Culture

Exuberance at the Warhol

Devon Shimoyama’s just-ended exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum proves the enduring power of Warhol’s work 30 years after his death and shows that the museum has no interest in becoming a shrine to a self-referential and reverential hagiography. “Cry, Baby” brings a young talent to our attention, while simultaneously offering new insights into the …

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Short Takes: “Engineering Pittsburgh,” “American Dinosaur Abroad”

Without civil engineers, our world would fall apart. They are hidden brains behind what we civilians take for granted—all the marvelous methods for getting us from here to there, safe and sound. To observe its 100th anniversary, the Pittsburgh section of the American Society of Engineers has produced an indispensable survey of what has been …

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An Eye-Opener About Living Black in Pittsburgh

Damon Young recently bought a rather nice house a block away from me. Yet I don’t expect to be invited over, although I am about to lavish praise on his brave, incisive and witty memoir about growing up and living while black in Pittsburgh. Even a blurb-ready assessment—Damon Young is not only the city’s most …

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Fairy Tale or Future: The Choice Is Ours

The Amazon HQ2 spectacle was a grand 21st Century fairy tale. It had everything: the world’s richest company promising happily-ever-after status to the city that would win its second headquarters, $5 billion in investment and 50,000 jobs. For 17 months, people murmured throughout the land. Some whispered that Amazon’s move was a brilliant marketing stratagem; …

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Strolling the Streets of Classic Pittsburgh

Take a walk around the Pittsburgh of yesteryear in this photo collection by David Aschkenas. Although the photographs were taken between 1978 and 1982, some look like they could fit into the 1940s with old neighborhood storefronts and hints of the city’s ethic roots. View more of David Aschkenas’s work at www.daschkenasphoto.com.

Tragedy in a Box: A Review of “The Gun Show (Can We Talk About This?)”

A refreshing pragmatism infuses Quantum Theatre’s production of “The Gun Show (Can We Talk About This?)” (2013) – a kind of low-tech, iconoclastic exuberance that’s reminiscent of the early films of Godard. It’s a classic one-man, story-telling performance – with some audience interaction – that comes off somewhere between Spalding Gray’s “Monster in a Box” …

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Soft-Core Pathos: A Review of Pittsburgh Public Theater’s “The Tempest”

Cleverness is not a Shakespearian trait. In fact, as we have found after more than 400 years, the more we try to shape him, using our own devices, the less he is able to tell us. This is because his chief mode of artistic engagement is the sublime – versus the allegoric, the symbolic, or …

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Kitchen

Its scent was more like the bread Grandma’s fingers shaped, rising warm to my nose than the ash of her Salem’s crushed in thick glass trays, her coffee cup ringed black after finishing a smoke. That candy jar glazed butterscotch, plump atop her laminate table we used for Go Fish, the cards dumbed down below …

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Short Takes: “Thank Your Lucky Stars” “Asia Ascending”

The pleasures of “Thank Your Lucky Stars” are doubled in the re-reading. The 50 stories tucked into 189 pages encourage a binge. Most are short short, sometimes just a few paragraphs; about 10 are traditional-length short stories (if size matters). But when you return to browse through the collection, images and phrases bust out like …

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The Bad Old Days

You won’t get depressed by reading Richard Gazarik’s “Wicked Pittsburgh.” The retired Tribune-Review reporter does not seek to darken the name of our fair city. He merely wants to gather, in one handy and readable volume, key stories of corruption, crime and skulduggery stretching back to the turn of the 20th century. The cumulative effect …

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On a Pedestal: Pittsburgh Playhouse, Literacy Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University made its debut Oct. 11, opening its doors to a new era for the school, its students, theatergoers and the city. It’s built to impress. From its three-story-wide lobby bathed in natural light to a 550-seat theater designed to give passersby outside a glimpse of backstage workings and …

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Enter Stage Left

Prior to her first directorial effort with the Pittsburgh Public Theater (“The Tempest”: Jan. 24­–Feb. 24), Pittsburgh Quarterly posed a few questions for artistic director Marya Sea Kaminski. Q. First, welcome to Pittsburgh. Why “The Tempest” for your first Pittsburgh show? A. I wanted to have something that was a little bit of a celebration …

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The Peak of Its Powers

The No. 1 seat in the grand stage box is the best place to be at Heinz Hall. And that’s exactly where I sit with my noiseless camera. All the other seats in the concert hall are empty. On stage, the musicians are tuning their instruments as conductor Manfred Honeck makes his entrance. I’ll be …

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Dear Mr. President

My stepson worked in President Obama’s mailroom when he was in college. He referred to it as the “mailroom of the free world,” which made Jeanne Marie Laskas burst out laughing. She had never heard anybody say it that way. Though my knowledge of the minutiae of my stepson’s days there is scant, Laskas wants …

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The Dangerous Necessity of Beauty

At one time I took for granted the traditional definition of beauty—id quod visum placet—that which when seen pleases. Eventually I came to see that this was much too narrow a definition. It did not include what could be called beautiful when heard, touched, tasted, felt or otherwise experienced. That is why Robert Frost’s saying …

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Art or Fashion?

The Frick Pittsburgh continues its recent foray into fashion with exuberance, exhibiting a group of contemporary paper recreations of iconic outfits from the past. Ranging from the era of the Medici to the early 20th century with costumes from the Ballets Russes, “Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art From Paper” though (January 6, 2019) seems tailormade …

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An Elegy of the Marcellus Shale region

When U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler visited Pittsburgh on October 24 last year, his first order of business was to visit a Range Resources well-pad outside Washington, Pa., announcing that the EPA would continue “removing regulatory barriers and leveling the playing field for American companies.” Politicians, billboards and commercials on local TV …

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Carnegie International Opening Weekend Through the Lens of an Outsider

Though my visits to Pittsburgh have been few and far between, I’ve always known that my family had deep roots in the Iron City. Along with that came a vague whisper of prominence verbally imparted by my grandparents. But until my visit to the opening weekend of the Carnegie International in October, I had no …

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The 57th Carnegie International: Looking Forward While Mindful of the Past

The Carnegie International is here again, the 57th in the series inaugurated by founder Andrew Carnegie in 1896. While international exhibitions have proliferated in the last 50 years, the Carnegie International remains one of the few based in a museum with its own identity—one rich with diverse offerings ranging from a museum of art to …

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At Western Psych

On the dayroom TV screen, the Gladiator hallucinates in the desert. Golden lions and ghost horses scream. Filmed light flickers like tears on drugged un/watchful faces. Everyone is shoeless, their socks dark green. The water fountain is bandaged in a towel, leaking like a bad burn. The inmates queue to drink the dribble, scolded by …

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Indiana County Tree Farmers Keep the Green in Christmas

When your friends in Florida or your relatives in Virginia gather around their live Christmas tree this season, there’s a chance the evergreen was grown and harvested from a hillside in Indiana County, Pa. Flemings Christmas Tree Farm in Indiana is just one of 20 tree farms in the county that claims to be “The …

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A Turning Point for Troubled Times

By almost any objective measure, life in America has never been better. We’re not at war. Poverty is low, unemployment’s even lower, and stocks are sky high. Homicide rates are about where they were in 1950 and half of what they were in 1980. And medical care is better than ever with dramatic breakthroughs occurring …

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