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.

Photo by Heather Mull / Real/Time Interventions

Mastoorah Fazly and her husband, Nooruloq, left Afghanistan for the U.S. in 2016. Like many Afghani refugees, they held Special Immigrant Visas because Noorulhoq had worked for the U.S. State Department, putting them in danger at home.

Penguin Random House

On today's program: A food writer's new book follows one extraordinary chef around the world foraging for flavors; a local group is teaching families how to advocate for quality medical care; Allegheny County sees its first conviction of a 30-year-old crime; and citizens could be responsible for redrawing state legislative districts —if lawmakers are willing to give that up.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Njaimeh Njie spent three years on her public artwork “Homecoming: Hill District, USA.” This month, she completed the project’s final piece, a photo mural on the front steps of the Hill House Association’s landmark Kaufmann Center. But if a visit just hours after the installation is any indication, the work is already meeting its goal of connecting community members across time and space.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

A collaborative art project in front of the Tree of Life synagogue site in Squirrel Hill has been installed. #HeartsTogether: The Art of Rebuilding, includes 101 images printed on a windscreen that stretches in front of the building along Wilkins Avenue. 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Ben Jones, 78, has been making art for more than a half-century. His exhibition credits, overseas and around the U.S., date to the early 1970s -- and some two decades before Amani Lewis, who’s 24, was even born. But the artists’ work is united in tandem exhibitions opening Friday at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

Uncredited Photographer

Sam Davis, the guard who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win four Super Bowls in the 1970s, has died. He was 75.

Liz Lauren/Victory Gardens Theater

What first got Lauren Yee was the music.

It was several years ago, in San Diego, that the up-and-coming playwright initially experienced Dengue Fever, a Los Angeles-based band that revived the psychedelic surf sounds of the little-known Cambodian rock scene of the 1960s and ’70s.

R. Alan Adams Photography

On today's program: Point Park teams up with a Mississippi newsroom to investigate lead in water; how the "felony murder" charge has given thousands life sentences, despite many having nothing to do with the homicide; and a year into a merger, how is Pittsburgh's early music organization keeping baroque alive?

The Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol was a pioneering artist, surely the most influential since World War II. But he was also unique as a collector.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

On today's program: Pennsylvania farmers are seeing the impact of trade tariffs with China; a local project is spreading kindness with a needle and thread; the Wolf administration is commuting more life sentences; and a very common, very toxic chemical is contaminating water supplies.

Sean Spencer / 90.5 WESA

Fans of the late Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller gathered in Blue Slide Park a day before the one-year anniversary of his sudden death. Miller, whose real name was Malcolm McCormick, died of an accidental drug overdose in his Studio City, Calif. home last year.

City of Asylum

Iranian-born singer and composer Mahsa Vahdat is known around the world for her songs inspired by traditional Persian music, with lyrics drawn from classic and contemporary Iranian poetry. Her collaborators have included the famed Kronos Quartet (with whom she’s performing a pair of concerts in Georgia next week). Yet she’s never sung in public in her home country, where since the 1979 Islamic revolution has banned concerts by solo female singers. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

There’s a party at the graveyard this weekend. Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh’s oldest of its kind, turns 175 this year.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has donated the monetary award for its Pulitzer Prize to help repair the synagogue where 11 people died in a massacre last year.

Staffers won the award on April 15 for their coverage of the October shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.

Along with one of the highest honors for journalistic achievement, the newsroom was awarded $15,000.

Photo by Heather Tabacci / Courtesy of Rivers of Steel Arts

Mention “Homestead” to Pittsburghers, and many will think either of the huge U.S. Steel complex that used to join the town to the Monongahela River or The Waterfront, the sprawling shopping complex that took its place.

Courtesy of ReelAbilities Pittsburgh

On today's program: Gov. Tom Wolf hopes his recent executive orders lead to chamber-debated legislation; a reform commission suggests creating a new team to redraw PA's congressional map in 2020; Pittsburgh's Shakespeare in the Park presents a brand new take on the story of Caesar; and a film festival spotlights the work and stories of people with different abilities. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Rap star and Pittsburgh native Malcom McCormick, who went by the stage name Mac Miller, died one year ago this month. After his death, a benefit concert and donations raised more than $935,000, which Miller’s family used to create the Mac Miller Fund.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

The decision to stage the first all-female production in Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ 15-year history was pretty easy, says troupe founder Jennifer Tober. PSIP’s artistic committee liked local theater artist Elena Alexandratos’ pitch to do “Julius Caesar” that way from the get-go.

Courtesy of Heinz History Center

More than two decades ago, Lan Cao published her debut novel, “Monkey Bridge.” It was among the first novels by a Vietnamese-American author about the Vietnam War, and it was partly based on Cao’s own experience coming to the U.S. as a teen-aged war refugee, in 1975, at age 13. 

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

On today's program: Parishoners call for change in the Pittsburgh Diocese; Lancaster is one of Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing counties, in part because of Amish population growth; local archaeologists find evidence of a community 8,000 years old; and RMU's price match program expands beyond the Pittsburgh area.

Courtesy Pittsburgh Performance Art Festival

Performance art is a bit difficult to define. It’s not theater, exactly, or dance, or music, though it can incorporate all three genres.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Four bronze panther monuments keep watch over the Panther Hollow Bridge in Oakland. Weathered over a century, the statutes appear to stalk passersby. 

Courtesy of Words Without Walls

Eric Boyd has been there: a writer behind bars. Starting in 2010, he says, he spent nine months in Allegheny County Jail. He’d taken a plea deal on charges of assault by negligence after failing to call an ambulance for a friend who’d overdosed.

Tony Gutierrez / AP

The Pittsburgh Pirates are parting ways with veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has been hampered by multiple concussions this season.

Courtesy of the artist

When Contemporary Craft moved to the Strip District in 1986 the neighborhood wasn’t exactly a magnet for arts groups. True, Downtown was within walking distance, and the adjacent Penn Avenue corridor hosted retail produce stores and a few restaurants. But the historic Produce Terminal – at one end of which Contemporary Craft made its new home – marked a stretch of Smallman Street still dominated by wholesalers.

Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds

On today’s program: Soccer attendance is on the rise in Pittsburgh, likely thanks to the U.S. Women's team; PFAS chemicals were discovered near Pittsburgh International; a poet reckons with her multi-racial identity; and Shady Side Academy teens reflect on their student Emmy Award nomination. 

Growing up in Wexford, Sarah Valentine felt secure and loved by her family and friends. Still, there were moments: the basketball coach who assumed teen-aged Valentine was accompanied by the black woman she stood next to in line, rather than by her own father, who was white; the counselor who suggested Valentine look into scholarships for minorities.

Carnegie Museum of Art

A new exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art holds a mirror up to creativity in Pittsburgh.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Darryl Drake, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers who spent more than 30 years molding players at the position at the college and professional level, has died. He was 62.

The team said Drake, who joined the coaching staff in 2018, died early Sunday morning.

"Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career," Steelers president Art Rooney II said. "He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football."

Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP

On today's program: Duquesne University is opening a new osteopathic medical school; questions remain about a lunchtime double stabbing downtown; Pittsburgher Ming-Na Wen is the latest Disney legend; and an artist-in-residence at PIT unveils work honoring what happens behind the scenes.  

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