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.

Cover art y Mequitta Ahuja / Courtesy of Deesha Philyaw

“The world is not tender with Black women,” write Deesha Philyaw and Vanessa German. “And we are not always tender with ourselves, or with each other. Pittsburgh, in particular, is not known for tenderness where we are concerned.”

David Bachman Photography for Pittsburgh Opera

Just like the news these days, the new opera “The Last American Hammer” is more than a little absurd, and more than a little tragic.

Courtesy of the artist

The impacts of climate change – what many environmentalists now call “the climate crisis” – are so vast they can be hard to grasp. Australia ablaze, coastlines disappearing beneath the sea, and climate refugees fleeing drought, famine and flood are just the start of a process that’s already reshaping human civilization.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Big increases in attendance and full-time jobs marked the past five years on Pittsburgh’s arts scene. But the arts community needs to become more equitable and inclusive.

Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

“African American Art in the 20th Century,” a traveling exhibit of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, evokes the rich legacy left by black artists.

The show features works by 34 artists including such legends as Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, and the acclaimed artist and Pittsburgh native Renee Stout. It visits the Westmoreland Museum of American Art this Sunday through May 10.

Art by Mary Ethel McAuley / Courtesy of the University Art Gallery

The art exhibit “Mary Ethel McAuley: Behind the German Lines” will probably be most audiences’ introduction to a famed Pittsburgher of century ago. And a concurrent show at the University Art Gallery seeks to connect the dots between important women artists on the local scene generations apart.

Photo by Shayne Gray / Courtesy of Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh

For centuries, perhaps millennia, storytellers have found the devil more interesting than the Lord. Among the more famous of them is John Milton, whose 17th-century epic poem “Paradise Lost” depicted Satan as so compelling that Romantic poet and artist William Blake argued that Milton was “of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”

Photo by Phillip Ward / Courtesy of the Quentin Crisp Archive

Brian Edward and Phillip Ward both grew up gay. But while they were born two decades apart and hundreds of miles distant, they had something else in common: the influence of a man named Quentin Crisp. It’s a legacy they’ve teamed up to foster in the stage show “Quentin Crisp: The Last Word,” which gets its world premiere this week, in Pittsburgh.

Courtesy of Queer Ecology Hanky Project

From the brows of backpackers to the necks of dogs catching Frisbees, bandanas have accompanied many an outdoor activity.

Photo by Charles "Teenie" Harris / Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art

Andy Warhol left Pittsburgh for New York City right after college. August Wilson departed shortly after he started writing plays. Rare among renowned artists from Pittsburgh, Charles “Teenie” Harris became famous not in spite of staying here, but because he did.

Courtesy of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

The Downtown branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is among the busiest in the system, averaging more than 1,000 visitors a day. That’s not surprising, considering that the Golden Triangle hosts tens of thousands of workers daily. Now, upward trends in Downtown housing have pushed the branch past the capacity of the space on Smithfield Street it’s occupied since 2004.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

These days artists have plenty of ways to put their work out there. Some, for instance, do pretty well with online sales.

Still, there’s nothing like exhibiting work in real life.

Tori Hirsch found that out a year ago, when a few of her oil paintings were exhibited as part of “Owning,” a three-person show staged as part of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s, or GPAC’s, Art on the Walls series.

Films from the “silent” era were not usually viewed soundlessly; most were accompanied live by a pianist or organist. And it's that sound of a solo keyboardist – playing up-tempo runs for a chase scene, or minor chords for a tragic one – that many people still think of when they imagine music for films from before talkies.

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.

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