nRyan Brown @ Coleman Studios
nFor more than a century, mainstream artists and critics have rejected traditional art such as portraiture, landscape and still life. Good art was considered valid only if abstract, conceptual and progressive. One result was an abundance of sub-par, commercialized representational art. However, artists such as Ryan Brown—currently showing at the Coleman Studios in Provo—are infusing new life and poignancy into traditional art forms once relegated to dentists’ offices.n
Brown, who studied at the Florence Academy of Art, finds that taking a step back means taking a step forward. Work being produced in his Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting gives validity and credibility to traditional methods that Modernism all but made obsolete. Brown believes that representational painting (his “Home of the Penitent” is pictured) does not have to be kitsch or trivial, but with the proper training and skill, can have artistic substance that much of today’s traditional art lacks.n
“A process-based art always yields a higher standard of work,” said Brown. He, along with his students, spend countless hours in class working in the classical tradition: drawing from life, rendering live models, studying form and applying this to painting. This practice, following antique methods used since the Greeks, add substance and dimension, giving life and vitality to painting.n
Traditional painting is more alive today than in the past century, given new integrity by artists like Brown. In the tradition of Raphael, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Velasquez, Brown is revisiting painting’s full potential. (Ehren Clark)n
Ryan Brown @ Coleman Studios, 117 N. University Avenue, Provo, 801-822-8802, permanent display. Call for viewing hours. RyanSBrownArt.com
nUtah Opera’s Regina
nWhen it comes to villainy, it’s hard to decide which of the characters in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina is more evil. Utah Opera’s revival of the 1949 adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s celebrated 1939 play of family corruption set on a Southern plantation showcases greed and cruelty in equal measures. Business partners and brothers Ben and Oscar Hubbard (sung by Rod Nelman and a starchy Peter Lindskoog), pursue their personal enrichment with a glib indifference to others. But it’s their sister Regina, played by Deanne Meek (above left), who truly blazes when it comes to greed. She’ll sacrifice her ailing husband and her naïve daughter to ensure her boat comes in. While Regina’s roots may be showing a little when it comes to how coarsely Hellman’s anticapitalist values are showcased in both dialogue and Brechtian asides to the audience, it’s hard to deny that when Meek stands alone onstage in a virulently red dress defying the audience not to damn her, that she has the audience in the palm of her hand. The gorgeous mansion set captures the hotbed of familial intrigue and violence perfectly. Get through the rather stodgy first act and you’re rewarded by particularly strong performances from Tracie Luck as Addie, the family’s head maid, and Sara Gartland as Alexandra, Regina’s valiant daughter. For three hours, you find yourself drawn into the living room of this family who proclaim gentility even as they stab each other in the back. It’s a vibrant work that—while dated and, at times, undermined by Meek’s occasionally inaudible delivery—nevertheless leaves you to admire not only Regina’s ripe nastiness but also Utah Opera for delivering a difficult work with such aplomb. (Stephen Dark)
Regina @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 355-ARTS, Jan. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. & Jan. 25 @ 2 p.m. UtahOpera.org
nUtah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
nHe’s a big, burly fella in a red suit who comes to town just one night a year and leaves everyone amazed. No not that guy—we’re talking about LeBron James (pictured above right). One of the fun things about having a local major-sports team is that it regularly brings some of the greatest athletes in the world to town. Occasionally, they are also people who transcend sports to become icons in the culture at large.
In the case of “King James,” the fact that he is roughly the size of Karl Malone yet can run the point like John Stockton is only part of the story. He’s almost inescapable on TV, what with shilling for everything from Nike to Sprite to Bubblicious to even State Farm Insurance. He hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Only three people with a Y chromosome have ever appeared on the cover of Vogue: Richard Gere, George Clooney and James. There’s even talk that his various business interests may end up making him the first billionaire athlete.n
But he is coming to town to play basketball after all, and there’s plenty of drama beyond James. The Jazz are trying to survive a rash of injuries that have left them skirting the edges of playoff eligibility in an “every game counts” atmosphere; the Cavs are locked in a battle with the Lakers and Celtics for the best record in the league; and the telecast on KJZZ may still be unavailable on DirecTV. (Geoff Griffin)n
Utah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers @ EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 355-SEAT, Saturday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m. UtahJazz.comn
nWasatch Theatre Company’s The Boys in the Band
nIt’s a party. A birthday party for Harold (Alexis Baigue), who doesn’t even show up until right before intermission. Like most parties, it gets better as the guests get drunker. Wasatch Theatre Company’s production of Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band starts off a little slow and stiff, but it proves compelling and unpredictable once it picks up steam.
The party is being thrown by Michael (Eric McGraw) in his New York apartment. We are there from before the greeting of the first guest to the final goodbyes, without a scene change or a moment skipped in between. The second act picks up exactly where the first let off, with intermission serving only as a leg-stretcher.n
This evening spent with a circle of gay friends feels current and relevant despite the just-over 40 years since its initial staging. Sure, some of the dynamics seem a little dated, but not as much as you might think.n
Baigue and McGraw are the standout performers along with Daniel Ogden as Alan, Michael’s old roommate and friend from his closeted college days. The interplay of mutual contempt, embarrassment and sexual tension among these characters is raw and real and never quite what you think it’s going to be. Pleasant surprises all around and well worth your time. (Rob Tennant)n
The Boys in the Band @ Rose Wagner Studio Theatre, 138 W. 300 South, 355-ARTS, through Jan. 31. ArtTix.org
nAutonomatonophobia is the fear of ventriloquists’ dummies, or anything else that falsely represents a sentient being. Luckily for comedia Jeff Dunham, it’s not one of the more common phobias, or else he’d likely be out of a job. For the past 20 years, Dunham’s bread-and-butter has been a box of puppets, known to his throngs of fans as his “suitcase posse.” With his cast of characters like Jose the Jalapeño (on a steeeck), Walter the grumpy old man, and Peanut the … whatever it is, Dunham is able to get away with making fun of pretty much anybody, letting the puppets do the slamming while he remains the straight man.
How popular is Dunham? His “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” clip is a YouTube mega-hit, with more than 79 million views. The Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special was the most viewed telecast in Comedy Central’s history. And he’s big enough to fill venues like Energy Solutions Arena. Pretty impressive for a bunch of dummies. (Jennifer Heaney)n
Jeff Dunham @ Energy Solutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 325-2000, Thursday, Jan. 22, 7:30pm, EnergySolutionsArena.com
nThe Innocence Project: Race, Class and the Justice System
nSince DNA testing has come into accepted usage, 227 convicted felons—17 of them sentenced to death—have been released when DNA evidence exonerated them, after serving an average of 12 years in prison. And about 70 percent of those who were later proven innocent have been racial minorities.
For more than 15 years, the nonprofit Innocence Project has worked on behalf of those who believe DNA evidence would clear their names, and their work has led to serious exploration of the way race and class impact prosecutions and convictions. As part of the Bastian Foundation Diversity Lecture series, panelists will offer a free event addressing race, class and the justice system. Rocky Mountain Innocence Center director Jensie Anderson and Westminster College professor of psychology Cathleen Power lead the panel, which also includes Calvin Johnson, himself convicted and later exonerated by DNA evidence. (Scott Renshaw)n
The Innocence Project: Race, Class and the Justice System @ Westminster College Gore Concert Hall, 1840 S. 1300 East, 801-484-7651, Thursday, Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. WestminsterCollege.edun
nDr. Temple Grandin
nDr. Temple Grandin knows what it’s like to live inside a mind that no one seems to understand. Diagnosed as autistic in the 1950s—a time when such a diagnosis virtually guaranteed institutionalization—Grandin eventually wrote an autobiographical account of her experience and has become an advocate for individuals with autism.
But Grandin is also a scientist and educator specializing in animal behavior and a respected voice for the compassionate treatment of animals. Her new book Animals Make Us Human—co-written with Catherine Johnson—addresses human assumptions about what makes animals “happy.” Digging into what she calls the “core emotional life” of animals, she dares to suggest that we can understand them enough to give them the most satisfying life possible.n
“Autism made school and social life hard,” Grandin has said, “but it made animals easy. … To understand animal thinking, you’ve got to get away from language.” Hear her explore that unique perspective this week. (Scott Renshaw)n
Dr. Temple Grandin @ Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Thursday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m. KingsEnglish.Booksense.comn
nSalt Lake City Ballet: At Capacity
nSantiago, Chile-born Cristobal Marquez traveled the world teaching and dancing prior to settling in Salt Lake City as artistic director of Salt Lake City Ballet. The discipline, intelligence and precocity of Utah’s young dancers immediately captivated Marquez and inspired him to found a 25-dancer company and preprofessional school called the Salt Lake Ballet Conservatory that would cultivate and showcase Utah’s emergent dance talent. The Salt Lake Ballet Conservatory’s international staff—which includes teachers from Russia, Japan and Hawaii—has garnered praise for its professionalism and passionate commitment to students’ artistic development.
At Capacity—the company’s debut performance—will feature a mixed evening of contemporary and classical works. The bill includes Marquez’s ode to Harold Launder’s Etudes; excerpts from time-honored ballets such as Don Quixote, Carmen and Romeo & Juliet; and four original works by Kassandra Taylor and Kea Kapahua. Salt Lake City Ballet’s young dancers—ranging in age from 15 to 21—will impress Utah dance lovers. (Jenny Poplar)n
Salt Lake City Ballet: At Capacity @ Rowland Hall St. Marks Larimer Center Theater, 970 E. 800 South, 801-665-4607. Jan. 23-24, SaltLakeBalletBonservatory.comn
nBYU vs. Utah men’s basketball
nIn the red/blue split that divides the Wasatch Front, things have been pretty tough on the Y side of the aisle the past couple of months, what with the football Cougs getting beat in Salt Lake City, followed by a loss in a lesser bowl, followed by having to watch the U roll through a BCS victory and undefeated season.
But hate springs eternal on both sides, and spring comes early for BYU fans with yet another chance to beat the Utes as we greet the first of two annual Byu vs. Utah Men’s Basketball contests. Sure, with the way college basketball is back-end loaded with the huge NCAA tournament, a regular season win in January isn’t that big of a deal and certainly doesn’t compare to finishing an undefeated season No. 2 in the national polls. But in a rivalry, you take your consolation where you can. Besides, for those who truly bleed blue or see red, any contest pitting Utes against Cougs is cause for vengeance. (Geoff Griffin)n
BYU vs. Utah men’s basketball @ Huntsman Center, 1825 S. Campus Dr., 581-UTIX, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 8 p.m. UtahUtes.cstv.comn
nThe Great Tennessee Monkey Trial
nIt’s like as the Red Queen says in Lewis Carroll’s classic, Through the Looking Glass: “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Year after year passes, and the same issues plague contemporary American society that dogged the landscape way back in 1925, no matter how fast we run. Such is the fodder for L.A. Theatre Works’ production of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial, starring John Heard and Ed Asner (the latter made famous playing Lou Grant on the beloved Mary Tyler Moore Show, pictured).
The setting is Dayton, Tenn., during the Scopes trials which challenged the state’s law forbidding the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the classroom. It sounds antiquated, until one remembers just what the outgoing administration and like-minded politicians recently tried to accomplish by jamming the concept of Intelligent Design down American throats. (Jacob Stringer)n
The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 581-7100, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m. Also Jan. 27 in Ogden on the Weber State University campus (1-800-WSU-TIKS).
nIt’s Still Elementary
nName calling, bullying and homophobia continue to escalate into hate crimes in our schools. The 1996 documentary It’s Elementary addressed learned stereotypes and guides teachers in how to dispel fear and ignorance in classrooms. Offering a safe and informative environment to talk about gay culture opens up a dialogue that can be continued at home, at church or in the community. The documentary promoted tolerance, not sexual preference.
It’s Still Elementary tells the life story of its predecessor, It’s Elementary, and its perseverance against the right-wing response to the film. A conservative backlash was born, accusing the filmmakers, Debra Chasnoff and Helen S. Cohen, of a “gay agenda” and propaganda. The film sparked a movement in GLBT education, encouraging discourse rather than evasion. This presentation of the Salt Lake City Film Center is a must-see for anyone involved in the education world, whether as a teacher, a parent or a mentor—or just for those interested in furthering an unbiased educational system. (Kris Heitkamp)n
It’s Still Elementary @ Main Library Auditorium 210 E. 400 South, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m. Free and open to the public.