Culture

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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Bridging Ayn Rand and Pittsburgh

While conducting research for “Atlas Shrugged” during a cross-country train trip in 1947, Ayn Rand wrote in her journal what she saw when she came upon Pittsburgh while traveling east: “From the parkways, to the old, vertical houses on steep hillsides, to the slums, with narrow, cobblestone streets—then the sudden view of the river and …

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The Flavors of Pittsburgh

The Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every Pittsburgher knows these holidays and celebrations. But less familiar are the many religious and secular holidays celebrated by ethnic communities in the region. Photographer Teake Zuidema documents five festivities that took place this year.   Cinco De Mayo in Beechview Many bars in Pittsburgh offer Mexican beers …

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The Migrations of Hunting

“Nature is a wet place where large numbers of ducks fly around uncooked.” —Oscar Wilde I didn’t grow up in a hunting family. When it came to wild animals, we enjoyed simply seeing them, not killing them. And the least likely kind of hunting for me might have been ducks. I liked the book “Make …

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Hoopie: A Haibun

The Starcher’s used the word everywhere—In the confined spaces of the one-story home, the living room floor accommodating all fifteen of the cousins for bed. Hoopie sat with us in that house on top of the rolling hills, overlooking Easter Flower Hollow. It circled the round oak dining room table, just barely big enough to …

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Appalachian Reckoning: An Antidote to Hillbilly Elegy?

Tasteless jokes abound on the internet, including one I recently read: “Did you know the toothbrush was invented in West Virginia? Anywhere else and it would have been called a teeth brush.” I chuckled before considering the misguided notion that it’s still OK to trash poor whites. Writing for NPR’s “Code Switch,” Leah Donnella explains …

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Charlie’s Village Turns 100

It all started after Charles Bowdish returned to his hometown of Brookville, Jefferson County, after a stint in the U.S. Army during World War I. Exposed to mustard gas during the war and left with respiratory illness, he commenced building a miniature railroad and village so finely detailed that it was an instant hit when …

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