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

John Herschell/flickr creative commons

Jacques Pépin's apple galette using store-bought pizza dough… the cinnamon toast cocktail from Anthony DeSerio… oven-roasted cranberry compote from Fine Cooking… Ina's parsnip and pear gratin… the easy, dry-brined turkey with extra-crispy skin… and, don't throw away that turkey carcass -- it's really tasty...

Michael Crommett / Courtesy of Amir ElSaffar

Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “an exquisite alchemist” for his magical blend of traditional Middle Eastern motifs with free-wheeling jazz elements, the Iraqi-American, Chicago-born trumpeter/composer Amir ElSaffar has made a breakthrough discovery with his latest album, Crisis (Pi Recordings).

William Warby / flickr creative commons

A man named Billy Williams became a legend during World War II, but not only for his heroic actions; Williams, stationed in Burma, became an elephant "whisperer." The book Elephant Company describes the man's exceptional ability to understand the elephants around him, and the stunning ability of the elephants to understand and communicate with him, in return.

Rhode Island’s Viola Davis made history last night, as the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a TV drama. In a rousing speech, Davis quoted 19th century abolitionist Harriet Tubman, then spoke to the barriers women of color continue to face today.

“And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” said Davis.

European Union 2014 - European Parliament

There's a lot of great TV. We already knew that, but the Emmy Awards reiterated that we live in a golden age of television. "TV is where you meet people who are recognizably people, people with whom you are willing to spend your time — either once a week, or in intense hours-long bursts," said Alexandra Petri from the Washington Post. This hour, we recap the Emmys.

We also preview Pope Francis' trip to the United States this week. His visit comes at a time of political divide and presidential politics.

Tensions Build Amid Resignations At Kennedy Library

Sep 21, 2015

Meandering past photos of the young Kennedy clan, Jacqueline’s signature dresses, campaign posters and a replica of the oval office Kennedy used is required fare for children growing up around Boston and thousands of tourists every year.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

At one of the state's oldest fairs this weekend, farmers and 4H-ers kept history alive in the fair’s annual working steer competition, where both teens and adults competed to navigate their oxen through a series of challenges.

The largest fair in the Northeast opens its gates to the public Friday morning in western Massachusetts.

 The Big E has set attendance records in each of the last three years making it the fifth largest fair in North America. 

The fair, which will mark its centennial next year, has stayed true to its roots as a showplace for New England agriculture and industry, according to Big E President Gene Cassidy.

ocean yamaha / creative commons

Ahmed Mohamed is a 14-year-old Texas student who likes to tinker. He was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school, because school officials thought it was a bomb. What followed was an outpouring of support for Mohamed, who many said was targeted because of his Muslim faith. President Obama invited him to the White House, Mark Zuckerberg invited him to Facebook HQ, and he even got a scholarship to space camp.  

Allen Phillips / Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

This weekend marks the grand re-opening of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. 

More than 125 cyclists are making their way across Massachusetts on a two-wheeled trek known as the Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Creative Commons

Online guidebook Atlas Obscura bills itself as a "friendly tour-guide to the world's most wondrous places" -- a number of which can be found right here in Connecticut. 

Andrew Filer/flickr creative commons

Katha Pollitt, is best known for her column in The Nation, where her work has appeared since 1980. She's a feminist, a keen observer of American culture, and the author of two books of poetry and four essay collections. One of those essays, “Learning to Drive,” appeared in The New Yorker 13 years ago, and has recently been adapted into a film starring Patricia Clarkson and Sir Ben Kingsley. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra contract impasse staggers along.

As anyone reading this is likely to be aware, the HSO musicians continue to be engaged in a dispute with management over the number of services they will be contracted for and therefore the amount of money they will earn next season.

It's official - 2015's song of the summer is "Cheerleader" by OMI. So now that horse race is over, what about an anthem for Autumn? And how do you even make that choice?

If a summer song needs to be fun, upbeat, and sound good blasting from car windows at Hampton Beach, what qualities define a memorable fall tune?  Pumpkin-related lyrics?  Wistful melodies, and acoustic guitars?  We asked three music industry insiders to tell us what they think 2015's (Unofficial) Song of the Fall should be and why -  and here's what they had to say.

A Bold Experiment: How Pop Music Might Sound In 2065

Sep 16, 2015


“Society 50 years from now needs its own drug.”

“The problem seems to be to find the joy,” Shawn LaCount, Company One Theatre’s co-founder and artistic director, says with a reassuring smile to a young actor. “Once you find it, the rest is great.” The actor smiles back a little nervously.

dtstuff9 / Creative Commons

Ben Vereen was plucked from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to go to the prestigious Performing Arts High School because somebody thought he had talent. Influenced by song and dance men like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., Ben Vereen garnered accolades for groundbreaking roles in "Pippin," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Roots," in which he challenged us to think about race, religion and who can make art.

We dive into hot topics about wine tasting behavior and the prediction that restaurants will stop using humans up front in favor of full automation… it's close to ready — the new modernist Mohegan Sun “molecular gastronomy” bar and restaurant, Sticks and Stones… the best cheap chef’s knife… an aged rum old fashioned named “Peg Leg” by Anthony DeSerio… how to create a meal using restaurant leftovers by Alex Province… and the new hit, HooDoo Brown Barbeque in Ridgefield, Conn.

John Abercrombie

Perhaps best known for his long, amazingly fruitful relationship with Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records, guitarist John Abercrombie has enjoyed such a diverse, distinguished career that you can’t lock up his restless, lyrical artistry into any one air-tight, neatly convenient category, not even with the venerable ECM label.

Kalle Gustafsson/flickr creative commons

This hour, Faith and long-time contributor Bruce Clements discuss how we think and feel about physical touch.

Chion Wolf

This hour, we get updates from a few of our favorite former guests. UConn physicist Ron Mallett is looking to fund a feasibility study to pay for the first steps of his time machine. We’ll catch up with him.

And New Haven-based filmmaker Gorman Bechard is working on two documentaries – one about animal cruelty, and the other on the New Haven pizza wars.

  Norman Rockwell is still celebrated for his depiction of everyday life in America. As WAMC’s Jim Levulis found out when he met some of the people who posed for the Americana artist, the models are regular people to this day.

Part of a five-part series, called “Arts Forward

Let’s begin this look at museums in the 21st century by beaming back… to 20th century Amsterdam.

In 1952, Stedelijk Museum curator and Director Willem Sandberg introduced the first portable gallery audio tour. It was a wireless, elegant device created to enhance the visitor experience with additional content — and it was revolutionary.

Tânia Rêgo/ABr / Creative Commons

New York officials have joined Cardinal Timothy Dolan in condemning the scalping of tickets to see Pope Francis's motorcade during his upcoming visit to New York City.


It was a rocky start to Stephen Colbert's Late Show debut. He admitted he went way over time, and barely got it on the air. But days later, his emotional interview with Vice President Joe Biden reminded us why we just love him so. 

While driving to his studio in New York's Rockaway Beach neighborhood, artist Christopher Saucedo looks out across Jamaica Bay. He sees a glittering Manhattan and the spire of the new World Trade Center gleaming in a cloudless sky.

"Obviously, where it stands there were once two other very tall towers," the art professor says dryly.

Spokane Focus / Creative Commons

Joyce Carol Oates has been writing since before she could read, making "books" by drawing and coloring characters in her tablet. She preferred upright chickens and cats in confrontational poses and tried hard to make her books look like the ones read by adults.  

She's wanted to be a writer since inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Those books changed her life and by extension, ours. 

Two of Boston’s longest running stories and scandals have hit the Venice Film Festival as Hollywood movies. One of them, “Black Mass,” comes with a big star, big buzz and the name Whitey Bulger.

Exploring The Hoopla And Tension Surrounding ‘Black Mass’

On the island of Ledo, movie stars arrive from Venice in sleek water taxis trimmed and decked in mahogany and teak. They’re called motoscafi and their big engines await the throttle.

This is how Jake Gyllenhaal entered the cinema — through the hordes of paparazzi along the canal.