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.

Expanded Arts and Culture reporting in western Pennsylvania is generously supported by the Jack Buncher Foundation.

Courtesy of Redbull Media

Technical rock climbing jumped on the U.S. scene as early as the late 1800s, but it took nearly a century before advances in ropes and climbing aids helped bring it into the mainstream. In recent years, sport climbing -- and sport climbing gyms -- have exploded in popularity, and starting in 2020, three climbing disciplines will be represented for the first time at the Olympic games.

Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts – an arts showcase dedicated to premieres – is itself no longer new. But after previous iterations in 2004, 2008 and 2013, the fourth Festival of Firsts does promise to be the largest ever.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 


According to the Department of Defense, total enlistment in the U.S. military is 2,869,822. Recruiters are struggling more every year to enlist young people, and only 29 percent of people aged 17 to 24 would qualify if they tried to enlist.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Baseball is full of disappointments: strikeouts, fielding errors, hitting into double plays. And in the minors, those moments carry extra weight; every guy has his sights set on getting called up to the big leagues. For Jonathan Schwind, there was only one way to stay positive through a long season: take it one day at a time.

Jim Judkis / Focus Features via AP

The first biography of Pittsburgh icon Fred Rogers was released last week. “The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers” traces Rogers' early days through the all-important launch and subsequent generations of fandom created by “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” broadcast through the Pittsburgh public television station WQED.

Photo courtesy of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh

Arts groups are known for managing with limited resources, and then making something special out of them. The 2018 Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition, for instance, is being staged not in an art gallery, but in a former clothing store in the South Side Works shopping district.

Photo by Jason Snyder

In 1856, British artist Henry Wallis completed “The Death of Chatterton.” The oil painting was Romantic with a capital “R”: a loving depiction of 18th-century poet Thomas Chatterton, who’d just committed suicide by ingesting arsenic. Chatterton, age 17, lays draped on a bed, washed in dawn light. 

Barrels to Beethoven

The steelpan drum, an instrument made popular in the Caribbean, is the catalyst for a new youth music program in Wilkinsburg.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Lowell Friedline struck out on his own as a dairy farmer in 1988 when he started buying his farm in installments from his dad. By the time his father died, Friedline was nearly debt-free. It’s been part of his philosophy ever since: don’t buy what you don’t know how to pay for. But for small farms like the one he and his family work, the margins are slim.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Friends, family and fans gathered at Blue Slide Park in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood Tuesday evening to remember hometown rapper Mac Miller, who died Friday at age 26.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The 40th Street Bridge connecting Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood with the borough of Millvale is unlike the rest of the city’s more than 460 bridges.

No. 13 Penn State Drills Pitt Football, 51-6

Sep 9, 2018
Office of University Communications / University of Pittsburgh

The future of the football rivalry between No. 13 Penn State and Pittsburgh is uncertain.

There is no question about the present. The Nittany Lions have separated themselves from the Panthers. And the gap appears to be widening. Quickly.

Turkish author Asli Erdoğan is acclaimed around the world. She’s written four works of fiction, and her writings have been translated into 20 languages, including two in English. In 2017, the French government awarded her the Légion d’Honneur.

Charles Sykes / AP

*Updated September 8, 2018, at 2:50 p.m.

 

 

Mac Miller, the platinum hip-hop star whose rhymes vacillated from party raps to lyrics about depression and drug use, and earned kudos from the likes of Jay-Z and Chance the Rapper, has died at the age of 26.

Rivalry Or No, Stakes High For No. 13 Penn State And Pitt

Sep 7, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

It took Pat Narduzzi three years to finally embrace the obvious. No more hiding behind coachspeak. No more clichés about treating all 12 of Pittsburgh's opponents the same.

It just doesn't work that way when it comes to the Panthers and No. 13 Penn State.

"Anybody wants to argue and say this is no different than any other week, OK, it is. That's a fact," the Pitt coach said. "If you want to ignore that, you can ignore it. It's a big game."

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Sports fans headed to the North Side this weekend will see delays and traffic. Ahead of the Pirates-Marlins baseball game at PNC Park, and the sold out University of Pittsburgh-Penn State college football game at Heinz Field, traffic and tailgating restrictions will be in effect.

A Safe Bet: Injury Info Tougher To Find Around ACC This Year

Sep 5, 2018
Chuck Burton / AP

North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren was headed out the door when he was asked a follow-up question about an injured player.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Heather Lyke has been on the job as the director of athletics at the University of Pittsburgh just 17 months, but she's already made an imprint on the program – promoting and hiring coaches, building community beyond the university and encouraging rivalries across conferences.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Whistles are essential equipment for a number of jobs: gym teacher, football referee, traffic cop. But the humble whistle is perhaps most at home in the hands of a lifeguard, as Alexxis Turner explained. She was the head guard for Phillips Pool in the City of Pittsburgh.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater

When the Pittsburgh Public Theater opens its fall season Sept. 27, it will mark the first assemblage in 19 years under a new artistic director.

Marya Sea Kaminski, who served as associate assistant director at the Seattle Repertory Theater for four years, will direct an adaption of Jane Austen's classic "Pride and Prejudice" as her inagural show. It's the first in a season with women at the forefront, including a reworking of Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Brandon Giesbrecht / flickr


From Billy Joel’s Allentown to Zeke Manner’s The Pennsylvania Polka, the commonwealth has its fair share of musical odes. But until composer Ron DeGrandis put together his latest piece, The Pennsylvania March, the state has never had a tune in the traditional American march genre.

Photo by Frank Walsh / corningworks/ frank walsh c.2018

Beth Corning says we don’t talk enough about death.

The choreographer and performer calls life’s cessation the ubiquitous “elephant in the room.”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Field maintenance can mean the difference between a cleanly fielded grounder or a nasty hop, between a successful sprint to first base or a fall in the infield. At People’s Natural Gas field, home to the Double-A team the Altoona Curve and 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, it all rests on McClain Murphy’s shoulders. He’s the head groundskeeper.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Many first-time visitors to Pittsburgh know of its history of steelmaking. A few are familiar with its legacy in jazz. But probably only Postcommodity would blend the two like the art collective is doing for the 2018 Carnegie International.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Less than a year after being drafted by the Steelers in 1968, Rocky Bleier was drafted again, this time into the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam. During a Viet Cong ambush, he was wounded in both legs.

General Postcard Collection / Detre Library and Archives, Heinz History Center


Along Route 19 in Pittsburgh’s West View borough, there’s a sign for a shopping center with a carousel horse fixed to the top. This is one of the only items marking the site of one of the city’s early amusement parks, West View Park.

Logging Competition Makes The Cut At Country Fair

Aug 27, 2018
Carolyn Kaster / AP

As spectators approached the grandstand at the Crawford County Fair, they were greeted by the unmistakable — and inescapable — high-pitched buzz of a chain saw biting into wood.

Kevin Deel

Jamie Hamilton, a Pittsburgh-based artist and body-positive advocate is the creator of Yinz Bopo, a body positive meet-up group. Hamilton said she started the meet-ups to create a safe space where people of all shapes and sizes could feel empowered.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, staggered by time zones and separated by continents, people around the world wake up and go to work. No two people are the same, and everyone experiences the world differently. Yet we all share one thing in common: we have to go to work.

Photo by Anthony Bookhammer / Courtesy of Rivers of Steel Arts

Neglected for decades, in the past several years the Carrie Blast Furnaces, in Rankin, have been reborn.

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