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.

With Halloween passed, for those of us not trick-or-treating, people are looking to move on the the next holiday. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership will kick off the Christmas season with the 52nd annual Light Up Night.

With the CAPA (Creative And Performing Arts) high school choir performing, organizers and officials met in PPG Place’s Wintergarden to announce this year’s events.

Speaking Volumes: Lori Jakiela

Oct 29, 2012 VOLUMES_Lori Jakiela_0.mp3

Lori Jakiela is a poet, a memoirist, and a devotee of sparse, unsentimental prose. A few of the books you might encounter in her writing class at Chatham or Pitt-Greensburg:

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Bruce Springsteen will take the stage in Pittsburgh Saturday night, but it will not be just another concert. The music icon has partnered with Rainbow Kitchen Community Services to help benefit its food pantry. The organization will be collecting monetary donations and non-perishable food items during the show at the Consol Energy Center.

The Homestead based charity offers several anti-hunger programs and support services for local families focused primarily on helping low-income people to achieve and maintain an improved quality of life and self-sufficiency.

A night of music, bocce, and food awaits attendees of One Young World as they leave the David L. Lawrence Convention Center tonight.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) is organizing the One Young World Welcome Exchange.

“We have a beautiful downtown. I was lucky enough to get to go to the welcome ceremony,” said PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “What they were saying was ‘What’s your initial reaction?’ ‘Everyone in Pittsburgh is super-friendly; your city’s beautiful and very clean.’ And those are incredible first impressions to have.”

In a city known for its love of food, international delegates taking part in the One Young World Summit this weekend will attend “home dinners” throughout Pittsburgh. The dinners will provide the young adults with a taste of authentic American cuisine and hospitality.  Some of the dinners will be at private homes, others at institutions such as Phipps Conservatory and the University of Pittsburgh.

Bringing Creativity Back To Pittsburgh

Oct 15, 2012

A local non-profit group is hoping to get a handle on just how creative one city neighborhood is and then look for ways to encourage more creativity.  CityLAB has launched the Garfield Creative census, which will calculate the percentage of creative workers in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood.

Speaking Volumes: R. Stanton Wettick

Oct 15, 2012 VOLUMES_R Stanton Wettick.mp3

When he's not eyeball-deep in legal briefs, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick likes to reads fiction and nonfiction imbued with a sense of place. He recommends:

Richard Ford, Canada

Art of the World’s Fair Comes to Pittsburgh

Oct 12, 2012

 The Carnegie Museum of Art is opening a new exhibition this weekend highlighting the art of design that has been part of the World’s Fairs over the years.

Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fair, 1851-1939 includes more than 200 objects representing the advances in artistry exhibited during 88 years of the fair’s history.

Jason Busch, Chief Curator at the museum, said they want people to feel like their stepping back in time.

Speaking Volumes: Pledge Drive Edition

Oct 8, 2012

In recognition of the fall membership campaign, book picks from 90.5 WESA and WYEP pledge room volunteers:

Kate Howe, Beaver Falls

VictorHugo, Les Miserables

Grant Street Is A "Great" Street

Oct 3, 2012

Pittsburgh’s Grant Street has been recognized as one of the greatest streets in America.

The American Planning Association (APA) designated Grant Street as one of 10 great streets for 2012 under the organization’s Great Places in America program. The program looks for architecture and infrastructure that exemplifies exceptional character while also highlighting the role planning and planners play in communities.

Speaking Volumes: Bruce Boni on Banned Books

Oct 1, 2012 VOLUMES_Bruce Bonni.mp3

In recognition of Banned Books Week (9/30-10/6), we talk literary censorship with Bruce Boni of the American Civil Liberties Union of PA.

The following titles are just a few of the hundreds challenged or removed from U.S. schools and libraries in 2011, but you can still find them at your local CLP branch:


This Week is Banned Books Week

Sep 25, 2012

Short films about banned books, a theater performance of The Wizard of Oz, and notable Pittsburghers reading from censored works will highlight Pittsburgh’s 17th Banned Books Week.

The ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Carnegie Library and WYEP, is hosting “FREADom” on Thursday  to celebrate free expression in art and literature.  

Speaking Volumes: Chuck Kinder

Sep 17, 2012 VOLUMES_Chuck Kinder.mp3

Christmas will still come, but the Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park has been suspended indefinitely due to an increase in costs and a decline in sponsorships. The decision came as a result of the county’s limited financial resources after taxpayers had to cover most of the $1.5 million cost last year.

Amie Downs, Director of Communications for Allegheny County, said there is a chance the show could go on, but only if sponsors “come out of the woodwork” over the next few months.

Speaking Volumes: Tom Sweterlitsch

Sep 10, 2012 VOLUMES_Tom Sweterlitsch.mp3

Pittsburgh writer and librarian Tom Sweterlitsch has wide-ranging reading interests in fiction. Lately he's been reading:


Stewart O'Nan, Songs for the Missing

Speaking Volumes: David Greene

Sep 3, 2012

If you've ever wondered whether NPR hosts actually read the books featured on the air, the answer is: yes. Morning Edition host and Pittsburgh native David Greene talks about some of the more memorable reads he's encountered while prepping for author interviews and foreign assignments.

Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Portraits of the Healthcare-Lacking

Aug 27, 2012 Wrap_Mary Wilson _SOC.mp3

An artist from Bucks County has been painting portraits of people who do not have health insurance.

Speaking Volumes: Patrick Dowd

Aug 27, 2012

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd started out as a historian, and while he's no longer in academia his reading still reflects that background. These days Dowd reads historical nonfiction mixed with fiction "with a serious historical bent."

Edwin Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command

Kennywood Ethnic Days Thrive

Aug 25, 2012

Pittsburgh's multi-ethnic heritage is celebrated at Kennywood Park multiple times each summer.  Cultural groups gather for more than a dozen nationality days at the amusement park including a Polish Day that has been taking place for 81 years.   Traditional music, dance, ethnic food and kitsch sales, along with awards and religious celebrations, are among the features of a number of the ethnic days.   During Polish Day, Catholic priest Miroslav Stelmaszczyk has for years manned a stand selling massive potato pancakes and dill pickles.

Two 20-foot tall steel sculptures were moved Wednesday from an old coke plant, where they were built, to their new home on the South Side. The planning and constructing of “The Workers” has taken about 15 years and included 21 artists.

Speaking Volumes: Patricia DeMarco

Aug 20, 2012 VOLUMES_Patty DeMarco.mp3

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring. The landmark work by southwestern Pennsylvania native and Chatham University alumna Rachel Carson helped launch the modern environmental movement, and still enjoys a large and avid readership after half a century in print. 

Joe Wos

Aug 10, 2012

Toonseum director Joe Wos has been rediscovering some old favorites, and discovering some groundbreaking new graphic novels.

Joe's comic picks for adult readers:

Charles Addams, My Crowd

The Indian Nationality Room Committee at the Cathedral of Learning’s Nationality Rooms will observe India’s 65th year of Independence on Sunday. The annual celebration includes a parade around the Cathedral along with speakers, dancers, food, and other things.

“It’s important for us, for our children, to know the struggle those leaders who fought for this independence," said Saroj Bahl, India Nationality Room Committee Chair. "You know, India was under British rule, for 200 years they ruled India and it was not easy.” 

A New View of Whistler Comes To CMOA

Aug 3, 2012

While he might be best known for a painting of his mother, James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an accomplished printmaker and even more accomplished at managing his public persona. The Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) opens an exhibition Saturday titled Whistler and Rebellion in the Art World that delves into the places where Whistler's art and his personality cross.

Hostel Coming to South Side

Jul 30, 2012

Supporters of hostels are trying again to make a go of it in Pittsburgh.

Hostels may be similar to hotels in spelling and general concept, but that's about it. Hostels are significantly lower in cost and luxury, usually being like dormitories and appealing to young travelers or backpackers who seek a more personal stay.

The most recent hostel in Pittsburgh closed in 2005 due to low occupancy rates, but the concept is returning to the area in the space above the Beehive at 13th and East Carson Street on the South Side.

"Golden Dragon" Will Be A Production Marvel

Jul 30, 2012

With an interesting plot and unconventional performance, "The Golden Dragon" will keep audience members engaged, to say the least. Presented by the Quantum Theater, the production will open on August 3 on Carnegie Lake in Highland Park.

The stories of the kitchen staff at an Asian cuisine restaurant and tenants from the apartment above intertwine and are acted out on a raft-like stage on the water.

Judge Allows for Demolition of St. Nick's Church

Jul 23, 2012

An Allegheny County judge has allowed for St. Nicholas Parish to demolish its historic church on Route 28 in the North Side.

On Monday, Common Pleas Judge Robert Colville ordered the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission to grant the parish a "certificate of economic hardship" within 30 days. That document would allow the parish to bypass the deteriorating church's historic status and proceed with plans for demolition.

However, the city still has the option to appeal Judge Colville's decision.

Bill Bodine

Jul 17, 2012

The Frick Art & Historical Center's Director says in a good museum, as in a good book, "each object has a story to tell."

Bill Bodine recommends:

Edmund DeWaal, The Hare With Amber Eyes

An additional 2,200 senior citizens in the Pittsburgh region will be served as part of a long term development plan for the Meals on Wheels program. A $60,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation will assist the senior nutrition group in helping nearly twice as many people as it currently does.

Bill Fuller

Jul 10, 2012

Restauranteuer Bill Fuller, Corporate Chef of the Big Burrito group, has his plate full this summer with Wallace Stegner's 600 page, Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose.

Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose