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

Chion Wolf

What did we talk about before there was the dress?  The dress was made for the Nose and vice versa. The Nose is our Friday session when we get smart, funny people together for a fast-moving conversation about culture. The dress -- an otherwise unremarkable striped number that popped up on the internet Thursday afternoon -- took over social media and people’s lives simply because people who were otherwise similarly rooted in reality could not agree on what color(s) it was.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This week's Nose will feature an out-of-towner (sort of):  Simsbury-bred NY scenester Brendan Jay Sullivan. As if the rest of us on the Nose didn't feel winter-drab and culturally frostbitten already.  Also in the house, Jacques Lamarre and Theresa Cramer. 

At the moment, Santa's bag of Nose ideas seems a little light. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For the past 14 years, Mark Crino, Evan Green, Andy Chatfield, and Eric DellaVecchia have been performing under the name Stanley Maxwell. They’re a Connecticut-based quartet with a jazz-meets-rock-meets-funk sound that’s bound to get you off your feet. The four of them recently joined us in our Studio 3 to share some of the music that’s kept them all together for so long.

When House of Cards' third season opens, Kevin Spacey's murderous politician Frank Underwood is fooling the world again.

From the very first scene, he's bringing a presidential motorcade to his tiny hometown of Gaffney, S.C., pretending to honor his father's grave for the press.

"Nobody showed up for his funeral except me, not even my mother," Underwood says in one of those sly asides where he speaks directly to the audience. "But I'll tell you this: When they bury me, it won't be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they'll have to wait in line."

A pair of llamas on the loose in Sun City, Ariz., riveted the nation this afternoon.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET.

This week, a man was sentenced to die in Saudi Arabia because he renounced his faith in Islam; a Hindu leader in India made a new accusation against Mother Teresa; a mosque near Bethlehem was set on fire.

panafotkas/flickr creative commons

It's not part of the farm-to-table movement, that's for sure. Turns out there are people who keep chickens now as part of their pest control strategy. The eggs these chickens lay are only a side benefit, we're told; this group of chicken owners lets their birds run loose across their yards and fields because chickens love to dine on ticks. Where deer, rodents, and rabbits are plentiful, Lyme ticks are also plentiful since these animals are known carriers. We'll ask our regular contributor, Dr.Todd Friedland of Windham, Conn., whether the chicken eggs are safe for humans when the birds have been ingesting high quantities of Lyme ticks.

Zbigniew Warzynski

"Song of the Goat" is the literal meaning of the ancient Greek word for tragedy. It's also the name of the  theater company from Wroclaw, Poland bringing a new adaptation of "King Lear" to New Haven this weekend.

In Polish, that's "Piesn Kozla."

Grzegorz Bral, the artistic director of the theater company, said he doesn't see "King Lear" so much as a story about a father and his three daughters, but rather a "tragedy without a mother."

David Sim. / Creative Commons

When NPR launched a network-wide “diversity project” in 2012, the aim was for the network to sound more like America. Three years later, race and diversity issues are in the news like never before –- from stories about immigration, to police conduct, to how we interact on social media. 

This hour, two leaders of NPR’s project join us to look more closely at how the media covers diversity, and how we talk about it in society.

The Columbia Orchestra

One of the things that people like to point out about classical music these days, usually in an effort to convince us that it’s in decline, is that there are no superstar instrumental performers anymore.

Or sometimes they grant a single exception: cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The term superstar is used here in the sense of “celebrity that most people have at least heard of.”

Len Matthews/flickr creative commons

Delight your pals with a popcorn party. That's what we did, creating bowls of warm, fluffy, downright heavenly goodness… and what a terrific time we had! Inspired by the book Party Popcorn we asked senior contributor Chris Prosperi to whip up some of the book's most intriguing recipes, popcorn flavors such as taco lime, olive oil and Parmesan, chocolate covered potato chip, and buffalo ranch. All hands were suddenly on deck for this one; participating and tasting was a riot.

az / Creative Commons

Yale University has announced this year's Windham-Campbell Literature Prize winners.

The literary award recognizes nine English language writers in the areas of fiction, non-fiction, and drama. Each recipient receives a $150,000 grant, making it one of the most lucrative literary awards in the world.

Richard Conde

Laszlo Gardony, Hungary’s great gift to the world of jazz piano, celebrates the lush, orchestral possibilities of the instrument at the Hartford Public Library’s free Baby Grand Jazz series at 3:00 pm on Sunday, March 1, collaborating with his trio, a hard-swinging, cerebral chamber jazz unit that grooves on deep emotion and bold invention.

Who Killed the King?

Feb 24, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

One of the things you will learn this hour is how close New Haven came to being a possession of Spain. Even if you think you know the story of the New Haven Regicides, the men who fled to the New World rather than face punishment, by which I mean death, for their complicity in the execution of Charles I, we probably have some surprises for you.  

By we, I mean Lord Charles Spencer, who joins me in studio to talk about his new history, Killers of the King. Spencer writes a very brisk and compelling style of history. To put it another way, if you like "Game of Thrones," it's a pretty easy leap from there to this story. 

Bob Jagendorf / Creative Commons

Everyone’s heard of Coney Island -the Wonder Wheel, the side shows, the miles of sandy beach.

Yet, most of us have never seen it except through the eyes of others, including artists and filmmakers who used it as a prism through which to shape their view.

And, what they saw was a place with both lovers and con men, natural beauty and bawdy amusement, social inclusion and class boundaries.

Coney Island is not an easy place for them to define, so they portrayed what they saw - but also what they wanted it to be.

Julija Rauluševičiūtė/flickr creative commons

Please consider this an invitation. Call us today from 3 to 4 p.m. at 203 776-9677 to participate in our live show, celebrating friends and strangers for their everyday generosity.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

I totally get the case against the Oscars and I look forward to hearing our friend Steve Almond make it on the show today. The case is that the creative arts and zero-sum games to not belong together because art is fluid and not hierarchical.  How can one performance or movie lose when another wins? It's absurd right? Wrong.

For example, we all know it was appalling in 1995 when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "Shawshank Redemption." Or, in 1981 when "Ordinary People" bested "Raging Bull." Whether we want to cop to it or not, we have internal standards and we know when they've been violated. This hour on the Scramble, Almond and I will debate that. 

BostonCatholic / Creative Commons

Connecticut ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to weekly church attendance, according to a new Gallup poll on religion in the United States.

Gallup's annual poll of church, synagogue and mosque attendance ranked Utah, with its high concentration of Mormons, at the top of the list.

The rain that fell on Hollywood as the hours of red-carpet coverage wore on may have provided one of the evening's best visuals: actual people running around wearing plastic bags as they guided famous people out of limos, under umbrellas and to the waiting microphones of interviewers who wanted to know who made the dress, the shoes, the jewelry. It was literally the packing up and encasing of humanity to keep reality out: What could be more Oscars than that?

Fasten your seat belts, true believers. If you haven't flipped through a comic book in a while, you might be in for quite a surprise come May. The entire Marvel multiverse is collapsing.

Forget about seeing the Wolverine we knew any time soon. And the current Ghost Rider? Before long, his current story line will be gone like, well, a ghost. In the new Marvel universe, coming in May, characters and continuities will be reimagined.

Davidlohr Bueso / Creative Commons

The Academy Awards are almost upon us! It's hard to focus on the best movies of 2014 when you're already looking forward to the next SpongeBob movie, "Fifty Shades of Yellow."

We don't care! It's time for Vivian Nabeta's Rockin' Pre-Oscar Special Edition of The Nose, our culture roundtable.

David Flores / Creative Commons

After decades of assumption that Harper Lee was a one-book literary legend, the discovery of her novel Go Set a Watchman has the public on an emotional roller coaster. Questions about Lee’s consent, the management of her estate, the quality of the work, and the timing of the discovery are the subject of debate across the American literary landscape.

The discovery of the manuscript, however, opens an even bigger door of curiosity: what else is out there?

Duke University Archives

A professor is offering a course later this semester that explores the power of music on major civil rights movements around the world.

University of Hartford associate professor of ethnomusicology Anthony Rauche said much of the focus will be on the American civil rights movement of the 1960s, when a confluence of cultural movements came together to give the civil rights movement its collective voice.

Moyan Brenn/flickr creative commons

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.

Chris Lewis / Creative Commons

A few days ago, after the 27th snowstorm of the season – or possibly the 34th – an elderly woman of my acquaintance asked me if I could recommend some music to help her get through the remaining days of this winter.

“You know, some of that happy, uplifting type of music,” she said.

I gave her a few top of the head suggestions. But then I began to think: maybe she’s on to something. Maybe the next few weeks would be more bearable for us all if we concentrated on the happy, uplifting type of music.

Bill Mays

A consummate jazz pianist, Bill Mays is so good, in so many varied ways, in so many diverse settings -- from chamber group to big band -- that his dazzling versatility and multiple talents sometime seem to outshine his luminous skills as a compelling solo concert pianist.

Mays, a globe-trotting musician, California native, and resident of Shohola, Pennsylvania, travels to the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts this weekend to shine a well-merited, bright light on his first-class solo piano artistry at 8:00 pm on Saturday, February 21, at the city of Pittsfield’s fourth annual 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival at Baba Louie’s Backroom, a noted Berkshire County jazz spot at 34 Depot Street. Tickets: $15.00 in advance, $20.00 on day of event at berkshiresjazz.org

Luca Nebuloni/flickr creative commos

Real Italian pesto any time of year... gorgeous chocolate-walnut brownies made with olive oil instead of butter... egg noodles with prosciutto, peas and two cheeses... the quinoa bowl of lemon, raisins, toasted pine nuts and scallions...Virgin Territory, the story of Mediterranean olive oil and recipes featuring the region's best liquid gold...

Susana Fernandez/flickr creative commons

During our newest on-air visit with The Trip Doctor, Amy Farley of Travel + Leisure magazine, she steers us in the direction of a new report about a super low fare to Europe, as long as you're willing to make a stop in Iceland. 

Innovation in the Arts: The Search Continues

Feb 17, 2015
Adam Lyon / Creative Commons

It's hard to imagine: the idea that the arts, the grand bastion of our creative genius, may soon be bankrupt. But are new ideas really an unlimited commodity, or wont we one day exhaust them all? Some say we already have; that the bulk of what's being churned out by today's filmmakers, musicians and writers, are simply re-imaginings of the ideas of their predecessors.

Chad J. McNeeley / U.S. Navy

Elizabeth Warren summed it up in a tweet:

On the next Nose, is there any way we can spin the departure of our favorite truth teller as a good thing?

It might be pretty tough. 

How do we put this in context at the end of a terrible week for the news industry, with Brian Williams being suspended from NBC News for six months, and the death of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon?

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