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 The University of Pittsburgh

On today's program: The University of Pittsburgh just got a treasure trove from the estate of horror great George Romero; a queer youth theater program is debuting a new multimedia production; City Council District 9 candidates are readying for Tuesday's primary election; CEOs take a stand against the stigma around mental illness; and the state's top court hears from both sides of the UPMC / Highmark split. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


It’s the year 2064. Climate change has become fully realized and survivors must adapt to their chaotic new environment. Over a synthesized melody, characters sing a dark anthem reminiscent of “America the Beautiful.”

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Kim Gordon started playing music as an indirect result of pursuing art. Now, her music has led – also indirectly – to a milestone in her art career: the Sonic Youth co-founder’s first solo North American museum exhibit.

“Kim Gordon: Lo-Fi Glamour” opens today at The Andy Warhol Museum. The exhibit commands the museum’s second floor with paintings, drawing and sculpture spanning the past decade of Gordon’s 30-year art practice.

Abby Warhola
The Andy Warhol Museum

Silver walls adorning the Andy Warhol Museum's event space are taking on new meaning this week as the organization celebrates 25 years in Pittsburgh’s North Side. Executive director Patrick Moore says they haven’t stopped growing since.

The Trouble With Ideals Of Appearance

May 15, 2019
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Sadly, fitness does not work by the property of osmosis. Sitting next to an Adonis on the bus does not turn us all into museum-worthy Greek statues. It is a tough reality that means there is plenty of work out there for personal trainers. Still, the osmosis theory dies hard: personal trainers often face “pressure to look as fit as … clients hope to be,” says Nkem Chikwendu, a trainer at the JCC in Squirrel Hill.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

For years, the building that marked part of the boundary between Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Schenley Park just sat there, something of an eyesore. It was a nondescript one-story cinder-block structure dating to the 1960s, built for the city’s Department of Public Works. Phipps owned it and even considered tearing it down. 

Courtesy of The Tamburitzans

Tamburitza folk music is inherently a genre of many cultures – it’s played by a family of lute guitars that combine the Persian tanbur with a mandolin and classical guitar. The music traditionally celebrates the culture of Eastern European countries, but the new executive director of the Pittsburgh Tamburitzans is hoping to expand the reach of their repertoire to include countries like Greece and Ireland.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


On a sunny spring day, a helicopter takes off from UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. The whir of the blades echoes across the nearby Monongahela River as the aircraft makes it way into the sky.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Residents of Fred Rogers' home state of Pennsylvania will be encouraged to exhibit acts of kindness in honor of the beloved PBS children's show host.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

The Roxian Theatre opened its doors in 1929 – in the waning days of vaudeville, the very art form it was built to house. The McKees Rocks theater became primarily a movie house, a use that lasted until 1979, when the rise of suburban multiplexes forced it to change again, this time into a banquet facility called the Emerald Room. 

Photo by Jim Judkis

For freelance photographer Jim Judkis, shooting Fred Rogers behind-the-scenes for magazine stories in the 1970s and ’80s resulted in some of his most memorable assignments. Judkis was impressed by the attention to detail he saw on the set of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” at WQED, and by the depth of Rogers’ connection with children he met in the community.

Photo courtesy of Uncumber Theatrics

Tell a theater audience they’ll be expected to portray housecats, and certain activities leap to mind: purring, stretching, prowling on all fours. Maybe disdainfully stalking away from a half-eaten dinner.

Photo courtesy of Diane Cecily

Chuck Kinder was a widely known author whose novels got favorably reviewed in national publications. 

Photo by Heather Mull / Courtesy of Quantum Theatre

It’s easy to imagine a production of “King Lear” at the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark: You can just picture the mad, dispossessed king defying his fate in the shadow of the towering, rusting furnaces.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

As part of a plan to make over Allegheny Commons Park, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy wanted to rebuild a long-demolished landmark fountain.

One problem was that the historic Northeast Fountain was something of a mystery. Its existence was well-documented: It was first built about 150 years ago, in 1868. That's right around the time what was then Allegheny City turned a former commonly held pastureland into a city park called Allegheny Commons.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Kennywood Park is a staple for many Pittsburghers. The amusement park isn’t the largest and doesn’t have the fastest rides, but visitors return each season for a taste of nostalgia and the classic, rickety wooden roller coasters.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

As a reverend, teacher, community organizer and poet, Eleanor Williams is a woman of many talents. She joined 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence to talk about her work and her latest endeavor with the North Side Partnership Project, a coalition of seven nonprofits.

A morbid question looms at the center of “The Soap Myth,” Jeff Cohen’s 2012 play about a Holocaust survivor, Holocaust denialism and more: Did the Nazis make soap from the bodies of Jewish people they murdered during the Holocaust?

The nationally touring play gets its Pittsburgh premiere Monday with a production starring famed actor Ed Asner.

Asner, who is 89, starred as Lou Grant in TV’s “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its spin-off “Lou Grant”; he’s also known for film roles like playing Santa Claus in “Elf” and Carl Frederickson in the animated hit “Up.

Courtesy of The Pittsburgh Marathon

From humble beginnings — there wasn't even a marathon in Pittsburgh in 2008 — CEO and race director Patrice Matamoros says she put her whole heart into building the engine behind today's Pittsburgh marathon. Festivities this weekend will be her final lap.  

Image courtesy of the artist

In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, American public schools became less racially segregated. But research suggests that trend peaked years ago: Today, schools across the country are largely re-segregating. In the South, by some measures, schools are again as segregated as they were in the mid-1960s -- a decade after U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Brown v.

Michael Sahaida / Wikipedia

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for summer programming set to include music from John William’s films, the Rolling Stones and the U.S. premiere of “Thorgy and the Thorchestra” – a collaboration with "RuPaul’s Drag Race" star Thorgy Thor. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The FBI in Pittsburgh announced Thursday that a 400-year-old Geneva Bible stolen from the Carnegie Library in the 1990s is back in the Steel City.

Photo courtesy of Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

One of the first free libraries built by Andrew Carnegie was located in Allegheny City, a short walk from the house where he’d lived as a boy after emigrating from Scotland. That library, with its music hall, was a Richardsonian Romanesque architectural landmark. It opened in 1890, and remained in operation until April 2006, when a lightning bolt swatted a decorative three-ton granite finial from the structure, causing $2 million in damage.

Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Press

Among poets, explicitly writing about one’s own life is rarer than some readers might think. That makes the title of Toi Derricotte’s new book, “‘i’: New and Selected Poems,” a bit unusual. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Visitors to the Historical Society of Carnegie typically come for two reasons: they love former Pittsburgh Pirates great Honus Wagner or they have a connection to the small, southwestern Pennsylvania borough. 

Courtesy of Pennsylvania Resources Council

When people envision a sustainable future, they might think of such industrial-scale, tech-heavy approaches as solar arrays and electric vehicles. But creating a greener civilization also includes strategies as simple as finding new homes for stuff you don’t want any more.

Dominque Jouxtel

The very first Three Rivers Arts Festival, as created by the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Institute, took place in June 1960. It ran four days, and drew 28,000.

U.S. Navy

The USS Pittsburgh, a Los Angeles-class, fast-attack submarine, returned to its homeport in Groton, Conn. in February, marking the successful completion of its final deployment—and with a Pittsburgher at the helm. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Fences covered with blue tarps still surround the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, where 11 Jewish worshipers were killed last October.

But the three congregations which once worshipped there want to change that aesthetic.

National Archives at College Park, Md.

The Vietnam War indelibly marked recent history. But many Americans who lived through the war – not to mention those born after – remain minimally informed about basic facts about the conflict.

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