CULTURE

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…

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.

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…

The Unconventional Pays Off

by Charles Rosenblum
Sometimes a building aims to look as if it has always been there. Frequently, architects match the brick of the surrounding neighborhood and use slightly modernized versions of traditional details to make a structure appear that it’s been there longer than it has. This is not such a bad thing.…

Six Books for Your Winter Reading List

This issue, we take up half-​a-​dozen new books in three groupings: literary works from two creative writing teachers, Pittsburgh sports history from two prominent national writers, and the latest from two great local legal minds.

Christmas in Utopia

It’s early morning on Christmas Eve in the town of Economy, Pennsylvania. The year is 1828. Twenty-​seven-​year-​old Catharina Langenbacher awakens to the five o’clock gong of the grandfather clock in the sitting room downstairs. By the time she clambers down the crude staircase, her widowed mother is preparing breakfast. Catharina’s…

Strip Stake

Pittsburgh’s Strip District is the place where everyone comes for everything. With redevelopment occurring on every edge of this one-​half square mile tract, city planners, business owners and residents are looking to strike the right balance. Bring in the new developments and luxury condominiums, but keep the character — the boutiques and…

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.

Drue Heinz winner brings humanity to adversity

When Melissa Yancy describes aspects of facial reconstructions, fetal surgery and kidney transplants in her short-​story collection Dog Years (University of Pittsburgh Press), she writes knowingly, not gratuitously. The 2016 Drue Heinz Award winner and Phoenix native, comes honestly to this perspective as a fundraiser advocating for health-​care causes. And…

The Challenge of Fighting Back

Reading the latest novel by Stewart O’Nan, the Pittsburgh-​born writer who boomeranged home several years ago, is like watching the performance of an experienced athlete who makes it all look so easy. “City of Secrets” is his 16th novel since 1994, and the first to take place entirely outside of…

Short Takes: “Whiskey, Etc.” “Death by Cyanide”

Sherrie Flick’s latest collection is described as “short (short) stories” — that parenthetical “short” preparing you for one page tales, even one-​paragraph blasts. Scholars of marketing might see this as evidence that fiction creators are getting with the short-​attention span condition of the modern consumer, offering an efficient product that can be…

Molded Tooth Staggered Gear and Worker, 1913

The Mesta Machine Company churned and smoked on more than 20 acres of land along the Monongahela River.

A Monument Then and Now

by Charles Rosenblum
Did the demolition of the greenfield (really the Beechwood Boulevard) Bridge feel like the passing of an era? The urbane, concrete arch span of 1923 was crumbling far too ominously above the speeding traffic of the Parkway East to be able to stay in place, so it was ceremoniously demolished.…

The Old Ways May Be Best

Marino floro plucks a perfectly shaped fig from a tree in his Sewickley yard, opens the door to his chicken coop, and offers the fruit to a chamois-​colored hen, which clucks with enthusiasm.

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.
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