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 David Bernabo and John Miller

When Americans talk politics these days, it’s almost impossible to avoid the subject of President Donald Trump. And that can be a problem.

Photos courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil debuted as a troupe here in 2002, with “Quidam,” and it has been visiting Pittsburgh about annually since. This week, though, Cirque is back with an older show never seen here before.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Steve Blass' 60th season with the Pittsburgh Pirates will be his last in the broadcast booth.

The former pitcher announced Tuesday that 2019 will be his 34th and final year as a color analyst. He will step away as the longest-tenured broadcaster in team history. Blass will remain with the club as an alumni ambassador.

Photo by Jon Rubin

The phrase “There Are Black People In The Future” has a new future.

Amy Sisk / WESA

One of the longest disc golf courses in the world will soon open at North Boundary Park in Cranberry Township.

University of Pittsburgh Archives & Special Collections

In the early 1900s, Jean Hamilton became the first African-American woman to receive her bachelor's and doctorate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a leader in a field with few women, and is one of a handful of black women under consideration to replace the controversial Stephen Foster statue that once stood in Oakland.

Charles Sykes / Invision/AP

Cartoonist and writer Alison Bechdel started writing when she was just a child with a diary. But even then, she was preoccupied with issues that would define the lesbian experience.

Bryan Conley / Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection is vast. But one of the more obscure facets of that archive has been turned into one of the more popular attractions at the 57th Carnegie International.

Courtesy of Joy Ike

A decade ago, a twentysomething Pittsburgh resident named Joy Ike dedicated herself to music. She made a name on the local scene as a soulful singer-songwriter and keyboardist who blended pop, jazz and more. In 2014, she left to seek her fortune in a bigger town, Philadelphia.

Charles Sykes / AP

Actor and Pennsylvania native Joe Manganiello stopped by a Pittsburgh children's hospital to lead patients in a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

Manganiello stopped by UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh with his brother Nick Manganiello to lead a session of the roleplaying game. The Post-Gazette reports the actor assumed the rule of "Dungeon Master," leading the story of the game.

Art by Ginger Brooks Takahashi

Being whom you want to be is one thing. Having others see you that way is another.

Short: 'A Chandelier In Every Room'

Jan 9, 2019
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Artist and teacher Jennie K. Snyder started refurbishing and staining old chandeliers after she bought a home in Carrick. “I always had this dream of having a chandelier in every room,” she says. After making the light fixtures for herself she built an online store to sell them to other people interested in something a little different. “They're not your run-of-the-mill, Pottery Barn kind of piece.” Snyder’s chandelier business is one of her many side projects; she says she’d be bored doing just one thing for work.

Courtesy John Fried

When he was a kid, recalls John Fried, he “read a lot of coming-of-age books.” Even then, he preferred the ones that reflected his own experience as a less-than-ideal child.

Courtesy of Marty Ashby

In the late 80s, musician Marty Ashby worked for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and experimented with smaller jazz events on the side. Then he met the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. He knew he'd found his calling.

National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum

A new Kickstarter campaign aims to produce a bobblehead series featuring Negro League baseball legends, including three from Pittsburgh.

The bobbleheads, which will be produced by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, mark 100 years since the creation of the Negro League in baseball.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Some folks had already seen it, some of them multiple times. Some first-timers studied up by listening to the cast album. Almost everybody waited online for hours for tickets. But this week, all of them began convening downtown for the Pittsburgh-debut run of “Hamilton.”

Short: Can I Have A Volunteer?

Jan 3, 2019
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Magician Al Hastings — who goes by the stage name Al Mazing — performs for kids and families some 250 times a year. He often asks for a volunteer from the audience, but he has learned to choose carefully. At schools, he said, “The kid you don’t pick is the one sitting beside the teacher, because they are sitting beside the teacher for a reason.”

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Everybody should have a few tools around the house – like a crescent wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Back in 1994, relatively few U.S. cities staged big public art-focused New Year’s Eve festivals; the best known among them was Boston. Pittsburgh joined the list that year with its very first First Night, and it’s become a tradition. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust event marks its 25th anniversary Tuesday.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

The Mattress Factory has settled with a group of current or former employees who said the art museum’s management retaliated against them for criticizing how it handled claims of workplace sexual misconduct.

John Amis / AP

Inside the former Holy Rosary School, the Ibeji Drum Ensemble and Sankofa Village group have been playing djembe drums and shakere instruments, providing a backdrop to traditional African dancing. The  performers have been practicing for the Dec. 29 celebration of Kwanzaa.

Lee Paxton / Wikipedia Commons

A free workshop for aspiring writers – and book-binders – begins with the New Year.

Hilltop Alliance/Allentown CDC

From tinsel-covered telephone poles to strings of lights, decorations are an essential part of the holidays in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods. But these trees and ornaments don’t just appear; they’re curated and hung by groups of dedicated residents and local business owners.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Christmas tree farmers, especially in states like Oregon, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, where most of the country’s Christmas trees are grown.

Brian Siewiorek / WYEP


It’s been a year full of pivotal and impactful news, from court battles over redrawn Congressional maps and the resulting Democratic gains, to a shocking grand jury report on clergy abuse and demands from survivors for a change to statute of limitation laws, and even in church leadership.


Columbus, Ohio-based clothing company Homage has applied for trademark of the word "Yinzer" for apparel. The company has a store in East Liberty, and on their website sells shirts and baby onesies with "Yinzer" printed on front. 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

As poetry collections go, Tim Miller’s “Bone Antler Stone” might be unique for its book-cover blurbs alone: Three of the four encomiums are not from critics or other poets, but from archaeologists, including no less than Sir Barry Cunliffe, the famed University of Oxford emeritus archaeology professor and trustee of the British Museum.

Courtesy of Germaine Watkins

A group of local journalists traveled to Haiti this fall to gather stories and images from the small Caribbean island. They brought back bits of life and culture, and what one storyteller called “another side of Haiti.”

Joining the Confluence to talk about the trip are:

Keith Srakocic / AP

One of the first legal bets placed at Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino sports book didn't exactly bring the house down.

David Eldridge was one of five people to make the first legal bets at the casino during a grand opening last Thursday.

While many grand openings feature celebrities placing $20 on their favorite team to win the World Series or Super Bowl, Eldridge plunked down $10,000 — and on the New England Patriots over the hometown Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, to boot.

Sabrina Bodon / 90.5 WESA

Ohio, Aliquippa, Youghiogheny, are all Native American names. Their use in this region is emblematic of how profoundly the area was shaped by tribal communities.