Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

Kelly Bogel

Etched on the walls of Pittsburgh’s most well-worn buildings, advertisements for long-forgotten products serve as a haunting remembrance of the city’s past consumerism. Two Pittsburgh photographers have documented these signs in an exhibit called “Palimpsests: Ghost Signs of Pittsburgh.” 

Dance Africa, Promoting Cultural Heritage through Dance

Apr 25, 2014
Legacy Arts Project / Facebook

Thirty-seven years ago choreographer Dr. Charles Davis founded Dance Africa in New York City. The festival of dance, based in African cultures has since become the largest celebration of African Dance in the country.

The festival is in Pittsburgh at the August Wilson Center for its third year, in collaboration with the Legacy Arts Project, where Pittsburgh residents can learn the artistic traditions of the African Diaspora.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

The ongoing plight of the August Wilson Center continues with some bidders showing interest and others withdrawing. 

Pittsburgh City Paper reporter Rebecca Nuttall has been covering the ongoing news of the troubled arts center and the latest group of possible bidders.

“The first bid that the public heard about was a $4 million bid from three Pittsburgh foundations, the Heinz endowments, the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Richard King Mellon foundation. And a lot of the community seemed to support that a bit.

Senator John Heinz History Center

Ships sink.

They crash or capsize, and are usually never seen again, but that’s not the case with the Arabia, which sank in the Missouri River in the latter half of the 19th century—found 130 years later in a corn field.

Starting Saturday, visitors to the Senator John Heinz History Center will be able to see nearly 2,000 artifacts recovered from the once lost steamboat that was built in Pittsburgh in 1853.

History center President Andy Masich said the boat gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like in the 1800’s.

Four evenings a year, Pittsburghers can stroll through the Cultural District and pop into any art gallery for free to see a showcase of exhibits.

Each gallery crawl is different, and tonight’s features a North American premiere, a 3-D printing exhibit from a group of Penn State students and one last chance to see a robotic exhibition.

At Wood Street Galleries, "crawlers" can view North American premiere installations, Edwin van der Heide’s “Evolving Spark Network” and Alexandre Burton’s “Impacts,” in an exhibition called “Electrified.”

Take A Trip: Four Things To Do In Nashville, Tenn.

Apr 24, 2014
Timothy Wildey / flickr

Nine hours away from the Steel City is the Music City — Nashville, Tennessee. But there’s more to the city than country music. This week, contributor Elaine Labalme told us how to the get the most out of a visit to Nashville.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will join Holocaust survivors at Heinz Hall Sunday evening to commemorate Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Remembering Through Music,” presented by the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, features four musical interludes by a quartet of PSO musicians and a candlelight ceremony with six Holocaust survivors.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

A cache of works by Andy Warhol has been unlocked from its digital jail and is about to seen by a wider audience for the first time. 

A multi-national team of computer scientists, art experts and museum employees “unlocked” the images from floppy disks created by technology that was cutting edge in 1980s but has long since gone defunct. 

Courtesy photo

When Zak Kruszynski came across the phrase “bones and all,” he thought it got to the root of what he wanted to accomplish with a woodworking business.

That is, to reuse materials — often totally discarded — as often as possible, and to try to use every bit to reduce waste.

"Also, I thought it had a great ring to it,” he said.

Julian Routh

Twenty lucky people in the Cultural District in Pittsburgh received free books from the HearYourselfThink Project Wednesday for World Book Night.

Across the country, 25,000 volunteers handed out half a million books to encourage reading.

“We can open folks’ eyes to the power and joy of reading, and we’re talking to folks in the street asking them ‘have you read a good book lately’ and starting the conversation. It’s really great to be out here getting books into folks’ hands,” said director of HearYourselfThink, Dave Ninehouser.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have asked for the removal of Judith Fitzgerald (no relation) as receiver of the bankrupt August Wilson Center for African American Culture.  

The mayor and county executive sent a letter Tuesday to Lawrence O’Toole, the administrative judge of Orphans’ Court to remove Fitzgerald.

Tips for Turning a Simple Snapshot into Something Unforgettable

Apr 21, 2014
George Lange / Lange Studios

With cell phones or tablets outfitted with cameras, everyone’s a photographer. So how do you capture that perfect image? 

Famed photographer, and Pittsburgh native, George Lange has been published in Esquire, Glamour and the NY Times among others.

His book The Unforgettable Photograph offers ideas, tips, and secrets for taking better photos.

Four and a half centuries after he was born, the work of William Shakespeare continues to be performed across the globe, and Pittsburgh is marking the Bard’s birthday with a set of celebratory events.

Yvonne Hudson, artistic director with the art series Poet’s Corner, said they will be holding two events Wednesday to commemorate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

In a matter of minutes, a Pittsburgh rock ‘n’ roll band went from jamming in a driveway to meeting the leader of the free world.

The four members of Comfort Tech will remember those few moments for the rest of their lives.

“It was completely unexpected,” guitarist and vocalist Eric DiFiore said.

It started with a simple idea Wednesday afternoon to set up and play outside while the motorcade carrying President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made its way to the Community College of Allegheny County’s West Hills Center, where the two would be speaking.

Edward Everett Hale, 1904 (via Wikimedia Commons)

An online debate broke out earlier this week over two otherwise unremarkable lines in a 1648 poem by the English poet Robert Herrick:

Tumble me down, and I will sit / Upon my ruins, (smiling yet :)

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

What started eight years ago as a gathering of store owners and employees celebrating the culture of independent record stores has evolved to include major music industry events, limited edition album releases and people camped out in front of record stores.

Saturday is National Record Store Day, and it’s one of the biggest days of the year for record stores and collectors alike.

“I like that it was started to bring back the whole record store experience,” said James “Selecta” Scoglietti, part owner of 720 Records in Lawrenceville. “People used to go every weekend to their local record store, and it was a social event. It was like a barbershop, where guys and gals would come in and discuss the latest hot tracks of the week. So I love that it’s bringing that back to the mainstream.”

Spring Break With The New Girl

Apr 17, 2014
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / flickr

A little madness in the spring is wholesome …even for the King, wrote Emily Dickinson. What better way to quell the madness caused by Spring fever than with a getaway? Travel contributor Elaine Labalme joined us this week with suggestions for Spring Break excursions.

There comes a time in Pittsburgh each year when storefronts look more vibrant, the Pirates open their ballpark and the city breathes a collective sigh of relief.

It’s spring, and the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership wants Pittsburghers to celebrate by dusting off their cameras for a contest.

The PDP’s “Share Your Spring” contest, which opened Wednesday, encourages people to submit photos that capture their excitement for spring in downtown Pittsburgh.

Roger Humphries: Uplifting Pittsburgh Through the Generations

Apr 11, 2014
Billy Jackson / NOMMO Productions

Roger Humphries is one of Pittsburgh’s most notable jazz musicians. He’s performed professionally since the age of 14 with artists such as Horace Silvers and Ray Charles. But his contributions to the Pittsburgh community go beyond music, he’s uplifted generations of young people.

Humphries is the focus of the award-winning documentary Roger Humphries: Pass it On made by Billy Jackson.

The Beatles and Their Historic High Five Anniversary

Apr 11, 2014
CBS / Wikipedia

The Beatles have sold more than 2.3 billion albums through the years, a remarkable sales record by any measure. But the group's most historic chart-making moment was the first week of April, 1964 when the band held the top five positions on the Billboard charts.

Penn State Laureate Kenneth Womack is an English professor at Penn State as well as an expert on the Beatles. 

He explained how this record came about, “This great moment with these top five songs, in addition to drawing from these different periods in The Beatles' career, also are the culmination of what happened back in February when the Beatles came to America, had the wonderful series of appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. This first week of April is when it all came together and just exploded in this kind of frankly, commercial moment for the Beatles."

The historic high-five refers to the top five positions on the Billboard charts all held by the Beatles in 1964:

5. “Please Please Me”

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

For one week, Pittsburghers can experience the culture of Canada in a temporary installment downtown called Pop-Up Canada.

The concept, according to Canadian Consul General John Prato, is to encourage a conversation between Pittsburgh and Canada about different urban issues including energy, innovation and civic life.

Prato says the week is designed so that Canadian representatives can meet and learn from local political, business and community leaders. 

What Does It Take To Be A Canadian Mountie?

Apr 10, 2014
Marcus Charleston / 90.5WESA

What would a visit from a Canadian delegation be without the presence of one of the country's most recognizable symbols - a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman?

We spoke with Constable Eric Hymander, a former banker, about what it takes to become a Mountie.  

Every year there are anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 applicants that want to join the RCMP and only the top 1 percent of applicants are accepted.

Hymander said it takes about a year to review applicants’ abilities, and once accepted they spend six months undergoing vigorous training in Saskatchewan.

After Checking out Pop Up Canada, Pop on Up to Niagara Falls

Apr 10, 2014
Helen Zhang / flickr

With the celebration of Canada taking place this week in the Steel City, Niagara Falls offers something for visitors on both the American and Canadian sides. 

Long regarded as a honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls is close enough for a long weekend getaway. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for a trip to the falls.

Trevor Hurlbut / flickr

If you follow celebrity news, one story which made news last week was Gwyneth Paltrow’s divorce from Coldplay musician Chris Martin. The news was especially notable because of a term they used to describe the breakup - “conscious uncoupling.” The phrase raised eyebrows in the relationship counseling and divorce industries.

Paula Hopkins, a divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative law in the Pittsburgh area had never heard of conscious uncoupling until Paltrow’s announcement. But following the announcement, Hopkins found quite a bit of information about the term.

The debt-ridden August Wilson Center might have a buyer.

A group of local foundations, including the Pittsburgh Foundation, submitted a bid last week to acquire the downtown Pittsburgh African American cultural center which is delinquent on its $7 million mortgage.

When South Sudan separated from the North to form an independent country in 2011, the fight didn’t end.

In fact, it may be stronger than ever.

In an effort to promote advocacy, the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition (PDEC) is hosting a forum on South Sudan and Sudan on Sunday.

The event will bring together members of the Sudanese diaspora in Pittsburgh and speakers, including Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills) and Jacqueline Burns of the U.S. State Department, to discuss developments in Sudan and how to reenergize the Save Darfur movement.

HeroesBehindtheBadge.com

Saturday night Drusky Entertainment is presenting the Pittsburgh premiere of Heroes Behind the Badge, a documentary that tells the stories of two officers who paid the ultimate price, as well as the stories of three severely injured officers.

One of those officers is patrolman James Kuzak, who was shot five times after responding to a home invasion call in the city of Clairton.

Brian Drusky of Drusky Entertainment has timed the showing such that it arrives three years after Officer Kuzak’s incident and five after the death of three Pittsburgh police officers. 

Blumenthal: The Story of Harold Blumenthal

Apr 2, 2014
Blumenthalmovie.com

The film Blumenthal is a comedy that follows the relatives of Harold Blumenthal, a legendary playwright who made his career parodying his family in his work, and died laughing at his own joke.

The film was developed and produced by Carnegie Mellon University graduate Alexander Cendese who also co-stars in the movie. It was written and directed by fellow Carnegie Mellon University graduate Seth Fisher.

Brave Miss World Website

Weeks before Linor Abargil was crowned Miss World 1998, she was brutally raped while modeling in Italy.

Years later, in the documentary Brave Miss World, director Cecilia Peck followed Abargil as she confronted her rapist and encouraged other women to speak out about their own stories of rape.

The film highlights Abargil’s journey from her Miss World crowning to her global advocacy efforts against rape. 

4 Spring Festivals Worth Traveling To

Mar 27, 2014
Mark Peters / flickr

It’s officially spring, even if the weather may want to tell us otherwise. We’re going to remain optimistic and look forward to sunny and warm days spent outdoors.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggested spring festivals you might enjoy.

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