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

Ray Hardman / WNPR

The Yale Babylonian Collection has been given an immense trove of ancient artifacts from the Near East. Among the items in the collection are hundreds of cylinder seals.

Metropolitan Opera / Facebook

If you pay any attention to the music world, you already know that James Levine announced last week that he is stepping down as artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera, an institution he has been associated with for 40 years.

haru__q / flickr creative commons

Everybody loves a bulldozer. In fact, we all grew up loving bulldozers, didn't we? From "Benny the Bulldozer" to Katy and her big snow, from all the Tonka toys to all the die cast model Caterpillars, the bulldozer is more of an icon in American popular culture than we maybe realize.

Poetry: Give It a Try

Apr 20, 2016
Michael Chen / Creative Commons

Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petry wrote a column a few years ago asking if poetry was still vital enough to change anything. Poets and poetry lovers reacted strongly, sending recommendations to enlighten her and encourage her to "get out more." Petry says that column haunts her more than anything she’s ever written, enough to follow it up with a defense - and an olive branch.

Pramod Pradhan / Hartford Public Library

Basking in warm, sentimental, adulatory acclaim, pianist Emery Austin Smith -- a high-energy octogenarian and one of the last great patriarchs of Hartford’s first Golden Age of Jazz -- returns once again.


Last weekend, the new Starz series "The Girlfriend Experience" premiered on cable and dropped in its entirety online. The always grumpy Richard Brody called it "an artistic as well as an epistemological disaster," but he blamed all of that directly on "the rigid format of serial television."

Jay Hoggard / Jay Hoggard Website

On his new CD, Harlem Hieroglyphs, jazz vibraphonist Jay Hoggard pays tribute to musicians who have influenced him -- giants like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Milt Jackson.

Spoiler Alert! It's a Discussion About Spoilers

Apr 14, 2016
Josh Engroff / www.flickr.com/photos/engroff/

Do you like spoilers? Hate them? Whether it involves sports, television, books or movies, has a spoiler ruined something for you? Enhanced it? Do you practice spoiler etiquette?

Nicole Marie Photoworks / Flickr Creative Commons

Spring has sprung, and with that comes gardening season! Are you thinking about how to get your garden ready? 

This hour, we talk garden trends, soil prep, pruning, pest management, managing invasives, supporting pollinators, and so much more.

The Artistry of Jazz Horn / Facebook

At this moment, one of the hottest, rapidly rising young jazz singers is the phenomenal, 24-year-old Jazzmeia Horn, a life force on stage. 

Michael Kerswill / Flickr

History and literature are filled with their antics. From the Renaissance's Triboulet to Shakespeare's Feste from "Twelfth Night," jesters and fools have delighted us for centuries with their subversive humor and quick wit. But while comedy was their brand, there existed hardships for these characters as well.

Javier Delgado / Flickr Creative Commons

It's hard to improve on the poet, Rilke, who wrote, "Love consists of this, that two solitudes meet, protect, and greet each other." But did Rilke have to deal with Angry Birds and Snap Chat?

Steve Brown / WBUR

Jackie Robinson,” the latest documentary from filmmaker Ken Burns, debuts Monday night on PBS. 

Chuck Kramer / flickr creative commons

And after 15 seasons and 555 episodes and more than 345 Billboard chart toppers, "American Idol" is done with us. Love it or hate it, the show changed the American television business, the American reality television business, the American music business. It gave us Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson and Ryan Seacrest. And it gave us Taylor Hicks and William Hung. And Ryan Seacrest. We unpack the whole thing, the good and the bad.

New York City filmmaker Kim Snyder’s documentary, “Newtown,” tells the story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. On December 14, 2012, 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown.

Alison and Fil / Creative Commons

It's Yale and New Haven Humanism Week in New Haven, and so we thought: Hey, wait. Just what the heck is a humanism exactly anyway?

And so then we thought: And what about, uh, agnosticism? Unitarianism? Universalism? Unitarian Universalism? Maybe even atheism?

At 46, former Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee says she's not very concerned with what people think of her.

Morn the Gorn / Creative Commons

I was talking to Rick Coffey the other day about Mendelssohn’s great oratorio “Elijah.” 

Lori Mack

According to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, there were nearly 11,000 people who experienced homelessness in Connecticut last year. Multiple organizations spend countless hours trying to make a difference -- and now, in New Haven, there’s a new program with a slightly different approach. 

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.