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What to do in Pittsburgh this weekend: Feb. 2-4

An artwork featuring cut out photos and drawings of plants stacked on top of each other.
Brie Ruais and Albertz Benda, New York | Los Angeles
"In the Space Between the Parcels (Brooklyn Backyard Garden)," a work by Brie Ruais, is part of her show "Oneness," opening Fri., Feb. 2, at Contemporary Craft.

From a multi-media puppet drama reinterpretation of "Moby Dick" to an art exhibit exploring maps (that aren't maps) and a DIY “Rube Goldberg'' machine — here's what to do in Pittsburgh this weekend.

To generations past, a “Rube Goldberg'' meant any contraption comically jury-rigged to over-elaborately perform a simple task. Now, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has teamed with Goldberg’s heirs to bring his playful sensibility to the kids of today. In the interactive exhibit “Rube Goldberg: The World of Hilarious Invention,” visitors can use balls and ramps to create their own zany chain reactions, make cartoons inspired by Goldberg’s iconic art, and more. The show continues through May 5.

Fiction’s most famous white whale, and perhaps its most infamous sea captain, are interpreted afresh in “Moby Dick,” a multi-media puppet drama by French troupe Plexus Polaire. The critically acclaimed show promises “seven actors, 50 puppets, video projections, a drowned orchestra, and whale-sized whale.” Revisit high-seas adventure fused with Herman Melville’s existential interrogations in two shows, Fri., Feb. 2, and Sat., Feb. 3, at the Byham Theater.

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail’s “This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity” blends Western and Hindustani musical traditions; her piece joins Bach’s canonical “Magnificat” in “This Love Between Us,” the new program from Resonance Works. Soloists including soprano Katy Williams, mezzo-soprano Tahanee Aluwihare, and sitarist Michael Griska supplement the Resonance Chamber Orchestra. There are two performances, Fri., Feb. 2 (Trinity Cathedral, Downtown), and Sun., Feb. 4 (Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church).

Visual Art
Eight students from five continents in Carnegie Mellon University’s master of fine arts program show their work in “This is not a map.” Eschewing traditional cartographical understandings of nationhood and language, the show “offers fluid systems of way-finding” using everything from textiles and collage to video essays and digital sculpture. If you just want to see the art, the SPACE Gallery exhibit begins Fri., Feb. 2; if you’re looking for the party, too, the opening reception is Sat., Feb. 10.

Visual Art
New Mexico-based artist Brie Ruais maps places, but in an unusual way. Working in clay and a variety of other materials, Ruais explores how individual perception affects place and memory, and how connections can form between inner and outer worlds. Contemporary Craft hosts “Oneness,” a survey of eight years of her sculptures. It opens with a reception Fri., Feb. 2, and runs through May 4.

Pioneering writer and art collector Gertrude Stein was born in old Allegheny City on Feb. 3, 1874. Right around the corner from that house on Beech Avenue (with its commemorative plaque), City Books and the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation mark her 150th birthday with Gertrude Stein Day. Expect “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas,” giveaways, and a talk by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly, a scholar on Stein and the Americans in Paris. The event’s at City Books from noon to 4 p.m. Sat., Feb. 3.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: