VISUAL ARTS & CRAFTS [READERS' CHOICE]
Best Photography Exhibition
Trish Empey, Retrospect: A Look Back at Sundance [Art Access II]
It’s easy for us to forget the humble past of the Sundance Film Festival as it continues to grow and expand every January. But during the 2013 festival, Art Access II presented a showcase by Trish Empey that featured the photos she took during her time as a Sundance volunteer between 1993 and 2003. Her works, mostly black and white, show celebrities attending throughout the years, enjoying one another’s company. They also find glimpses of the intensity and passion for the work the festival does to entertain millions around the globe—and the few thousand packed into Park City.
Best Sculpture/Mixed-Media Exhibition
Nancy Holt, Sightlines [UMFA]
Nancy Holt, one of the leading artists of the Land Art movement, returned this year to see one of her major achievements, the Sun Tunnels, in the west desert, and discussed her work at a retrospective exhibition. Her art is about the Earth’s place in the universe: The four concrete tunnels are aligned with the sun’s path during solstices, and holes drilled in them line up with various constellations at night. The trek she led to the site was a sojourn in the changing perspectives that art can provide, as well as a chance to share in her joy of creation.
Best Touring/Nonlocal Exhibition
Da Vinci: the Genius [The Leonardo]
We all know Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius, but it’s an extraordinary experience to be in the presence of his creations, which speak to the viewer as almost no other artist’s can. This exhibition allowed hands-on educational experiences for visitors of all ages, who could turn the cranks and levers of the working models of many of his inventions. And Secrets of Mona Lisa (also represented in replica) uncovered fresh details about the enigmatic portrait. This show was a rare chance to learn something new about an old master.
Best Short Film
Boomtown [Torben Bernhard/Travis Low]
It certainly doesn’t sound like a thrilling cinematic experience to listen to oral histories of those who lived in the 1880s mining town of Frisco, Utah—a briefly vital community that, after the collapse of the Horn Silver Mine, soon became a ghost town. But Torben Bernhard and Travis Low combine these compelling accounts with contemporary images of the location, now reduced to rotting timbers and little other evidence that humans ever inhabited the place. The long-ago voices mix with the modern-day decay in this 12-minute short to create a fascinating study of transience.
Best Tattoo Art
Sarah de Azevedo
Tattoos saturated the mainstream years ago with a dozen ink-shop reality series on TV simultaneously, but then jumped the shark in 2013 with an onslaught of “I done got a bad tattoo” shows that would make the casual observer wonder where all of the true artists have gone. Artys voters know where the best in Salt Lake City can be found: Oni Tattoo Gallery, where three-peat winner Sarah de Azevedo illustrates fantastically detailed, nearly three-dimensional work guaranteed to never be seen on Bad Ink.
325 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-1885, OniTattooGallery.com
LITERARY ARTS [READERS' CHOICE]
Best Fiction Book
Jana Richman, The Ordinary Truth
In her 2008 debut novel, The Last Cowgirl, Jana Richman drew from her history as a daughter of the West for a complex portrait of people pulled between the city and the country, and between their relationships and their psychological baggage. She followed it up with another terrific story, The Ordinary Truth, this one following the interactions between a grandmother and granddaughter freighted by years of family estrangement. And once again, she struck a beautiful balance between developing rich, prickly characters and exploring the landscape and the backgrounds that shape them into who they are.
Best Poetry Collection
Katharine Coles, The Earth Is Not Flat
Some creative people are willing to go to the ends of the earth figuratively for their art; Katharine Coles was willing to go there literally. Inspired by the poet’s 2010 trip to Antarctica under a National Science Foundation grant, The Earth Is Not Flat captures a brilliant creative mind processing a completely new world: the frozen landscapes, the unfamiliar animal life and the other people willing to make such an isolated place their home. Her tight verse lines explore a place both threatening and fascinating, as described in “Here Be Monsters”: “… As soon as we arrive at any point/ We’re headed out the other side, / A place beyond which/ There is no beyond except/ In the mind …”
Best Painting Exhibition
John Bell, Election [Kimball Art Center]
For his Election series, John Bell was inspired by the 2007 French presidential election. He took photos of protesters, political posters and other scenes in Paris that year, then digitally manipulated them, adding layers and multiple colors to underscore the tension in the air. The result was a series of digital archival prints that were as breathtakingly realized as the political climate was mesmerizing. Bell creates his most captivating works when the viewer is caught in the cultural crossfire.
Best Graphic Novel/Zine
Super Cool & Stuff
A lifetime of comic books, video games and cartoons helped shape Ricky Vigil’s unique style, but it’s his daily routines and misadventures in the city of salt that bring his creations to life. His self-produced zine, Super Cool & Stuff (as well as its sequel released this year), was a hit at the Alt Press Fest, and featured stories of heartbreak and love of pizza, with his cartoon self decked out in a Descendents T-shirt and carrying around the family dog. It’s a great collection of local comics featuring the psychotic tendencies of locals, all while seeking out the awesome bits of life.
Best Illustration Exhibition
Chris Bodily, HATROBOT [Stoneground restaurant]
Bodily’s work always stands out, no matter what medium he happens to be working in, and could probably be best described as a passionate cartoonist’s view of the world he wishes he lived in. His HATROBOT exhibition showcased the best of both of Bodily’s passions: his love for pop culture (with his own personal spin on creations like Star Wars and He-Man), and his own twisted drawings that often resemble personal reflections of life in general and the madness seeping out of it.
Best Clothing Design
Reinventing her works year to year, Suzanne Clements has managed to stay on top of the local fashion scene by finding unconventional styles to fit the modern flow. Her union of patterns and various styles has turned what would normally be mundane fashion items into statements that cannot be ignored, making her a prominent name in craft circles and a must-purchase for anyone looking for an item you’ll never find on the racks. And with her downtown location spinning out new creations daily, it’s only a matter of time before she invades your local boutique.
366 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, Etsy.com/shop/SorryClementine
Best Public Art/Graffiti Art
Longtime Salt Lake City artist Benjamin Wiemeyer’s work is everywhere—and that’s no hyperbole. His wild, colorful explosions grace surfaces from Park City to Salt Lake City, where herecently covered the prestigious Leonardo and the delicious Cannella’s Italian restaurant across the street. With a spray can, Wiemeyer crafts bold, hip-hop-inspired murals bursting with life and hues; with a paintbrush, he creates more subtle, muted imagery that wouldn’t seem out of place in any gallery. But whatever the medium, he works large—no small canvas can contain this imagination.
Best Jewelry Design
Tif Blue isn’t just a jewelry designer; she’s a statement-crafter. By that, we mean every time you see someone wearing a Peach Treats creation, you need to stop and just admire the craftsmanship—and be astonished as to how such a lovely piece is hanging off someone’s ear. Her finely crafted tapers, weights, plugs and other finery for stretched earlobes—as well as “fakers” with studded trickery for those not ready to commit to the body modification—have become sought-after pieces of art, most being completely unique or custom-made for the jewelry collector—man or woman—who wishes to stand out.
Best Nonfiction Book
Josh Hanagarne, The World’s Strongest Librarian
How does someone with Tourette syndrome—a nervous-system disorder most commonly associated with unpredictable verbal or physical tics—find himself working in an environment where silence and order are generally expected? That’s only part of the fascination of Salt Lake City librarian Josh Hanagarne’s memoir, which chronicles the way that a man who stands out in any situation—he’s a 6-foot-7-inch, 260-pound strength trainer in addition to having an attention-drawing medical condition—tried to find a way to fit into the world. In his book, he provides a compelling history of finding ways to manage a life that once seemed unmanageable.