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.

Short-Handed Ravens Put Up Fight, Fall Short In Pittsburgh

Dec 3, 2020
Don Wright / AP

The Baltimore Ravens didn't practice for more than a week while COVID-19 raced through the locker room and forced the NFL to postpone their trip to Pittsburgh three separate times. They ran onto Heinz Field on Wednesday afternoon with 11 practice squad players added to the roster and star quarterback Lamar Jackson and starting running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins back in Baltimore.

A traditional gallery show featuring work by 100 Pittsburgh artists would be noteworthy (not to mention crowded). This week’s online auction showcasing that many locally based artists is likely a first.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

The pandemic-related financial struggles of Allegheny County’s parks, libraries and arts groups aren’t over yet, but at least one major funder seems on the path to recovery.

Courtesy of Bridge and Tunnel Books

Slam poetry began in the 1980s, in Chicago, as an alternative to more staid academic-poetry readings. With its combination of plain talk, impassioned performance, and live judging, it was an exciting new scene for fans and spoken-word performers alike, and it spread nationally.

Mark Simpson / Alumni Theater Company

Acclaimed young-adult novelist Sharon G. Flake has adapted her very first novel into her very first play.

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

The Thanksgiving night game between the Ravens and Steelers has been switched to Sunday because of coronavirus issues with Baltimore.

The NFL announced the move Wednesday, but did not specify a time of game nor which network would televise it. Previously, it was scheduled for NBC's prime-time telecast.

Baltimore placed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on the reserve/COVID-19, joining running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. The Ravens also have been doing team work virtually.

For artists in theater, music and dance, there are few honors higher than a gig at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Wes Carrasquillo / Courtesy of Liveright Press

Puerto Ricans have been immigrating to the U.S. for generations. Yet many mainlanders know little about this Caribbean island. For example, in 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, some Americans seemed surprised to learn that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh announced it’s most recent Sister Cities partnership with Glasgow, Scotland during a virtual signing ceremony on Nov. 12. 

Courtesy of the artist

The business of crafting items we use everyday isn’t always seen as art.

That’s at least a bit unfair, given that well-designed pieces of clothing, furniture and more can be artworks with practical as well as aesthetic value.

The Carnegie Museum of Art – which has long highlighted furniture and other products of industrial design amidst its traditional fine art – is giving a stage to local artisans who make art you can use.

Photo by Nicolette Kalafatis / Courtesy of 412 Food Rescue

Leah Lizarondo calls the Yinz Citizen concert “the Pittsburgh mix-tape”: The benefit event for her group 412 Food Rescue brings together local musical talent from across generations.

Courtesy of Film Pittsburgh Fall Festival

Pittsburgh’s newest film festival is actually a blend of several existing film festivals.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Kyle Holbrook has been creating and coordinating large-scale public murals in Pittsburgh for two decades. He’s done them around the U.S. and around the world. But seldom has the area native’s work seemed more visible in his hometown – or more timely – than during the past few months.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

For nearly eight months, the coronavirus pandemic has prevented most of Pittsburgh’s live-performance venues from opening to in-person audiences. Artistically – and logistically – many troupes, halls and promoters have found creative ways to adapt to the era of physical distancing, from filmed online dance shows to radio-style dramas and even a drive-in arts festival.

National Museum of Broadcasting

Pittsburgh is the site of the first commercial radio broadcast, which marks its centennial anniversary on Nov. 2.  

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The 2018 shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. As such, it’s readily contextualized alongside the spikes in nativist rhetoric and white-nationalist violence that have plagued the country in recent years.

Courtesy of the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art

“Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise.”

“Protect Me From What I Want.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On a chilly October evening, Vicki Potter stands in a gravel parking lot in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. The scent of popcorn mixes with the gasoline from nearby idling cars. Patrons are masked and sitting in the beds of trucks and trunks of minivans as an old-timey concession stand advertisement blares over the loudspeakers.

Renee Rosensteel / Duolingo

East Liberty-based Duolingo announced Wednesday a multi-year fund to support local artists and arts organizations. The language-learning app developer made the announcement as the company officially unveiled a new public mural on the Duolingo headquarters on Penn Avenue. 

The company says it will put up $150,000 over the next three years to fund public art projects and support arts organizations. The first art grant has been awarded to two local artists towards the creation of a new mural in East Liberty.  

The Squirrel Hill Café is one of those taverns that seems like it’s always been there. And in a way, it has: The one-time fruit and candy store near the corner of Forbes and Murray avenues became a restaurant and lounge in 1934, just after Prohibition ended.

Courtesy of FestivalAFRICANA

In 2001, Demeatria Boccella founded FashionAFRICANA, a Pittsburgh-based series of events to celebrate Black beauty and design.

Courtesy PICT Classic Theatre

Most theater companies have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic with live-streaming and other newfangled technologies. PICT Classic Theatre is using them, too, but with a vintage twist.

City crews covered a statue of Christopher Columbus in Pittsburgh in advance of Columbus Day following a recommendation from the mayor that it be removed from a city park and placed in a private location yet to be determined.

Photo by Beth Kukucka / Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Press

Pittsburgh’s poetry community is large but tight-knit. One big reason is Jan Beatty, the award-winning poet and educator whose sixth collection was just published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

The long-running battle over the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park moved closer to a conclusion Friday when Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced -- on the eve of Columbus Day -- that he agrees with the city's Art Commission, which voted unanimously Sept. 23 to remove the monument.

Photo by John Heller

With 19 years under its belt, “Off The Record” is surely Pittsburgh’s longest-running satirical musical revue. But while the coronavirus pandemic won’t stop it, neither will the 20th annual production be quite the same.

Photo by Karen Meyers

Lee Gutkind admits it, with a kind of relish: He used to lie about his age.

Vincent Yu / AP

Halloween will go on in Pittsburgh this year, according to city officials. But residents are urged to follow several precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Unbeaten Steelers Try To Take Unexpected Bye In Stride

Oct 2, 2020
Gail Burton / AP

Mike Tomlin's met his team's unexpected week off with typical bluntness.

Gene J. Puskar / AP


On today's program: The NFL deals with its first coronavirus outbreak; one man is crossing Pennsylvania to distribute thousands of yard signs before the election; and the dispute over a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg adds more tension to a divisive election year.