Arts & Culture

Arts and culture reporting from 90.5 WESA.

What's Hot in the Box Office This Fall

Oct 23, 2014
Janne Moren / Flickr

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Film Editor Barbara Vancheri discusses the movies "Ouija," "Gone Girl," "The Judge," "Fury," "St. Vincent," and "Birdman." We also talk about Pittsburgh Native, Michael Keaton and how "Birdman" could be a life changing film for his career.

The horror movie “Ouija,” Vancheri says the film might make you even more afraid to use the classic board game referenced in the title. “Gone Girl,” which has been a major success at the cineplex, is full of twists and surprises and has a strong cast. “Fury” is an intense, historical film that takes place at the end of WWII. Also, lookout for "St.Vincent" that is coming out tomorrow the film “Birdman” that Vancheri would describe as brilliant, coming out next week.

Thoughts from Vancheri:

“If you're an adult and you’ve seen something like 'The Exorcist' I don’t think it will make you quake or shake but it seemed to entertain the teens and tweens who were in the audience.” - Vancheri on the movie “Ouija”

"We watched a screening a couple weeks ago and I think two of us used the same word, and that was 'brilliant'."- Vancheri on the movie 'Birdman.'"

Watch the official "Birdman" trailer 

Fall Getaways

Oct 23, 2014
Willscrlt / Flickr

Are you feeling an overwhelming need to get away? Would a quick autumnal excursion sate your wanderlust? This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests five quick fall getaways.

An in depth Discussion of Flight 93 with Author Tom McMillian

Oct 21, 2014
Mike Renlund / Flickr

The book "Flight 93: the Story, the Aftermath and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11" is an in-depth look at the events and people involved in the United Airlines plane that crashed in Shanksville, PA. Joining us to discuss this detailed account is journalist Tom McMillan. Regarding the recent news of a fire at the Flight 93 memorial, McMillan explains that fortunately the damage was minimal, and no one was injured. 

He later talks about his research process for his book and what makes this story interesting. 

"... This wasn't New York City, it wasn't Washington D.C. I was fascinated about how this story was different because it was in small town America." - Tom McMillan 

A Brief History of Hysteria and Public Panic with Joe Wos

Oct 20, 2014
revjdevans / Flickr

The spread of the Ebola virus is the latest news issue receiving widespread coverage. From the Y2K panic, to killer bees and more, pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us to discuss the history of public panic and hysteria.

Courtesy Conflict Kitchen

Conflict Kitchen -- an Oakland restaurant that specializes in cuisine from nations with which the United States is in conflict -- recently introduced a Palestinian menu to coincide with Middle East talks at the University Honors College at Pitt. 

This week, the restaurant hosted Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist, blogger, chef and author of the book “The Gaza Kitchen.” She orchestrated a Gazan meal and gave a talk about Palestine, its food and its politics. She joins us to talk about food, culture and politics in the Middle East.

Pittsburgh Symphony

The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops is making it a movie night this weekend with "Heroes and Villains," a show that will have Grammy award winning vocalist Sheena Easton taking center stage.

Easton will sing the title song of the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only," which she recorded for the film's title sequence and "Nobody Does It Better" from "The Spy Who Loved Me" by Marvin Hamlisch.

 

Halloween is creeping closer (see what we did there?), and 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel have some spooky seasonal activities for the scare-fans and the squeamish alike. On tap this week: some beer with your barge, no touching in the haunted house and Seth Meyers's yinzer accent. Listen in for why, “I give you credit for being up for most things, but everybody has their limit.”

Kelly Strayhorn Theater

This year the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, originally the Regent Theatre, will mark its 100th anniversary this month.

Joining us in studio to discuss the theater and her hopes for turning the East Liberty neighborhood into another cultural district is janera solomon, executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

See images of the theater as the Regent and the Kelly Strayhorn in the slideshow above.

Brian Siewiorek

Back in the late '60s, Andy Warhol would frequently ask artists like the Velvet Underground to perform live as he projected his films. The practice nearly died with the artist, but it's being resurrected in Pittsburgh this week.

Musicians will perform live scores Friday for 15 Warhol films that experts are calling “unseen.”

“Warhol shot a lot of film and he probably looked at it, put it away,” said Geralyn Huxley, curator of film and video for the Andy Warhol Museum. “Certainly they were never publicly screened that we know of.” 

Shaun / Flickr

  

Updated at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday: Pittsburgh has advanced to the final round of Gawker's "America's Ugliest Accent" tournament. But is this a source of pride or a source of embarrassment?

Some area linguists argue that when people make fun of local accents or describe them as “ugly,” they’re actually making fun of poor and working class people.

University of Pittsburgh linguistics professor Scott Kiesling has researched the Pittsburgh accent in collaboration with Barbara Johnstone, CMU professor of English and linguistics and author of "Speaking Pittsburghese."

Pop Culture Icon and Artist Peter Max Comes to Pittsburgh

Oct 10, 2014
Peter Max

The iconic pop culture artist Peter Max is in Pittsburgh this week for a gallery exhibition and retrospective. The German-born Jewish-American painter is known for creating vibrantly colored works based on Americana such as the Statue of Liberty, sports figures, American presidents and other symbols that have made him a commercial success.

Before you go see his work at the Christine Fre’chard Gallery in Squirrel Hill, hear his stories of travel and what it’s been like creating art for some of the most well known public figures in recent history.

Asaf Antman / Flickr

After living abroad for a number of years, jazz saxophonist Roby Edwards has returned to Pittsburgh. This weekend he’ll be taking part in the Alto Madness concert at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

He speaks with WESA jazz host Bob Studebaker. Also taking part in the conversation is Mensa Walli, artistic director of the Kente Arts Alliance.

Social Club for the Weekend of Oct. 10

Oct 9, 2014

For the beer lovers out there — you might be able to call us that — 90.5 WESA's Josh and Yelp's Rachel brought in a special guest. Scott Smith, head brewer at East End Brewery, joins the Social Club this week. On tap in this episode: carefully-placed T-shirt racks, twirly hot dog machines, brewing for charity and the controversy of pumpkin beer.

A Weekend in Cleveland

Oct 9, 2014
Dustin Jamison / Flickr

It seems Cleveland’s efforts to shed the image of “the mistake on the lake” are paying off. LeBron James has returned to the Cavaliers, the latest Captain America adventure was filmed in the city and the GOP has selected it for the next Republican convention. With the Steelers set to play the Browns, travel contributor Elaine Labalme takes another look at Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Brewers Host Beer Sampling for Charity

Oct 9, 2014

Knocking back a couple of brews has never been more charitable.

The eighth annual Brewing Up A Cure craft beer festival, this Saturday at PPG’s Wintergarden in Downtown Pittsburgh, will feature more than 75 beers from microbreweries in Pittsburgh, with all proceeds benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

For the next two weeks, amid the autumn offerings of pumpkins and hearty greens, the Market Square Farmer’s Market will feature performances by artists from the Pittsburgh Opera.

Leigh White is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which hosts the market every Thursday. She said this is the second year they will welcome the Opera to the market.

Project 22 Explores the Issue of Suicide Among Veterans

Oct 6, 2014
Theo Collins

According to the Veteran’s Administration, it is estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day. This sobering fact served as the impetus for the documentary Project 22.

The film chronicles the journey of two combat-wounded veterans across America. They traveled the country to speak with veterans who had contemplated, or attempted suicide, as well as researchers and healthcare providers. Joining us to discuss the film is Theo Collins, a law student at Duquesne University, a Marine Corps veteran and an associate producer of the film.

Short Film 'Home Range' Follows a Veteran's Troubled Homecoming

Oct 6, 2014

Inspired by 1978’s “The Deer Hunter,” writer/director Natalia Kaniasty shot the short film “Home Range” in her hometown of Indiana, PA.

The narrative follows Bobby Novak, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returns home to Western Pennsylvania while his best friend from childhood does not. Bobby must struggle to adjust to civilian life and re-assimilate into his community. Kaniasty joins us to discuss the process of crafting an emotional narrative in her own backyard. 

Exploring the End of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Oct 3, 2014
Dex1138 / Flickr

For years, Saturday morning network television was the domain of the younger set. However, like penny candy, pay phones and Life Magazine, Saturday morning cartoons are a thing of the past.

Pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us for a history of these weekend staples and why the broadcast networks are no longer carrying them. 

Mark Coggins / Flickr

The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa. is holding its annual fundraising event Friday. Among the special guests is Carol Burnett, who is receiving the 2014 Harvey Award.

Burnett idolized Stewart growing up and they later became friends. We speak with the museum's Executive Director Tim Harley about the event and the museum's history.

Like most people, Yelp’s Rachel suffers from a serious case of FoMO. Thankfully, the Social Club is here this week to give her all the things she needs to stay busy, with 90.5 WESA’s Josh at the helm to keep things running smoothly. This week, we’ve got six miles of doughnut running, a case of Highway Robbery and a whole lot of steps. Listen in for why, “Everything I do is spontaneous.”

This week’s events:

Marty’s Market

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

While many kids spent the summer swimming, playing video games or going to camp, six area kids spent theirs working with theater professionals to produce plays they’d written.

City Theatre’s Young Playwright’s contest takes six works from middle and high school students in Western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. The contest is in its 15th year, and this year’s selections were whittled down from more than 300 submissions.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

As a final hearing on the future of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture was about to begin Monday morning, an $8.85 million settlement was announced by the creditors, Pittsburgh-area foundations and a second bidder. 

Previously a consortium of local foundations had bid $7.2 million.

A New York-based developer with plans of turning the building into a hotel had offered $9.5 million for the structure, but community outcry asking for the center to remain a locally held cultural institute apparently tipped the scales toward the foundations’ bid. 

Volunteers Paint for Homeless Veterans

Sep 26, 2014

Volunteers from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades gave the Veterans Place on Washington Boulevard a fresh coat of paint Friday.

As part of the United Way Days of Caring and Project S.E.R.V.E., nine painters from IUPAT (District Council 57) painted the recreation room and common areas in the facility, which houses supportive services for homeless veterans in Pittsburgh.  

NPR Journalist Michele Norris Talks Race in America

Sep 26, 2014
Michele Norris / Shoxclix

When award-winning NPR journalist and former All Things Considered c0-host Michele Norris released her first book "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir" in 2010, it was the beginning of a unique national conversation on race. 

On October 1st, Norris comes to Pittsburgh to give a talk entitled "Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race," a part of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History exhibition, "Race: Are We So Different?" She talks with us about how far we've come with that conversation on race.

Exhibition Hails Heinz’s Storied History

Sep 26, 2014

A new exhibit that opened this weekend at the Senator John Heinz History Center celebrates the 145-year history of the H.J. Heinz Company.

Pittsburgh-based Heinz has evolved into one of the world’s largest food processing companies since its founding in 1869.

“The Heinz Company has been important to Pittsburgh for 145 years and we think the History Center is the right place to tell that story,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center.

The downtown area near Market Square has been transforming with the new PNC headquarters, the Gardens at Market Square, and now a new 92,000 square foot theater will be built by Point Park University.

The Pittsburgh Playhouse will be built between Forbes and Fourth Avenue in between Smithfield and Wood Street.

Half of the $10 million pricetag will be covered by a $5 million state grant.

Zine Fair Showcases Independent Art

Sep 26, 2014

Finding a piece of original artwork for under $100 is not an easy task, but how about for $0.50?

That's how cheap some independent artwork will go for at this Sunday's Pittsburgh Zine Fair, which features more than 50 vendors showcasing their work. 

Zine, short for "fanzine," is a do-it-yourself (DIY) collection of self-produced stories, sketches, anthologies or photographs. Zines are purposefully made cheaply so artists and writers can get their messages out easily.

Johnny Appleseed: Beyond the Myth

Sep 25, 2014
Rudolf Vlček / Flickr

You may not recognize the name John Chapman from your history books. The pioneering American nurseryman is better known as Johnny Appleseed, who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Midwest. We’ll mark the 240th anniversary of Johnny Appleseed’s birth and his connection to Pittsburgh with culture contributor Joe Wos.

There’s never a dull week in the Steel City. This week’s Social Club embraces variety, with lavender ice cream, vintage shopping, a starry night out and sophisticated beer drinking. Listen in for why, “I’m so out of the ice cream loop right now.”

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