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.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A soccer player, an athlete and a drug dealer sat together in a half-circle in the center of the stage. Each character slumped in their chair, reflective and resigned, as they explained how their prescription drug addiction began.

In the audience were 9-12th grade students at Cornell High School. The district was chosen to participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s national 360 Strategy, being piloted for the first time in the Pittsburgh region.

Some called him a hero of high moral values. Others dubbed him a traitor. Either way, the infamous Simon Girty will soon be remembered with an historical marker in Greenfield.

The installation is the culmination of nearly 30 years of research on the part of his great-great-great-great-great nephew, 83-year-old Ken Girty, who as a child believed his ancestor to be a good-for-nothing "baby-killer."

He's since changed his mind.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Artist Ron Donoughe has captured the city’s neighborhoods one brush stroke at a time. The plein air painter has visited each neighborhood, paintbrush in hand, in front of an easel and canvas for his 90 neighborhoods series, now on display at the Heinz History Center.

90.5 WESA’s Deanna Garcia recently spoke with Donoughe at his studio in Lawrenceville.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Gene J. Puskar / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Pirates became one of 12 Major League Baseball teams to install LED sports lighting, just in time for the team's home opener Friday against the Atlanta Braves.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A piece of Pittsburgh sports history has been gifted to the Heinz History Center. The uniform and bat wielded by Bill Mazeroski in the Pirates' 1960 World Series-clinching victory against the New York Yankees will be part of its permanent collection.

“This is the very bat he held in his hand that day, October 13, 1960, and this is the uniform he wore that day,"  said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center. "It still has Mazeroski’s sweat from 1960 on it."

the Afro American Music Institute

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Howard Alexander instructed a group of young musicians at the Afro American Music Institute in Homewood.

As a Xylophone gently clinked in the background, one of the center’s founders, James Johnson, touted some of the accomplishments of former students.  

“The young lady on piano just got a scholarship to go to Duquesne,” he said. “We’ve sent them to Berkeley, the University of Pittsburgh, and they do well.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you have ever wondered how the Carnegie Museum of Art keeps it’s collection looking so good, the answer is Michael Belman.

Belman is the Objects Conservator for the museum. He evaluates proposed new purchases and checks items coming and going from the collection on loan.

But the biggest part of what he does is repair, restore and preserves three-dimensional fine art. Just keeping objects in the gallery dusted is an important first step. He talked to 90.5 WESA's Mark Nootbaar about his process. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new exhibit at Future Tenant aims to put a different face on Pittsburgh’s homeless population.

 

“The homeless are often seen as invisible people on the street, we ignore them, we walk by them, we just do our own thing,” said Daniel See, an art student at CMU.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It's a sad day for the Social Club gang, this is our final episode. We're so grateful to everyone who's listened over the last few years and hope to share Pittsburgh happenings in a new format one day, too. 

So, for one last time, 90.5 WESA's Sarah Kovash, Josh Raulerson and Rachel Carlson of Yelp Pittsburgh fill you in on what's happening this weekend. 

Jen Saffron / Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

A delegation of 20 Pittsburgh-area artists and arts advocates spent Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C. for the annual Arts Advocacy Day. For the last 30 years, advocates from across the country have met at the nation’s capital to lobby for the arts. But this year, participants said there’s a more at stake.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Todd McCormick leaned against a freshly scrubbed, cinder block wall and jammed the toe of his shoe against speckled gym floor matting.

“Words,” he said, grinning – willing the rubber to yield. “Words cannot even express how excited I am.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The story of Abraham is well known in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. According to the texts, God calls upon Abraham from his home in Mesopotamia to journey to the promised land with his family. 

That story inspired Pittsburgh writer Jacob Bacharach's second novel. 

"The Doorposts of Your House and on Your Gates" is a modern retelling of Abraham's tale set in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. 

90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young spoke with Bacharach about his new book. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Michael Olijnyk has a hard time throwing things away. He’s co-director of the Mattress Factory, along with with Barbara Luderowski. They live in the museum, on an upper floor.  

“We are obsessive, obsessive collectors,” he said.

Not hoarders, Olijnyk specified.  

Loew's Collection / American Theatre Architecture Archive

One of the nation’s largest collections of theater memorabilia recently moved to Pittsburgh, which, among our bridges, rivers and legendary sports teams, is known for having the first commercial movie theater.

The Theatre Historical Society of America, or THS, opened the curtain to their new facility along Penn Avenue last month, after outgrowing its previous home in Chicago. Founded in 1969, THS is a nonprofit educational organization that collects and archives artifacts from live and film theater productions.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Penn State plans extensive renovations to Beaver Stadium that would reduce its capacity but still keep seating over 100,000.

The university announced Monday those changes include more chairback seating, new concession locations, new restrooms, wider concourses and more premium-seating options.

It's all part of the university's Master Plan, a 20-year project creating new facilities and improving others. Projects include new indoor tennis and swimming facilities, and renovating Jeffrey Field, where the school's men's and women's soccer teams play.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of steel, it was the age of annexation.

On any Pittsburgh city map, there is an unlabeled stretch of land between the neighborhoods of Mt. Oliver and Knoxville. 

Raif Smallkaa / Flickr

Get out your best green garb for the parade and St. Patrick’s Day parties this weekend. But before guzzling down some green beers, Social Club’s Sarah Kovash, Josh Raulerson and Rachel Carlson of Yelp Pittsburgh check out Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District.

Syma Hajian joins us to talk about what’s new at the winery – and how they don’t actually make wine by stomping grapes with their feet (yes, she’s heard that “I Love Lucy” joke already).

The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

Once an automobile showroom, the building that houses the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh will soon have a little more room to grow.

The organization serves approximately 6,000 women, children and families each year, but has run out of room to house them.

“We have been over capacity every night for a few years,” said Board Chair Sara Davis Buss. “In fact, in 2016, we turned away over 700 people who needed our services.”

The Viral T-Shirts Of The Trump Resistance Are Made Right Here In Pittsburgh

Mar 2, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Inside a sprawling industrial building below a Pittsburgh police station, Jay Fanelli stands next to a big wheel-like structure stamping a red-white-and-blue pattern on grey t-shirts.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Three mannequins wearing  garments of swirling metal mesh greet visitors at the entrance of the Iris van Herpen exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The translucent bunched material creates a soft cloud-shaped shadow on the platform below. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Seven sweaty people stood panting in the Saturday morning light beneath a fading red and gold mural on the east side of a tattoo parlor on the corner of 11th and Carson streets. 

Trista Yerks described the work, created by street artist Shepard Fairey in 2009. It was one of several he installed throughout the city, made of layered wheat posters that degrade over time.

“You can see that it's very weathered. It's kind of starting to come down because of all the weather that Pittsburgh has,” she said. “So it makes me sad, but it wasn’t meant to last.”

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

A new film fest is coming to Pittsburgh.

The inaugural Black Bottom Film Festival will showcase contemporary, classic and independent black cinema this Friday through Sunday at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Joe Lewis of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust said there aren't enough platforms for black video, particularly locally produced and independent films. He said the jumping off points for selecting media for the festival, were the themes frequented by famed Pittsburgh writer August Wilson.

Steelers' Joey Porter Fined $300 Over Dispute Outside South Side Bar

Feb 21, 2017
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police

Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter has been fined $300 after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct stemming from a dispute with a bar bouncer and a police officer last month.

Porter entered the plea Tuesday in City Court in Pittsburgh, ending a case in which he originally faced a serious felony charge of aggravated assault for allegedly grabbing the officer's wrists outside a bar after a bouncer denied him entrance Jan. 8.

Jeremy Keith / Flickr

This week, WESA’s Sarah Kovash, Josh Raulerson and Rachel Carlson of Yelp Pittsburgh hang out at 21st Street Coffee and Tea in the Strip District. This weekend is full of dance parties, beer and … Harry Potter.

Kick off the weekend with Pittsburgh Beerfest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It runs Friday and Saturday and features beers from around the country, as well as local brews from Yellow Bridge, 412 Brewery, Arsenal Cider, Church Brew Works and more.

David Bachman / Pittsburgh Opera

There is no fancy set, no elaborate costumes. Just a small three-level stage, a string quartet and two opera singers — who both happen to be playing the same person.

“My character is Hannah Before; Hannah before she transitions to female,” said Brian Vu, a resident artist with the Pittsburgh Opera.

Fellow resident artist Taylor Raven is Hannah After.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A former West Mifflin Area High School football player who suffered a concussion in 2009 is suing the school district, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Lawyers for Shane Skillpa, 23, said his helmet and the helmet of another student broke during a drill that required the boys to run headlong into each other. The incident occurred during a summer practice between Skillpa's freshman and sophomore years.

Rachel Carlson / Yelp Pittsburgh

It may be the middle of winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find anything fun to do! WESA’s Sarah Kovash, Josh Raulerson and Rachel Carlson of Yelp Pittsburgh have you covered for a weekend full of fashionable – and tropical outings.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Last July, the Pittsburgh Zoo sent five sand tiger sharks to a Florida marine park to mate. When they left, a northern elephant seal named Coolio was brought to Pittsburgh to take their place.

This happens with zoos all the time—they trade and loan animals depending on their population’s needs. The person who oversees and coordinates the movements of animals is Ken Kaemmerer, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s curator of mammals.  

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Two part-time workers stood on either side of a T-shaped conveyer belt as 61-year-old Joe Spaniol moved down its twin trunks, trading full boxes with empty ones when its contents started to overflow.

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