Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

Christmas will still come, but the Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park has been suspended indefinitely due to an increase in costs and a decline in sponsorships. The decision came as a result of the county’s limited financial resources after taxpayers had to cover most of the $1.5 million cost last year.

Amie Downs, Director of Communications for Allegheny County, said there is a chance the show could go on, but only if sponsors “come out of the woodwork” over the next few months.

Speaking Volumes: Tom Sweterlitsch

Sep 10, 2012

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Pittsburgh writer and librarian Tom Sweterlitsch has wide-ranging reading interests in fiction. Lately he's been reading:

 

Stewart O'Nan, Songs for the Missing

Speaking Volumes: David Greene

Sep 3, 2012

If you've ever wondered whether NPR hosts actually read the books featured on the air, the answer is: yes. Morning Edition host and Pittsburgh native David Greene talks about some of the more memorable reads he's encountered while prepping for author interviews and foreign assignments.

Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Portraits of the Healthcare-Lacking

Aug 27, 2012

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An artist from Bucks County has been painting portraits of people who do not have health insurance.

Speaking Volumes: Patrick Dowd

Aug 27, 2012

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd started out as a historian, and while he's no longer in academia his reading still reflects that background. These days Dowd reads historical nonfiction mixed with fiction "with a serious historical bent."

Edwin Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command

Kennywood Ethnic Days Thrive

Aug 25, 2012

Pittsburgh's multi-ethnic heritage is celebrated at Kennywood Park multiple times each summer.  Cultural groups gather for more than a dozen nationality days at the amusement park including a Polish Day that has been taking place for 81 years.   Traditional music, dance, ethnic food and kitsch sales, along with awards and religious celebrations, are among the features of a number of the ethnic days.   During Polish Day, Catholic priest Miroslav Stelmaszczyk has for years manned a stand selling massive potato pancakes and dill pickles.

Two 20-foot tall steel sculptures were moved Wednesday from an old coke plant, where they were built, to their new home on the South Side. The planning and constructing of “The Workers” has taken about 15 years and included 21 artists.

Speaking Volumes: Patricia DeMarco

Aug 20, 2012

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring. The landmark work by southwestern Pennsylvania native and Chatham University alumna Rachel Carson helped launch the modern environmental movement, and still enjoys a large and avid readership after half a century in print. 

Joe Wos

Aug 10, 2012

Toonseum director Joe Wos has been rediscovering some old favorites, and discovering some groundbreaking new graphic novels.

Joe's comic picks for adult readers:

Charles Addams, My Crowd

The Indian Nationality Room Committee at the Cathedral of Learning’s Nationality Rooms will observe India’s 65th year of Independence on Sunday. The annual celebration includes a parade around the Cathedral along with speakers, dancers, food, and other things.

“It’s important for us, for our children, to know the struggle those leaders who fought for this independence," said Saroj Bahl, India Nationality Room Committee Chair. "You know, India was under British rule, for 200 years they ruled India and it was not easy.” 

A New View of Whistler Comes To CMOA

Aug 3, 2012

While he might be best known for a painting of his mother, James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an accomplished printmaker and even more accomplished at managing his public persona. The Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) opens an exhibition Saturday titled Whistler and Rebellion in the Art World that delves into the places where Whistler's art and his personality cross.

Hostel Coming to South Side

Jul 30, 2012

Supporters of hostels are trying again to make a go of it in Pittsburgh.

Hostels may be similar to hotels in spelling and general concept, but that's about it. Hostels are significantly lower in cost and luxury, usually being like dormitories and appealing to young travelers or backpackers who seek a more personal stay.

The most recent hostel in Pittsburgh closed in 2005 due to low occupancy rates, but the concept is returning to the area in the space above the Beehive at 13th and East Carson Street on the South Side.

"Golden Dragon" Will Be A Production Marvel

Jul 30, 2012

With an interesting plot and unconventional performance, "The Golden Dragon" will keep audience members engaged, to say the least. Presented by the Quantum Theater, the production will open on August 3 on Carnegie Lake in Highland Park.

The stories of the kitchen staff at an Asian cuisine restaurant and tenants from the apartment above intertwine and are acted out on a raft-like stage on the water.

Judge Allows for Demolition of St. Nick's Church

Jul 23, 2012

An Allegheny County judge has allowed for St. Nicholas Parish to demolish its historic church on Route 28 in the North Side.

On Monday, Common Pleas Judge Robert Colville ordered the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission to grant the parish a "certificate of economic hardship" within 30 days. That document would allow the parish to bypass the deteriorating church's historic status and proceed with plans for demolition.

However, the city still has the option to appeal Judge Colville's decision.

Bill Bodine

Jul 17, 2012

The Frick Art & Historical Center's Director says in a good museum, as in a good book, "each object has a story to tell."

Bill Bodine recommends:

Edmund DeWaal, The Hare With Amber Eyes

An additional 2,200 senior citizens in the Pittsburgh region will be served as part of a long term development plan for the Meals on Wheels program. A $60,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation will assist the senior nutrition group in helping nearly twice as many people as it currently does.

Bill Fuller

Jul 10, 2012

Restauranteuer Bill Fuller, Corporate Chef of the Big Burrito group, has his plate full this summer with Wallace Stegner's 600 page, Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose.

Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Andrew Masich

Jul 9, 2012

On the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War, Heinz History Center President and CEO Andy Masich's mind is on the role of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania in those historic events.

Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels

Presbyterians Will Boycott, But Not Divest

Jul 6, 2012

The Presbyterian Church (USA), meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, voted yesterday by a 2-vote margin not to divest pension funds from three U.S. companies whose products are said to be used in non-peaceful pursuits in the occupied Palestinian territories: Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions.

Summer Reads at the WYEP Summer Music Festival

Jul 2, 2012

Oakland's Schenley Plaza, just across from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh main branch, is one of the city's best places to relax with a book on a warm summer evening. It's also a great spot to enjoy live outdoor music. Josh Raulerson found plenty of people doing both on a recent Friday night, during the 2012 WYEP Summer Music Festival.

Some recommended titles for summer reading:

Fans of the Bard will have the opportunity to view and then judge short theater productions this week during "Bard Wars" at the Community College of Allegheny County. The school launches its first Shakespeare Creative Competition Festival June 28 with performances beginning at 8:00 PM each evening through June 30th.

Henry Reese

Jun 25, 2012

City of Asylum Pittsburgh brings international writers facing persecution in their home countries to Pittsburgh, where they're provided with the security and support they need to continue their work. In return, through readings and other public events, Pittsburghers get an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others whose lives may be very different from their own.

To celebrate Pittsburgh's rich history of rich foods, visitors to the first Hometown-Homegrown event will be treated to a taste of the city's culinary passion. Presented by the Heinz History Center and GoodTaste! Pittsburgh, the food expo will serve up samples from the best of the best in western Pennsylvania.

Natalia Rudiak

Jun 18, 2012

Pittsburgh District 4 City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak (D-South Hills) is a world traveler and a self-described "voracious reader." She sates her wanderlust on a steady diet of travel writing and fiction set in faraway places.

Councilwoman Rudiak recommends:

Kira Salak, Four Corners: A Journey Into the Heart of Papua New Guinea

Tim Murphy

Jun 11, 2012

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA 18) represents the South Hills in the U.S. House of Representatives. He's also a practicing psychologist whose work with veterans is informed by accounts of heroism on the battlefield.

Murphy recommends:

Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor

Carnegie Library Summer Reading Extravaganza Sunday

Jun 8, 2012

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is kicking off its 12th annual Summer Reading Extravaganza this Sunday in Oakland from noon to 5:00 PM.

There will be a giant slide, puppet shows, music, plays, belly dancing, story times and wild animals, all to encourage children, teens, and adults to keep reading and learning during the summer months.

Dennis Yablonsky

Jun 4, 2012

Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky draws inspiration from stories of leadership and perseverance.

He recommends:

Sean Parnell, Outlaw Platoon

In combat, men measure up. Or don't. There are no second chances.

Many of Pittsburgh's most notable historic landmarks, like the Fort Pitt Blockhouse and the Cathedral of Learning, are already protected by the Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh. The city has also designated twelve neighborhoods as historic districts, in which the area's aesthetics are strictly controlled.

However, a new plan from the Department of City Planning aims to expand the city's protection of its historic assets. Under the PRESERVEPGH outline, Pittsburgh would coordinate citywide historic preservation for the first time in its history.

Speaking Volumes: Linda Lane

May 28, 2012

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane tells Josh Raulerson reading has made all the difference in her life.

Recently, she's been reading:

Isabelle Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns

Dialogue, an exhibition featuring paintings and sculptures of two artists, will be shown at this year's annual ART WORKS Art Show in Johnstown. The inaugural showing will start at 4:00 PM on Saturday, June 2nd.

Norman Ed, the exhibit's sculptor and Johnstown native, said he will be working on the pieces up until the day of the show.

"The majority of the work is all buttoned up," Ed said, "but I love the energy and the certain kind of tension and frustration about trying to pull something off."

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