Culture

A Template for a Life of Learning and Art

I am a sucker for process. my favorite part of the Andy Warhol Museum has always been the top floor, where Warhol’s wispy childhood sketches hint at his expert ability to replicate reality and also his interest in amplifying his favorite parts of it. When I look at those early pieces, I am reminded that …

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Tom Quirk

White beard and shaved head,A Merton-monkish masterWhose watercolor class put meThrough the wringer with itsTwenty-painting requirementFor my slow painstaking work.Impossible, and not just at first,But he kept me at it, down-Playing my complaints, offeringMaddening encouragements.By mid-term I’d begun to setMy figures against ever starkerBackgrounds till they wereBacked by nothing except The paper’s sheer white nap—A blankness …

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Mister Rogers’ Real Neighborhood

With the recently released film and documentary about Fred Rogers, the national spotlight is shining on the man who changed the face of children’s television. He was known internationally, but since he resided in Pittsburgh and created “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” here at WQED, he is often associated with the city. However, his roots are less …

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Varied Characters, Settings Lift Robert Yune’s “Impossible Children”

In the creative writing classes I teach, scene often becomes an early point of emphasis, especially when it applies to fiction. Hemingway’s classic “Hills Like White Elephants” stands as an exemplar, as the brief story relies on little more than setting and dialogue. According to Nancy Pagh, author of the thoughtfully written “Write Moves: A …

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Signs of the Times

The coronavirus has posed problems for every corner of society, and as we saw over Easter weekend, churches have been no exception. Yet, whether blessing people in drive-through lines, using social media or the radio, during this Holy Week pastors have used every means at their disposal to keep close to their flocks. And as …

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A New Church Grows in Troubled Towns

It’s Sunday morning at Rust City Church and Pastor Sam Yacoub is on stage talking about his mom’s pension problems. “She retired from Delphi, with the promise of a pension and she retired thinking, ‘I’m going to spend time with my grandbabies and enjoy it,’” says Yacoub, dressed in a black baseball cap, denim jacket …

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Restarting Pittsburgh’s Arts Economy

In late summer of 1606, one of the liveliest theatre seasons London, England, had known was abruptly shut down by the sudden onset of bubonic plague. When public entertainments were allowed to resume almost two years later in April 1608, several drama companies that had flourished pre-plague were nowhere to be found. William Shakespeare’s company, …

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When the Spanish Flu Swept In, Pittsburgh Failed the Test

Within days of Allegheny County’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in March, city and county officials moved to shutter nonessential businesses, with their efforts buttressed by stay at home orders from Harrisburg shortly thereafter. This was not the case in 1918, when the Spanish flu ravaged the region, state, nation and world. And Pittsburghers paid …

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A Bauhaus Masterpiece

Is a house private or public? Like any compelling opposites, each really only exists with measured dollops of the other. Choices of how to eat, sleep, bathe and relax are very private. Yet the artistic movements or common practices inflecting those selections are very public—from publications and exhibitions to the sprawling possibilities of the design …

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The Deserted Streets of Pittsburgh 

In Downtown Pittsburgh, a beat cop checks the doors of businesses along Penn Avenue. The streets are empty except for the occasional person waiting at a bus stop. Market Square has an eerie feeling; eateries remain open for takeout, but few people pass through. On quiet Grant Street, an Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department vehicle passes …

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When Irish Was Spoken in Pittsburgh

Irish language scholar Douglas Hyde described Pittsburgh as “the dirtiest and blackest city in America” during his January 1906 visit. “Hell uncovered,” he jotted in his journal, paraphrasing the Atlantic Monthly’s 1868 coinage. Hyde also complained “the wind would cut your nose off.” But the 45-year-old Irishman hadn’t sailed across the Atlantic for mild weather …

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Austin’s “South by Southwest”—Should It Happen in Pittsburgh?

Until the sudden cancellation Friday due to coronavirus concerns, the world’s biggest annual Spring Break for tech/media hotshots and musicians was ready to reconvene March 13–22 all over the fair city of Austin, Texas. South By Southwest (SXSW) is a massive gathering of music, film, comedy, interactive media performers and speakers that in 2019 hosted 2,200 musical …

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Three Pittsburgh Poets, Three Distinct Voices

Poetry can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s celebrating the glorious music found in the end-rhymes of Robert Frost. For others, it’s a love of language poetry or blunt confessionalism. For Pittsburgh’s Sam Hazo, former Poet Laureate of Pennsylvania, it’s the “visionary” poetry of T.S. Eliot and Seamus Heaney. Hazo, in his …

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The Carnegie’s Jasper Johns Exhibition: Out of Step With His Time and Ours

The major fall show at the Carnegie Museum of Art, “An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018,” raises questions about the museum’s programming. Jasper Johns is an American master whose work set the stage for pop art, which, in turn, changed the course of art of the last 75 years. He merged abstract expressionist …

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Fence

All morning through my window I watch a man building a fence  In my neighbor’s yard. He’s old, Almost as old as I am, too old  For this kind of work. It’s spring— The first blossoms of the apple tree  Spread their light above him.  He lifts and drops The post-hole digger all morning.  At …

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Pittsburgh Cultural Events Calendar

In every issue, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Quarterly presents a calendar of arts and events happening in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. Copies of this 16-page guide are also made available in theaters, venues, restaurants and hotels across downtown. Complete with a 3-month season-at-a-glance calendar, you’ll see just how many not-to-miss events …

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PICT’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

There is an effulgence to William Shakespeare’s work that is always better to channel than to distort. And this is especially true of the luminous “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” his first undeniable masterpiece, composed during the winter of 1595-96, and performed this midwinter in sly context by PICT Classic Theatre. For when better to have …

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On a Pedestal: Moe Coleman Awards, Kiski School, Women in Leadership

Finding someone able to debate politics with civility and respect is difficult today, when public discourse all too often turns coarse and divisive. Former Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey and his “across the aisle” friend, Duquesne University law professor and former Pittsburgh deputy mayor Joseph Sabino Mistick, are trying to cultivate more people who are …

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A Graphic Look at Pittsburgh

Frank Santoro’s “Pittsburgh” is a loving portrait of his Swissvale family, a rich evocation of Pittsburgh’s recent past and a complex exploration of how memory informs the present. After years in California and New York, Santoro now lives in his late grandparents’ home in Swissvale. Internationally revered by his peers, he is one of the …

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Mill 19: A Magnificent Blend of Past and Future in Hazelwood

At an early September opening for Mill 19, the new robotics research incubator and office space in Hazelwood’s former LTV Steel site, a robotic arm participated with scientists and dignitaries to help cut the ribbon in the voluminous lab space with a high-tech flourish. Tenants include Carnegie Mellon’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the affiliated nonprofit …

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City Theatre’s “Downstairs” Showcases Pittsburgh’s Dazzling Acting Talent

The stage of City Theatre’s “Downstairs” is an open maw of things forsaken, a dirty basement stuffed with so many neglected and discarded items—tools and tires and crates and old clothes and worn-out furniture—that it casts the audience in the dingy ether of pathos well before the lights go down. Tony Ferrieri’s overpowering set is …

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Liberty Magic: Magic on Liberty

“I know what you’re thinking.” It’s a common expression, an uncommon occurrence—you don’t actually know what somebody is thinking. Were that the case, we’d hardly do any thinking at all. But Liberty Magic knows what you’re thinking. This hidden gem is tucked away on Liberty Avenue, right in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. The 60-seat …

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