Arts

Quantum Strikes Again with “Collaborators”

Just as Colette could say, “There are no ordinary cats,” one could say that there are no ordinary productions from Quantum Theatre. “Collaborators,” the 2011 play by John Hodge (who also wrote the adaptation of the film, “Trainspotting”) is violently alive in a way so few new plays are these days, merging comedy and pathos …

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Warhol Brings Báez’s Powerful “Bloodlines” to Pittsburgh

The Andy Warhol Museum’s first two exhibitions of the year are a great pairing. Jessica Beck’s excellent My Perfect Body brought together work from Warhol’s entire career that focused on body issues, from the nose picking and acne of his youth to the scars from being shot in 1968 to images of bodybuilders and Christ. …

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PICT Classic Theatre Triumphs with Fresh, Exhilarating Treatment of Oedipus Rex

Although thirteen ancient Greek poets wrote Oedipus tragedies, only Sophocles’ play, “Oedipus Rex,” has survived. The Roman philosopher Seneca wrote a version, as did Julius Caesar. So did the 17th century poet John Dryden, as well as the 18th century philosopher Voltaire. It has been a foundational story of Western consciousness since Homer referenced it …

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Reflections on “1984” in 2017

Critics have argued that we cannot evade Shakespeare’s influence on our conception of human nature, nor Freud’s influence on our understanding of psychology, and I would suggest, as a corollary, that we cannot escape George Orwell’s influence on our notion of the political. The Orwellian ethos, manifested in works such as his final novel, “1984”, …

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CMU Brings Vivid Life to Marlowe’s Great Work

Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama manages to combine some of the strongest and rarest elements of great theatre in their production of Christopher Marlowe’s “Edward II”: rawness, mystery, risk and precision. This is the kind of performance of a classic play that eschews the pitfalls of tired masterpieces, and instead, evokes its subject like …

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Local Artists: Struggling, But Not Starving

Most Pittsburgh artists are getting by financially but find it difficult to make a living off of their art alone. And African American artists are much less likely than their white counterparts to rely on their art as their sole means of support, according to recent survey. The findings are based an online survey of …

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Serious Threads

First the Frick announced a new programming initiative in fashion and brought “Killer Heels” to Pittsburgh. The impossibly impractical yet stunningly gorgeous shoes might have made more sense at the Warhol where Andy’s advertising and shoe portrait drawings would have cheekily made the connection between costume, eroticism, design, and identity while contextualizing the to-die-for heels. …

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Josh Gibson on Deck

Pittsburgh’s greatest but still relatively unknown sports hero is about to get a curtain call of a different kind. This spring, Pittsburgh Opera unveils “The Summer King,” the world premiere of Daniel Sonenberg’s tale of the remarkable, short life of baseball legend Josh Gibson. The opera weaves a young black man’s heartbreaking personal tribulations with …

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Painting? Have Some Fun!

I spent three decades at a job that wasn’t a job, one at which few have actually earned a living. But cartoons disappear when the newspapers are bundled up for recycling. Heck, newspapers disappear. After leaving the newspaper, I began painting… and soon remembered it is darn hard. I venture to say this in spite …

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Hath Not a Jew

Of Shakespeare’s major comedies, The Merchant of Venice is my least favorite because it’s the least funny. In a post-Holocaust world it’s difficult to stage the play’s anti-semitic jokes, and directors often make the understandable choice to shift the tone contour of the play toward the political and tragic. At first glance, a recent production …

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The Art of Lazar Ran

From origins at the Vitebsk Fine Arts School in Belarus (founded by Mark Chagall in 1918), to safe-keeping in an Ohio home for decades, the art of Lazar Ran and his contemporaries has taken a circuitous path to appear on the walls of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. The collection conveys a lesser-known story of …

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Seeing the World Through Music

Nietzsche famously castigated Euripides for killing the tradition of the chorus in Greek tragedy, because the audience no longer had music to inform its comprehension. He even felt that Euripides caused the death of tragedy itself by trying to make it too Socratic, too rational. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” might …

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Exploring the Work of Damianos and Mulcahy at the Westmoreland

To paraphrase a new friend, director general of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts Jamal Shah: in celebrating life, art follows the inquisitive human mind in its desire to delve deeper as it challenges the established reality and surprises us with new realities. It challenges us to deepen our quest to explore the overwhelming …

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Quantum’s Surreal “The River” Transfixes

In Richard Brautigan’s classic surrealist novel, Trout Fishing In America, the narrator visits a store selling trout streams by the foot. They are stacked in piles like pieces of lumber, each length corresponding to a different price. In Jez Butterworth’s 2012 play The River, produced by Quantum Theatre, it’s as if they picked out a …

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A Long Romance

At first, the performance was delayed because ballerina Carlotta Grisi was recovering from an injury. Then the conductor was battling a tumor. And then safety concerns slowed the set construction. But finally, on June 28, 1841—a Monday night—“Giselle” premiered at the Paris Opéra. After its Paris premiere, the two-act Romantic ballet entered almost immediately into …

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Hidden from History

The life of Esther Phillips (1902– 83) would have languished in obscurity, at most a footnote in history, were it not for the dedication of a few friends and supporters. Her story, which intersects with ideas about women, class and mental health in the 20th century, is all too familiar. An obstinate, free-spirited woman, she …

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Strutting its stuff

Unbalanced. Uncomfortable. Unnecessary. For a somewhat misinformed 30-year-old male, these descriptors came to mind when considering the high-heeled shoe. So when I sat down to write about a wildly popular exhibition coming to Pittsburgh this summer featuring these shoes in their historical context, you might understand my uncertainty. After all, my own “heel” collection is …

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The new Westmoreland

Early in October, looking out over the view of Greensburg from the newly reconfigured Westmoreland Museum of American Art, someone remarked that a building’s foundations had been discovered recently in the old parking garage, which is being turned into a garden. In England, such work recently turned up the body of King Richard III, slain …

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The New Sound

Steve Hackman, 35, is an emerging phenomenon in the world of music, fusing classical and popular pieces. Hackman is creating and conducting his hybrid concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Jan. 27 and March 9. A native of suburban Chicago, he has an undergraduate degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and …

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Changing times at Frick?

The Frick Art and Historical Center is the creature of Miss Frick (Helen Clay Frick was always called that), the daughter of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, and it sprang into existence after the reclusive 96-year-old grand dame died at Clayton, her childhood home in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze in 1984. Since 1970, there had been an …

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The business of art

It seems as if it should be relatively simple. If you’re an artist, you spend time in your studio, blending inspiration and long hours to create compelling works. When you have a reasonable body of work and the confidence to show it, you contact an art gallery, and voilà—your art hangs on the wall where …

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Arts Aligned

They’re situated on either side of Forbes Avenue in Oakland, almost appreciatively staring at each other in a figurative manner: A world-class university and a world-class art collection. On a daily basis, backpack-sporting college students and briefcase-toting college professors weave in and out of these historic institutions, along with the general public. But not until …

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