively cheap. The city’s offerings range from free movie showings to half-price admissions at various art museums.

Websites such as Living Pittsburgh and Visit Pittsburgh provide a plethora of information on what is happening in the city throughout each month, so you don’t have to put a dent in your wallet.

The Pitt News checked out some of the ‘Burgh’s discounted or free activities.

The Mattress Factory — Half-price Tuesdays

The Mattress Factory is an internationally renowned installation art museum located in the Northside. The museum offers half-price admission Tuesdays, ranging from $7.50 for students to $10 for adults.

Director of Communications and Marketing Samantha Paolo said half-price admission Tuesdays “has been running for about five years and is a year-round offer.”

“It brings in a lot of students and those with a more flexible schedule,” Paolo said.

Current exhibitions include new room installations by artists David Bowen, Kevin Clancy, Wendy Judge and Lauren Kalman. This museum’s attractions include permanent displays as well as revolving exhibitions.

The Infinity Dots Mirrored Room, created in 1996 by Yayoi Kusama, is one of many permanent exhibitions found at the museum. Upon entering, one may feel disoriented because of the mirrored walls and differently sized polka dots scattered on the floor, but this is a key part of the exhibition, which is supposed to challenge the viewer’s perception of reality.

Andy Warhol Museum “Good Fridays”

Another great museum — and a Pittsburgh staple — is the Andy Warhol Museum located on the North Shore. This Pittsburgh favorite offers half-price admission, dubbed “Good Fridays,” every Friday throughout the summer. Good Fridays are from 5 to 10 p.m. and the usual $20 admission for adults becomes $10 while student admission is $5. The featured artist currently is Ai Weiwei, a controversial and socially cognizant artist from China.

The museum consists of seven floors, each floor contributing to a dialogue between Warhol and Weiwei. The seventh floor’s theme is “Capitalism and Communism.” Post-World War II, Warhol began turning a critical eye to the mass consumption surrounding him and began to include corporate logos into his work, the Campbell’s soup can being his most famous. Decades later, Weiwei followed in Warhol’s footsteps with his piece Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, created in 1994.

As you walk through the floors, the “dialogue” becomes clearer. For example, each artist took a different perspective on “social disease,” which can be found on the fifth floor. Warhol was infatuated with glamour, fame and the decadent lifestyle led by celebrities. Weiwei was more influenced by the activist movements occurring in America in the 1980s, an inspiration that can be seen in his work Study of Perspective, which depicts Weiwei raising his middle finger to monuments that symbolize power in a series of photos.

Brian Walker, the 27-year-old lead singer of A Day Without Love, came to the museum with the intention of catching Pokemon, but realized the art wasn’t so bad.


“I got beat up by a Snorlax in the Pokemon Gym, and that’s when I started looking at the art,” Walker said. He was particularly fascinated by how culturally aware both artists were.

“I had a faint idea of who Andy Warhol was coming here, [but] later realized how prominent his work is,” Walker said. “The deeper I go into this museum, the more I am attracted to the revolutionary aspects of both artists. In some ways, you can really feel both the communism and capitalism in here.”

Free Concert and Farmers Market in Downtown’s Market Square

Across the Ohio River sits Market Square, which holds weekly events all summer long. Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the plaza hosts an open-air farmers’ market with live acoustic music starting at 11:30 a.m. The crowd primarily consists of businesspeople carousing on their lunch break while enjoying the live music or standing in line for a savory treat.

Vendors come from all over the city, including Family Farms Creameries, Gosia’s Pierogies, Hello Hummus and Fabulous Homemade Cookies, to name a few.

J.D. Eicher, an independent musician from Youngstown, Ohio, played popular covers as well as a few of his own songs.

“I’ve played at the farmers’ market a few times before,” Eicher said. “It’s cool — it’s a moving crowd with a friendly atmosphere. I’ve met a lot of people here.”

Casey Whoolery of Glassport, Pennsylvania, decided to come down on her day off to “enjoy the atmosphere, great music and, of course, the food.”

“This is the first time I’ve been here all summer, and I’m really enjoying it,” Whoolery said. “I love supporting the small businesses here. The food and produce you find is top-notch.”

Seviche Free Salsa Classes

Seviche, a Latin-inspired fusion tapas restaurant, offers free salsa dance classes Mondays from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. The restaurant itself carries a very South Beach atmosphere, and the twirling dancers and seductive, fast-paced beats of the music only add more heat to this place.

DJ Bobby D, hailing from Mount Washington, has spent almost every Thursday at Seviche for the past 10 years playing mostly salsa and bachata music. He has made a living out of dance and can teach not only salsa but swing, tap and ballroom as well.

“Oh, it’s lovely here. Tonight is a slow night, but we usually get quite a crowd,” he said.  “From 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., I teach a basic salsa for people who don’t know how to dance.”

Passersby, as well as some of the patrons, seemed to be mesmerized by the footwork, and many newbies could be found on the dance floor giving their best 1-2-3, 5-6-7.

Allegheny Summer Concert Series

Check out free outdoor concerts and performances throughout the summer with the Allegheny Summer Concert Series. Concerts generally begin about 7:30 p.m. at the South Park Amphitheater, the Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater and a few other locations. Concerts and performances range from Pittsburgh Opera to classic rock to soul.

A list of concerts can be found on the Allegheny County website.

Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park

At a different park each night until August 31, pack up blankets, lawn chairs and snacks to watch a film outdoors. Cinema in the Park locations include Grandview Park in Mount Washington, Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park, Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville, the West End-Elliott Overlook, Highland Park, Riverview Park and Mellon Square Downtown.

Movies generally start at 9 p.m. and include popular films such as “The Land Before Time,” “Ant-Man” and “Rent.”

Bad weather can cause a film screening cancellation, so check KDKA or Citipark’s Twitter  before heading out.

Each park has a schedule of films online at the Citiparks website.

Yoga in the Square

From 10 to 11 a.m. every Sunday morning until September 4, bring your own yoga mat to Market Square to attend a free yoga class. A different Pittsburgh yoga instructor teaches the class each week.

Check the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s or FittPGH’s Twitters for cancellations.

A list of each week’s instructor is available on the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership website.

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