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

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

The second annual gaming festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center brings 8-bits of weekend fun.
Environmental Art Project to Light Up Pittsburgh Bridge for the Holidays

Environmental Art Project to Light Up Pittsburgh Bridge for the Holidays

Riverlife hopes the temporary project will lead to permanent, decorative lighting of all three of the city's Sister bridges.
Mt. Lebanon Native Daya Nominated for MTV Video Music Award

Mt. Lebanon Native Daya Nominated for MTV Video Music Award

It's the first MTV nomination for the 17-year-old singing sensation.
Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Richard Kohl devoted most of his adult life to caring for homeless large-breed dogs.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our 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

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

ReplayFX Turns Convention Center Into Giant Arcade

The second annual gaming festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center brings 8-bits of weekend fun.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Eat, Drink and Learn: The Three Day Blow is Coming

Eat, Drink and Learn: The Three Day Blow is Coming

“A food and drink festival that’s deeply rooted in place — in this case Pittsburgh and the Rust Belt" is coming to Pittsburgh at the end of August.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Garfield Bar Mixtape Is a Great Hangout (And a Good Bar, Too)

Garfield Bar Mixtape Is a Great Hangout (And a Good Bar, Too)

Part craft-cocktail joint and part coffee bar, the welcoming spot wants you to stay a while.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Optimism With An Asterisk As Good As It Gets In Steelers Training Camp

Optimism With An Asterisk As Good As It Gets In Steelers Training Camp

Although NFL teams never simply pick up where they left off the previous season, there’s reason to believe the 2016 Steelers could resemble the team that came agonizingly close to knocking off the eventual Super Bowl Champion Broncos in Denver last January.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

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.
"Bad Moms" and a Bad "Bourne" Make For a Rough Weekend

"Bad Moms" and a Bad "Bourne" Make For a Rough Weekend

Reviews of "Jason Bourne" and "Bad Moms," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

This Pittsburgh bride brought all the details together for a flawless “Alice in Wonderland”-themed wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Coming Soon: Historic Lawrenceville Building Ready for Makeover

Coming Soon: Historic Lawrenceville Building Ready for Makeover

Real estate crowd-funding platform Small Change Pittsburgh is raising funds to transform the Butler Street building.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments