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.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Mason Rudolph and James Washington spent four years lighting up defenses across the Big 12, setting records and winning game after game for Oklahoma State.

Now, the big-armed quarterback and rugged wide receiver are headed to Pittsburgh. Where they will listen. They will learn. And they will wait. For now anyway. When the guys in front of you on the depth chart include Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, there's no other choice.

That's fine for both Washington — taken in the second round — and Rudolph — selected with the first of Pittsburgh's two third-round picks.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

August Wilson's plays have sold out theaters across the world, earned Pulitzer Prizes and Tony Awards, and most recently transitioned to the silver screen with the Oscar-nominated "Fences."

Allegra Battle / 90.5 WESA

Writer Vivian Lee Croft wanted to help teen girls navigate the challenges of peer pressure, school work and stress at home, so she started the creative writing collective Girls Write Pittsburgh.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The burden of history got about 800 pounds lighter on Thursday as the City of Pittsburgh removed a statue critics had called racist for decades.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Downtown Pittsburgh today is known, in part, for the entertainment it hosts. It's a place one can see Broadway shows, art galleries and music festivals, sometimes all in the same night. But in the not-so-distant past, a section of the city was home to a different type of entertainment.

Screenshot / Contextual Camouflage

Even as Jason McKoy struggled with mental illness, he understood that the disease was invisible, and that he shouldn’t talk about it. He called this phenomenon “contextual camouflage.”

“I felt like I was camouflaging my true feelings,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people with mental-health disorders have to do. … We have to walk around camouflaging.”

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins  have advanced to the second round of the NHL playoffs in their bid to win a third straight Stanley Cup. 

Thursday, the Pens visit Washington, a team the Pens have defeated in nine of 10 playoff series through the years.

Do the Penguins have the Capitals' number or are the Caps due to beat the Pens?


One Man’ Passion For Pinball Turns Into A Business, Place For Local Enthusiasts

Apr 25, 2018
Ted S. Warren / AP

Eric Thomas has an addiction.

There's no rhyme or reason to it, he said, but he's chasing the euphoria. It can hit all of a sudden, and just about anyone can get hooked.

"That's pinball," he said. "It only takes one ball."

During the last six months, Thomas' addiction has turned into a passion — and now, a business, Retro Arcade, which is located inside Vaporosity at 138 W. State St. in downtown Sharon.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's highest court has ordered a judge to free rapper Meek Mill on bail while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions.

The Supreme Court directed a Philadelphia judge who had jailed him to immediately issue an order releasing him on unsecured bail.

Mill was sentenced in November to two to four years in prison for violating probation.

Mill issued a statement saying his five months in jail have been "a nightmare" and thanking all his supporters.

Courtesy of Art All Night

Venues capable of displaying 1,000 works of art for less than 24 hours aren’t easy to come by. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Former professional wrestling champion Bruno Sammartino has been laid to rest in Pennsylvania, where he was remembered as one of the sport's good guys.

Sammartino fled the Nazis from Italy as a child and built a career beating a string of bad guys in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the World Wide Wrestling Federation champion for more than 11 years over two title runs. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

Crosby, Penguins Keep 3rd Straight Championship In Sight

Apr 23, 2018

Sidney Crosby tormented the Flyers just as he has from the start of his NHL career. Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin were clutch when needed in pivotal games. And Matt Murray? Oh, just two shutouts and the type of outings that show more zeros on the board are possible in the second round — and maybe, beyond.

But with the game on the line and facing a Game 7 on home ice where they already lost twice, the Pittsburgh Penguins turned to a blossoming postseason star to lead the way.

Jake Guentzel was just the player to bail out the Pens.

Garret Jones

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

Courtesy of Angela Carducci

Craig Toocheck has a vision for Pittsburgh's future events and meetings. 

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.

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.  

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