Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

PNC Tower Construction Cuts Environmental Impact

Mar 27, 2012

In keeping with its goal of making its new headquarters the world's greenest skyscraper, PNC is requiring building contractors to follow company-specific environmental rules in addition to those enforced by the EPA and Allegheny County Health Department.

Construction is to begin this spring on the $300 million Tower at PNC Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh. Benson Gabler, PNC's Manager of Corporate Sustainability, says construction crews will have to curtail diesel emissions, a requirement the company has never enforced this strongly.

The Affordable Care Act and Marcellus Shale drilling were among the topics of discussion as 150 community representatives from Pennsylvania took part in the annual Community Leaders Briefing (CLB) in Washington, D.C. Friday.

Another topic was gay rights at the state and federal levels.

As Thomas Waters, Advocacy Chair for the Pittsburgh's Delta Foundation, waited in line to enter the White House, he spoke with Essential Public Radio. He urged the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) population to follow his lead.

Protesters Rally Against Healthcare Mandate

Mar 23, 2012

Demonstrators gathered outside the Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh Friday as part of a Rally for Religious Freedom to oppose Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines.

Under the Affordable Health Care Act, most insurance companies will cover women's preventative services, including contraception, without charging a co-pay beginning this August.

As part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a new traveling exhibit will be debuted in Pittsburgh. The Senator John Heinz History Center will host the display over the weekend, before it heads to its next destination.

"The Civil War was the seminal event in American history," said Heinz Center President and CEO Andy Masich, "it shaped our nation and perhaps is still shaping it today. Issues of race and sovereignty, these are issues we grapple with today."

Wanted: Little Brothers and Sisters

Mar 19, 2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for more "Little" brothers and sisters. Due to successful volunteer recruiting of "Bigs" in the area, the Pittsburgh non-profit is now seeking more children in need of mentors.

Jan Glick, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh arm of Big Brothers Big Sisters, explains why the tables have turned.

Movies and television are often criticized for not showcasing enough diversity. One Pittsburgher got tired of seeing the same images of black women in mainstream media, so she started a project aimed at debunking stereotypes, specifically those of black women. Essential Public Radio's Deanna Garcia met with Brittany McBryde to discuss her first documentary film.

Deanna Garcia: Tell me about your film The Image of Black Women.

Dozens of women artists from across the Pittsburgh region will gather on the North Side this week for a one-of-a-kind production.

SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2012 will bring together female poets, playwrights, visual artists, musicians, and other artists at the New Hazlett Theater on Thursday and Friday night.

SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now) was founded in 2008, and is celebrated in hundreds of cities worldwide.

"It's funny how you can keep on losing," says Charles Naegele, a New York City musician in the 1950s. "…and yet find you're really gaining all the time."

Naegele's account, along with other pieces written by Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, and many others were broadcast on the CBS Radio Network's "This I Believe" series from 1951 to 1955. The idea of allowing common and famous people to reflect on and recite their day-to-day thoughts on-air was revived in 2005 by National Public Radio.

Overseers in Cambria and Somerset Counties are preparing for the Stonycreek River's first full season of whitewater recreation this year.

The Cambria-Somerset Authority expects healthy water levels in the Quemahoning Reservoir this spring, thanks to a relatively warm winter. CSA Chairman Jim Greco said that could mean more whitewater discharges from the reservoir into the Stonycreek.

Museum of Art Announces Additions

Feb 20, 2012

A 19th century papier-mâché pianoforte, a daguerreotype photograph of President Barack Obama inaugural address, and water decanters commissioned by President James Monroe are among the works acquired by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2011.

Jason Busch, the museum's chief curator, said the pieces are a great fit.

February 22 to April 1 is not only a period to give up a favorite guilty pleasure for the Christian Lenten Season, activists also plan to make it a time to take a stand against abortion. The Pittsburgh 40 Days for Life Campaign plans to pray and hold vigils outside of the downtown Planned Parenthood location starting Wednesday.

Bringing the history of humans and their domesticated animals together, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will display Andy Warhol's Dogs and Cats paintings through the end of June.

The Warhol Museum's director of exhibitions, Jesse Kowalski, said the display is a continued collaboration among the city's museums.

The Awesome Pittsburgh Foundation, a new local chapter of a national project, is on a citywide search for one thing: new projects it thinks are awesome.

Each month the group awards a $1,000 grant to an individual or group proposing a new way to help Pittsburgh stand out in the global economy, connect its communities, or celebrate local art and technology.

This month, they've written a check for a barge.

Play Explores Gammage Death

Feb 9, 2012

A new play exploring the 1995 arrest and death of Johnny Gammage opens tonight at the Henry Heymann Theater. It runs through February 19 before moving on to the August Wilson center Downtown March 2nd.

Essential Public Radio's Mark Nootbaar had a chance to speak with "The Gammage Project" author Attilo Favorini. He asked the University of Pittsburgh Professor what drew him to the nearly 17-year-old story.

Cardinal Bevilacqua Dead Age 88

Feb 1, 2012

After a battle with an undisclosed form of cancer and dementia, Retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died Tuesday in his sleep at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood. Bevilacqua served as head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for more than 15 years. Prior to taking that post he was the bishop of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese from 1983-87.

In order to prevent Johnstown landmarks from being stripped of their history and possibly even being torn down, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cambria County will formally transfer the ownership of three former church buildings to 1901 Church Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that focuses on preventing church structures in the Cambria County area from being neglected.

The three church buildings — Immaculate Conception, St. Columba's, and Sts. Casimir and Emerich — will be transferred from Resurrection Parish to 1901 Church, Inc. this afternoon.

Afghan War Exhibit Comes to Pittsburgh

Jan 20, 2012

"Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan" is making its next stop in downtown Pittsburgh this Friday. 45 murals from across the U.S., along with drawings collected from Afghan high school students, highlight suffering from war.

Scilla Wahrhaftig, program director for the American Friends Service Committee in Pennsylvania, said the idea for the exhibit came after the committee began its "Eyes Wide Open" project in 2004, in which empty boots represented each soldier killed in Iraq.

Nominees For Episcopal Bishop Of Pittsburgh

Jan 17, 2012

Four priests will stand for election as the next Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh April 21. A 16-member Standing Committee announced the slate of candidates Monday.

"Three of the final eight were from the state of Pennsylvania," said the Very Reverend George Werner, Dean Emeritus of Trinity Cathedral and president of the nominating committee. "All the four that emerged for our particular unique situation, none of them happen to be [from] Pennsylvania."

The four candidates are:

Rediscovering Lost Artwork in Pittsburgh

Jan 16, 2012

The murals at St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale were once well known throughout the United States. Now, one Pittsburgh filmmaker is helping the world rediscover these artworks.

Maxo Vanka's Masterpiece: The Murals at St. Nicholas Church is a new documentary by director Kenneth Love that examines how these murals tell a key part of American history: the story of the immigrant.

96th Pennsylvania Farm Show Delights 400,000

Jan 11, 2012

It's a cliché, but you can't leave the Farm Show without trying the food, whether it's the milkshakes in the food court or free samples in the marketplace.

Brian Nicklaus sells Hammond's Pretzels. A bowl of pretzel bits sits out, free for the picking; apparently he's not worried about people filling up on samples. Nicklaus says that he doesn't see too many shameless freeloaders.

"Well, you see people but you don't say it to 'em," he says, chuckling.

Steel Town Library Receives Humanities Grant

Dec 27, 2011

The B.F. Jones Memorial Library in Aliquippa has received a $5,650 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to be used for the next steps in preserving their collection of regional history.

Library director Linda Helms said that they will use the money to hire a consultant who can help decide how to best preserve the documents about the history of the Aliquippa steel mill and the town, built largely by the mill's owner, Jones and Laughlin (J&L) Steel. The library is named after B.F. Jones, a co-owner of the original company.

The incoming leader of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is eager to direct the system out of choppy financial waters and to begin expanding services online and at branch locations.

The library system's Board of Trustees has named Mary Frances Cooper the system's new President and Director. She assumes the position on New Year's Day.

Madeleine Albright was in Pittsburgh on Monday night for the opening of the "Read My Pins" exhibit, which features more than 200 pins from her collection, all of which have their own foreign policy story.

Albright was the first woman to become a U.S. Secretary of State, a post she held from 1997 to 2001. But it was her position before that, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, that prompted her to use the pins to send messages.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has launched the Center for World Cultures. This is an effort to leverage the museum's research, exhibits, and public programming to highlight how different cultures, past and present, shape modern-day challenges and issues, and to basically highlight the human experience and its effects on the planet.

Another Legal Battle Over Electronic Billboards?

Dec 6, 2011

Did Pittsburgh Council's amending of a bill restricting electronic billboards in the city actually bring an end to a three-year moratorium on the electronic signs? That question could wind up in Common Pleas Court.

Pittsburgh's New Year's Eve celebration, Highmark First Night, announced the entertainment lineup for this year's family-friendly event. Headlining a concert to ring in the New Year will be Pittsburgh band Rusted Root. They'll be playing on the Highmark Stage starting at 10:45 PM. The concert will run right up to midnight for the count down to the new year. In addition, Cello Fury with special guests Bill Deasy and Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, and House of Soul will perform.

Going Whole Hog: Reporter Makes Way Through 60-Pound Pig

Nov 26, 2011

Past Comes Back to Life at Preservation Fair

Oct 22, 2011

Antique buffs came together at the Carnegie Museums in Oakland Saturday for the 2011 Preservation Fair, bringing artifacts and heirlooms — as well as considerable expertise — in tow.

Carnegie Mellon librarian Charlotte Tancin is one of the organizers of this year's fair. She said it's important for the public to understand preservation.

The second annual sing-off competition is underway. Equitable Gas Company is searching for musically talented middle and high school students to audition for the event as part of the upcoming 2012 First Night Pittsburgh celebration, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

"We're asking them to submit a video audition performance, and they can do that via YouTube, by submitting a video up to five minutes in length," said Equitable Spokesman Scott Waitlevertch.

Capitol Exhibit Showcases Art of Disabled Pennsylvanians

Oct 14, 2011

This October, the walls of the state Capitol's lower rotunda are adorned with art created by Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

The display promotes October as National Disability Employment Awareness month.

Gene Bianco, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, singled out the work of Sal Panasci, who began painting after he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"When Sal paints and he moves to watercolor, he relearns painting and watercolor," said Bianco. "He does not build his art over time. He has to relearn his art every time."

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