Bill O'Driscoll

Arts & Culture Reporter

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Most recently, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat.

Courtesy of Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh

Before he became a civil-rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist reverend. And he was deeply inspired by gospel music. And appropriately, from the start, Let Freedom Sing, Pittsburgh’s annual concert for King’s birthday, has focused on classic and contemporary spirituals.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Writer and performer Lissa Brennan’s new work, “Grist from the Mill: 1902,” was informed by sources including two key influences from her childhood: Pittsburgh’s steel mills and Irish murder ballads.

Photo by Cyndi Mosites-Walter / Courtesy of Holly Watson PR

Chip Walter’s new book is titled “Immortality Inc.: Renegade Science, Silicon Valley Billions and the Quest to Live Forever.” It’s about the money, and the research, that’s seeking a way to extend human life indefinitely.

Photo by Jason Cohn / Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

First Night Pittsburgh has been the city’s biggest New Year’s Eve event since 1994, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust isn’t messing with success. The 26th edition, sponsored by Highmark, remains a huge festival offering some 100 live acts, exhibitions, and activities downtown all night long. There’s wall-to-wall live music, most attractions are indoors, and fireworks will cap the evening at midnight.

Courtesy of Heinz History Center

To this day, more Americans associate Thomas Edison with electricity than they do George Westinghouse.

Art by Jim Rugg / Courtesy of the artist

Jim Rugg is a comics artist with a penchant for drawing female protagonists.

Rugg, who's 42, traces the tendency to his high school days.

“In art class, I remember the teacher pointing out that I did not draw women well,” he said, laughing. “You hear that stuff as an artist, and that’s what you dedicate yourself to.”

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Jory Strothers already appreciated the legacy of Mac Miller, whose songs helped put Pittsburgh on the contemporary pop-music map. 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

In 11 years as executive director of the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, janera solomon changed more than just the prominence of that East Liberty performing-arts venue. She profoundly altered the Pittsburgh arts scene.

Photo by Brian Cohen

Hate draws lines. Resistance to hate should not.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater

Pittsburgh Public Theater managing director Lou Castelli recalls a conversation the company’s staff had with Marya Sea Kaminski early in her tenure as artistic director. It was about Christmas – specifically, how much Pittsburgh seems to love it.

Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Foundation

For the first time since their revival, in 2012, the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards have gone to a pair of artists whose medium is words.

Courtesy of Karen Lillis

Among retail survivors of the era of big-box stores and online commerce, one of the more unlikely is the independent bookstore. A decade ago, many of Pittsburgh’s bookshops had been driven out by national chains, and the subsequent rise of web-based retailers like Amazon boded ill for any remaining brick-and-mortar outlets.

Photo by Julia Metelsky / Courtesy of Arcade Comedy Theater

Sure, there’s the debate over whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. And there’s the occasional “Bad Santa” or two. But most holiday stories, whether on page, film or stage, are on the sweet side, family-friendly, and decked with happy endings.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

A former employee of Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media (PCAM) has sued the group in federal court, alleging she was fired for blowing the whistle on some $250,000 in misspending, and due to age discrimination.

Photo by Maria Scapellato / 90.5 WESA News

The financially troubled group that rebranded earlier this year as Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media is drastically downsizing again, with major implications for the local arts scene.

Photo by Lacey Terrell / TriStar Pictures

Fred Rogers died in 2003, at 74. He was already beloved, but his death seemed to accelerate a kind of secular canonization. In Pittsburgh, his hometown, he even got his own bronze statue. Erected in 2009, it stands 11 feet tall, overlooking the rivers near another civic shrine, Heinz Field.

Photo by Brittany Spinelli

Clare Barron’s acclaimed play “Dance Nation” is a comedy with dancing, but it’s no musical. It’s not really even, at its core, about dance.

Courtesy of Abrams Books

August Wilson wrote plays for adults. But Jen Bryant says the story of Wilson’s own life is important for children to hear.

Courtesy of ZYNKA Gallery

Jeff Jarzynka was in his 40s when his father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Leaving his job and helping to care for his dad changed Jarzynka’s life in more ways than one. And the experience led him, ultimately, to open Pittsburgh’s newest commercial art gallery, one focused on showcasing local talent.

Courtesy of the filmmaker

Julie Sokolow first encountered writer and activist Mark Baumer the way most people who’d heard of him did: through the quirky online videos he posted of his quest to walk barefoot across America to fight climate change.

Courtesy of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh

Jurying an art exhibit usually means sifting through the submissions and choosing the best. For out-of-town jurors, that typically requires one visit to a single location. Juana Williams’ stint as juror for the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh’s 107th Annual Exhibition was a little more involved.

Williams is exhibitions curator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, in Grand Rapids, Mich. She was recruited in early 2018 by AAP executive director Madeline Gent, who brought Williams to Pittsburgh twice to visit with artists around town and look at work.

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac / Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater

It’s only a coincidence that “School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play,” arrives at Pittsburgh Public Theater just days after the touring production of Broadway show “Mean Girls” left the neighboring Benedum Center.

Photo by Andrew Weeks / Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Choreographer KT Nelson said that before she could create a dance work about a legendary religious pilgrimage, she literally had to walk the walk. 

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media

It’s been a long way back for the Three Rivers Film Festival.

The festival began in 1982 and for years was a fixture of Pittsburgh’s fall arts season. At its peak, the festival, organized by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, screened two full weeks of independent and art-house films and classics from around the world at multiple venues, including its own three theaters.

Courtesy of Resonance Works

Maria Sensi Sellner studied composition and conducting at Carnegie Mellon University, and has worked in music all around the U.S. for more than a decade. But she said she had to dig to learn about the many talented women composers' troupes, like her Resonance Works Pittsburgh, were ignoring.

Art by Douglas Cooper / Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Press

If Douglas Cooper is a sort of superhero of Pittsburgh murals, he has an origin story to go with it.

Courtesy of Douglas Levine

Douglas Levine is a relative rarity in Pittsburgh: a full-time independent musician and composer. But it was a winding path to get there.

Photo by Jon Rubin

The words “There Are Black People in the Future” was blazoned on a rooftop billboard in East Liberty last year, confusing and even offending some. Indeed, critics got the billboard art project taken down in April 2018, a move that sparked its own outcry.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

The August Wilson House has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $500,000 toward restoration of the famed, Pittsburgh-born playwright’s boyhood home in the Hill District.

Officials say the funds will allow construction to begin on the 1840s brick house on Bedford Avenue, where Wilson, his mother and six siblings lived in the 1940s and ’50s. The $499,628 grant, administered by project partner Duquesne University, complements $5 million raised last year by a group of celebrities organized by actor Denzel Washington, among the nation’s most prominent Wilson admirers.

Courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol is arguably the most influential artist since World War II. But Warhol was full of paradoxes – at once aggressively public and deeply private, and a serious artist who presented his life and art as all surface: the soup-can paintings, the candy-colored Marilyns, the glitzy Manhattan social scene. Beyond his towering status, there’s not much consensus about who Warhol, a man whose works have sold for $100 million or more, really was.

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