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Home / Articles / Guides / Artys /  Artys 2009: Staff Choice Page 4

Artys 2009: Staff Choice Page 4

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // September 9,2009 -

Saltgrass Printmakers’ steamroller prints
August 2008 saw the debut of Saltgrass Printmakers’ giganto-format prints made by rolling over them with a one and a half ton steamroller, and this year they repeated it at the Utah Arts Festival as a featured artist. Saltgrass may not have invented the technique (it’s been done around the country), but they may have perfected the fun aspect of it, with artists of all ages contributing their carved wood blocks to go under the press. It’s also a much better use of the vehicle than causing traffic backups in construction zones.

Utah Opera
If Utah Opera’s 2008-2009 season offered anything, it was strong female roles and performers. Whether it was Deanne Meek as the villainous Regina manipulating those who love her to further her cause in the Southern plantation-set of Regina, or Jamie-Rose Guarrine’s often-moving portrayal of the indefatigable maid Susanna determined to keep her man, Figaro, in Mozart’s extraordinary Marriage of Figaro, Utah Opera lovers were rewarded with bright, burning performances that lingered long after the curtain came down. Verdi’s Macbeth, which opens this year’s opera season in November, suggests the tradition of powerful female roles will continue.

Utah Symphony’s Bravo Broadway
This year’s Bravo Broadway tune fest at Deer Valley was billed as a tribute to the song-writing duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. As the trio of singers—Lisa Vroman, Doug LaBrecque and William Michels—worked their way through classics like “Ol’ Man River,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and a couple of cuts from The King and I, it was hard to resist the warmth of the camaraderie among the performers. By the time they hit the finale, "Oklahoma!," they had the crowd in their hands. Despite the twinkling stars, it truly felt at times as if Utah, for a couple of magical hours, had been dropped into Manhattan.

Leslie Howard at Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Sure, he was annoyed by the crying baby in the back of the UMFA auditorium. He commented on it after the concert and dished out stern looks during the concert. But, that didn’t stop pianist Leslie Howard from thrilling his enraptured audience with wall-to-wall Franz Liszt at the University of Utah last winter. For Liszt aficionados, Howard’s performance was ecstasy. For the rest of us, it was simply a magnificent Sunday afternoon filled with some of the world’s finest music.

Kent Rigby’s nonprofit Midnight Recordings Studio
The architect and longtime gallery director (formerly Left Bank and New Visions galleries) now curates the Utah Artists Alliance gallery and, in the back of the building, the impeccably equipped Midnight Records studio. He funds the recording space out of his own pocket, with virtually no ad revenue and word-of-mouth growing slowly for the 18-month-old space. Very reasonable rates, and top-of-the-line gear, including digital recording mixers and instruments by elite manufacturers, have made it the choice for local bands like Oh! Wild Birds and others who want their music to match their vision but don’t have lucrative record-label backing.

Tessa_Lindsey.jpgBEST SKULLS
Tessa Lindsey
Every painter paints skulls; a large percentage develop a fetish. It’s nothing new, yet it keeps happening. And it works—just ask Damien Hirst. Lindsey conceded this in her works with the title Skulls Never Go Out of Style, where she managed to refresh the notion. Fabricated like Rorschach tests, these works on paper were absolutely to die for. They are alluring in terms of execution and presentation, and aesthetically go far beyond your average skull works...and she didn’t even have to use diamonds.

YouthCity Artways
One of the coolest youth outreach programs in Utah is also the least well-known. Funded in part by taxpayer dollars, YouthCity Artways strives to spend its money wisely—i.e., no fancy PR campaigns to inform the public about its many cool offerings. Instead, staff members rely on word of mouth to let people know when registration starts for classes on music and acting, bookmaking, visual art, creative dance, parent-child ceramics and other multimedia offerings. YouthCity celebrates diversity, works closely with the community (including a drumming class with The Road Home) and offers affordable access to experienced and professional artists including Brad Slaugh and Paul Heath. As the arts continue to founder in public schools, now, more than ever, it’s time to speak up for organizations like this one.

Down in Utah’s thrifty, yet quirky, color country, the locals in Moab know to turn one town’s junk into recycled haute couture. Every Mardi Gras, the good folks of the WabiSabi nonprofit network take their gently used junk and create high fashion. The catwalk comes alive with this avant-garbage design and the all-night party that ensues helps fund-raise for the org's great community network. The WabiSabi "thrifttiques" take over 350 tons every year of donated goods and funnel those proceeds (along with the fashion-show funds) into local charities like the Moab Free Health Clinic and the Canyonlands Film Society.

Mestizo Coffeehouse
The Mestizo Coffeehouse formed as a nonprofit in 2003 with plans to create a unique, Chicana/o-themed arts museum on the west side. With the coffeehouse now open, the dream of a museum is still alive, but the coffeehouse itself has already created its own institution of art, poetry and community engagement. While music and poetry open-mic nights might be typical fare for a coffee house, Mestizo takes it up a notch with traveling art exhibitions, muralist apprenticeships, free Spanish language classes, and even a low-rider model-car club. Thanks to the limitless vision and drive of Ruby Chacon, co-founder of Mestizo, the coffee and culture on Salt Lake City’s west side is very rich indeed.

Prescott Muir
In June, the University of Utah named Muir director of the university’s School of Architecture. Muir—the blueprint man whose résumé boasts serving on the Downtown Alliance and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce boards as well as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects—has had a hand in numerous iconic Utah creations like the Rose Wagner Center and Ogden’s Pleasant Valley Library. With an eye towards conservation, Muir finds a balance between innovation and practicality. Muir has taught as an adjunct for the school since 1993.

SpyHop Youth Documentary Arts Program
The making of a documentary film requires a lot: cameras, boom mics, creative direction, tape, tears and sweat. Luckily, there’s a place like Spyhop Productions where, through their Youth Documentary Arts Program, young filmmakers can get a crash course in wrangling many different elements of the media. The program offers a diverse curriculum of courses, ranging from the specific to the broad—such as the recent queer film-studies course examining the LBGT community or the famous REEL stories feature, which allowed a small number of high school students the opportunity to create socially-conscious five-minute documentaries. From classes on directing to sound engineering, musicology and apprenticeships, Spyhop appreciates that putting a camera in the hands of the youth can be a wonderfully dangerous thing.

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