Bill O'Driscoll

Arts & Culture Reporter

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Most recently, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat.

Garret Jones

As far as comics artists go, Ed Piskor might not seem like a superhero kind of guy.

Photo by Jon Rubin

Alisha Wormsley didn’t intend her work of billboard art to be about gentrification. But her message reading “There Are Black People in the Future,” posted in big letters atop a building in the center of East Liberty, has become just that.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

An acclaimed British photographer will guide some local students to document their own communities as part of this year’s Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

In all of the U.S., there are only a few dozen sets of instruments that qualify as gamelan ensembles – the collections of gongs and other tuned percussion instruments needed to play this form of music indigenous to Indonesia.

One such gamelan resides at the University of Pittsburgh, whose University Gamelan group marks its 20th anniversary this week with a pair of concerts. Guest performers include composer Ismet Ruchimat, vocalist Masyuning, and musician Idra Ridwan.

Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson Photography

Over its 24 years, adventuresome dance troupe Attack Theatre has staged productions in some unusual places: outdoor plazas, old industrial spaces, a gallery at the Carnegie Museum of Art. But its latest venue is probably a first: a former Office Depot at The Waterfront shopping complex in Homestead.

420 Games

Pro-pot events used to be limited to rock concerts, but in the wake of legal medical marijuana, that is changing. Pittsburgh becomes the first city in the eastern U.S. this week to host the 420 Games, an event blending athletics with marijuana advocacy.

Photo by Jon Rubin

That work of billboard art in East Liberty that was taken down last week can go back up, according to a statement issued this morning by the landlord of the building the billboard stands on.

Courtesy of the artist

Karl Marx is considered one of the most important social philosophers of the past two centuries, and among the most controversial -- even hundreds of years after his birth. 

Photo by Jon Rubin

The removal of a message from a billboard art project in East Liberty has sparked outrage – and inspired a community meeting to address issues surrounding free speech and public art.

*Updated at 6:02 p.m. Thursday, April 5

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Later this spring, the end of an era in Pittsburgh theater arrives with the shuttering of the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland.

Courtesy of the author

In Anjali Sachdeva’s debut collection of short stories, a young frontier wife who can’t abide daylight gets lost, perhaps fatally, in a mysterious cavern. A steelworker in 19th-century Pittsburgh is injured terribly in an industrial accident, but develops a strange power. A present-day fisherman encounters a mermaid. An in-vitro septuplet narrates the tragic fates of her siblings.

The wide-ranging premises are among those captured in Sachdeva's nine stories in  All the Names They Used For God, released in February through Spiegel & Grau.

Joan Marcus

The record-smashing Broadway musical Hamilton will make its Pittsburgh premiere in January 2019 courtesy of a nationally touring production.

If you don’t like poetry, maybe you’ve been reading it wrong.

So says Don Bialostosky. In his new book, the University of Pittsburgh literature professor contends that the reason more people don’t read poetry for fun is they were taught that reading poetry is work: analyzing metaphors and symbols, for example.

Bialostosky titled his book "How to Play A Poem," and he uses the verb “play” because, he says, we shouldn’t try interpreting poetry before we simply enjoy it.

Image by David Bernabo

These days, people are largely disconnected from the origins of most of what they buy or use, from the drill rigs where oil is pumped to the factories where electronic devices are assembled. Such places are often also sites of human or environmental abuse. The same goes for food – including restaurant meals.

Image courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum

At 17, it looked like Gloria Stoll Karn's -- known then just as Gloria Stoll -- dreams of being an artist were through.

It was 1941, and she had recently graduated from New York’s High School of Music and Art, but her father had died a couple of years earlier, and Stoll had taken a job with the New York Life Insurance Company to help support her widowed mother. The job was dull, but it paid the bills. And now her accumulated artwork from school was cluttering their Queens apartment.

Bryan Conley / Carnegie Museum of Art

A young couple embraces in a kitchen. A man holding a shotgun stares from the corner of his living room. A naked woman regards the viewer from her couch.

Photo provided by the author.

Author Sharon Dilworth has lived in Pittsburgh for 25 years. She moved here to teach at Carnegie Mellon University, met her eventual husband and raised a family. But there’s one code she said it took her most of that quarter-century to crack: the one that Pittsburghers use when discussing local neighborhoods.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

In its first 2017 budget, the Trump administration proposed phasing out funding for three federal programs: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the *Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Arts advocates nationally mobilized and, in a rare bipartisan show of support, Congress restored funding for the three agencies, and even increased it slightly.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Acclaimed poet Sheryl St. Germain is a college professor whose son died of a heroin overdose in 2014, after a long struggle with drug abuse. He was 30 years old.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Fears of a trade war were among the reactions to President Trump’s signing Thursday of a proclamation ordering new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. 

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Two local groups dedicated to cleaning up Pittsburgh are hosting a film festival that explores environmental issues around the country.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Marya Sea Kaminski said Pittsburgh made a big impression on her the first time she drove through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. 

Heather Mull

Gab Cody is a Pittsburgh-based playwright. But the inspiration for her newest work began some 3,500 miles northwest of here.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

There aren’t many museums of cartoon art in the U.S. The handful of examples include Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum, which was launched in a hallway in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in 2007, and two years later expanded into a storefront on Liberty Avenue downtown.

Its smartly curated exhibits have explored everything from daily newspaper strips and superhero comics to the work of local comics star Ed Piskor, of Hip Hop Family Tree fame.

David Bachman Photography

Pittsburgh Opera’s new world-premiere performance, Douglas J. Cuomo’s Ashes & Snow, might be an edgy, contemporary work, but it was inspired by a classic piece of music: Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, meaning "winter journey."

Schubert wrote this song cycle in the 1820s, as a musical setting for a series of 24 poems by German poet Wilhelm Muller. The poems tell the story of a jilted lover wandering a rural landscape in winter.

“I am finished with all my dreams. Why should I linger among the sleepers?” runs one line of the English translation.

Chad Pizzello / Invision via AP

Black Panther opens Friday, and it’s expected to be a blockbuster, but for many people, the film is more than just another superhero flick.

This Marvel Comics character, created in the 1960s, is often credited as the first mainstream black superhero. The new film adaptation takes place in Wakanda, a fictional high-tech nation that's never been colonized and is led by T’Challa, who doubles as the Black Panther. It boasts an African-American director, Ryan Coogler, and a nearly all-black cast, led by Chadwick Boseman.