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.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Downtown Pittsburgh today is known, in part, for the entertainment it hosts. It's a place one can see Broadway shows, art galleries and music festivals, sometimes all in the same night. But in the not-so-distant past, a section of the city was home to a different type of entertainment.

Screenshot / Contextual Camouflage

Even as Jason McKoy struggled with mental illness, he understood that the disease was invisible, and that he shouldn’t talk about it. He called this phenomenon “contextual camouflage.”

“I felt like I was camouflaging my true feelings,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people with mental-health disorders have to do. … We have to walk around camouflaging.”

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins  have advanced to the second round of the NHL playoffs in their bid to win a third straight Stanley Cup. 

Thursday, the Pens visit Washington, a team the Pens have defeated in nine of 10 playoff series through the years.

Do the Penguins have the Capitals' number or are the Caps due to beat the Pens?


One Man’ Passion For Pinball Turns Into A Business, Place For Local Enthusiasts

Apr 25, 2018
Ted S. Warren / AP

Eric Thomas has an addiction.

There's no rhyme or reason to it, he said, but he's chasing the euphoria. It can hit all of a sudden, and just about anyone can get hooked.

"That's pinball," he said. "It only takes one ball."

During the last six months, Thomas' addiction has turned into a passion — and now, a business, Retro Arcade, which is located inside Vaporosity at 138 W. State St. in downtown Sharon.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's highest court has ordered a judge to free rapper Meek Mill on bail while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions.

The Supreme Court directed a Philadelphia judge who had jailed him to immediately issue an order releasing him on unsecured bail.

Mill was sentenced in November to two to four years in prison for violating probation.

Mill issued a statement saying his five months in jail have been "a nightmare" and thanking all his supporters.

Courtesy of Art All Night

Venues capable of displaying 1,000 works of art for less than 24 hours aren’t easy to come by. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Former professional wrestling champion Bruno Sammartino has been laid to rest in Pennsylvania, where he was remembered as one of the sport's good guys.

Sammartino fled the Nazis from Italy as a child and built a career beating a string of bad guys in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the World Wide Wrestling Federation champion for more than 11 years over two title runs. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

Crosby, Penguins Keep 3rd Straight Championship In Sight

Apr 23, 2018

Sidney Crosby tormented the Flyers just as he has from the start of his NHL career. Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin were clutch when needed in pivotal games. And Matt Murray? Oh, just two shutouts and the type of outings that show more zeros on the board are possible in the second round — and maybe, beyond.

But with the game on the line and facing a Game 7 on home ice where they already lost twice, the Pittsburgh Penguins turned to a blossoming postseason star to lead the way.

Jake Guentzel was just the player to bail out the Pens.

Garret Jones

As far as comics artists go, Ed Piskor might not seem like a superhero kind of guy.

Courtesy of Angela Carducci

Craig Toocheck has a vision for Pittsburgh's future events and meetings. 

Photo by Jon Rubin

Alisha Wormsley didn’t intend her work of billboard art to be about gentrification. But her message reading “There Are Black People in the Future,” posted in big letters atop a building in the center of East Liberty, has become just that.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Bruno Sammartino, professional wrestling's "Living Legend" and one of its longest-reigning champions, has died. Sammartino was 82.

Family friend and former wrestling announcer Christopher Cruise said Sammartino died Wednesday morning and had been hospitalized for two months.

Sammartino was wrestling's biggest box office draw in the 1960s and 1970s and held the World Wide Wrestling Federation championship for more than 11 years (4,040 days) over two title runs.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, three towns all share an astronomical feature in their names. None of them have an observatory, and no groundbreaking space discoveries were made in any of them, but the trio of cities, within 200 miles of each other, all begin with the word “star.”

David Cook, of Whitehall, brought the idea to the attention of 90.5 WESA’s Good Question series. He wondered about the origins of Star City, Wv., Star Junction, Pa. and Starbrick, Pa.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

An acclaimed British photographer will guide some local students to document their own communities as part of this year’s Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

In all of the U.S., there are only a few dozen sets of instruments that qualify as gamelan ensembles – the collections of gongs and other tuned percussion instruments needed to play this form of music indigenous to Indonesia.

One such gamelan resides at the University of Pittsburgh, whose University Gamelan group marks its 20th anniversary this week with a pair of concerts. Guest performers include composer Ismet Ruchimat, vocalist Masyuning, and musician Idra Ridwan.

Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson Photography

Over its 24 years, adventuresome dance troupe Attack Theatre has staged productions in some unusual places: outdoor plazas, old industrial spaces, a gallery at the Carnegie Museum of Art. But its latest venue is probably a first: a former Office Depot at The Waterfront shopping complex in Homestead.

Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

These days, jazz studies programs are common at American universities and colleges. In 1969, there were only two at major universities. That’s the year Dr. Nathan Davis arrived at the University of Pittsburgh to establish its program.

A respected saxophonist, the Kansas City native had spent most of the 1960s living in Paris where he was an integral part of that city’s particularly vibrant jazz scene performing and recording with world renowned artists. That background influenced his approach to running Pitt’s jazz program, according to drummer Thomas Wendt.

420 Games

Pro-pot events used to be limited to rock concerts, but in the wake of legal medical marijuana, that is changing. Pittsburgh becomes the first city in the eastern U.S. this week to host the 420 Games, an event blending athletics with marijuana advocacy.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins begin their quest Wednesday for a third straight Stanley Cup when they host the Philadelphia Flyers in game one of a seven-game first-round playoff series.

Photo by Jon Rubin

That work of billboard art in East Liberty that was taken down last week can go back up, according to a statement issued this morning by the landlord of the building the billboard stands on.

HBO's 'Paterno' Movie A Polarizing Story With Unanswered Questions

Apr 5, 2018
HBO / AP

"Paterno" aims to tell the polarizing story of a legend's fall, when the most essential question can never be answered.

Courtesy of the artist

Karl Marx is considered one of the most important social philosophers of the past two centuries, and among the most controversial -- even hundreds of years after his birth. 

Photo by Jon Rubin

The removal of a message from a billboard art project in East Liberty has sparked outrage – and inspired a community meeting to address issues surrounding free speech and public art.

*Updated at 6:02 p.m. Thursday, April 5

David J. Phillip / AP

Philadelphia is getting the chance to celebrate yet another sports championship with a parade, this time for Villanova University's Wildcats.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Later this spring, the end of an era in Pittsburgh theater arrives with the shuttering of the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Twenty consecutive losing seasons, followed by three years of making the playoffs, and now the Pirates will try to avoid a third straight losing season.  

Adelina Lancianese / 90.5 WESA

Ten unique towns dot the 150-mile nature trail that stretches from Cumberland, Md. to Pittsburgh, and up to 800 runners will experience them all on the Great Allegheny Passage Relay this October.

Regular teams of eight and ultra teams of four will run the flat, vehicle-free trail over 48 hours. Teammates will take turns tackling the race's 24 legs, only stopping for brief breaks in the team's van that follows along the course. That means a single participant may run anywhere from 13 to 46 miles -- depending on team size -- over the duration of the race. 

Courtesy of the author

In Anjali Sachdeva’s debut collection of short stories, a young frontier wife who can’t abide daylight gets lost, perhaps fatally, in a mysterious cavern. A steelworker in 19th-century Pittsburgh is injured terribly in an industrial accident, but develops a strange power. A present-day fisherman encounters a mermaid. An in-vitro septuplet narrates the tragic fates of her siblings.

The wide-ranging premises are among those captured in Sachdeva's nine stories in  All the Names They Used For God, released in February through Spiegel & Grau.

Joan Marcus

The record-smashing Broadway musical Hamilton will make its Pittsburgh premiere in January 2019 courtesy of a nationally touring production.

Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

A Louisiana school cafeteria worker who saw a police officer struggling with a suspect and helped the officer subdue him is one of 18 people being honored with Carnegie medals for heroism.

The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced the award winners on Monday. The group grants financial awards to persons who, at the risk of his or her own life, save or attempt to save the life of another.

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