Best Fashion Designer
Project Runway: One of the very few reality TV shows where something more useful than a 15-second tabloid career is made. In the Bravo series’ latest season, Filthy Gorgeous designer/director Bryce laid low for the first few episodes, eschewing camera-hog diva antics for the occasional shot of simply looking cool. As the field of competition narrowed, however, Bryce came out of his shell and proved Utahns can be just as crazy-creative and bitchy as anyone on the coasts. He didn’t make it to Runway’s October finale (2008 hasn’t been kind to locals on reality TV), but that’s irrelevant: He got Tim Gunn’s attention. What else matters after that? Filthy Gorgeous, 351 Pierpont Ave., 870-4878, FilthyGorgeous.com
Charlotte Boye-Christensen, “Lost” (from Alchemy)
As a native of Denmark, Charlotte Boye-Christensen has become one of Utah’s greatest dance assets since becoming the associate artistic director of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in 2002. Although she has choreographed numerous works since her auspicious arrival, her multimedia piece “Lost”—which was inspired by the gritty artwork of four local gang members struggling with self identity in a blindingly modern world—truly set a new standard for artistic expression. Luckily for Salt Lakers, the 2008-09 season finds Boye-Christensen taking the helm of RWDC, solidifying yet another groundbreaking year of modern dance. RirieWoodbury.com
Best Improv Troupe
QuickWits recently returned to its downtown stomping ground, performing weekly shows at Studio 600 on the corner of Main and 600 South. Everything about this show is family-friendly, including the no-alcohol, no-smoking club. A small but eager audience becomes part of the show, and ages range from elderly couples to families toting very young children, all reveling in the opportunity to be called up onstage, used as a prop or just shout out ideas for the games. Their “Mousetrap” sketch is the highlight of the show, and gets huge laughs (especially from the kids). QuickWitsComedy.com
Best Nonfiction Book
Trespass: Living on the Edge of the Promised Land by Amy Irvine
Anyone who has tangled with Utah’s more conservative elements could relate to Irvine’s memoir about surviving as an environmental activist in rural San Juan County. But Irvine’s intimate and emotional portrayal of her own personal struggles—including dealing with her father’s suicide and her attempts to create her own family—impressed readers as much as the moxie she showed tackling a battle between old ways and new.
Best Fiction Book
The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman
The life of Dickie Sinfield—the protagonist of Richman’s engrossing novel—is almost a perfect distillation of Utah life over a 50-year span. Moving from Salt Lake City to the ranches west of the Oquirrhs, the narrative touches on complexities and contradictions that touch so many lives here: steadfast patriotism vs. threatening governmental actions; urban Mormonism vs. its earthier rural equivalent; and people vs. a past that can leave them with heavy baggage. With lovely specificity, Richman manages to tell a true Utah story.
Best Poetry Collection
Hand Me My Shadow by N. Colwell Snell
The Utah State Poetry Society’s 2007 Poet of the Year is not given to mystical flights of psychedelic incomprehensibility. While his subject matter is deeply personal, he uses concrete imagery—a pencil, a hammer—to evoke experiences in ways that are entirely accessible. Some of the best of these deal with memories from Snell’s childhood in rural Wyoming: a stallion is castrated, a pig is slaughtered; the myriad traumas to which a rural boy is pointedly subjected in order to “make a man out of him” invariably end up haunting him for the rest of his life. Snell’s poems won’t let that boy forget the visceral primacy of the experience—the undeniable redness of pigs’ blood, the good-natured obscenity of men wielding a gelding knife. And thus the experience becomes transpersonal, part of a shared existence among those of us lucky enough to live around these parts.
Best Short Film
Kick Like a Girl [directed by Jenny Mackenzie]
It’s part go-girl empowerment narrative and part underdog sports drama, and manages to pack it all into 24 minutes. Jenny Mackenzie chronicled a season coaching the Mighty Cheetahs, a girls’ youth soccer team that was so dominating against other girls that it moved into the boys’ division. How will the girls respond to the challenge? How will their male opponents respond to being whupped by girls? It’s all anchored by the lively narration and sassy confidence of Mackenzie’s daughter Lizzie Loughridge; she embodies Mackenzie’s message that on a level field, girls can play with anyone. KickLikeAGirlMovie.com
Best Tattoo Artist
Anthony Pagano, Eleventh Street Electric Gallery
Pagano is a painter. He paints on canvas, on walls, jackets and shoes. And, if you want, he’ll paint on you. Pagano can do traditional tattoo but much of his stuff appears influenced by Japanese prints: leopards, lions and serpents. A signature tattoo is a brightly colored koi exploding in a cascade of scales wrapping around a limb. If you aren’t the tattoo type, or if you would like Pagano’s art on your wall as well as your arm, he does prints too. 1994 S. 1100 East, 467-4418.
Best Jewelry Designer
Salt Lake City native Allison Dayton has a way of combining bold and stylish with sleek and delicate in her custom designs that caught readers’ attention for the second year in a row. Dayton’s trademark is to mix chunky porcelain, glass beads or shards of turquoise, for instance, with delicate silver wire and baby pearls in her necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She features a line for women, children and infants, and notes on her Website that her precious silver cuff with tiny rose for babies is bathwater and drool-proof. And her prices, ranging from $20 to $400 (for stunning strands of sterling silver) are immensely appealing. Neither is Dayton a slouch as an entrepreneurial businesswoman—her designs are now available in 19 states. allisondayton.com
Best Hair Stylist
Andrew Valtal, Salon RZ
Hair is typically viewed as an accessory or fashion statement. Short and neat, high-maintenance or super funky, coifs are also forms of self-expression. But is hair really art? In the hands of Valtal, ordinary locks serve as both canvas and medium, transforming into living, breathing installations worthy of any nontraditional gallery or contemporary museum. He takes “aesthetically pleasing” to the next level. 1307 S. 900 East, 486-4700