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

A picture postcard from the Grand Canyon. A topographical map of India. A T-shirt airbrushed with a gray wolf howling at the moon.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: Fallingwater joins the ranks of Machu Picchu and Notre Dame; fewer than 5% of this year's Pittsburgh police recruits are black; a reporter studying the Thwaites Glacier tracks how it's melting; and a new book looks to answer questions about the future of Judaism in Pittsburgh after the Tree of Life massacre. 

Courtesy of Derek Reese

The practice known as “rolling coal” suggests a burst of literal toxic masculinity. It involves diesel trucks modified to belch heavy plumes of black soot, whether as a prank or as an internally combusted assertion of machismo (or, in some cases, political protest).

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Festival Opera

“An opera is a story that people sing,” said Fred Rogers, in introducing the 1980 episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” featuring his one-act opera “Windstorm in Bubbleland.”

Courtesy of Deutschtown Music Festival

The Deutschtown Music Festival is Pittsburgh's largest free, standalone music festival, and in its seventh year, it’s still growing.

Whiskey Rebellion Festival

On today’s program: How to celebrate the 225th anniversary of Western PA's whiskey rebellion; how much parking revenue has the city lost to bike lanes; a new building at Millersville University touts energy efficiency; a local musician creates space for fellow Brazilians to perform; and new state reforms aim to protect victims of campus sexual assault. 

Rachel Gobep / 90.5 WESA

Kids participating in the Opening Doors for Youth & Families summer camp went fishing at Carnegie Lake in Highland Park on Tuesday, July 9.

University of Pittsburgh

On today’s program: Pitt's jazz studies program has a new leader with lots of big ideas; Larimer's African Healing Garden makes its home in an empty lot; Ohio residents are fighting companies over the fate of fracking waste; residents in Bucks and Montgomery counties are battling contamination in private wells; and the Voter Participation Center is campaigning to get more Pennsylvanians to vote.

Greg Sciulli

With a new roof and exterior brickwork, the 103-year-old Wilkinsburg Train Station is looking for tenants. The historic structure sat vacant for nearly 50 years and is in the midst of a significant restoration.

Scott Goldsmith / TDW, 2017

A local foundation is sharpening its focus on promoting art that addresses social issues.

Art That Grows Awareness And Appreciation For Trees

Jul 4, 2019
Courtesy of Ashley Cecil

The walls of artist Ashley Cecil’s studio are covered with flora and fauna, from shapes of different bird species cut from brown paper to bold images of flowers in pink and green.

Ben Viatori

For her first gig in Pittsburgh, Beth Gill has an iconic playground.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Athletes around the world are getting ready for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo next year, but in Philadelphia, there’s a group of rowers with a much longer-term goal. 

Courtesty of P3R

On today’s program: A new look, leader and vision for the group behind Pittsburgh's marathon; Kitchen of Grace provides a place for teens to gain tools for future employment; landowners go up against energy companies in Ohio; questions in Harrisburg over a tax break for those who give scholarships to private schools; and the Supreme Court wraps up its term with a series of tight rulings.

Courtesy of The Heinz History Center

On today's program: A conversation with the oldest living African American olympic medalist and Pittsburgher Herb Douglas; the Pennsylvania Department of Health says there's no cancer cluster in Washington County, but questions about the rate of rare tumors there remain; Roger Humphries is bringing jazz music to Pittsburgh's rivers; and Pennsylvania could soon join a list of states in requiring paid family leave. 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

At first glance, Tustin Park looks pretty modest. The tiny park – some call it a “tot lot” – sits on a side street in Uptown, and consists mainly of some playground equipment, a water fountain, and a few tall trees.

Carnegie Mellon University

On today’s program: A conversation with a pioneer of the space art movement about the first museum on the moon; Pennsylvania rivers get a second life as recreation hubs; the commonwealth's clean slate law gives second chances; researchers at Magee-Womens Research Institute are developing a new mesh for pelvic prolapse; and a sneak peek of WYEP Summer Music Fest.

Photo by John Ford / Courtesy of William Marshall

It’s one of America’s oldest holidays, and among its most historically resonant: On June 19, 1865, the last enslaved African Americans learned they were emancipated. Juneteenth has been celebrated every year since, and 46 states and the District of Columbia now recognize the holiday – including, as of just weeks ago, Pennsylvania.

This year’s Juneteenth is also notable for other reasons, said William Marshall, who has organized the weekend of activities since 2013; he's also the founder of local advocacy group Stop the Violence.

Photo by Chancelor Humphrey

Ashley Cecil has plenty of experience making art about plants and animals. Her resume includes artist residencies at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Garden. The mission statement on her web site reads, “nurturing love of nature through art.”

If At First You Don't Succeed ... You May Ruin Your Lawn

Jun 26, 2019
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It is said that practice makes perfect. In the case of retired physician Demetrius Ellis, it also produces some divots in the backyard. After a neighbor introduced him to golf, Ellis spent hours practicing at home before he dared showing his face at a real golf course. In his retirement, Ellis has worked to find ways to stay in shape, both physically and mentally. Golf requires a lot of decisions — related to club choice, weather, terrain — to get the ball to the pin. “All those decisions … keep your mind somewhat more alert,” he says.

Photo by Lulu Liu

Names like Gottfried Leibniz and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II are not exactly trending at the moment. So what possesses a young writer to build his debut novel around these real-life 17th-century personages, as inserted into a darkly comic, rhetoric-filled narrative about philosophy, astronomy, madness and art?

Courtesy of Endemol Shine North America

On today's program: The man accused of plotting to attack a church on the North Side is due in court; MasterChef contestant and Pittsburgher Michael Silverstein draws culinary inspiration from the Strip District; East Pittsburgh has undergone a number of changes in the year since the death of Antwon Rose; Why are a number of Pittsburgh's roads referred to as runs?; plus a look inside Pitt’s newest nationality room celebrating Philippine culture.

A Late-Blooming Love For The Game Of Golf

Jun 19, 2019
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Retired pediatric nephrologist Dr. Demetrius Ellis has played sports his entire life: soccer, racquetball, tennis. But a sudden onset of tennis elbow in his 60s prompted his neighbor to introduce Ellis to golf. “I thought it was an extremely expensive sport for rich people who were very compulsive,” Greece-born Ellis laughs. Ellis plays nearly every day at the public course, the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park.

Photo by Ruth E. Hendricks / Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Press

Poet Michael Wurster organized his career around his passion.

Wurster grew up mostly in Iowa, loving poetry, and earned an English degree at Dickinson College, in Harrisburg. But when he moved to Pittsburgh, in 1964, Wurster was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman.

“I was good at it,” he says. But it hindered his pursuit of poetry.

“One thing that I finally realized was that sales and poetry were not compatible,” he says. “Being a salesman is not something you can turn on and off. “

Courtesy of Row House Cinema

Lawrenceville's Row House Cinema will host the third Pittsburgh International Children's Festival in July. There will be new programming this year, including baby-friendly flicks.

Richard Shotwell / Invision / AP

NBC's "Late Night" host and former SNL head writer and cast member Seth Meyers didn't grow up in Pittsburgh, but his dad did. He says his father's pride in the city was something he inherited and one of the reasons he considers Pittsburgh his ancestral home. 

Meyers returns to those roots Friday night to play two back-to-back shows at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead. He jokes that this is the one stop of his tour where he can correctly pronounce the neighborhood "S'Liberty" to an audience who will understand. 

Sean Carroll / The Warhol Museum

Teens can explore the art of drag at The Andy Warhol Museum's new School of Drag Workshop Series this summer. 

Photograph by Stephen Willing

Back when she was a newspaper photographer – before and even after she won a Pulitzer Prize – one of Martha Rial's tasks was shooting for the publications' big community-news sections. Those were the pages that noted and celebrated the contributions of volunteers and others who made their towns better places to live.

Milestone Films

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will honor Pittsburgh silent film pioneer Lois Weber with a historical marker Thursday. As one of the first female American directors, Weber was known for her early use of new techniques like double exposures and split screens. 

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Fingertips clack on computer keyboards as Jeremy St. Hailer and Robert Starzynski work on their film project. St. Hilaire is a teaching artist at Steeltown Entertainment Project, and Starzynski is one of a half-dozen students in today’s session of the Reel Teens program, all sitting at a row of computer monitors in a fluorescent-lit room on the South Side.