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

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Join us for dance music and innovative cocktails you can easily make at home. It's also an invitation. We want to party with you.

The Whitney Museum of American Art has never stayed in one place for long. It has had four different homes in its 84-year history — the latest a $422 million glass-and-steel construction that recently opened in Manhattan's Meatpacking District — and each of those homes speaks to a particular moment in the evolution of American art and museum culture.

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Listen to our show featuring ideas and inventions. We invite you to tell us what you've invented or would like to see invented, and to share your ideas on improving some aspect of life.

Gilberto Santa Rosa / Flickr Creative Commons

There are many kinds of nudism - or naturism. There are people who just like doing stuff while not wearing clothes. And there are those who believe there are hygiene benefits. And people who link nudism with various utopian movements that break down barriers among people.

And there are people who believe in de-stigmatizing the parts of the human anatomy ordinarily covered by a bathing. The way this plays out in life, therefore, is that some naturists just want the chance to live in the raw in fairly private settings.

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This weekend, family and friends gathered in Bridgeport for the funeral of DeMonte Anozine. The 20-year-old was killed in a crash early Tuesday morning that closed down I-95 in Fairfield for several hours.

Banning Eyre

If you listen closely to the music of Thomas Mapfumo, you will hear the pulse of Zimbabwe. It’s a sound unlike any other, driven by decades of struggle, brutality, and cultural sabotage. 

A soon-to-be released documentary film called "Uncommon Ground" will be screened this weekend in Connecticut. It explores the struggle over the future of the last remaining abandoned Palestinian village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Courtesy Norman Rockwell Museum Digital Collection

It would have been difficult for 19-year-old Mary Doyle Keefe to realize the incredible influence she would have on women when she sat to have her portrait painted by Norman Rockwell in the early 1940s.

Boston is home to one of the country’s first great public libraries: the Boston Public Library. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, it is free to all, offering a public space and access to a world of books and ideas.

For generations, Americans have embraced public libraries as essential civic institutions — but now, in the age of Google, Wikipedia, Amazon and Kindle, traditional libraries face an existential quandary. With so much information so easily accessible, who needs libraries and their musty stacks of books?

Mark Kent / Creative Commons

I did a double take the other day as I browsed the music-themed blog called Slipped Disc.

As many of you music-minded readers might know, this is the daily blog put out by the sharp-tongued British critic Norman Lebrecht. It’s read religiously by people in the classical music world, both for the steady stream of music news Lebrecht provides, but also for the acerbic commentary he freely dispenses. It gathers music-related bulletins from all over the world.

I was surprised, to say the least, that one of the items he recently chose to include was a piece on the Hartt School’s decision to close down its Organ Performance major, and to sell the pipe organ that had been the major’s central instrument for 45 years.

The AMC series The Walking Dead, about a band of survivors in a zombie apocalypse, is known for killing off characters without much warning. But while the show's sudden plot twists keep viewers engaged, they can also create explosions of fan grief and rage on social media. Much of the audience's ire has landed on Scott M. Gimple, the series' executive producer and this season's showrunner.

Diane Sobolewski / Goodspeed Theater

So, you think it's easy to write a Broadway song? I say not so fast. 

The four aspiring writing teams that attended Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals this past January say it's plenty hard. They spend a lot of time kicking around ideas, most of which never see the light of day. But, really, they have no choice. "If you can do anything else, you do do anything else," says Marcy Heisler, one half of one of our amazing teams. 

The 1950s was a hinge decade for noteworthy and nation-changing civil rights events across the United States, including Brown v. Board of Education in Kansas, the bus boycott in Alabama and the National Guard-protected integration of Central High School in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, there was also a revolution brewing in bookstores and public libraries.

By design or by happenstance, a handful of children's picture books were focal points of the American movement toward integration in the '50s.

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On the Food Schmooze® menu... our resident bartender Anthony DeSerio whips up a great tequila cocktail with fresh beet juice... learn how to make a fresh tuna burger with assistance from the real Paleo expert... Via Carota, the Italian restaurant in NYC you do not want to miss... where to buy simple syrup packets to sweeten iced teas and coffees on the road… a fabulous and affordable Italian red wine.

John Abbott / russnolan.com

Without ever sounding the least bit formulaic, saxophonist/composer Russ Nolan makes his musical calculations by using his favorite working equation, which is: Latin rhythms + post-bop harmonies = infinitely expanding quantities of energetic expression.

Back in 1890, Thomas Edison gave us some of the world's first talking dolls. Today, the glassy-eyed cherubs that are still around stand about 2 feet tall; they have wooden limbs and a metal body; and they sound supercreepy. (If you're looking for a soundtrack to your nightmares, listen to the audio story above.) Edison built and sold about 500 of them back in 1890. Now, new technology has made hearing them possible for the first time in decades.

Columbine; Port Arthur, Australia; The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; Newtown — the list goes on and on. And, by now, the elements of this type of massacre have become ritualized: usually one, but sometimes more than one, deeply disaffected person, almost always male, who is heavily armed with guns and/or explosives, targets the innocent. In the aftermath, which sometimes includes a trial, the crucial question of "Why?" is never really answered. Instead, most of us are left to wonder how any human being, however twisted, could be capable of such horror.

It’s hard to miss Janet Echelman’s massive new public art project on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The award-winning Brookline resident’s 2,000-pound sculpture is suspended between three skyscrapers and appears to be floating above the park.

It was no small feat to install the Greenway Conservancy’s latest effort in its quest to bring more ambitious public art to Boston.

Orville Wright / Library of Congress

For decades, David McCullough has chronicled some of the biggest chapters of U.S. history. In his latest book, McCullough focuses on two brothers who not only had a massive impact on the United States, but on the world. The Wright Brothers follows Orville and Wilbur’s path to immortality and their lasting legacy.

Among those who dispute the Wright brothers' claim to fame are supporters of Connecticut resident Gustave Whitehead who they say was the first to fly in 1901. In fact, Connecticut lawmakers went so far as to officially declare that Whitehead was the first to fly, ticking off North Carolina and Ohio in the process.

Yoda, Chewbacca and a phalanx of stormtroopers are telling people all over the Internet "May the fourth be with you" today, as fans of the Star Wars franchise celebrate all things that emanate from a galaxy far, far away.

As you would expect from a quasi-holiday that's drawn from a pun, May 4 brings a flood of cute ideas to social media. It's also a good excuse to dress up as an Ewok. NASA is taking the whole enterprise to a new level, with a flurry of tweets that show how "science fiction is now science fact!"

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Barking, fleas, Lyme disease, pet food, biting, housebreaking, shyness, pet insurance, animal rescue. Top flight advice from vet Dr. Todd Friedland. Don't miss his adventures with animals of all kinds.

The complexities of Baltimore seem largely out of the reach of the media outlets that descend, as usual, only when certain neighborhoods burn.

Birthday parties and backyard barbecues – rituals of daily life and love – seem to never make the headlines. Yet images of overturned cars claim the top spot on the evening news every time.

In West Baltimore, at Pennsylvania and North avenues, media featured a drug store on fire.

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Which side are you on?

In the mammoth PEN Awards kerfuffle, that is. Table captains have walked out over the award being given to the survivors from Charlie Hebdo. And now 145 writers, including six table captains and such notables as Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham, have signed a letter protesting the award to Hebdo. As LBJ  apparently never said regarding Vietnam and Walter Cronkite (but we'll come to that): Once you've lost Joyce Carol Oates, you've lost America. Francine 

Denise / Creative Commons

Since Maurice Sendak's death in 2012, the community around his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut has wondered how to commemorate his life and work. Now, a team of artists and community members have come together to create a museum honoring the writer and illustrator’s life and work.

Which Writers Get Museums?

Apr 30, 2015
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Mark Twain has many literary sites; yet Henry James has none. You can visit Edith Wharton's house but not Shirley Jackson's. You can walk where Wallace Stevens walked but you can't buy a ticket to go through his front door. And can you believe there's no single museum devoted to all American writers-- yet?

New England is about to get two great new writers’ museums: The Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield, Massachusetts and-- if we're lucky-- the Maurice Sendak Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Today we look at who gets a writer's house and why-- and what sort of experience we’re looking for when we make pilgrimages to the desks of our literary heroes.

Capitol Studios / Courtesy Allen J. Hill, Gress-Miles Organ Photo Collection

The University of Hartford's Hartt School will graduate its last organ major in May. Once a robust program, Hartt made the tough decision to abandon the organ program two years ago. Alumni of the organ program will gather this weekend to say goodbye to the school's pipe organ, which has been sold to a church on Long Island. 

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My motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join me and my book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Creative Commons

One spring afternoon, maybe 20 years ago, I found myself having lunch with some guys who were all big supporters of Connecticut Opera. They were talking about ways that the company might increase its audience and thereby stabilize its finances. Various strategies were proposed.

Finally one of the guys said, “Look, if we’re really going to make any progress, we should just do ‘La Boheme’ every single season.”

Kirsten Skiles/flickr creative commons

Breaking News! The Food Schmooze® Martini Competition is June 25th and we've officially registered with the Guinness Book of World Records to be designated as the World's Largest Martini Competition. It certainly qualifies as the most fun party of the year in Connecticut. Be there and who knows, we'll make history?... Veterinarian Todd Dr.Friedland has blown our minds with his weed-free technique for growing flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables in a bale of straw, and organic if you choose, even if all you have is a roof-top, tiny yard or driveway to do it... Use fresh fruit, like clementines, to make Connecticut bartender Anthony DeSerio's easy gin cocktail, called Oh, My Darling...

William P. Gottlieb / U.S. Library of Congress

Maybe the best way to celebrate Billie Holiday’s centennial year is to pay Lady Day a one-hour visit by listening to the 20 signature songs on Columbia/Legacy’s new, fine and mellow single-CD tribute called Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection.

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