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Artys 2008 | Readers’ Choice Page all

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // September 10,2008 - Best Painter
Trent Call

Master of all styles, or artistic chameleon? If any local artist is running the risk of overexposure, it’s Trent Call, whose work is seemingly everywhere. But viewers never seem to tire of his art because each time they see it, it’s a different painterly persona—urban graffiti, cartoon figures, pop art pastiches or fetching figures. Besides painting, his artistic impulse extends into cartoons, sketchbooks and even art in vending machines. Hey, better to blow 75 cents on an art booklet than some fake rub-on gangsta tattoo.

Best Mixed Media
Shawn Porter

Raw, organic and specifically designed for the space they occupy, Shawn Porter’s sculptural works are larger than life—but they aren’t imposing. They’re delicate and heavy; recent works employ flowing linear wooden strips weighted with hundreds of cast and tinted plaster balls. Porter takes no shortcuts; each piece of wood is masterfully cut into long strips, made longer by attaching multiple pieces together precisely. The plaster is all hand-cast and -finished, not to mention hand-moved in wheelbarrows and truckloads and placed just so. Hours of meticulous design and immaculate craft ultimately yield sculptural work that fills the space and takes form outside the lines.

/Best Local Comedian

Yes, he’s still local—the runner-up to NBC’s Last Comic Standing hasn’t gone Hollywood on us. In fact, when recently approached to shoot a big-budget comedy concert DVD wherever he wanted, Marcus chose his native Utah (the show was filmed at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden on Sept. 9). The hella-tattooed comedian/impressionist, who’ll be on the road with the Last Comic Standing tour into 2009, called in with this for The Fans: “Wow! This is the real reason I did Last Comic Standing, to better my chances at winning an Arty ... again. Actually, I’m very flattered and humbled. … Thank you for this, it means a lot to have the support and be in the company of all of the rock & rollers, counterculturists, tattooed heathens, artists and rabble-rousers, and the only paper that unites us: City Weekly!” Now that’s comedy.

Best Illustrator
Pat Bagley

Bagley helped us weather the Bush administration with his satirical Clueless George series portraying the Good-Ol’-Boy-in-Chief as a hapless monkey. These days, he continues to supply The Salt Lake Tribune with biting political cartoons whose equal-opportunity jabs spare no party. Beyond the paper, the soft-spoken rabble-rouser is putting the finishing touches on a new edition of Welcome to Utah and focusing on strengthening his publishing company, Whitehorse Books, which he hopes to establish as the best seller of LDS books offering an independent perspective of Mormon culture, history and doctrine.

Best Photography
Cat Palmer

Fresh from displaying at the Utah Arts Festival, Palmer is one of the rising stars of the local art scene. Her images are always striking, because the subjects make you feel the twinge of being looked at, instead of being the looker, for a change. Metal bars from her sculptures impinge on the photographs as well. She’s also active in the community, teaching classes and serving on the board of the Women’s Art Center. Political statements in her works include three women wearing gas masks with marker-drawn slogans: “I am not Republican. I am not Democrat. I am human.” Worth remembering in an election season.

/Best Dance Production/ Performance
Nine Sinatra Songs

Was it the colorful costumes designed by Oscar de la Renta, the disco ball that made the stage shimmer or the spirited dancing that made audiences fall for Nine Sinatra Songs? Twyla Tharp’s playful ode to Ol’ Blue Eyes was the perfect end to a brilliant Ballet West season. The company’s thoroughly entertaining, flirtatious dance interpretation of Sinatra’s timeless music—which was part of a four-piece program that included more traditional ballet fare, such as George Balachine’s “Serenade”—showcased an exciting artistic range that will surely come to captivate Utah audiences for many seasons.

Best Original Play
by Mary Dickson

Plan-B Theatre Company’s production last fall was the perfect answer to every naysayer claiming Salt Lake City doesn’t have any culture: entirely home-grown, with a script based on local playwright Dickson’s personal experiences in the aftermath of the 1950s atomic-bomb testing in Nevada, and the southern Utah residents who lived downwind from it. Local visual artists were also called on for a sprawling exhibit of the same name at the Pickle Company. The result was a collection of powerful work commenting on one of the darkest chapters of our local history. You know, like artists are supposed to do.

Best Theater Production
Gutenberg! The Musical
, Plan-B Theatre Company

Actors Kirt Bateman and Jay Perry wear a lot of hats—literally—in this hilarious show about a writer/composer team pitching their concept for a Broadway show about the inventor of the printing press. Their mock work-in-progress “staged reading” becomes a poke at musical-theater conventions by the score, and a showcase for two marvelously energetic performances as the nervous twosome performs every character in their show. It’s a send-up that left you laughing—and humming—your way right out the door.

Best Classical/Opera Performance
InterPlay: Carnivale

Give Another Language—the multimedia, interdisciplinary arts group behind Interplay: Carnivale—credit for creative write-in voting; when you’re sui generis, you’ve got to look somewhere. And while there’s not much that could be considered “classical” about Another Language’s annual technologically enhanced performance pieces, you could argue there’s a touch of the operatic in the creation of theater that unites performers across a continent into a single work of art. Supertitles may not be required—just some creative software to combine 21st-century arias into choral pieces.

/Best Theater Performance
David Spencer,
The Tricky Part
Sure, a one-man show can be an ideal opportunity for a tour de force; it also leaves an actor on an island where everything rests on his shoulders. Spencer has now pulled off two such feats in local theater—he won in this category two years ago for I Am My Own Wife—and continues to display a gift for fully inhabiting roles. He was in character as playwright Martin Moran before the lights even went down, and guided audiences through a funny, harrowing journey into the complex aftermath of childhood sexual abuse.

Best Individual Dancer
Erin Lehua Brown

Perhaps growing up on Hawaii’s unspeakably beautiful Garden Island imbued this Ririe-Woodbury dancer with a special grace, ease of movement, and talent for communicating complex emotions to audiences. Or, maybe it’s Lehua Brown’s insatiable love of teaching and side projects—such as Brownrice, the duet company that she founded with her dancer husband—that contribute to her incandescent stage presence. Lehua Brown’s show-stopping performance in 2007’s “La Petite ‘Rag’” cemented her place as one of Ririe-Woodbury’s most dynamic corps members.


Best Fashion Designer
Keith Bryce

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,

Best Choreography
Charlotte Boye-Christensen, “Lost” (from
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.

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).

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
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.

/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
Allison Dayton

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.

/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


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