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.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Frick Park’s 644 acres include extensive hiking trails, hundreds of species of wildlife and old fire hydrants that seem out of place. As stir-crazy Pittsburghers take advantage of the city’s many green spaces, Good Question! askers took notice of the peculiarly-placed manmade objects.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Art Commission voted unanimously today to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus that has stood in Schenley Park for generations.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

One of Pittsburgh's top independent music halls is closing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo by Joshua Franzos / Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has removed the life-sized diorama known to generations of visitors as "Arab Courier Attacked By Lions."

The exhibit dramatically depicted a man mounted on a camel fending off two big cats, presumably somewhere in the North African desert. It's a fictional scene, and not terribly accurate culturally or scientifically. But the exhibit has been on almost continuous display since 1899, and the male lion's gaping jaws, and the rider's terrified expression, imprinted themselves on countless schoolchildren.

Courtesy of hannibalburess.com

One night in 2017, comedian Hannibal Buress was out with some friends in Miami. He had a few drinks. Later, he says, by now on his own and with a dead cellphone, he offered a police officer $20 to call Uber for him. Buress says the officer refused, then followed him into a bar and ordered him to leave.

Steelers Try To Move On From Flap Over Justice Advocacy

Sep 17, 2020
Seth Wenig / AP

The Pittsburgh Steelers thought they had a plan for how to properly and respectfully make a public statement regarding social justice during their season opener against the New York Giants.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In a public letter published last week, four former PublicSource journalists described alleged mistreatment while they worked at the Pittsburgh news organization. 

Courtesy of Stage 62

Small and mid-sized arts nonprofits in Pittsburgh are among the hundreds of groups who said they are still hurting because an online ticketing service has failed to pay them money they are owed.

United Front? Villanueva's Choice Surprises Teammates

Sep 16, 2020
NAM Y. HUH / AP

The Pittsburgh Steelers stressed the need for unity as the team weighed how to properly promote social justice.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Meetings of the City of Pittsburgh Art Commission are not known for heated debates. Attendees are much likelier to witness polite discussions of the architectural details of a new building, or how best to renovate a city park. But a pending debate may not only be fractious, but could concern the powers of the commission itself. 

On The North Shore, A Revitalized Neighborhood Goes Quiet

Sep 15, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The saxophone guy, the one that plays theme songs from 1970s TV shows for loose change as fans squeeze past on the Roberto Clemente Bridge on their way to and from PNC Park, is gone. The line to take selfies next to Willie Stargell's statue outside the left field entrance to the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates is, too.

Photo by Vanessa German

  

Two women, lifelong friends, consummate their yearly hotel-room assignation on the eve of Y2K. A man and a woman, near-strangers, have sex in a car outside the hospice where both their mothers are dying. A woman writes a long letter to her sister, who never knew their wayward father, who just died. A girl grows up understanding, but forbidden to speak about, her mother’s years-long affair with their pastor – and then becomes close to the pastor’s wife and teen-aged son.

Image courtesy of Remember What They Did

Artist Nate Lewis spent nine years as an ICU nurse in the Washington, D.C. area. And the Beaver Falls native has been more than a little aggrieved by public discussions of the coronavirus, especially how Donald Trump has downplayed the pandemic. But a new billboard campaign is giving Lewis and other artists a chance to shape the debate themselves.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Labor Day heralds the start of the fall arts season in Pittsburgh. And in any other year, theater companies, dance troupes and other performing-arts groups would be preparing to pack indoor stages with performers, and fill seats with patrons.

But as with nearly everything else in public life, it’s all rather different in 2020.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday moved to relax restrictions on spectators at some fall sporting events, though attendance at high school football and volleyball games might still prove to be impossible because of statewide limits on mass gatherings.

Courtesy of Contemporary Craft

Contemporary Craft closed the final art exhibit at its longtime home in the Strip District more than a year ago, in August 2019. The gallery was on track to open its new headquarters, in Upper Lawrenceville, in April, 2020.

Courtesy Western Pennsylvania Juneteenth Celebration

For years, Pittsburgh’s Juneteenth celebration has included a re-enactment of the Grand Jubilee of Freemen Parade, a festive 1870 march Downtown commemorating passage of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave Black men the right to vote.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

 


On today's program: The Pittsburgh Art Commission will consider the fate of the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park; the Delta Foundation, which has organized Pittsburgh Pride since 2007, plans to dissolve; and access to COVID-19 tests and results are still an issue.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Sculptor Frank Vittor’s towering statue of Christopher Columbus was erected in Schenley Park, in 1958, with backing from the Italian-American fraternal group Sons of Columbus in America.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

A new grant-maker wants to help arts-and-culture groups in the region not simply survive the coronavirus pandemic, but emerge from it stronger, more diverse, and more equitable.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fall sports could be back on at high schools across Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League announced Friday an end to their two-week delay in favor of starting the season Monday. 

GOP Bill On School Sports Clears State House Committee

Aug 20, 2020
Ralph Wilson / AP

Republican-sponsored legislation that would give Pennsylvania school districts the final say over whether to hold sports and other activities during the pandemic cleared a House committee Thursday, one day before the governing body for interscholastic sports was to decide the fate of the fall season.

Courtesy of Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Historic street protests, unprecedented public support for Black Lives Matter  -- this spring and summer have created a new paradigm for attention to racism in America.

PIAA Official: 'Fairly Comfortable' Fall Sports Can Proceed

Aug 17, 2020
Ralph Wilson / AP

The governing body for Pennsylvania interscholastic sports signaled again Monday that it’s seriously considering moving ahead with the fall season despite the governor’s recommendation that all youth athletics be canceled until 2021.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Susan Jaffe didn’t merely start work as artistic director at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre during the coronavirus pandemic: She actually was still involved in the interview process in the pandemic’s early days. And after she was offered the position, in March, she worried about moving to Pittsburgh and taking on her new role in the midst of a huge public-health crisis.

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 Chris Ivey

By any reckoning, the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, in London, England, was a tragedy. Seventy-two died in the blaze. But in Pittsburgh, filmmaker Chris Ivey says, one aspect of the fire has been too little remarked: the role of locally based corporation Arconic. The Alcoa spin-off manufactured the exterior cladding panels on the high-rise apartment that a public inquiry in the U.K. has identified as the primary cause of the fire.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he has no plans to change his position that school sports should be canceled until 2021.

PIAA Wants Meeting About 'Possible Options' For Sports

Aug 12, 2020
Ralph Wilson / AP

Pennsylvania school sports’ governing body has told Gov. Tom Wolf it wants to talk with his aides about “possible options for fall sports” among its member schools.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

When the coronavirus pandemic hit back in March, museums and other cultural centers around the country were forced to close. Now many have reopened, albeit with restrictions designed to stem the spread of the virus. But they are struggling to attract visitors, and many are deeply concerned about the future.

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