90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
Paul Guggenheimer

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA dedicated to developing a deep, ongoing exploration of critical issues affecting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, as well as featuring community leaders and newsmakers in the arts, sciences, technology, business, healthcare, government and education.

  • Call (412) 246-2002 from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays to participate in the discussion.
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  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
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Essential Pittsburgh
2:11 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Social Media and the Gubernatorial Election

Screen shots of the twitter profiles for Candidates Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf
Credit Tom Corbett/Tom Wolf Campaigns / Twitter

Do Governor Corbett and his challenger Tom Wolf have as many followers on Twitter and Facebook as their campaigns would lead you to believe? We’ll look at the role social media is playing in this year’s gubernatorial election with Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter Andrew Conte.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:00 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

The Buhl Planetarium's 75th Anniversary Celebration

This is a 1939 photo of an audience watching a planetarium show with the Zeiss II Star Projector in Berlin, Germany. Zeiss II is the type of projector originally installed at the Buhl Planetarium.
Credit German Federal Archive

Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium opened to great fanfare in October of 1939. The Buhl's Zeiss II Planetarium Projector was the first such projector to be placed on an elevator, and the Theatre of the Stars was the first planetarium theatre to include a permanent theatrical stage and a special sound system for the hearing-impaired.

We talk with Glenn Walsh, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss, and Former Astronomical Observatory Coordinator and Planetarium Lecturer for the Original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:49 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Celebrating the Birthday of the Original Buhl Projector

Zeiss Model II Star Projector
Credit Photojunkie / wikipedia

These topics air Wednesday October 22, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between noon & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Social Media and the Gubernatorial Election

Do Governor Corbett and his challenger Tom Wolf have as many followers on Twitter and Facebook as their campaigns would lead you to believe? We’ll look at the role social media is playing in this year’s gubernatorial election with reporter Andrew Conte.

Buhl Planetarium 75th Anniversary

Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium opened to great fanfare in October of 1939. The Buhl's Zeiss II Planetarium Projector was the first such projector to be placed on an elevator, and the Theatre of the Stars was the first planetarium theatre to include a permanent theatrical stage and a special sound system for the hearing-impaired. We'll talk with Glenn Walsh, Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss, and Former Astronomical Observatory Coordinator and Planetarium Lecturer for the Original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:24 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Coping and Investing in a Volatile Market

Credit Perpetual Tourist / Flickr

The American economy has experienced gradual improvements in the 6 years since the 2008 market collapse. But for many investors, memories of those economic losses are still raw.

Throughout the last month, the volatility of global politics has affected the stock market with disconcerting spikes and dips.

Financial planners such as Paul Brahim, Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, are faced with concerned investors who want to know what they’re in for. He joins us to talk about the causes of the latest market volatility and how best to react.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:19 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

An in depth Discussion of Flight 93 with Author Tom McMillian

Credit 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 

Essential Pittsburgh
5:16 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

The Business of Fair Trade with Rebecca Harris

A Ten Thousand Villages employee arranges handcrafted scarves at the annual Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale.
Credit 12 5 12 Ten Thousand Villages POTD - Penn State / Flickr

Fair trade is a win-win proposition for nations and their citizens. According to contributor Rebecca Harris there’s a great deal of it available here in the city. This week Ms. Harris looks at the business of fair trade. Harris explains that fair trade means there’s an ethical partnership between consumers and producers around the world intended to create equity.

Principles include a minimum price for farmers’ goods, pre harvest credit, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, avoiding chemicals and GMOs, and so on. The latest trends in fair trade, Harris explains, include stores like Ten Thousand Villages, more fairtrade products in mainstream apparel stores, and so on. But in order for the fair trade movement to grow, consumer demand needs to expand. 

Essential Pittsburgh
6:31 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: The Legacy and Personal Stories of Flight 93

Personal tributes once erected near the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Credit Dave Whelan / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday October 21, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between noon & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Market Volatility

The American economy has experienced gradual improvements in the 6 years since the 2008 market collapse. But for many investors, memories of those economic losses of are still raw. Throughout the last month, the volatility of global politics and events have affected the stock market with disconcerting spikes and dips. Financial planners such as Paul Brahim, Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, are faced with concerned investors who want to know what they’re in for. He joins us to talk about the causes of the latest market volatility and how best to react.

Flight 93: the Legacy

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.

WESA Celebrates - Ian Cummins

The devastation of his younger brother Ryan’s suicide motivated Ian Cummins to action. He began a mission to shed light on mental illness and the stigma of suicide. Ian and his work are the focus of this week’s WESA Celebrates.

The Business of Fair Trade

Fair trade is a win-win proposition for nations and their citizens. According to contributor Rebecca Harris there’s a great deal of it available here in the city. This week Ms. Harris looks at the business of fair trade. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:53 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Pennsylvania State Police May Be Tracking Marcellus Shale Activists

Credit Daniel Foster / Flickr

Are state police in Pennsylvania tracking activists for Marcellus Shale drillers? 

We’ll pose that question to journalist Adam Federman who recently reported on this issue for the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia City Papers.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:42 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

A Brief History of Hysteria and Public Panic with Joe Wos

Africanized bees, also known as killer bees sparked nationwide fear in America, starting in the 1970s when the aggressive species started making its way from South America to the southern United States
Credit 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.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:37 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

An Update on the Manhunt for Eric Frein

Credit dfirecop / Flickr

As the search continues in northeastern Pennsylvania for Eric Frein, the man accused of ambushing two state troopers, killing one and wounding another, we'll get an update on the manhunt from AP reporter Michael Rubinkam.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:25 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

Monday Rundown: Tracking with the Pennsylvania State Police

Credit dfirecop / Flickr

These topics air Monday October 20, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Tracking Marcellus Shale Drillers

Are state police in Pennsylvania tracking activists for Marcellus Shale drillers? We’ll pose that question to journalist Adam Federman who recently reported on this issue for the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia City Papers.

The Manhunt Continues

As the search continues in northeastern PA for Eric Frein, the man accused of ambushing two state troopers, killing one and wounding another, we'll get an update on the manhunt from AP reporter Michael Rubinkam.

Mass Hysteria

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. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:09 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Conflict Kitchen Explores the Food, the People and the Politics of Palestine

Credit 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.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:58 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Features Vocalist Sheena Easton

Credit 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.

Essential Pittsburgh
3:22 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

The Future of Pittsburgh's Volunteer Economy

Volunteers from Pittsburgh Food Not Bombs serve free food downtown.
Credit ccbarr / Flickr

Pittsburgh is home to 7,500 non-profit organizations and about 300,000 people work in the sector. Many of these organizations also rely on volunteers in order to fulfill their missions. In recent years, for-profit businesses have increased their reliance on volunteer labor as well.

Peggy Outon, Executive Director of Robert Morris University’s Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, joins us to make sense of the volunteer economy, and talk about the future of volunteering.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:12 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Friday Rundown: The Gaza Kitchen Comes to the Conflict Kitchen

Palestine is the focus of the Conflict Kitchen's current menu rotation.
Credit Courtesy Conflict Kitchen

These topics air Friday October 17, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Palestinian Takeout

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 has hosted Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist, blogger, chef and author of the book “Gaza Kitchen.” Friday night at 8:00 she will cook a large, public Gazan dinner and give a talk about Palestine, its food and its politics. She joins us to talk about food, culture and politics in the Middle East.

The Volunteer Economy in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is home to 7,500 non-profit organizations and about 300,000 people work in the sector. Many of these organizations also rely on volunteers in order to fulfill their missions. In recent years, for-profit businesses have increased their reliance on volunteer labor as well. Peggy Outon, Executive Director of Robert Morris University’s Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, joins us to make sense of the volunteer economy, and talk about the future of volunteering.

Sheena Easton and the 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.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:55 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Robots that Care: The Quality of Life Technology Center Changing the World of Caregiving

Credit Jiuguang Wang / Flickr

The Quality of Life Technology Center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center located in Oakland. The program incorporates disciplines from Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh and other groups, all focused on improving quality of life for older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Director Dan Siewiorek joins us to explain how the center addresses the needs and activities of everyday living by prototyping robots, mobility assistance technologies and new ways to monitor health and wellness.

Siewiorek says that the center brings together several different departments/fields working together to help people live independently longer.

The benefits are tremendous not just for quality of life, but for financial savings, as well. One example of a device that the center provides is HERB. Check out CMU's video to see all of what HERB the robot can do.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:26 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

West Virginia: From Cool Restaurants to the Thrill of a Lifetime

A man in a wheelchair base jumps off the New River Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day 2013
Credit Jeremy Markovich / Flickr

West Virginia holds the distinction of being the only state formed by seceding from a confederate state.

The signs welcoming you to West Virginia proclaim it wild and wonderful. This week, the always wonderful Elaine Labalme, takes us to our neighboring state to the south.

She recommends some great restaurants in Morgantown and talks about the New River Gorge Bridge.  For the thrill seekers out there, base jumping off of the New River Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day may interest you.

Learn more about the 35th Anniversary of Bridge Day, happening this weekend. 

Essential Pittsburgh
2:02 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Allegheny County Health Director Explains Why We Need Not Worry About Ebola

Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

The Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola from a Liberian patient is reported to be in good condition. However, a second person has been diagnosed with the virus. This has heightened concerns about the spread of Ebola in the United States.

Although medical professionals think chances of an outbreak in the area are low, how is the region preparing for the possibility? We’ll pose that question to Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:51 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Thursday Rundown: From Understanding Ebola to Better Quality of Life Through Tech

This "Snackbot" assisting CMU students could be the key to better quality of life for everyone.
Credit Jiuguang Wang / Flickr

These topics air Thursday October 16, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Ebola Preparedness 

The Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola from a Liberian patient is reported to be in good condition. However, a second person has been diagnosed with the virus. This has heightened concerns about the spread of Ebola in the United States. Although, medical professionals think chances of an outbreak in the area are low, how is the region preparing for the possibility? We’ll pose that question to Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Quality of Life Technology 

The Quality of Life Technology Center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center located in Oakland. The program incorporates disciplines from Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittburgh and other groups, all focused on improving quality of life for older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers. Director Dan Siewiorek joins us to explain how the center addresses the needs and activities of everyday living by prototyping robots, mobility assistance technologies and new ways to monitor health and wellness.

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

West Virginia holds the distinction of being the only state formed by seceding from a confederate state. The signs welcoming you to West Virginia proclaim it wild and wonderful. This week, the always wonderful Elaine Labalme, takes us to our neighboring state to the south. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
2:32 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Stories of Juvenile Incarceration Told Through 'Day Room Window'

Credit Jenn Vargas / Flickr

Last year the Christian Science Monitor reported juvenile incarceration rates in the U.S. were at their lowest point in 38 years.

However, the sentencing of juveniles is still a challenge for the justice system. We’ll explore this issue with Jeff Shook, associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.

We’ll also speak with playwright Bonnie Cohen whose play "Day Room Window" is based on her experiences working in the juvenile justice system.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:11 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Reflecting on 100 Years of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and Looking to the Future

Nighttime exterior of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater
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.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:16 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: One Hundred Years of the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5WESA

These topics air Wednesday October 15, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Kelly-Strayhorn Theater Centennial

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

Day Room Window

Last year the Christian Science Monitor reported juvenile incarceration rates in the U.S. were at their lowest point in 38 years. However, the sentencing of juveniles is still a challenge for the justice system. We’ll explore this issue with Jeff Shook, associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. We’ll also speak with playwright Bonnie Cohen whose play Day Room Window is based on her experiences working in the juvenile justice system. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:27 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Email Scandal and Close of PA Legislative Session

Credit Talk Radio News Service

We'll talk with Harrisburg Patriot News Editorial Page Editor John Micek about the latest news related to the scandal involving current and former state employees trading raunchy emails. How will it impact the governor's race with three weeks left before election day? And what's on tap in the final days of the legislative session?

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:15 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

The Business of Halloween Candy

Credit Rebecca Harris / WESA

If you’re trying to avoid sweets, October may not be the best month to test your resolve. With Halloween right around the corner, contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of candy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:07 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Is the Pittsburgh Accent 'Ugly?'

Live in the city long enough and you'll be sure to hear bits of "Pittsburghese."
Credit 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."

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:29 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: How Do Yinz Feel About the Pittsburgh Accent?

What's your opinion of the portrayal of the "Pittsburgh accent" and slang, n'at?
Credit Dauvit Alexander / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday October 14, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Email Scandal

We'll talk with Harrisburg Patriot News Editorial Page Editor John Micek about the latest news related to the scandal involving current and former state employees trading raunchy emails. How will it impact the governors race with three weeks left before election day? And what's on tap in the final days of the legislative session.

Ugliest Accent?

Pittsburgh has made it to the final four in America's ugliest accent tournament. But is it a source of pride? Not according to some area linguists who have a problem with making fun of accents. They say the accents tend to belong to poor and working class people. We'll talk with Pitt Linguistics Professor Scott Kiesling.

WESA Celebrates - Miss Audie Hart

“Miss Audie” Hart plays many different roles at the Neighborhood Academy in Garfield. To a number of students she’s a grandmother. Some staff members see her as a mother figure. The love and support she provides to those at the Neighborhood Academy are the reason she is the subject of this week’s WESA Celebrates profile.

Business of Candy

If you’re trying to avoid sweets, October may not be the best month to test your resolve. With Halloween right around the corner contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of candy. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:40 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Alzheimer's Research in an "Unprecedented Era of Innovation"

How close are we to finding an answer to Alzheimer’s or dementia?
Credit Clear Thoughts Foundation / Facebook

  

In addition to National Breast Cancer Awareness, October is also Alzheimer’s Disease  Awareness Month

Our guest, Hayley Jameson is founder and president of the Clear Thoughts Foundation which raises funds to discover drugs and treatments to stop dementia and eventually end Alzheimer’s.

Also taking part in the conversation is Dr. Susan Catalano, chief science officer of Cognition Therapeutics which is focused on finding new medicines to stop Alzheimer’s.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:24 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Caring for the Caregivers: Guidance for the Friends and Family of Alzheimers' Victims

Credit Rosie O'Beirne / Flickr

 

"The  majority of what makes the disease difficult is the emotional toll. It’s a 24hr job," says Suzanne Weessies.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can take an emotional, physical and financial toll on caregivers. We’ll address the services available and particular concerns of caregivers with Karen Schaeffer, founder of Age and Dignity, which provides education and guidance for families. Also taking part in the conversation is Suzanne Weessies Family Services Coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater PA Chapter.

For caregivers or for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's who need support or information, contact the 24/7 Alzheimer's Association hotline. 1.800.272.3900

Essential Pittsburgh
11:01 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Monday Rundown: Alzheimer's and Support for Caregivers

Credit sparkle glowplug / flickr

These topics air Monday October 13, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Alzheimer's Awareness

In addition to National Breast Cancer Awareness, October is also Alzheimer’s Awareness Disease Month. Our guest, Hayley Jameson is founder and president of the Clear Thoughts Foundation which raises funds to discover drugs and treatments to stop dementia and eventually end Alzheimer’s. Also taking part in the conversation is Dr. Susan Catalano, chief science officer of Cognition Therapeutics which is focused on finding new medicines to stop Alzheimer’s.

Caring for Caregivers

Caring for a loved one with dementia can take an emotional, physical and financial toll on caregivers. We’ll address the services available and particular concerns of caregivers with Karen Schaeffer, founder of Age and Dignity which provides education and guidance for families. Also taking part in the conversation is Suzanne Weessies Family Services Coordinator Alzheimer’s Association Greater PA Chapter. 

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:47 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Pop Culture Icon and Artist Peter Max Comes to Pittsburgh

Peter Max's Starry Night
Credit 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.

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