Arts, Sports & Culture

We seek to cover our region's vibrant art and culture scene, as well as our iconic teams and the fans that follow them.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Bruno Sammartino, professional wrestling's "Living Legend" and one of its longest-reigning champions, has died. Sammartino was 82.

Family friend and former wrestling announcer Christopher Cruise said Sammartino died Wednesday morning and had been hospitalized for two months.

Sammartino was wrestling's biggest box office draw in the 1960s and 1970s and held the World Wide Wrestling Federation championship for more than 11 years (4,040 days) over two title runs.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, three towns all share an astronomical feature in their names. None of them have an observatory, and no groundbreaking space discoveries were made in any of them, but the trio of cities, within 200 miles of each other, all begin with the word “star.”

David Cook, of Whitehall, brought the idea to the attention of 90.5 WESA’s Good Question series. He wondered about the origins of Star City, Wv., Star Junction, Pa. and Starbrick, Pa.

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.

Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

These days, jazz studies programs are common at American universities and colleges. In 1969, there were only two at major universities. That’s the year Dr. Nathan Davis arrived at the University of Pittsburgh to establish its program.

A respected saxophonist, the Kansas City native had spent most of the 1960s living in Paris where he was an integral part of that city’s particularly vibrant jazz scene performing and recording with world renowned artists. That background influenced his approach to running Pitt’s jazz program, according to drummer Thomas Wendt.

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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins begin their quest Wednesday for a third straight Stanley Cup when they host the Philadelphia Flyers in game one of a seven-game first-round playoff series.

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.

HBO's 'Paterno' Movie A Polarizing Story With Unanswered Questions

Apr 5, 2018
HBO / AP

"Paterno" aims to tell the polarizing story of a legend's fall, when the most essential question can never be answered.

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

David J. Phillip / AP

Philadelphia is getting the chance to celebrate yet another sports championship with a parade, this time for Villanova University's Wildcats.

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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Twenty consecutive losing seasons, followed by three years of making the playoffs, and now the Pirates will try to avoid a third straight losing season.  

Adelina Lancianese / 90.5 WESA

Ten unique towns dot the 150-mile nature trail that stretches from Cumberland, Md. to Pittsburgh, and up to 800 runners will experience them all on the Great Allegheny Passage Relay this October.

Regular teams of eight and ultra teams of four will run the flat, vehicle-free trail over 48 hours. Teammates will take turns tackling the race's 24 legs, only stopping for brief breaks in the team's van that follows along the course. That means a single participant may run anywhere from 13 to 46 miles -- depending on team size -- over the duration of the race. 

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.

Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

A Louisiana school cafeteria worker who saw a police officer struggling with a suspect and helped the officer subdue him is one of 18 people being honored with Carnegie medals for heroism.

The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced the award winners on Monday. The group grants financial awards to persons who, at the risk of his or her own life, save or attempt to save the life of another.

Agrupación Señor Serrano / Courtesy of Carnegie Museums

The ways migration affects people, animals and the environment is the focus of an upcoming event series through the Carnegie Museums featuring live performances, speakers and a documentary debut, all centered around the theme of movement.

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.

Screenshot / Twitch.TV

It takes around 414 hours to watch all 886 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and thousands of people around the world are embracing the continuous stream of programming.

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.

Allegra Battle / 90.5 WESA

The work of Hollywood costume designer Ruth E. Carter is coming to Pittsburgh, including the futuristic African designs featured in the blockbuster film, "Black Panther."

Adelina Lancianese / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto exclaimed in jest, "Hello, scary puppets!" as he met puppeteers costumed as tropical birds, glittery penguins and even a massive effigy of Peduto himself in the City-County Building.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Traveling from Forbes Avenue on Duquesne University’s campus to the South 10th Street Bridge, drivers and pedestrians making a right into the Armstrong Tunnel encounter something unusual for a tunnel: a curve.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

In the basement of the Keystone Church of Hazelwood, a group of high school students practiced a hip hop dance performance, counting aloud the steps in the routine in rhythm with a backing music track.

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.

Maria Scapellato / WESA

There will be a lot of celebrating in Pittsburgh this weekend and it's not just because of Saint Patrick’s Day. March Madness has come to town.

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