Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

What Does It Take To Be A Canadian Mountie?

Apr 10, 2014
Marcus Charleston / 90.5WESA

What would a visit from a Canadian delegation be without the presence of one of the country's most recognizable symbols - a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman?

We spoke with Constable Eric Hymander, a former banker, about what it takes to become a Mountie.  

Every year there are anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 applicants that want to join the RCMP and only the top 1 percent of applicants are accepted.

Hymander said it takes about a year to review applicants’ abilities, and once accepted they spend six months undergoing vigorous training in Saskatchewan.

After Checking out Pop Up Canada, Pop on Up to Niagara Falls

Apr 10, 2014
Helen Zhang / flickr

With the celebration of Canada taking place this week in the Steel City, Niagara Falls offers something for visitors on both the American and Canadian sides. 

Long regarded as a honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls is close enough for a long weekend getaway. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for a trip to the falls.

Trevor Hurlbut / flickr

If you follow celebrity news, one story which made news last week was Gwyneth Paltrow’s divorce from Coldplay musician Chris Martin. The news was especially notable because of a term they used to describe the breakup - “conscious uncoupling.” The phrase raised eyebrows in the relationship counseling and divorce industries.

Paula Hopkins, a divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative law in the Pittsburgh area had never heard of conscious uncoupling until Paltrow’s announcement. But following the announcement, Hopkins found quite a bit of information about the term.

The debt-ridden August Wilson Center might have a buyer.

A group of local foundations, including the Pittsburgh Foundation, submitted a bid last week to acquire the downtown Pittsburgh African American cultural center which is delinquent on its $7 million mortgage.

Forum Aims to Re-Energize Darfur Movement

Apr 4, 2014

When South Sudan separated from the North to form an independent country in 2011, the fight didn’t end.

In fact, it may be stronger than ever.

In an effort to promote advocacy, the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition (PDEC) is hosting a forum on South Sudan and Sudan on Sunday.

The event will bring together members of the Sudanese diaspora in Pittsburgh and speakers, including Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills) and Jacqueline Burns of the U.S. State Department, to discuss developments in Sudan and how to reenergize the Save Darfur movement.

HeroesBehindtheBadge.com

Saturday night Drusky Entertainment is presenting the Pittsburgh premiere of Heroes Behind the Badge, a documentary that tells the stories of two officers who paid the ultimate price, as well as the stories of three severely injured officers.

One of those officers is patrolman James Kuzak, who was shot five times after responding to a home invasion call in the city of Clairton.

Brian Drusky of Drusky Entertainment has timed the showing such that it arrives three years after Officer Kuzak’s incident and five after the death of three Pittsburgh police officers. 

Blumenthal: The Story of Harold Blumenthal

Apr 2, 2014
Blumenthalmovie.com

The film Blumenthal is a comedy that follows the relatives of Harold Blumenthal, a legendary playwright who made his career parodying his family in his work, and died laughing at his own joke.

The film was developed and produced by Carnegie Mellon University graduate Alexander Cendese who also co-stars in the movie. It was written and directed by fellow Carnegie Mellon University graduate Seth Fisher.

Brave Miss World Website

Weeks before Linor Abargil was crowned Miss World 1998, she was brutally raped while modeling in Italy.

Years later, in the documentary Brave Miss World, director Cecilia Peck followed Abargil as she confronted her rapist and encouraged other women to speak out about their own stories of rape.

The film highlights Abargil’s journey from her Miss World crowning to her global advocacy efforts against rape. 

4 Spring Festivals Worth Traveling To

Mar 27, 2014
Mark Peters / flickr

It’s officially spring, even if the weather may want to tell us otherwise. We’re going to remain optimistic and look forward to sunny and warm days spent outdoors.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggested spring festivals you might enjoy.

Bob Studebaker / 90.5 WESA

NPR once referred to the Conflict Kitchen in Schenley Plaza as “an experimental public art project, and the medium is the sandwich wrap.”

It’s take-out food where you take away more than just something to eat. Conflict Kitchen only serves food from countries with which the U.S. is in conflict.

Co-directors Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski schedule events, performances and discussions that seek to expand public engagement with culture, politics and issues at stake within the focus country.

courtesy of American Anthropological Association and Science Museum of Minnesota

A new exhibit opening at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History takes on the vast subject of race. The “Race: Are We So Different” exhibit examines the subject from several different angles.

“From the scientific angle: What is the science? What is the science involved in race? What is race? Is race real? The history of the idea of race and finally the contemporary lived experience of race.” said Cecile Shellman with the Carnegie Museum. “How is race played out, particularly in the United States of America?”

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra says it has postponed plans to perform in Iran this August, but still hopes to reschedule for next season.

The Pittsburgh Symphony was the last American orchestra to perform in Iran, in 1964. Officials had hoped to return for a 50th anniversary tour. James Wilkinson, president of the symphony, says in a statement that they need to devote more time to planning.

Kyle Huff / flickr

From film festivals, to movies and TV shows, Pittsburgh has become one of Hollywood's leading locations for motion picture and television production.

This week contributor Rebecca Harris looked at the business of filmmaking in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh has a variety of organizations that help bring Hollywood the the city, which are listed below. These organizations work with different groups and people in the community to make it possible for films and television shows to come to life in Pittsburgh.

Art is more than decoration; it is an industry that supports the economy and education system in the United States.

That is the message arts leaders from Pittsburgh and across the nation are delivering to Capitol Hill today for the 27th National Arts Advocacy Day.

Duquesne University will open an art exhibit by Andrew Hairstans called A Model for Asylum Tuesday at the Les Idees Gallery on Duquesne’s campus.

Hairstans said the exhibit focuses on a housing project in Glasgow, Scotland. He said the project has to do with modernist British housing and how it is used by asylum seekers.

“I became interested in the area because originally they were at one point the tallest housing complexes in Europe and they were also used to house at one point they were used to house asylum seekers from all over the world really."

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution has been referred to as "America's attic." It is home to many iconic objects that have shaped the history of our nation, from industry to culture. In his book, History of America in 101 Objects, author and Smithsonian curator Dr. Richard Kurin chronicles and pinpoints these national treasures by focusing on key objects in the vast collection. 

Here are some of Kurin’s favorite objects related to the Pittsburgh region:

Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo: Where Artists have Full Control

Mar 21, 2014
The Copacetic Comics Company / Facebook

PIX, the Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo, takes place this weekend. The event is a way to nurture and encourage the city’s independent comic scene.

Jim Rugg, a local indy cartoonist, and Bill Boichel, owner of The Copacetic Comics Company in Polish Hill, expect this weekend will be a bigger success than ever.

Boichel says Pix is different Comicon for one simple reason.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

If asked to identify a giant in American architecture, the name Frank Lloyd Wright may be the first person who comes to mind. This region has the good fortune to be within driving distance to one of his most famous buildings, the iconic Falling Water.

This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for Wright designed buildings, not far from Pittsburgh. Wright has more than 500 completed structures across the United States, and these are just a few of his designs.

US Air Force / Wikipedia

Legendary broadcast journalist Dan Rather worked for CBS News for 44 years and anchored the CBS Evening News for 24 of those years.

He is now the managing editor and anchor of the cable television news magazine Dan Rather Reports. In 2012, he released a best-selling book on his life and the state of journalism today, Rather Outspoken.

Rather was particularly outspoken about the 3 ways he's seen standards drop in the craft of journalism:

The Andy Warhol Museum will be honoring its 20th anniversary in May with renovations, parties and a few surprises.

Among the changes to come will be a shuffling of the collection so that for the first time the museum will be presented in chronological order to take visitors through the life of Andy Warhol.  

Preserving Pennsylvania’s 333-Year-Old Birth Certificate

Mar 14, 2014
Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

Over ten thousand people visited historic sites in the Commonwealth this week to celebrate Pennsylvania’s history. This year marks the 333 birthday of the Pennsylvania Charter given by King Charles of Great Britain to William Penn on March 4, 1681.

Howard Pollman, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, says the Charter is meticulously preserved at the State Museum in Harrisburg and reveals much about the zeitgeist of the era. 

Artotem / flickr

Last week we ventured to Florida to get an early look at Major League Baseball spring training in the Grapefruit League. This week, we venture west to see the players in action in the Cactus League.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme  says spring training is the time to see a lot of teams in the cactus league that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. Check out a list of her recommendations:

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

The Cultural Trust’s Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival is making a “leap” from Oakland to Downtown May 14-18.

The 28th annual frog-themed festival is moving to help fulfill the Trust’s mission to make Downtown a “vibrant and inviting place.”

Pittsburgh’s colors may be black and gold, but they’ll soon be replaced by green and gold, as one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country prepares to take the streets.

Starting Saturday at 10 a.m., more than 23,000 participants, including some Olympic athletes, will march downtown along Grant Street and The Boulevard of the Allies.

Joining in the festivities this year are four-time Olympian and three-time medalist Lauryn Williams and gold medal-winning Irish Olympian Michael Carruth.

Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

As a young writer, Moniru Ravanipur, hoped that her writing would keep her alive. But more often than not it caused conflict with the Islamic government of Iran, where she grew up.

After waiting nearly seven years to get permission to publish her work, then ten years for her first novel, Ravanipur’s work was quickly banned.

“I didn’t write before the revolution. I wrote a short collection story that immediately they burnt and banned...That was not the only story that they banned.”

A performance at Bricolage in downtown Pittsburgh this Saturday will shed light on sexual assault in the military.

Fifth Wall: Sexual Assault in the Military, presented by the Bricolage Production Company and advocacy group Stop Sexual Assault in the Military, explores the problem through different artistic genres.

The program will include clips from the documentary The Invisible War, scenes from Pittsburgh playwright Tammy Ryan’s Soldier’s Heart and a panel discussion with the audience.

5 Reasons Why People Should Go to MLB Spring Training

Mar 6, 2014
Jamesb01 / Wikipedia Commons

This month the call of “play ball” will be heard in ballparks around the country.

Fans of the game who want an early look at the boys of summer may want to venture to Florida to participate in the annual spring training games for Major League Baseball.

Correspondent Elaine Labalme discussed the five benefits of traveling to these games.

When the rest of us were focused on fighting the polar vortex and the snows of January, a group of more than 70 Pittsburghers were focused on making art every day as part of the annual Fun-a-Day project.  Much of that work will go on display starting Friday, March 7.

Fun-a-Day, in its sixth year in Pittsburgh, encourages people to make a pledge to be creative every day during the month of January.

Female presidents and prime ministers are currently serving in 18 different countries. Meanwhile, the United States has never had a female president, and is ranked 69th worldwide in women’s representation in national legislatures or parliaments.

What are other countries doing that America isn’t?

This question will be explored this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater, when Women and Girls Foundation CEO Heather Arnet premieres her documentary, Madame Presidenta: Why Not U.S.?.

An American Odyssey: Exploring the American Masters

Mar 5, 2014
The Warner Foundation and Warner Collection of American Art.

An American Odyssey: the Warner Collection of American Painting is a new exhibit that has opened at the Frick Pittsburgh.

Featuring the paintings of Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Gilbert Stuart and other American masters.  Sarah Hall, director of curatorial affairs for the Frick Pittsburgh gives a preview of the exhibit.

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