Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures executive director Jayne Adair's reading list is as rich and varied as her schedule of speakers.

Nathaniel Philbrick, Bunker Hill

Sports Talk with Bob Dvorchak

May 12, 2013
Sports Illustrated

According to urban legend, athletes and teams that appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated have been known to experience a streak of bad luck. So what's in the stars for Penguins Center, Sidney Crosby now that he's on the cover of SI

And the lasting legacy of late Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Jack Butler is definitely felt by Pittsburgh Post Gazette Sports Writer emeritus, Bob Dvorchak.

"He played in an era when the Steelers did not have a great team. But he helped define that team."

Butler passed away last weekend and was a guest on Essential Pittsburgh before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.


For the Pittsburgh public school district, the value of art can not be over stated. Earlier this week a rare painting called "Interior, Light from the Window" by Henri Le Sidaner, donated to the district by a group called Friends of Art, was sold in auction for more than $750,000. The money will benefit the financially strapped Pittsburgh Public Schools.

For nearly a century, Friends of Art has donated more than 300 works of art to the district. Most were created by local artists and like the Sidaner painting, many are displayed in school offices and other buildings throughout the district.

Guest Louise Lippincott, head of the department of fine arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art, has followed the history of the Sidaner painting

Black Filmmakers Changing the Game

May 9, 2013
Game Changers Project


"Black Men on a Hero's Journey."

Armed with cameras as weapons, 10 black men are chosen each year for the Game Changers Project, a fellowship which highlights positive black male images in the media by promoting some of America's emerging documentary film leaders.  And many of those leaders come from Pittsburgh.

Maya Angelou on Mom & Me & Mom

May 8, 2013

My Mother asked me, “Do you know who the Father is?”

I said “Of course, I only had sex with him once”

She said “And do you love him?”

I said “No”

She asked “Does he love you?”

I said “No.”

So she said “Then we’re not going to ruin three lives. We’re going to have a fine baby. That’s all there is to it.”

And she never once made me feel I had brought shame on the family.

Dr. Maya Angelou, has an impressive body of work. From singing in the opera Porgy and Bess, and dancing with the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, to the iconic 1993 Inauguration Day poem On the Pulse of Morning, and her years of activism, Angelou typifies a renaissance woman.

Out There with Paul McCartney's Rare Performances

May 8, 2013
Anna's Farm / Wikipedia

Paul McCartney has just started a world tour called Out There!, which features songs never performed live, including "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita," and "Your Mother Should Know." The songs came out years before the band broke up, but by 1966 the Beatles had already stopped touring.

In talking about Paul McCartney's current selection of unperformed songs, WYEP Midday host Mike Sauter says "There are certain live songs McCartney is expected to perform at every show, songs he can't not perform...this is a chance for him to add depth to his performances."

The New Girl in Town on Planning a Boys Night Out

May 8, 2013
Nick Knouse / Flickr

Travel writer and contributor Elaine Labalme has many bits of advice for traveling alone, and for the ladies, "traveling with the girls." Now she's got some advice for the gents. 

For even the most laid back guys, planning the perfect weekend bachelor party or reunion of college buddies can be both fun and daunting. Consider some different angles when plotting out your next trip with the guys.

Sports Talk with Bob Dvorchak

May 6, 2013
Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak looks at how the running of the Pittsburgh Marathon came off, Sidney Crosby's return to the ice and whether the NHL should look at making face shields mandatory. Also, the impact of Jason Collins coming out.

A Sportswriter's Inspiration

May 6, 2013
Susan Quigley-Jovenitti / Outsports

The news of NBA player Jason Collins has garnered a lot of attention. As the first player in one of the four major sports to come out, he's being seen as a trailblazer. His story inspired sportswriter,  Pitt graduate and our guest, Tony Jovenitti, to come out in an essay for the website Outsports.

All For One, One For All

May 6, 2013
Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Matthias Sundberg, from Point Breeze, likes action and adventure stories tinged with social realism. 

Dan Baum, Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans

Pondering a Life with Robots

May 2, 2013
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Through recent artistic conceptions, we explore a world of advanced robotics and consider the philosophical questions one might ponder if robots were a part of everyday life. Essential Pittsburgh Production Assistant Rebekah Zook  and WESA reporter Margaret Krauss visited Fraley's Robot Repair Shop in its final week Downtown and we spoke with Japanese contemporary theater Director Oriza Hirata at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Coming Out in the NBA

May 2, 2013
Washington Wizards /

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman shares his thoughts on NBA player Jason Collins becoming the first active athlete in any of America's four major professional sports leagues to acknowledge his homosexuality. He'll discuss what it means for the LGBT community as well as the African American community.

Images From the Silk Road

May 1, 2013
Christopher Rolinson / Point Park University

In 1972, Alban and Virginia Curtze of Erie, PA traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India in an area known as the Silk Road. Little did they know their vacation photos would become artifacts of world history. Thirty nine of the Curtze's images have been transferred from slides to 11-by-14-inch prints and are on display at an exhibition on the Point Park University campus. The exhibition curator and associate professor of photojournalism and photography, Christopher Rolinson gives us a tour of the Silk Road images.

Girlfriend Getaways with the New Girl in Town

May 1, 2013
Chris Breeze / Flickr

Bachelorette weekends, reunions spa retreats or the need to simply get out of town. Those are some of the reasons you and your best girlfriends may want to plan a weekend away. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers up some suggestions for girlfriend getaways.

Start planning your own getaway with these recommendations from Elaine Labalme:

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me Hits the Big Screen

Apr 30, 2013
Kyle Cassidy / Wikipedia

  NPR's weekly news quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me has been entertaining public radio listeners for more than 15 years. Now the show hits the big screen with a nationwide cinecast. We'll talk with host Peter Sagal about the radio show, it's failed TV pilot and his experience at the recent Boston Marathon.

The 2013 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival kicks off in early June with a splash.

On June 7, after years of reconstruction, the fountain at the Point will be turned back on permanently.

“Point State Park has been rebuilt from top to bottom over the last five years thanks to the efforts of one of the most extensive public-private partnerships in our history,” said Riverlife President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. “Planning for this massive project began in 2001 and is the largest park project ever undertaken in the commonwealth.”

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Writer and Mt. Lebanon resident Mary Frailey Calland does intensive research for her Civil War era novels. In between deep dives in the archives, she reads contemporary fiction.

James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom

Sports N' @: Discrimination Within the NFL?

Apr 26, 2013
Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

  Every major business in the U.S. has an anti-distrimination policy when it comes to hiring. That includes the National Football League. But what about reports of loaded personal questions for players trying out for the draft? Sports Contributor Bob Dvorchak talks about how athletes are tested at the NFL scouting combine and where the league stands on the discrimination claims.

Pittsburghers venturing downtown on Friday night have at least two opportunities to experience the arts.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Spring Gallery Crawl takes place from 5:30 to 9 p.m., while the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's Night Market IV runs from 6 to 11 p.m.

The "Community Supported Agriculture" or CSA model is taking on more and more iterations.

Traditionally, a CSA offers subscriptions to locally grown produce, but it was recently announced that a visual art CSA would be available April 30. Now a theater CSA is in the offing as well.

The New Hazlett Theater on the north side is selling CSA shares that include six performances every other month, from August to June.

Bob Studebaker / 90.5 WESA

Ryan Neitznick and John Fischer comprise the production team known as La Harrier.

Their studio in Lawrenceville is also known as La Harrier, and it’s part of  a growing aspect of Pittsburgh’s arts community — nontraditional, independent music producers.

They each grew up and began their musical careers in Pittsburgh but actually met and formed their partnership about six years ago in Philadelphia.

It's that time of year again when artists of all skill and experience levels descend on an empty warehouse in Lawrenceville to celebrate what has become one of the largest art events in the region. 

Art All Night will hold its 16th annual event starting at 4 p.m. Saturday at 4001 Willow St. in Lawrenceville.

Anyone can submit a work from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday. The art will then be put on display in the non-juried event. Artists will be asked if they want to offer their works for sale.

Sandra Bernhard is Off the Wall

Apr 23, 2013
Andy Warhol Museum

Actor, comedienne, singer, and author Sandra Bernhard is coming to Pittsburgh as part of the Warhol Museum's Off the Wall Series. She talks about how her entertainment career has evolved through the years, her affinity for Andy Warhol and the 30th anniversary of the King of Comedy, a film that greatly impacted her acting career.

Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Dr. Mario Fischetti is a clinical psychologist with the Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Center, and the moderator of its ongoing "Reading Fiction with Freud" discussion series. 

Sports Talk with Bob Dvorchak

Apr 20, 2013
Bob Dvorchak / Sports n'at

  After last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon and the passionate singing of the national anthem at Wednesday's Bruins game, sports contributor Bob Dvorchak talks about how sporting events can galvanize a city and a nation. Also, what concerns does the bombing raise about security at sporting events?

Professional Ballerinas Speaking On Pointe

Apr 18, 2013
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Instead of the traditional glass slipper, this weekend’s Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre production of Cinderella involves a glass ballet shoe. This notion made us wonder--how important is the perfect fit for a professional ballerina? Pittsburgh Ballet Principal dancers Alexandra Kochis and Julia Erickson give us a peek at the world of a dancer and her toe shoes.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, has become common in many cities.

CSA typically refers to a subscription service for fresh produce from local farmers, but a new initiative in Pittsburgh is putting a twist on the concept and replacing “agriculture” with “art.”

A Community Supported Agriculture package might include lettuce, apples, and peppers. But with Community Supported Art, subscribers will unpack a box of sculptures, photographs, drawings or paintings.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed an agreement Tuesday making Chile and Pennsylvania "Sister Chambers" by fostering job growth and business development opportunities between the two governments. The agreement came at the end of the governor's trade mission to Brazil and Chile.

The state's First Lady, Susan Corbett, is reaching out to the Chileans in a different way, announcing a cultural exchange program based in Pittsburgh and Santiago. 

Anything Goes Revamping a Classic

Apr 16, 2013
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

  This week, the 200th performance of the touring broadway show Anything Goes will be performed in Pittsburgh. The current incarnation of this Cole Porter classic won a Tony in 2011 for best musical revival and choreography.We'll talk with Pittsburgh native Kathleen Marshall, the Director and Choreographer of Anything Goes.

Pittsburgher Karen Harr finished the Boston Marathon Monday well before the explosions that killed three and injured more than 170 people.

She could have been back at the hospitality suite in the hotel where she was staying, but a decision to head back to the medical tent to get a dose of asthma medicine put her just yards away from the blast.

Harr wasn't hurt, but she said the experience will not prompt her to hang up her running shoes.