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

Courtesy: Briene Lermitte

As much in the American grain as Aaron Copland, William Carlos Williams, or Emily Dickenson, the celebrated composer/orchestrator and conductor/bandleader Maria Schneider is a great, lyrical celebrator of memory, home, and friendship in her latest masterwork recording, The Thompson Fields.

WNPR Voicemail Project: Spoiler Alert!

Apr 5, 2016
Josh Engroff / www.flickr.com/photos/engroff/

Do you like spoilers? Hate them? We want to know your experience with them. 

I first noticed it in a neighborhood of Boston aptly called the "Innovation District." On a crumbling corner of an old brick building, there was a gaping hole created by about 15 missing clay bricks, filled in with about 500 Lego blocks.

I was determined to find out who the artist was.

"I don't know!" I was told by folks working in the building. Their property manager had no clue, nor did the people at Lego. "If you hear, let us know," said brand relations manager Amanda Santoro.

A week after Syrian government forces seized the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State, soldiers, engineers and archaeologists are tallying up the damage done to the ancient city.

Visiting the site on Friday, journalists from The Associated Press said the modern town of Palmyra is "completely deserted," and the nearby archaeological site full of treasured monuments reduced to rubble.

The state-run SANA news agency said a mass grave had been found in a Palmyra neighborhood, with the bodies of approximately 40 people, according to multiple media reports.

Don Cheadle has been playing Miles Davis for his entire career. To look back now on some of the actor's most exciting performances — as flashy porn star Buck Swope in Boogie Nights, velvet-slick con man Basher Tarr in the Ocean's trilogy, and rabble-rousing deejay Petey Greene in Talk to Me — is to recognize those same larger-than-life elements from the persona of the jazz legend and Cheadle's personal hero.

DC Comics/Warner Bros. Pictures

I get that it's stupid April Fools' Day, and so you can't trust anything you see on the stupid Internet. Except for the Trump quotes. The Trump quotes are just as legitimate today as they are on all the other days.

But so let me just make it clear right now that I'm totally serious when I say that on this edition of The Nose we talk about...

Ever stood on the coastline, gazing out over the horizon, and wondered what's on the other side? Pondered where you'd end up if you could fly straight ahead until you hit land?

Turns out the answer might be surprising. And even if you pulled out an atlas — or, more realistically, your smartphone — you might have trouble figuring it out. Lines of latitude won't help, and drawing a path on most maps will lead you astray.

Zaha Hadid, the Pritzker-winning architect whose designs — both realized and unrealized — profoundly influenced the world of architecture, has died in Miami after contracting bronchitis and experiencing a sudden heart attack, according to her architecture firm.

She was 65.

Josh Hough / Creative Commons

Syrian government troops have recaptured Palmyra from Islamic State fighters. There are reports that experts are working now to clear mines left at the ancient ruins.

Bruno Tedeschi

I’ve been thinking a lot about chamber music.

Rio Wight / Flickr

Richard Buckminster Fuller may not be a household name. Nevertheless, his contributions to society and to sustainable living through technology and design were both vast and transformative.

By the time of his death in 1983, Fuller had patented 25 inventions, published over 30 books and had chronicled nearly his entire career through a series of papers knows as the "Dymaxion Chronofile."

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A little bit of the hit PBS series "Downton Abbey" comes to Hartford later this week. 

When I was a college student in Boston, in the mid-2000s, I didn't have a whole lot of money. But for the price of a movie ticket, I could catch the Chinatown bus down to New York City. It was a fast, cheap adventure.

These days, thousands of people travel up and down the northeast corridor on services like MegaBus and BoltBus. But the Chinatown bus was the original budget bus service. It started in the late 1990s as a service for the Chinese-American community, and became popular with students and others looking for a thrifty ride.

Ann Braithwaite / Braithwaite & Katz Communications

Before settling down and committing himself to jazz, blues, classical, and Brazilian music, the rising, young West Coast pianist/composer Danny Green immersed himself for long periods of time in numerous genres, artists, and composers. 

Scott Liddell / Creative Commons

In 2013, over 1,000 gold coins were found by a couple walking their dog on their property in Sierra Nevada, California. A rainstorm exposed the rusted can holding the gold coins. They soon found additional rusted cans, all holding gold coins dating from 1847 to 1894. The face value of the coins was just under $28,000. Today's market value is about $10 million.

The Rolling Stones Rock Cuba

Mar 26, 2016

Historians hailed U.S. President Obama's visit to Cuba as the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries. But for hundreds of thousands of Cubans, the real thrill this week was the visit of some prominent Brits: The Rolling Stones.

Two Comic Experts Explain Why Batman's Legacy Continues

Mar 25, 2016
Jay Javier / Creative Commons

He wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider. He didn't originate from another planet. And yet, Batman has managed to maintain a devoted audience for nearly a century. Joining The Colin McEnroe Show, two comic experts explained Batman's enduring power in the entertainment industry, and why filmmakers continue to make adaptations of the series. 

Mike Mozart / flickr creative commons

Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche abruptly retired from baseball last week with a year and $13 million left on his contract because the team's front office told him he had to stop bringing his 14-year-old son Drake into the clubhouse so much. Then the actual team rallied behind both LaRoches. But it turns out it all happened 'cause Adam's teammates complained about Drake. But so anyway: Aren't people who bring their kids to work with them just the worst?

'Born To Be Blue' Finds Truth In Inventive Riffs

Mar 24, 2016

Now is a fine time for jazz trumpet fans to get lost at the movies. April will see the release of Don Cheadle's long-gestating Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, and this week we get the shaggy dog Born to be Blue, the story of Miles' contemporary Chet Baker. Both films are far looser and more experimental than your typical straight biopic, and concentrate almost exclusively on historic low points in their subjects' lives. And Blue even features brief appearances from Miles himself.

Michael Ian Black has appeared in movies and TV series for more than two decades, but he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he still has a hard time looking at himself onscreen.

"When I'm acting, I always imagine myself as looking totally different than the person that appears onscreen," Black says. "And then when I see that person appearing onscreen, I'm inevitably disappointed. I'm always like, 'Oh no! Not that guy! That's not the guy at all that I had pictured.' "

Jesse Kruger via Flickr.com / Creative Commons

A quick early spring roundup of musical milestones from hither and yon.

Tony Falcone

The Coast Guard got its moment on the silver screen recently, with the release of "The Finest Hours" -- a retelling of the true story of what’s still rated as the greatest small boat rescue in the history of the service.

Behind the the big-budget Hollywood production, a Connecticut artist had a small part in bringing that story to the screen.

Malik I. Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg who was a founding member of the seminal group A Tribe Called Quest, died Tuesday at the age of 45.

His family said in a statement that Phife died as a result of complications from diabetes.

Creative Commons

My Batman story begins with a crime. I was in third grade. I went to the barber shop in West Hartford Center where there were comic books to read while you waited.

I had never seen any superhero comic before and I started reading a Batman story. It was great but I didn't have enough time to finish it. So, when my haircut was done, I took it home with me. 

Courtesy/Brandee Younger

Whether you call it pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, or just plain bending the rules, the boldly independent harpist and composer Brandee Younger creates a genre-crossing, smart, soulful, freewheeling, happy hybrid of hipness.

Simon Davis, DFID / Creative Commons

First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the next phase of her and President Obama's Let Girls Learn campaign to educate the #62milliongirls globally who don't have access to education at this week's  SXSW festival. She combined her keynote address on female empowerment with a panel discussion including Queen Latifah, rapper Missy Elliott, actress Sophia Bush and songwriter Diane Warren, and the release of Warren's single "This is for My Girls," to raise money for her cause. 

Artist Robert Mapplethorpe was as controversial as he was celebrated. In 1989, his photographs depicting nude men and sexual fetishes helped ignite the culture wars. Now, an upcoming HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, examines the artist's life and work. He's also the subject of a major retrospective spanning two L.A. museums — the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The winner of NPR Music's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, Gaelynn Lea, produced a "serpentine, earworm melody" with "tremendous heartache in her poetry," according to judge Robin Hilton. 

University of Salford / Creative Commons

The great Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – composer, champion of simple living, all-purpose contrarian – left us a few days ago.

Before she was a writer, Sara Baume set out to be a visual artist.

"First and foremost I see; I see the world and then I describe it ..." she says. "I don't know another way to write. I always anchor everything in an image."

Baume's process works — a review in The Irish Times called her debut novel a "stunning and wonderful achievement by a writer touched by greatness."

Baume loves words, and she loves fitting words together so they flow like poetry.

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