Pittsburgh Arts Icons

We asked some of our authorities in the local arts scene to comment on these icons, whose roots began or were nurtured here.



The Pittsburgh region has produced many outstanding talents in all areas of the arts, people who have become household names nationally and internationally. We asked some of our authorities in the local arts scene to comment on these icons, whose roots began or were nurtured here.

August Wilson

Playwright, 1945-2005

“I think that the majority of people really aren’t aware of the power of August Wilson’s words and what he actually achieved theatrically. But it’s safe to say that what he has accomplished will not be rivaled. Through his pen, he has placed Pittsburgh on the map and made it a destination for admirers of his work as well as artists seeking to hone their craft on the ground on which he walked.”
—Mark Clayton Southers, artistic director, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Henry Mancini

Composer, 1924-1994

“[Henry Mancini’s] romantic melodies seem to be limitless, and his ability to write a short, catchy theme was wonderfully original—the opening four notes of ‘Pink Panther,’ ‘Peter Gunn’ and ‘Baby Elephant Walk.’”
—Marvin Hamlisch, principal conductor, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Pops

Shirley Jones

Actress (born 1934)

“Shirley Jones represents the best of show business. She started out as a stage actress, became a movie star, and then cemented her fame as a legendary television mom. Her voice was always gorgeous—still is. Her performances were subtle and moving. Just watch her in Carousel and Elmer Gantry—polar opposite, but both definitive. I love Shirley Jones!”
—Ted Pappas, producing artistic director, Pittsburgh Public Theater

Duane Michals

Photographer (born 1932)

“Duane Michals is without parallel in the history of photography. As a young photographer, he broke the rules of the purists and began to write words and poetic phrases on his photos. Many in the finest art circles thought he was a flash-in-the-pan; instead, his willingness to follow his gut instincts allowed him to distinguish himself from the norm. Since the 1960s he has influenced hundreds of young image-makers who responded to his approach by loosening up themselves. We are extra-fortunate that he not only hails from our region but continues to embrace our city long after he established roots in New York.”
—Linda Benedict-Jones, curator of the photography department at Carnegie Museum of Art and a photographer

Mary Roberts Rinehart

Mystery Writer, Journalist, 1876-1958

“Mary Roberts Rinehart was the trailblazing mystery writer and globe-trotting journalist from Pittsburgh who changed writing for women from a hobby to a profession. Making millions, being on The New York Times “Best-seller List,” she demonstrated the market for the puzzle-plot, and early-20th-century Pittsburgh characters and settings appealed to all readers. A revolutionary in her time, she thought you could be a wife and mother as well as a writer. You just had to make time for both—and she did.”
—Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman, owners, Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Martha Graham

Dancer, Choreographer, 1894-1991

“Martha Graham was one of the most influential modern-dance figures in American modern dance. As a female dancer, choreographer, company founder, she paved the way for all of us in the field today. Rebelling against the light and ethereal aesthetic of ballet, she created a dance technique rooted in earthen movements, expressing the often-darker side of humanity. When I attended Juilliard in the late-1980s, I studied “Graham technique” with principal dancers from her company. Coming from a more classical background, I had never taken this type of modern dance before. I didn’t know modern dance could be this physically demanding and this emotionally intense. I loved it.”
—Michele de la Reza, managing artistic director, Attack Theatre

George Benson

Jazz Musician and Composer (born 1943)

“The first time I heard of George Benson, I went to Stockholm to make a recording with Swedish radio. Bosse Broberg was a really great trumpet player and also a producer. He called me into his office and said, ‘I want you to hear something.’ He played this tape. ‘Have you heard of him? His name is George Benson. I think he’s going to be the big new sensation on the guitar.’ This was 1963 or ’65. That shows you the impact—this was way over in Stockholm. They were floored by him. I didn’t meet him until 1969. We did a production at Soldiers & Sailors [Memorial Hall].”
—Dr. Nathan Davis, director of the jazz-studies department at the University of Pittsburgh

Andy Warhol

Artist, Filmmaker, Publisher, 1928-1987

“Andy Warhol stands as one of the most prolific and pioneering artists of the 20th century. For Warhol, born and raised in Pittsburgh, the ideas of industry and innovation were always central to his thinking about art, its creation and its dissemination. One of the first artists to spearhead the Pop Art movement—a genre that would forever change the realm of art, placing mundane imagery from daily life into the canon of art history—Warhol revolutionized the way we understand the world around us. Equal parts artist, businessman, magazine publisher, filmmaker and socialite, Andy Warhol left behind a far-reaching legacy that continues to be relevant today.”
—Eric C. Shiner, Milton Fine Curator of Art, The Andy Warhol Museum

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2016 Homes of the Year

2016 Homes of the Year

Our independent panel of judges recognizes three local, unique residences as our Homes of the Year in the categories of New Build, Renovation and Green.
Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Aside from a Giant Eagle, the mall has been empty for the past three years.
Great Catch: Easiest Way to Tasty Lenten Fish Frys

Great Catch: Easiest Way to Tasty Lenten Fish Frys

Looking for a delicious battered fish sandwich or golden-brown pierogies on Friday? Here’s a handy guide plus a few fun facts about our fascination with fish.
Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

From a hotel “Love Lockdown,” to a museum breakfast in bed, to a rooftop singles event - there's plenty to eat, drink at do in Pittsburgh on this weekend for love.
Beer News: East End Brewing Moving to Bigger Space in Strip District

Beer News: East End Brewing Moving to Bigger Space in Strip District

The new space, called the East End Brewery Taproom, will offer lunch and dinner service, expanded hours and a place for customers to sit and enjoy a pint of beer from one of the brewery’s 12 taps.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2016 Homes of the Year

2016 Homes of the Year

Our independent panel of judges recognizes three local, unique residences as our Homes of the Year in the categories of New Build, Renovation and Green.
Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

In Lawrenceville, a love for letterpress leads to a business whose greeting cards reach audiences across the country.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Aside from a Giant Eagle, the mall has been empty for the past three years.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

City leaders considered many options for Pittsburgh's confluence including something that looked like it was designed by the Jetsons, or an absolutely bonkers, batpoop insane idea by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Chef Move: Lily Tran New Executive Chef of Soba

Pittsburgh Chef Move: Lily Tran New Executive Chef of Soba

Tran takes over big Burrito's Ellsworth Ave. restaurant from Dustin Gardner, who moves back to Casbah on Highland Ave.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


End Your Work Day at Muddy Waters' Oyster Happy Hour

End Your Work Day at Muddy Waters' Oyster Happy Hour

Some of the best oysters available in Pittsburgh can be yours for a steal at the new East Liberty spot.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Denver's upset win over Carolina -- predicted by hardly anyone (including yours truly) -- should be interpreted as good news for Steelers' fans.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Let your heart do the talking with these fun sweaters from Rosewood Boutique.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

Our reviews of "Hail, Caesar!," "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "The Choice."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Behind the Lens: Wedding Ring Photography

Behind the Lens: Wedding Ring Photography

On Day Five of our Week of Wedded Bliss, we spoke to wedding photographers about their inspiration for these five enticing ring photographs from our Real Pittsburgh Wedding Couples.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Say Hello (and Goodbye) to These Home & Lifestyle Shops

Say Hello (and Goodbye) to These Home & Lifestyle Shops

Divertido and Jack + Jules close in Lawrenceville, while the neighborhood welcomes Brambler Boutique. Plus, Splurge expands to a new location in Fox Chapel.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

The event is for high school students who are interested in criminal justice, law enforcement and forensic science.

Comments