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.

Steelers, Roethlisberger Agree To New Deal For 2021 Season

Mar 4, 2021
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Ben Roethlisberger is returning for an 18th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is taking a pay cut to do it.

Courtesy of FolkLAB

Did you hear the one about winters in Olympia, Washington? They’re even longer, and grayer, than the ones in Pittsburgh!

Photo by Shikeith / Courtesy of the Mattress Factory

In 2014, Shikeith Cathey came to Pittsburgh for an artist residency that would alter the course of his career. A few years later, the Philadelphia native – then gaining a national reputation – moved here. In 2021, he’s still in Pittsburgh, and still building a career that’s higher-profile than ever as he continues to explore Black male queer lives.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Fans will soon return to pro sports venues whose stands have been empty for a year or more as Pennsylvania on Monday eased restrictions on large gatherings to reflect a sustained slide in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The state also is lifting restrictions on out-of-state travel and considering a plan to vaccinate teachers.

Monday's developments came as Pennsylvania prepared to receive its initial allotment of doses of the newly approved, one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

90.5 WESA

More public art is coming to City of Pittsburgh parks and other public spaces, courtesy of funding the scale of which the city has not seen in decades.

Photo by Emmai Alaquiva / Courtesy pf Carnegie Mellon University

Even after a year when something historical seemed to happen every two weeks, the fight over how history is written continues.

Ua Pilar / Courtesy of Four Way Books

In poet Yona Harvey’s latest collection, “You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love” (Four Way Books), several poems feel equal parts composition and collage. And there’s a reason for that.

Courtesy of Vanessa German

Nationally known artist Vanessa German has vowed to rebuild the ArtHouse, the grassroots community center she founded in Homewood that was extensively damaged in a fire this past Sunday.

Courtesy of the author

One person’s antagonist is another’s protagonist. It’s true in life, and also in the award-winning young-adult fiction of Sharon G. Flake.

Courtesy of slowdanger

Like most performing-arts groups, slowdanger has had shows canceled or postponed because of the pandemic. But in the case of this Pittsburgh-based interdisciplinary troupe known for blending movement with new technology, a postponement sent it even further down a high-tech path it was already traveling.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The life of pioneering journalist Nellie Bly will be celebrated during a virtual program Thursday evening.

“Trailblazing Women in Journalism: The Legacy of Nellie Bly” is a partnership between the Heinz History Center and Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh.

Bly was born in Apollo, Pa., about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, in 1864. She’s best known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, following the fictional character’s journey in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days.” 

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Many Americans enjoy researching family histories. But a Johnstown native who’s also a noted history writer takes the practice to a higher level in his new book.

Admittedly, Russell Shorto also had unusually rich material to work with. “Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob” (W.W. Norton & Co.) is a painstakingly researched, multi-generational look at his grandfather’s career as a mobster in Johnstown, Cambria County, and how it affected those close to him.

AP Photo/Joe Holloway, Jr.

The Major League Baseball legend Hank Aaron died at the age of 86. Aaron played for 23 seasons, breaking world records and adopting the nickname "Hammerin' Hank."

The Confluence host, Kevin Gavin, spoke with Aaron in 1990 after the publication of his autobiography, "I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story."

Photo by Joshua Sweeny / Courtesy of Attack Theatre

Attack Theatre is that rare established Pittsburgh arts group that moved its headquarters during the coronavirus pandemic. Now it’s showing off its new home in a short film whose production was itself an adaptation to the era of physical distancing.

Brew House Association Gallery

Hairstyling has always been more than grooming; some consider getting a new cut therapeutic. But if Black salons and barbershops are also important social spaces, curator Tara Fay Coleman wants to emphasize they are places where art is made, as well.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Do Nguyen Mai Khoi gave her new show the ironic title “Bad Activist.” But the Vietnamese celebrity, who’s currently living in self-imposed exile in Pittsburgh, also might have called it “Bad Pop Star.”

Joanne Rogers, Widow Of TV's Famed Mister Rogers, Dies At 92

Jan 15, 2021
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Joanne Rogers, an an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the legacy of her husband, the beloved children's TV host Mister Rogers, has died in Pittsburgh. She was 92.

Zhao Chuang, PNSO

Many people know that birds descend from dinosaurs.

But a unique new fossil discovery that involved researchers from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History shows that some dinosaurs had a lot more in common with birds than many of us realize.

Courtesy of the Mendelssohn Choir

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, it became clear that indoor choral singing was among the riskiest behaviors one could engage in. So the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, like so many group artistic endeavors, hasn’t had any in-person activities for some 10 months.

Boston Red Sox / Twitter

Pittsburgh-area native Bianca Smith says it’s still “surreal” that she’s about to become the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball. The Boston Red Sox recently announced that they’d hired the 29-year-old as a Minor League coach. 

New Stimulus Gives Philly's Struggling Music Scene Its Own Shot In The Arm

Dec 30, 2020
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

On Sunday night, Sean Salm could see the stage at Voltage Lounge lighting up again, with guitarists, singers and even professional wrestlers performing in front of a live audience after months of silence.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

This past spring, the EQT Children’s Theater Festival went virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now the pandemic has birthed a first-ever holiday-season edition of the festival.

Pittsburgh’s newest Christmas-themed show is a sequel of sorts.

Frank Franklin II / AP

Pope Francis on Friday appointed the Rev. Monsignor Larry Kulick as the sixth bishop of the Greensburg Diocese, which is home to more than 128,000 Roman Catholics.

The 54-year-old has served as administrator since his predecessor, Bishop Edward Malesic, became the bishop of Cleveland in September, the diocese said.

"Western Pennsylvania has always been my home. I feel honored to be able to serve as bishop in the diocese where I was born, raised, educated, ordained and have served my entire life,” Kulick said in a statement.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was August Wilson’s first play to hit Broadway. Now it’s his second to become a feature film. The Pittsburgh-born playwright’s namesake August Wilson Center for African American Culture marks the occasion with a virtual panel discussion featuring some of the new film’s distinguished creative team.

Paul g. Wiegman / Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Garden

Operating during a pandemic was a challenge for Pittsburgh’s museums. Not operating is harder still.

For the second time this year, museums and similar attractions have been ordered closed by Gov. Tom Wolf in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In Pittsburgh, that includes venues from the Carnegie Museum of Art and Heinz History Center to Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the National Aviary. The shutdown is scheduled to last three weeks, until Jan. 4.

Kathy Slencak

Funeral services are a rite of passage that provide mourners a place to express the many feelings that accompany the loss of a loved one. But the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions on large gatherings have changed — and in some cases prevented — these rituals.

 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh’s 31 nationality rooms are decorated for their respective holidays and just a click away.

Ralph Wilson / AP

A day before many high school winter sports competitions were set to begin in Pennsylvania, the state called time out. All high school sports activities have been prohibited as part of a three-week order also restricting indoor dining and most gatherings.

Courtesy of Interational Puppet Festival

Puppetry is the epitome of a hands-on art form. Nonetheless, thanks to the pandemic, Pittsburgh’s newest puppet showcase is virtual, which is a big reason it's able to include performers from around the world.

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