Arts

Arts and culture

Actor and writer Gene Wilder, who brought his signature manic energy to films such as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the role that forever ensconced him in the collective memory of a generation of children, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died. He was 83.

Wilder died early Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn., of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to a statement from his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman.

We're not going to bury the lede here: Bob Ross' hair was actually straight. Just ask his longtime business partner, Annette Kowalski, who knew Ross better than anyone — he had just gotten out of the Air Force, and was unsuccessfully trying to make a living as a painter, she says.

"He got this bright idea that he could save money on haircuts. So he let his hair grow, he got a perm, and decided he would never need a haircut again," Kowalski explains.

Juan Gabriel, a singular superstar who transcended borders and the trappings of gender with meticulously crafted pop songs and a flamboyant showmanship that earned the nickname the "divo of Juarez," has died, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner.

Juan Gabriel was 66 years old and he was found at a residence in San Monica with no apparent foul play.

Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto tweeted his condolences calling him one of the country's "greatest musical icons."

The AfroPunk Festival in Brooklyn has grown since the annual event began in 2005. As it has expanded, so have the choices it offers: you can see everyone from Ice Cube to George Clinton, to Brit Rockers Skunk Anansie. There's a lot to catch, so here are five artists to keep an eye out for, at the festival and beyond.


Jasmine's picks:

Laura Mvula

Typically superheroes spend their summertime helming big budget franchises for movie studios. This year, with blockbuster season winding down and schools opening their doors, Marvel's following up its summer at the multiplex by giving its superheroes a new assignment.

Win Tickets To Seattle Rep's 'A Raisin In The Sun'

Aug 26, 2016

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun, September 30-October 30, directed by Timothy McCuen Piggee. In Lorraine Hansberry’s classic, which inspired Seattle Rep’s recent production of Clybourne Park, African American Lena Younger lives with her extended family in a cramped apartment on Chicago’s South Side. On their unknowing behalf, she places a down payment on a home in Clybourne Park—an affordable white neighborhood. Racial intolerance attempts to derail the family’s dreams in this 1959 masterpiece, which “changed American theater forever” (New York Times) and continues to resonate with generation after generation.

*We offer you the chance to win a pair of tickets to any performance during the run of the show (excluding Saturday evenings/Sunday matinees)*

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Good news: We've got a Code Switch podcast extra for you this week — Karen Grigsby Bates sat down with NPR's movie critic, Bob Mondello, to talk about Southside with You, a new independent film about Michelle and Barack Obama's very first date, back in the summer of 1989.

The film takes place over the course of a single afternoon, and, as the title suggests, is set on the South Side of Chicago.

Do you know that feeling when a song moves you so much, you just feel like you have to add your own voice? Mexican culture has an answer to that: a cathartic, joyous yell called a grito.

Legendary Mexican performer Vicente Fernández, aka "Chente," performs the crazy tragic love song "Volver, Volver." "It's one of the most iconic mariachi songs of all time, performed by the most popular Mexican mariachi vocalist ever," says alt.latino's Felix Contreras. "And there is a championship grito at the top of the song."

Comedy Central is canceling The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore after Thursday's episode.

The announcement came as a surprise Monday with the network cutting loose the politically conscious show a few months before the presidential election.

In a statement, Comedy Central credited Wilmore and his staff with generating conversations "by addressing social issues of great importance to the country, always challenging people's attitudes, perceptions and bias."

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Let’s take a minute to consider what it’s sometimes like when you go see art. You walk into a museum. You take a look around and you’re just not feeling it. It’s as if someone’s thrown a party and everyone else but you is having a really good time.

Susan Stamberg, however, has been demystifying the arts for the public for decades through her stories on NPR.  Now a special correspondent, Stamberg was the first woman to anchor a nightly news program and has been with the network since its inception in 1971.

“First Lady of Radio,” I say to her.

Using specialized X-ray imaging, a team of researchers in Australia has revealed a striking painting of a woman's face hidden under French Impressionist Edgar Degas' Portrait of a Woman.

The researchers believe the auburn-haired woman in the hidden work — which they also attribute to Degas — is Emma Dobigny, who was reportedly one of Degas' favorite subjects and modeled for him in 1869 and 1870.

Jon Pack

Comedian Mike Birbiglia is in Seattle Friday Aug. 5 for screenings of his new film “Don’t Think Twice” at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Birbiglia wrote, directed and stars in the movie that focuses on six friends who are part of an improv group called The Commune. His name might be familiar because of his contributions to public radio shows such as This American Life.

Birbiglia says he decided to use improv in the movie because it's his "first love."

Ask Walter Mosley what he does, and he'll say, simply, "I'm a writer." And he's written a lot: 52 books, about 30 short stories and another 30 or 40 articles, he says. While most writers specialize in one or two types of books, Mosley refuses to be constrained. He has written mysteries, science fiction, erotica, young adult fiction, plays, opinion pieces and essays. He has even penned a slim book that instructs would-be fiction writers on how to get started.

Helen Gurley Brown, the tiny, tough and influential editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, who transformed the staid family magazine and took circulation to giddy heights, did so by lubricating its pages with one word: sex.

Make that extra-marital sex.

You might not know Marni Nixon's name, but you've probably heard her. The singer dubbed the voices for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady — three of Hollywood's biggest movie musicals.

Nixon died Sunday at 86 from complications from breast cancer.

It was the summer of 1979, and disco was taking over the world. Donna Summer, Chic and Gloria Gaynor were at the top of the charts. Just a few months earlier, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack had been named Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Radio stations were switching to all-disco formats.

Cynthia Ozick is revered by those who love literature. She's written novels, but also short stories and essays. Her fiction has been nominated for various awards and she's received high praise from critics as well as her fellow writers.

But you won't find her on best-seller lists. Ozick seeks neither fame nor fortune from her writing. For Ozick, she feels it a necessity to write. "I can't not," she says.

PHOTOS: Handing Over The Camera To People With HIV

Jul 16, 2016

Photographer Gideon Mendel had won several prestigious awards for his pictures of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But in 2007, he decided to hand over the camera to his subjects.

Think of it as art to go — and on the go.

This piece was inspired by NPR's summer recommendation series, Read, Watch, Binge!

Over the next two weeks, Republicans and Democrats will gather in Cleveland and Philadelphia for a ritual that has become almost entirely ceremonial: Each party will "select" pre-selected presidential candidates.

For Jason Aaron Baca, a model from Los Gatos, Calif., his inspiration for romance cover modeling came randomly.

It sparked when he walked into a bookstore simply looking for something to read. There he saw a romance book cover.

"I said, 'You know what? This is something that I can actually do. This is something that, you know, it's going to take a lot of work to get a body like those guys on the cover," he tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "At that moment right there I kind of realized that this is something I am definitely going to go after."

If you've stepped foot in a comic book store in the past few years, you'll have noticed a distinct shift. Superheroes, once almost entirely white men, have become more diverse.

There's been a biracial Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and just last week, Marvel announced that the new Iron Man will be a teenage African-American girl.

Joining this lineup today is Kong Kenan, a Chinese boy who, as part of a reboot of the DC comics universe, is one of four characters taking up Superman's mantle.

When we think about the good life, art and food rank pretty high in importance. (OK, we at The Salt might be a little biased.) So it seems only natural that the two mix. Foods crop up in all kinds of art — from ancient Egyptian tomb walls to European still life paintings.

But in art, an apple isn't always just an apple. Many foods carry specific meanings for different global artistic traditions, and those meanings can change over time.

How well do you understand the secret language of foods in art? Take this quiz to find out.

Nicole Dennis-Benn's debut novel takes readers to a Jamaica that tourists rarely visit. "This is no paradise. At least not for us," she writes.

The characters in Here Comes the Sun are working-class women. They struggle with money, sexuality and the pressures of tourism squeezing their small community of River Bank.

Michael Cimino, the Academy-award winning director of The Deer Hunter, has died at the age of 77 in Los Angeles.

Cimino received broad critical acclaim for the 1978 Vietnam War epic The Deer Hunter, which was nominated for nine Oscars and won five. He then followed it up with Heaven's Gate, one of the most famous flops in film history.

The Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed Cimino's death, but said the cause is not yet known.

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