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Artys 2008 | Staff Picks Page 3

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // September 10,2008 - src=data/449BBE6E-021E-D69E-7A3370304BA7D31B/userData/Image/080911/artys_coverstory/PaulHeath.jpg

src=data/449BBE6E-021E-D69E-7A3370304BA7D31B/userData/Image/080911/artys_coverstory/StaffPicks.jpgBEST EYE FOR UTAH NOSTALGIA
Paul Heath
A self-described love of Salt Lake City and nostalgia, Heath frolics liberally with both in his paintings. On his Website he describes his style as “pop-nostalgia.” Several of Heath’s whimsical paintings of Salt Lake urban landmarks are hanging throughout September at the downtown wine store at 255 S. 300 East. Look for Dee’s Hamburgers signs (“Dee’s Clown” is pictured below), funky old North Temple motels and lots of beehive motifs. With regional artist Donna Pence, Heath is finishing a glass mosaic for the new fire station in Emigration Canyon. A great artist for a pretty, great state.

Desparate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West by Ethan Rarick
That poor Donner Party just can’t get a break from our lurid fascination. In Rarick’s new account, he revisits that California-bound journey, revealing previously unpublished material that flesh out the story for a new audience. His gripping narrative details the mistakes and accomplishments that courageous individuals attempted in their desire for a better life, struggling against winter’s harsh nature that led some early pioneers to feast on each other for survival. Oxford University Press, 2008

Trent Thursby Alvey
Mixed-media artist Alvey never rests. Whether it’s sculpture, painting or in her work with sound and light, Alvey has evolved, beautifully and unpredictably, during more than two decades of prolific output. She likes to explore places in her art where dualities come together and find common ground. A lover of Utah wilderness (serving for several years on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance), Alvey has journeyed into Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and African culture, with profoundly spiritual paintings documenting those experiences. This past year, she exhibited work in Exposed, an installation to accompany the debut of Mary Dickson’s play of the same name and in Present Tense: A Post-337 Project at the Salt Lake Art Center.

Hooligan: A Mormon Boyhood by Douglas Thayer.
Thayer’s memoir about growing up in Utah County during the Great Depression reminds us of how easy it used to be to be a kid, particularly when there was limited adult intervention. Thayer grew up with “Mormonism seeping into our blood and bones,” but he has an excellent memory for the way LDS doctrines made sense to a young boy who preferred exploring outdoors to sitting in church. Zarahemla Books

Lost Landscapes: Utah’s Ghosts, Mysterious Creatures, and Aliens by Linda Dunning

From the Bear Lake Monster to Bigfoot to unwanted passengers on Route 666, Dunning brings together tales of the paranormal from across the Beehive State. Although she gives each story a thorough examination through the lenses of history and science, what makes the book enjoyable are Dunning’s observations about the nature of belief, which she sums up by stating, “If we stop imagining those things both real and unreal, then we stop being human altogether.” Cedar Fort, 2007

Ben Roberts
One big buzz at the 2008 Writers at Work Conference in Salt Lake City swirled around fiction fellowship winner Ogden resident Roberts, a 2006 graduate of Weber State University in radiological science. The plot of the story he submitted, “The Three Nephites,” revolves around a group of friends at various levels of their faith in Mormonism, and a tragic choice and its consequences. Visiting instructor and best-selling author Steve Almond called Roberts’ voice “absolutely fearless, ecstatic and dangerously wise.” The story will appear in an upcoming issue of the University of Utah’s literary magazine Quarterly West, and Roberts—with any luck—has a big writing future.

Signed & Numbered
Located in the basement of Slowtrain Records downtown on Broadway, Leia Bell’s Signed & Numbered gallery/shop hits on the perfect mix of art snobbery (“I just bought print No. 3 of 500”) and on-a-budget availability (“Hey, there’s 497 left”). You’ll find prints by artists from around the world and down the street but, surprisingly, there’s only a small collection of Bell’s own acclaimed work on hand—S&N is less a vanity project than a poster art showcase. Plus, every month, Bell features “Bring It, Screen it,” wherein she’ll screen a select design on any piece of fabric you bring in for only $5. 221 E. Broadway (below Slowtrain Records), 801-596-2093,

Vincent Lords
It’s hard to recall a time when you didn’t hear the name Vincent Lords tossed around in local entertainment circles; the flashy, outspoken hypnotist has been performing locally since 1994. Maybe you remember when he broke magician David Blaine’s record for being buried alive in 2001 or his marathon weekend tenures at the Avalon Theater (five years, pre-rock venue) and the Murray Theater (three years, including a recent stint in the new Murray Super Theater). Or not: The local media, including City Weekly, hasn’t paid much heed to Lords’ tireless work, which may be why he’s taking his own headlining show on the road this fall (Utah date pending), with the intent of relocating his production to—where else?—Las Vegas. You’ll be able to say you knew him when … if he wills it.,

Alexandra Harbold and Claudia Mejia, Living Out
It’s not easy to explore the topic of parenthood dramatically without becoming a cliché. In Pygmalion Theatre Company’s production of Living Out, two characters—one a working upwardly mobile new mother, the other her immigrant nanny—represent two sides of the phenomenon of parents who think they’re giving their children a better life by spending plenty of time away from them. And whether they’re onstage together or expressing their doubts individually, Harbold and Mejia give brilliant life to the complex choices faced by contemporary mothers.

Killer At Large
Local documentary filmmaker Steven Greenstreet explored the local manifestation of a national phenomenon in his Michael Moore-vs.-Sean Hannity study This Divided State. His follow-up project paints a bigger picture of an even more serious subject: the national epidemic of obesity. And the most fascinating aspect of his approach is how complex he makes the issue—a tangle of biology, sociology, psychology and even politics that makes it hard to toss off the old “eat less and exercise” rejoinder. This truly is film journalism, the kind of documentary that works precisely because it raises more questions than it answers.

Present Tense: A Post-337 Project
From City Weekly contributor Cara’s Despain’s vertigo-inducing multi-media installation to Trent Call and Sri Whipple’s wall-mounted 3D-optional collaborative painting, Present Tense established itself as much more than just curtains on one of Salt Lake City’s most groundbreaking art projects. Featuring works by 25 artists/337 building participants, plus documentary photographs by Lewis Francis, the Campbell Gray-curated exhibit honored the memory of the original hands-on experiment while leaping forward to embrace a newly invigorated local visual arts community.

The Leviathan
Erstwhile columnist Mike Brown doesn’t pay the bills with his monthly SLUG magazine gig; if his lifestyle is really anything like the one documented sporadically in his self-published ’zine The Leviathan, who knows if the bills are being paid, period. He’s rightfully adamant about you forking over $2 (“Free shit is for hippies and dorks who use Craigslist. I’m trying to become a master capitalist!”) for his dizzyingly DIY mag, usually 28-ish pages of hysterical insights about whatever the hell’s on his mind at the moment, random celebrity encounters and the only remotely interesting writing about the Utah Jazz in town. Just give him his two bones and he’ll be on his way.

Salt Lake Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
You be illin’ if you think the Bard is boring. Salt Lake Shakespeare proved as much with its summer update of Twelfth Night, turning the classic tale of mistaken identity inside out with the help of a few clever devices—a web cam, cell phones, 1990s-era costumes and musical sequences based on hit singles by Run-DMC and Twisted Sister. Watching Malvolio recite sweet nothings from a fake love letter while playing a mean air guitar and screaming old English to “We’re Not Going to Take It” added a hilarious dimension to the villainous character played by Whit Hertford (Provo native, Upright Citizens Brigade alum and voice behind Tiny Toons). The entire cast, comprised of U of U Actor Training Program students, brought new life to the classic, somewhat complicated, story and produced several Shakespeare converts through its deft manipulation of ribald humor.

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