Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

Pageantry and celebration return to downtown Pittsburgh this New Year's Eve with the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013.

First Night director Darcy Kucenic said families can choose from a number of activities early on in the night, including hands-on crafts, art displays, and musical performances at the Byham Theater and the Benedum Center.

Warhol Museum Ties Pittsburgh to Asia

Dec 28, 2012

The Andy Warhol Museum is using a traveling exhibition to connect students in Pittsburgh with students in Asia in a way that museum officials feel Warhol himself would have approved.  The retrospective “Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal” is spending two years visiting five different cities and the museum is linking students in each of the host cities with students at Pittsburgh’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA).

More than ten years of work has already gone into archiving the work of Pittsburgh photographer Teenie Harris, but more needs to be done. To that end, the Carnegie Museum of Art has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which will eventually fund a full-time archivist specifically for the Teenie Harris collection.

Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer and author of The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the Twenty-First Century, talks about how fiction can impart a true sense of place, and the poetry of former Pennsylvania State Poet Samuel Hazo.

Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants

Point State Park Fountain to Flow Once Again this June

Dec 21, 2012

The grand reopening celebration of the Point State Park fountain is set for June 7, 2013. The fountain has been off and under construction since April 2009. One of the partners in the reconstruction effort, Riverlife, said once it’s turned back on, it will still be the same fountain Pittsburghers know and love, but with some changes.

Popular Downtown Statue Being Moved To Airport

Dec 18, 2012

Arch will be traveling to the airport.  The Allegheny County Airport Authority has approved placement of Glenn Kaino’s sculpture Arch at Pittsburgh International Airport. Currently Arch is undergoing restoration work and will likely be placed in the Landside Terminal of Pittsburgh International Airport this spring, in time for the national convention of Americans for the Arts set for Pittsburgh June 14, 2013.

Renee Piechocki, Director of Pittsburgh's Office of Public Art, said the sculpture is immediately identifiable as a city icon.

Point Park University English professor Megan Ward is a Victorianist, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that her reading includes a lot of 19th century British fiction. She also loves the fiction of Michael Chabon, which Ward finds "Dickensian in its exuberance... its intricacies and weirdness."

Lately she's been reading:

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Woodland Hills math teacher Justin Aion uses young adult novels in the classroom and enjoys genre fiction in his downtime. Lately he's been reading:


David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Historic Preservation in the Steel City Debated

Dec 7, 2012

The president of the group Preservation Pittsburgh says he's learned a valuable lesson from the protracted battle over the demolition of the Civic Arena -- a lesson he'll put into practice for upcoming conflicts over historic building preservation.

Grab Some Lunch And Free Opera

Dec 6, 2012

Eating at the opera might seem to be incongruous, but for years, Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists have entertained audiences during their December Brown Bag concert.

Debra Bell, Marketing Director for the Opera, said the concerts have been going on for a long time. 

Rabbi Aaron Bisno of Rodef Shalom Congregation values narrative for its power "to convince someone of the meaning of an argument because of its direct implications on someone with whom they have a relationship, who they care about."

Erik Larson, In the Garden of Beasts

Mayor's "Award For Public Art" Presented To Bridgeville Artist

Nov 30, 2012

At the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council’s annual meeting today, Toby Fraley of Bridgeville was honored with the 2012 Mayor’s Award for Public Art.  Established by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in 2007, the award acknowledges the power of public art in the community and celebrates those who are committed to supporting art in the city.

Fraley said his award-winning piece entitled “Robot Repair” was highly influenced by the memories he has of his father from when he young.  

From fiction to food, from history to science fiction, from sports to poetry, from biographies to artwork, the Heinz History Center this weekend will host the 11th annual “Books in the Burgh” holiday book fair.  Visitors to the event will have the opportunity to meet and greet local authors.

Carnegie Trees Back Again For The Holidays

Nov 28, 2012

A long standing holiday tradition in Pittsburgh returns as the Carnegie Trees at Carnegie Museum of Art kicks off its 51st year.

Seven grand, 20-foot trees, flank the museum’s perennial favorite, the Neapolitan presepio, a beautiful 18th century Nativity in the Hall of Architecture.

Each tree is stylishly decorated in an international theme celebrating Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851–1939, now on view in the Heinz Galleries at Carnegie Museum of Art.

"Conscientious" Consumerism During Holiday Season

Nov 26, 2012

If a product is considered to be “green,” the production of the item made little impact on the environment.  Similarly, if a product is “fair trade certified,” then the workers, who made it, received reasonable wages and the vendors sell the product at a fair price.

Zach Simons is a Pittsburgh-based standup comic and podcaster, and a lifelong Saturday Night Live fan. Lately he's been reading:

Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live

Laser Scan of Frank Lloyd Wright Synagogue Will Lead to Virtual Tours

Nov 25, 2012

Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Beth Sholom synagogue outside Philadelphia just had a laser treatment.

This laser won't do anything for your wrinkles. It's a valuable tool for buildings to create three-dimensional maps for historic documentation and preservation.

Three backpack-sized scanners mounted on heavy-duty tripods went to work inside and outside the landmark Elkins Park temple for several days this month.

Roethlisberger and Wife Welcome Son

Nov 23, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his wife Ashley are giving thanks for their new bundle of joy.

Benjamin Roethlisberger Jr. arrived Wednesday at 10:06 p.m., according to the athlete's website. The couple's first child weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and was just over 19 inches long.

The quarterback posted Thursday that mother and baby boy were doing well.

"We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, it really means a lot to us. God is so good!" he wrote.

Spielberg Marks Gettysburg Address Anniversary

Nov 19, 2012

One of the world’s best-known directors helped mark the anniversary today of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The crowd of hundreds laughed in the morning cold as the event’s keynote speaker, director Steven Spielberg, called them fellow “Lincoln obsessives.” The Oscar-winner says over the course of creating his latest film, “Lincoln,” he has come to think of the nation’s 16th president as an old friend.

Ruth Drescher from Squirrel Hill will be the first to admit that Paul Auster's new memoir -- written entirely in the second person -- may not be for everyone. But she found Winter Journal unexpectedly compelling.

Paul Auster, Winter Journal

This memoir from the author of The Invention of Solitude details his mother's life and death, as well as the effects of time and aging on one's body and memory.

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh kicked off its 13th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive today, hoping to “warm up the winter for a family in need.”  The iconic Fred Rogers began each television show by putting on a pair of sneakers and a cardigan sweater.  One of his sweaters is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.

Marketing Director Bill Schlageter said the Children's Museum is proud of how many people have participated through the years.

Get Ready to Light Up Friday

Nov 15, 2012

The holiday season will officially hit Downtown Pittsburgh tomorrow as Christmas trees are lit, bands begin to play, and the city celebrates the 52nd annual Light Up Night.

This year’s Light Up Night begins at noon Friday as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl lights the City's official Christmas tree at the City-County Building and the U.S. Steel Plaza dedicates its crèche simultaneously.  The county lights its tree later that afternoon.

Staycee Pearl is a Pittsburgh-based choreographer who stages dance performances based on, or inspired by, works of literature. She offers a few favorite books and talks about their role in her work at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

Octavia Butler, Wild Seed

Braddock Hospital had been in the community for more than 100 years when it closed in 2010. It had been bought by UPMC in 1996, but declining admissions and the resulting revenue loss took its toll. Braddock independent filmmaker Tony Buba was at the closing announcement and said he got consumed in the effort to save the hospital, during which he shot a lot of footage. He put together a film about the saga, but said it’s about much more.

PA's First Lady Tours Pittsburgh School

Nov 6, 2012

Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett has been stopping at various schools across the state as a part of her “Opening Doors” initiative that aims to increase high school graduation rates by targeting middle school students.

Paige McKenzie, from Penn Hills, is a fan of travel writing and memoirs.

“We accept the love we think we deserve," is perhaps the most famous line from the recently released movie, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower”.  The film was the inspiration for Pittsburgh’s first “Wallflowers and Wildflowers: An Alternative Homecoming”.  The event welcomes local high school students who find it difficult or intimidating to attend their own school dances and will be held at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Saturday, November 10.

With Halloween passed, for those of us not trick-or-treating, people are looking to move on the the next holiday. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership will kick off the Christmas season with the 52nd annual Light Up Night.

With the CAPA (Creative And Performing Arts) high school choir performing, organizers and officials met in PPG Place’s Wintergarden to announce this year’s events.

Speaking Volumes: Lori Jakiela

Oct 29, 2012 VOLUMES_Lori Jakiela_0.mp3

Lori Jakiela is a poet, a memoirist, and a devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose. A few of the books you might encounter in her writing class at Chatham or Pitt-Greensburg:

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Bruce Springsteen will take the stage in Pittsburgh Saturday night, but it will not be just another concert. The music icon has partnered with Rainbow Kitchen Community Services to help benefit its food pantry. The organization will be collecting monetary donations and non-perishable food items during the show at the Consol Energy Center.

The Homestead based charity offers several anti-hunger programs and support services for local families focused primarily on helping low-income people to achieve and maintain an improved quality of life and self-sufficiency.