Best Magical Realism
A former illustrator of children’s books, Miles combines a sense of safety and innocence with underlying spookiness that you might only catch out of the corner of your eye. Somewhat reminiscent of the works of Chris Van Allsburg, his landscapes have soft, rounded edges, and most of his bright, colorful paintings also offer a (usually mysterious) narrative, though in the guise of a traditional European style: Two men arm-wrestle on a wall that’s actually a Penrose triangle; a trinity of a cloaked man with his hand on a skull, a woman holding a heart, and a cat in Renaissance attire stare meaningfully at the viewer; a not-human figure ascends a snowy peak to stand under a glowing moon. The paintings wouldn’t look out of place in a children’s nursery, or the den of a medieval sorcerer.
Best 24/7 Gallery
Mod A-Go-Go breaks away from the cluttered consignment-shop norm by providing an almost sparse setting to showcase the mid-century furniture and décor; the space looks like a ready-to-move-into home from the 1960s. And in a prominent space on South Temple, Eric Morley and Marcus Gibby’s gallery/consignment shop will make you look twice—day and, especially, night, when the interior remains fully lit and the building’s glass front allows for an almost voyeuristic look into the gorgeous gallery. It’s like peeking into the window of a beautiful house and imagining the cultured life that must go on inside. And, if you return in the daytime, that life can be yours, from the carefully selected furniture to the local art showcased on the walls.
242 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3334, ModAGoGo.com
Best State-Spanning Dance Experience
Odyssey Dance’s Thriller
It’s no secret that Utah loves Halloween, with the professional spook houses, home haunts and big families trick-or-treating. And Odyssey Dance has developed one of the state’s most popular October traditions with Thriller, now well into its second decade. And when we say “the state’s,” that’s no hyperbole; the production manages to hit seven different venues, from Logan and Ogden down to the Tuacahn in Ivins, plus the lengthy stopover at Kingsbury Hall. And they even manage to sneak one performance into New Mexico, exporting a Utah Halloween spirit that may one day sweep the nation.
Best Local Art Scene Development
The Granary District
It’s been building for a few years, with the Pickle Factory holding occasional art shows, Captain Captain art studios as the site of some of the freshest artistic creations and, of course, Kilby Court continuing its decade-long dominance as an all-ages music venue. But the stage put in place on 700 South between 300 and 400 West provided an anchor for events like the third-annual district Block Party and weekend events featuring a beer garden, food trucks, pop-up retail shops and buskers. Support from non-profit group Kentlands Initiative—plus the Salt Lake City Council and Redevelopment Agency—for community-based planning has helped transform the neighborhood into one of the most vibrant local areas for the arts and small businesses.
Best Reading of the West
Torrey House Press
Torrey House Press is a small independent publisher that aims to carry on the tradition of East Coast transcendentalists like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson while tilting, environmentally and regionally, toward writers like Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey. With authors as diverse as Maximilian Werner (Crooked Creek), Steven L. Peck (The Scholar of Moab) and David Kranes (The Legend’s Daughter), this socially conscious press is determined to deliver thought-provoking and intelligent literature that tackles modern issues such as the environment and sustainable stewardship of Western lands.
Best Alternative use of Bike Parts
Kimball Art Center’s SRAM pART Project
Bicycles are beautiful. And this year, they became actual works of art when the company SRAM provided 25 artists with a box of 100 identical cycling components to create unique sculptures, all with the aim to turn “parts into art into aid.” The result was a lot of kinetic sculpture—including hands-on and mobile-type designs—that were ultimately sold to raise funds for global aid and to help keep the Kimball Art Center’s various programs free for all participants.
638 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8882, KimballArtCenter.org
Best Idaho Travelogue
David Kranes: The Legend’s Daughter
The very first story in David Kranes’ newest collection of shorts, The Legend’s Daughter, begins somewhere in the realm of the acclaimed novelist Jim Harrison, with two East Coasters heading to the backwoods of Idaho to enjoy the solitary nature of some backcountry fly-fishing. The fact that it ends with the duo in drag takes it somewhere altogether different. Kranes uses Idaho as a backdrop for every one of these tales to explore the complex emotions of his characters, who are often a bit sad and lost while seeking some kind of inner solace in the modern world.
Best “Mother Of The Year” Performance Combo
If you’re sitting down to a local theater production and you see April Fossen’s name in the cast list, you can be confident you’re about to see something terrific. This year, her typically exceptional work included performances as two very different kinds of Mormon moms. In The Righteous & Very Real Housewives of Utah County, she played a contemporary woman with firm moral principles but her own weaknesses, allowing Fossen to play hilariously tipsy. And in Suffrage, she played a 19th-century sister-wife—fighting to hold her family together during the crackdown against polygamy—with a ferocious intensity. That’s one mother of a one-two punch.
BEST ART MULTIPLICATION
The Sugar Space expansion
The Sugar Space is a unique art center located in the heart of Sugar House designed specifically to fill Salt Lake City’s need for a more intimate, yet curated, performing-arts venue. With its recent expansion into the River District, just west of downtown, the innovative arts organization has significantly multiplied its available space. The new digs include a 1,200-square-foot rehearsal room, a “healing arts” room for private sessions such as art therapy or massage, and a gallery space. And the outside lot, with its covered patio and small stage, could easily be used for pop-up markets or small festivals. The Sugar Space is raising funds for Phase 2 of the project, which will include a theater, gallery, dressing rooms and more.
616 Wilmington Ave. (2190 South), Salt Lake City; 130 S. 800 West, Salt Lake City, 385-202-5504, TheSugarSpace.com
Best Wordless Wonder
Mark Pett, The Boy and the Airplane
Cartoonist Mark Pett can have a way with words when he wants to, as he shows in his comic strip Lucky Cow. There’s something uniquely striking and lovely, however, about his wordless picture book The Boy and the Airplane, which follows the simple story of a youngster whose toy plane winds up out of reach, and thwarting his creative efforts to retrieve it. It also becomes a lump-in-the-throat look at what our beloved childhood toys come to mean to us, and to the generations we want to pass them on to. For a gifted artist, sometimes it’s possible to say so much without actually saying so much.
Best Behind-the-Scenes Musical Theater MVPs
Kevin Mathie and David Evanoff
Every year, Salt Lake Acting Company’s Saturday’s Voyeur delights local audiences with songs skewering Utah’s culture. But what would that all satire sound like without its music? Kevin Mathie has spent nine years as part of the Voyeur house band, following in the footsteps of the talented David Evanoff—this year back on drums—as the show’s musical director. And beyond backing up the Voyeur cast, both have contributed to countless other wonderful musical productions over the years, including Evanoff’s work on Hedwig & the Angry Inch and 2012’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Mathie’s efforts as musical director at the Grand Theatre.
Best Work With a Spray Can
Over the past year, West Valley City-based graffiti artist and 2010 Artys award winner Kier Defstar has been honing his craft, inspiring other young artists and, most importantly, adding a few coats of paint to Salt Lake City’s otherwise drab streets. It’s difficult to pin down where Defstar’s style falls. His vivid art installments are constantly evolving and span everything from detailed Marvel superheroes and elephant totem spirits to pissed-off rock & roll skeletons. Known for creating a handful of SLC’s best murals—like the giant Canyon Inn parking-lot mural, multiple installations at the 337 Project and a recent piece at the Ensoul warehouse—Defstar is one the city’s premier graffiti artists.
Best Zine’ster Showcase
Alt Press Fest
The Salt Lake City Main Library has long been home to one of the few curated zine collections in the country, launched by Julie Bartel, the librarian who literally wrote the book on giving such materials respect as legitimate literature. Five years ago, that respect helped launch the Alt Press Fest, an annual gathering of DIY creators and their fans for workshops, discussions and a general celebration of this vital art form. It’s a powerful reminder that a creator’s labor of love can jumpstart an entire community.
Salt Lake City residents walking the downtown area are sure to have seen Vestal’s kinetic sculptures—free-moving mobiles driven by natural forces. His new works, shown in the Phillips Gallery’s basement Dibble Gallery in early 2013, have a refined quality. Each polished piece sat atop a pedestal or hung from the ceiling, turning with currents of air. The fanciful, whimsical, beautifully crafted forms became lifelike, much as clouds assume recognizable shapes.
Phillips Gallery, 444 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-365-8284, Phillips-Gallery.com