The idea of a “New Year’s Resolutions for the Arts” feature came about as one of those seasonal exercises that are sincerely intended, but often fairly fluffy. Then, I realized it was hitting me where I live. My academic background and experience in film, literature, theater and comedy make me feel fairly confident when I’m covering those areas. But when it comes to others—dance, visual arts, classical music—I’m an autodidact often scrambling to really know what’s what, depending on my talented, knowledgeable freelance contributors to carry me.
So, for 2014, I’ve committed myself to reinforcing my shaky foundation in some of these areas. I’ll be heading out to more Utah Opera (UtahOpera.org) productions—which should be in my sweet spot, given my general love of musical theater, yet has too often been the last thing I’ll find room to fit into my schedule. Ditto for Ballet West (BalletWest.org) and Utah’s other extraordinary dance companies.
And there’s plenty of room for beefing up my visual-arts knowledge, so perhaps the next installment of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art’s Art Fitness course (UtahMOCA.org/art-fitness) would be the ideal way to expand those horizons. With so many amazing local artists, I can’t help but want to know more.
Meanwhile, here are the 2014 arts resolutions from three of City Weekly’s regular contributors.
Utah is known around the world for its natural beauty, from the southern red rock deserts to the alpine environs of the High Uintas. It’s also one of the main reasons why many Utahns choose to live here in an often-stifling political and religious atmosphere.
But even though I do spend a good portion of my free time climbing rocks, biking mountains and running rivers, I have yet to see the equinox sun rise or set at the astrologically aligned art piece called “The Sun Tunnels,” created out in the west desert in 1976 by artist Nancy Holt. This year, I plan to fix that.
And in a similar environmental-art vein, I also resolve to visit Robert Smithson’s iconic 1970 earthwork, The Spiral Jetty, at least once during each season, paying personal witness to how the natural elements play off the large-scale sculpture, which is set into the idiosyncratic landscape on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
Being a die-hard for all things mid-century (give or take 10 years), I find that my ears perk up like a Howdy Doody doll when they catch the ring of something along the likes of Mod a-go-go (242 E. South Temple, 801-355-3334, ModAGoGo.com), and I have to investigate further in true Hardy Boys fashion. So, I scrambled for the website, because I have a resolution for this new year: no more sitting at home every evening with my none-too-conversational kitty-cat, working on endless writing projects. Mod a-go-go may be just the thing to get this crusty art critic out of his self-imposed exile.
What my sleuthing discovered might be the coolest of cool; we are talking Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool cool. The spaces are all used for showcasing a mid-century, high-modern, eclectic range of fine home décor.
The boutique seems moderately priced, although highly fashionable. Another wonderful draw is that Mod a-go-go will be participating in Salt Lake Gallery Stroll beginning Jan. 17 at 6 p.m., with a show of abstract works.
In 2014, I resolve to go listen to more art talks accompanying openings at local galleries. There are wonderful stories behind the artworks, and it’s enormously instructive to listen to artists discuss their methods, and the aesthetics and theoretical underpinnings of their work. This past year, I heard Nancy Holt discuss her breakthroughs in environmental “earth art”—an artistic genre she helped create—at her retrospective at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (410 Campus Center Drive, 810-581-7332, UMFA.Utah.edu). Also at UMFA, Martha Wilson discussed her controversial, often gender-bending work and the history of the Franklin Furnace art center in New York, which she founded. I hope to make it to more events like those this year.
Finally, I want to support more local artists by actually buying their work. You can support local galleries and artists by attending their shows, but if artworks don’t sell, eventually, the exhibits won’t happen. Many local artists have reasonably priced works, and I have a small collection of favorite pieces—not just artwork, but books on local artists. A favorite of mine is University of Utah art professor Tony Smith’s Fuck You: Finally A Book About Me, a coffee-table-book collection of his whimsical works.
But there’s nothing like the feeling of owning an piece of art, taking it home and putting it up on your wall.