Arts/Culture

WNPR Arts and culture reporting focuses on the world of ideas in fine art, crafts, writing, music, theater, performance, design and creative activities that make us unique and make us human

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Editor's note: Gene Wilder died Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2014, WNPR's Jeff Cohen reported on a screening of "Blazing Saddles" with Wilder in attendance, followed by a Q&A with the actor. This was first published on October 30, 2014.

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

Typically superheroes spend their summertime helming big budget franchises for movie studios. This year, with blockbuster season winding down and schools opening their doors, Marvel's following up its summer at the multiplex by giving its superheroes a new assignment.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is now offering free admission to all city residents. The program is called the Wadsworth Welcome. 

Anne Hudson / The Ivoryton Playhouse

After a four-year gestation period, and more than a year's worth of delays, Frank Ocean's second studio album dropped last weekend. There are two different versions of the album: a physical version that was only available in pop-up shops in four cities last Saturday and the currently iTunes-exclusive digital version. The album is called Blonde, but the cover says "Blond." And there's a separate, different video album, Endless, that was released last Friday. It's all very complicated. The Nose gets into it.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Connecticut is home to many historic landmarks -- among them is the former residence of American architect and icon Philip Johnson. Since it opened to the public in 2007, Johnson's Glass House has welcomed thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world. 

If you've seen Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book or the Toy Story movies, you've seen the work of animator Floyd Norman; for decades, he has helped bring Disney and Pixar classics to life.

Now 81, Norman still works for Disney, where he has plied his trade, on and off, since he became the studio's first African-American animator in the 1950s.

Davis Dunavin / WSHU

There are questions that might stump even the most dedicated country music fan: Who kickstarted the country music industry in the 1920s, even before big names like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family? And why is this Texas musician buried in Bridgeport, Connecticut?

His name was Vernon Dalhart, and he released some of the best-selling records of the era, including “The Prisoner’s Song.”

Scholastic, Inc.

Filmmaker and producer Morton Schindel died last week at the age of 98. For decades, Schindel's film innovations faithfully brought to life some of the most beloved children's books of all time from his Weston, Connecticut studio.

Eric Murray

Even as a toddler, Christian Sands, the onetime wunderkind who grew up in New Haven, could play the piano well enough to turn sophisticated listeners’ heads.

By age 4, he had taken his first baby steps into “formal” studies, which prepared him for writing compositions by 5.

Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons

Donald Trump canceled his big speech on immigration scheduled for Thursday. It could have something to do with the comments he made to his new Hispanic advisory council suggesting he'd like to find a more "humane" approach to dealing with the undocumented immigrants he has - up to now - wanted to deport. Up to now, his supporters have been loyal despite policy pronouncements contrary to their views. Immigration may be the one area they won't tolerate a back-pedal. We talk about this and more news in politics.

CaseyPenk / Wikimedia Commons

Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" came to its hasty conclusion last night, still more than two months before the election. Gawker will shut down next week. And as of next Tuesday, NPR's website will no longer have comments sections.

Brian Williams, on the other hand, is getting a new show on MSNBC. And Jonah Lehrer's got a new book out.

Connecticut's First Mormon Temple to Open in Farmington

Aug 19, 2016
Josh Rosenfield / WNPR

After three years of construction, Connecticut’s first Mormon temple is almost complete. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to unveil the Farmington building with a three-week public open house beginning September 30, after which non-Mormons will not be allowed to enter.

ABC Television / Wikimedia Commons

Clive James considered Dick Cavett one of the great intellectuals who shaped the 20th century. He did it primarily as the host of The Dick Cavett Show, combining playfulness and serious discussion for ninety-minutes each night with a roster of cultural icons that spanned the worlds of art, culture, literature, music, and politics.

HartfordSymphonyBlog.com

These days, just about everybody in the classical music world has an idea about how to enliven the concert experience.

Stephen Hough, the brilliant British-born pianist and composer, has just put forward what might be the single most effective one, not to mention unquestionably the least expensive: Make concerts shorter, already.

New Haven Celebrates Its Italian Culture

Aug 18, 2016
Patricia Lewis/flickr creative commons

In the late 1800s, Italian immigrants moved into the Wooster Street area of New Haven, bringing with them the flavors and music of their homeland. This weekend, the city celebrates its Italian culture with a new event called Opera-Palooza

Diane Sobolewski

Petula Clark has been singing since 1942, when as a nine-year-old child, she answered a request from a BBC producer to sing to a British theater audience unnerved by an air raid that delayed the BBC broadcast they came to hear.

Samirah Evans

A powerhouse jazz and blues artist who was uprooted by Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans to Brattleboro, Vermont, Samirah Evans is an unstoppable force of nature on-stage, a sexy, high-octane blend of ebullient personality and explosive showbiz savvy.

Femunity / Flickr

As the men of Apollo 11 returned home to ticker tape parades, the women who made their journey possible worked quietly behind the scenes. Since its founding in 1958, NASA has been heavily reliant on the skills of such women, many of whom have gone unrecognized for their bravery and hard work.

Rosewoman / Creative Commons

When was the last time you changed your address? Well, if you're like most Americans, it probably wasn't that long ago. According to the Census Bureau, the average U.S. resident will move 11.7 times in his or her lifetime. This hour, we take a closer look at why we're on the move so much. What does it take to truly feel at home where you live? It's something journalist Melody Warnick writes about in her new book called This Is Where You Belong

Tracy Symonds-Keogh / Wikimedia Commons

The ten-part Netflix documentary "Making a Murderer" covers the 2007 conviction in Manitowoc County, Wisc., of Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach. A secondary story in the film is the interrogation, confession, and later conviction of Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, as an accessory to the crime.

In a turn of events that forces to mind Adnan Syed and "Serial," a federal judge on Friday overturned Dassey's conviction on the grounds that his confession was coerced and unconstitutionally obtained. (Read the decision here.)

Rarely has an actor not seen or heard made such a big impact.

Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2 in six of the Star Wars films, died Saturday, his agent confirms to NPR.

Standing at 3 feet 8 inches tall, the British actor also appeared in The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon, among other films.

"He was just a lovely guy," said agent Johnny Mans, "and I shall miss him terribly."

Netflix

Start with four parts "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." That's your base. Then you'll need two parts "The Goonies," two parts "Poltergeist," and two parts "Alien." Mix in one part each of "It," "Stand by Me," "Firestarter," "Explorers," "Carrie," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Add a Winona Ryder-shaped dollop of "Beetlejuice," and top off with a dash of the covers of classic '70s and '80s horror novels.

That's the recipe for the newish Netflix series "Stranger Things."

Peter Rinaldi / Shoreline Trolley Museum

One of two subway cars that survived the collapse of the World Trade Center in the 2001 attacks will soon be open to the public. Car 745 will welcome visitors aboard for the first time in 15 years at its permanent home in East Haven, Connecticut. The Shoreline Trolley Museum acquired the car a year ago and built a special display that will be dedicated on the September 11th anniversary.

neetalparekh / flickr creative commons

What makes a great audiobook? What makes a great audiobook narrator? (And, for that matter, what makes a not-so-great audiobook and audiobook narrator?)

Before the noted, jazz-loving Berkshire watercolorist Marguerite Bride had pledged her troth to art in the 1990s, the Pittsfield painter had worked as a dedicated registered nurse and a highly regarded software engineering manager with a degree in computer science.

It was just a few months ago that a San Francisco fashion show producer told a Brazilian fashion show producer to check out some colorful dresses made in an unlikely place: New Hampshire. That’s when Laura McCarthy and collaborator Harry Umen got the invitation to show their new collection on the Teatro Fashion Mall runway in Rio on Day Four of the Summer Olympics.

Lately, McCarthy says, she’s been pulling 12-hour days.

“This whole week has been stressful because I’ve been sewing non-stop,” McCarthy says, “and I’m really ready to stop and just get on the plane and go.”

Henry Zbyszynski / Creative Commons

As the oldest part of our country, New England has dozens of historic house museums. These famous living quarters tell the stories of the early colonists, prominent artists, social activists and influential authors. They give us a glimpse into these icons' daily lives.

But historic house museums aren’t just about old dining rooms and fine china. This hour, we learn about how some museums are trying new and creative approaches to tell the stories of the past, to keep visitors coming through their doors, and to keep donors enthusiastic. 

Click photos for slideshow.

Copright Patrick Serengulian

Drew Magary is an interesting guy.

You might have one impression if you know him from his irreverent and wildly popular commentary in Deadspin, where he defends things like cargo pants and writes columns called "Why Your Team Sucks" and "Why Your Children's Television Program Sucks." Or, if you follow him in GQ, where he recently shared his wry observations on the Republican National Convention and strident views on Donald Trump. 

Using specialized X-ray imaging, a team of researchers in Australia has revealed a striking painting of a woman's face hidden under French Impressionist Edgar Degas' Portrait of a Woman.

The researchers believe the auburn-haired woman in the hidden work — which they also attribute to Degas — is Emma Dobigny, who was reportedly one of Degas' favorite subjects and modeled for him in 1869 and 1870.

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