Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.                    Sign up for our weekly eNews

Exhibition Hails Heinz’s Storied History

Sep 26, 2014

A new exhibit that opened this weekend at the Senator John Heinz History Center celebrates the 145-year history of the H.J. Heinz Company.

Pittsburgh-based Heinz has evolved into one of the world’s largest food processing companies since its founding in 1869.

“The Heinz Company has been important to Pittsburgh for 145 years and we think the History Center is the right place to tell that story,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center.

The downtown area near Market Square has been transforming with the new PNC headquarters, the Gardens at Market Square, and now a new 92,000 square foot theater will be built by Point Park University.

The Pittsburgh Playhouse will be built between Forbes and Fourth Avenue in between Smithfield and Wood Street.

Half of the $10 million pricetag will be covered by a $5 million state grant.

Zine Fair Showcases Independent Art

Sep 26, 2014

Finding a piece of original artwork for under $100 is not an easy task, but how about for $0.50?

That's how cheap some independent artwork will go for at this Sunday's Pittsburgh Zine Fair, which features more than 50 vendors showcasing their work. 

Zine, short for "fanzine," is a do-it-yourself (DIY) collection of self-produced stories, sketches, anthologies or photographs. Zines are purposefully made cheaply so artists and writers can get their messages out easily.

Johnny Appleseed: Beyond the Myth

Sep 25, 2014
Rudolf Vlček / Flickr

You may not recognize the name John Chapman from your history books. The pioneering American nurseryman is better known as Johnny Appleseed, who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Midwest. We’ll mark the 240th anniversary of Johnny Appleseed’s birth and his connection to Pittsburgh with culture contributor Joe Wos.

There’s never a dull week in the Steel City. This week’s Social Club embraces variety, with lavender ice cream, vintage shopping, a starry night out and sophisticated beer drinking. Listen in for why, “I’m so out of the ice cream loop right now.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is celebrating ten years of gallery crawls with an Afropean R&B music performance, numerous art exhibits ranging from a billboard display to a cell phone disco and even salsa dancing.

Darcy Kucenic, Manager of Education and Operations for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, said the first gallery crawl was in 2004 and only featured four venues.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Before German immigrant Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine in the late 19th century, type was assembled one letter at a time. But the linotype (dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world" by Thomas Edison) allowed printers to compose entire lines of text — hence the name "line-o-type."

Flash forward some 130 years, and we meet Brandon Boan, one of a growing number of artists and designers living and working in Wilkinsburg.

All the great "character" that comes with Heinz Hall being an 87-year-old building originally built as a cinema, has also led to some problems functioning as a modern-day theater, but Tuesday the state awarded $1.5 million to help with some renovations.

“You cannot walk from the backstage area to the front of the house if you are in anyway at all incapacitated, and so if you cannot go up and down steps you really literally have to go out through the parking garage, and come into the lobby area,” said James Wilkinson, CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded more than $300,000 to two Pittsburgh museums.

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was able to snag $149,611, while the Carnegie Museum of Natural History received two grants, one for $25,000 and another for $147,462.

Two Musicals Trace The Life of Roberto Clemente

Sep 22, 2014
The Associated Press

Roberto Clemente died on Dec. 31, 1972, but you’d never know it from the hundreds of people who show up to Pirates games wearing jerseys with his name and number — 21 — printed on them. 

Now two musicals will trace the life of "The Great One" from his childhood in Puerto Rico to his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates from the mid-50’s to his untimely death at age 38.

Composer Alki Steriopoulous to spend nearly a decade writing a musical about Clemente.

It's called "21."

The Associated Press

The MacArthur Genius Grants were announced this week. University of Pittsburgh Writing Professor and Poet Terrance Hayes was among the twenty-one recipients. He speaks with WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson.

TEDxYouth@HotMetalBridge : A Fresh Perspective on Millennials

Sep 18, 2014
TEDxYouthHMB / Facebook

At age 15, Sophia Sterling-Angus attended her first TED talk, the first TEDx Grandview. She was so motivated by the event that she began to plan her own TEDx. Now as a 17 year old high school senior at the Ellis School for Girls, Sophia organized a group of volunteers to create TEDxYouth Hot Metal Bridge at the Carnegie Museum of Art on September 7th.

One thing that made this event unique was the fact that it was developed with a younger demographic in mind and by teenagers. Find out how Sophia Sterling-Angus developed the TED talk and what she thinks about the future of TED.

How Do Musicians Survive in 2014?

Sep 18, 2014
SouthernWI / Flickr

When Justin Currie was the lead singer for the band Del Amitri, he scored a top ten single in the U.S. and was heard regularly on top 40 radio.

But earlier this month he had sold only nine tickets to his upcoming solo show at the Club Cafe.

That's when he posted a desperate message on Facebook saying that he was going ahead with the show and that the people of Western Pennsylvania ought to show up. He joins us along with WYEP Program Director Mike Sauter to discuss the business model for the modern musician.

This week, 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel talk free things and beer this week, or as they put it: “We seem to have developed a theme here.” This week the Club features Oktoberfest in September, free stuff, the farm-to-table festival and racing wiener dogs. Listen for why, “I’ll be showing people around my private lounge where I sit around, you know, in my high-backed leather chair and smoke a pipe.”

Sandra Cole of Indiana, PA / ligonierhighlandgames

Break out the bagpipes and dust off that kilt because the Ligonier Highland Games are back this weekend, celebrating Celtic culture for a 56th year.

The festivities start Saturday morning at Idlewild Park with dancing, drumming, harping and piping contests, along with a Scottish-breed dog show.

The Heavy Athletics begin at 9 a.m. where the region’s biggest and baddest compete in events such as the caber toss, where contestants throw what looks like a telephone pole end-over end through the air. Athletes will also participate in the hammer throw and sheaf toss, where a 16 to 20 lbs. bundle of straw is launched into the air with a pitchfork.

Richard Wonderly, executive director of the games, said the athletics were originally used hundreds of years ago to prevent confrontation between Celtic clans.

“By getting together to show off your feats of strength, it helped to intimidate the other clans to avoid combat,” he said. “So basically, it was a way to say, ‘Here’s our guys, look how big and strong they are. Maybe you don’t want to mess with us.’”

The Associated Press

Twenty-one people, many of whom are doing work that touches on race relations, same-sex marriage, climate change and other issues that are dominating the news, have each been awarded "genius grants" from the MacArthur Foundation.

The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation this morning has announced this year's recipients of the grants that have been awarded since 1981. Recipients can spend the $625,000 any way they like.

Thrival Innovation + Music Festival Returns to Pittsburgh

Sep 12, 2014
Thrival Festival Facebook page

The now two-day Thrival Innovation + Music Festival is being held this weekend in Bakery Square. While the music is the big draw, the organizers say the goal of the festival is to provide an outlet for entrepreneurs to get the word out on their projects as well as the opportunity to bring major national music acts to the city. 

Pittsburgh's Lone Beatles Concert Reaches its 50th Anniversary

Sep 12, 2014
Perry Quan / Flickr

It was fifty years ago Sunday that the Beatles performed at the Civic Arena, their one and only appearance in Pittsburgh.

We'll talk with legendary concert promoter Pat DiCesare, who brought the band to town and is producing this weekend's 50th anniversary events. Also joining us in studio is Chuck Brinkman, a former KQV disc jockey who introduced the Beatles on stage on that memorable night in 1964.

The weather is beginning to dim—RIP summer—but the Social Club is still burning bright. 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have a lot on tap this week. In this episode, Rachel and Josh talk the loss of Smoke, the Big Pour and the pitfalls of peppermint stouts. Listen in for why “I was about to say something uncharitable and entirely unfair to New Jersey.”

A Pittsburgh organization is asking you to put on your robe and head to the roof.

The Coen brothers’ cult hit “The Big Lebowski” will be shown Sept. 10 on the rooftop of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Theater Square Garage.

The second Rooftop Shindig, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP), will feature live music, food, cocktails and games, all leading up to the feature presentation at 8:30 p.m. of the classic crime comedy flick.

Does Pennsylvania's Film Credit Cap Limit Local Industry?

Sep 5, 2014
Joel Hay / Flickr

Film production in Pennsylvania, and the Pittsburgh area in particular is an important economic driver.

The Pittsburgh Film Office has reported more than $100 million brought into the region each year, for the past 4 years.

10 years ago, Pennsylvania was at the forefront of the film industry tax incentive program, which has made the commonwealth a more enticing place to shoot movies and TV shows.

But with annual limits to the tax credits available, how competitive does the region remain? Dawn Keezer, Director of the Pittsburgh Film Office joins us to talk about the state of movie production in the region. 

No No: A Dockumentary Comes to the Harris Theater

Sep 5, 2014
No No: A Dockumentary

No No: A Dockumentary is opening in Pittsburgh, Saturday night at the Harris Theater.

The film tells the story of former Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, who pitched a no-hitter on June 12, 1970 - supposedly while under the influence of LSD. After retiring he became a counselor, helping other addicts in their recoveries. Hear from director Jeffrey Radice and view the film trailer.

Social Club for the Weekend of September 5th

Sep 5, 2014

The summer has begun to fade, but the Social Club keeps trucking on. 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have some great outdoor activities to help you take advantage of the warm weather while you still can. This week’s episode features pie of dubious nationality, foot wine and the revival of Tupperware sales. Listen in for why, “You’ve got to let the summer breathe a little bit."

Ten years ago, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks staged its first production honoring the famous bard.

The premiere show, “As You Like It,” spanned two weekends in November at Frick Park, and Jennifer Tober served as director, choreographer and even costume designer.

“It was a kind of simple production, I pulled costumes from my own closet, or people wore really kind of utilitarian things that they had, and it was kind of a low-fi, low budget production,” Tober said. “And now the company has grown so much, now we have not-for-profit status and our cast has grown.”

Pittsburgh’s film credits have been steadily growing over the last few years, and the Steel City is the location of a new series called “The Chair,” which premieres on the cable channel Starz this weekend.

It’s about the making of two films – each from the same screen play, but adapted by different directors.

New Community Ideas for the August Wilson Center

Sep 4, 2014
AWC / Facebook

The August Wilson Center's future remains uncertain, but a group of community volunteers and activists have been holding community meetings to formulate a plan for a new August Wilson Center. The August Wilson Center Recovery Committee laid out the plans yesterday.

Group leader Janera Solomon and committee member E.J. Strassburger talk about their ambitions for the shuttered former center for African-American history. 

Read more about the details of the plan.

Fall Travel -- with a “Sports” Theme

Sep 4, 2014
Wally Gobetz / Flickr

Summer may be winding down, but with autumn comes plenty of fun for Pittsburgh sports fans. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers up some travel ideas for the fall with a distinctly “sports” theme.

Whether it’s a college football game, a little pre-season hockey, or taking a one-tank trip to follow the Pirates, she talks about travel destinations that are sure to please sports fans and their families.

Check out some of the highlights she suggests:

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

The August Wilson Center’s future remains uncertain, but a group of community volunteers and activists have been holding community meetings to formulate a plan for a new August Wilson Center.

The August Wilson Center Recovery Committee laid out plans for the center’s future, plans that group members said were formed by looking at past failures and successes. Group leader janera solomon said things must operate differently in the future.

Traveling to Europe's Most Exciting Cities

Aug 28, 2014
Steven Labalme

While a Roman holiday wasn’t part of her trip, contributor Elaine Labalme did venture to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid. She’s back in Studio A this week with a recap of European cities fall travelers may want to visit.

Bob Studebaker / 90.5 WESA

Poet Jessica Server likes the sense of freedom she gets from writing and appreciates opportunities to present her work to audiences. She considers it “an act of engagement that’s a step of the creative process.”

“What I’ve always loved about writing is that it’s sort of a vehicle that can take you anywhere,” she said.  

Server, who lives in Friendship, said the most important qualities for a writer, especially a poet, are curiosity and awareness.

Pages