Essentials: A&E Picks Oct. 24-30 

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THURSDAY OCT. 24

Andy White: Art by God

Histories of Western and Eastern civilization are grounded in the tradition of a universal God who is eternal, omnipotent and omniscient, the alpha and omega. An exhibition at The Gallery at Library Square offers an alternative, humanly accessible appreciation of God, however that concept might dwell in the viewer’s mind. Art by God, curated by English artist Andy White, takes a reverential tone, as universality is found not in grandiosity, but by inspecting what might be the imprint of God found in the magnificence of the natural world: rock, oak leaves, lichen, cattails, mushrooms, mudflats, salt flats, coral skeletons, snails and much more. A plaque with “Shrooms” reads, “The complete organism includes many feet, if not miles, of thin thread-like structures called hyphae that absorb nutrients and make up most of the organism’s mass.” The caption with “Fox Tail” reads, “Watch it change with the seasons as it is one of god’s performance pieces that happens at a rate the patient among us can appreciate.” Many individual objects were chosen for “our frequent failure to stop and observe,” reads White’s artist statement. Also included are “a river’s standing wave, alpenglow moving across a mountain front, a ribbon of thousands of birds.” Viewers attuned to nature’s ephemera will also find moments that resonate on a grander scale. A wave inspires wonders of life-giving sustenance of our planet; fragmented nature may lead to contemplating the awesomeness of the universe. Ribbons of birds signify vastness and complexity of life’s ecosystems. With a holistic perspective, one may gain a greater and profound appreciation for life’s gifts. (Ehren Clark)
The Gallery at Library Square, 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, through Oct. 31, free. SLCPL.org/events/view/2414/

Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead, or Diá de los Muertos, is a holiday of Mexican origin that honors the souls of those who have passed on. Unlike Halloween, which focuses on fright, Diá de los Muertos—traditionally observed Nov. 1 and 2, intertwined with All Saints Day and All Souls Day in Roman Catholicism—is about people paying homage to their dearly departed with traditional crafts, altars and offerings. The Urban Arts Gallery, opened in The Gateway by the nonprofit Utah Arts Alliance earlier this year, launched its Day of the Dead show for Gallery Stroll on Oct. 18, and the show extends through the “spirited” holidays and into early fall, the former storefront being adapted for the seemingly somber theme. The show features art created by some of the most idiosyncratic local artists. Jeremy Herridge first made a name for himself founding the now-defunct Unknown Gallery on 200 South, which showed some of the most progressive emerging artwork in town, including his own. Tia Sheppard teaches printmaking at Saltgrass Printmakers, and her work has a cartoonish, pop-art sensibility. Isaac Hastings has been a standout at the past few Poor Yorick Studios openings, with his art based around knots in wood. Renee and Todd Keith are two of the area’s foremost photographers. Altogether, 10 artists are taking on the theme, in one of the most dynamic and accessible new art facilities in town. (Brian Staker)
Urban Arts Gallery, The Gateway, 137 S. Rio Grande St., 801-510-0827, through Nov. 10, free. UtahArts.org/locations/urban-arts-gallery

Plan-B Theatre Company: Nothing Personal
In the long-ago year of 1994, then-President Bill Clinton fell under a cloud of allegations regarding his involvement in a failed Arkansas business venture called Whitewater Development Corporation. As part of the sprawling investigation into Clinton’s possible pressuring of a savings & loan to lend money to Whitewater co-owner Susan McDougal, special investigator Kenneth Starr subpoenaed McDougal to testify against Clinton. And when McDougal refused, she was imprisoned for contempt of court for 18 months. Nothing Personal—the first production in a full season of Plan-B Theatre Company plays by Eric Samuelsen—finds the playwright exploring themes inspired by these real-life events. The narrative expands into more contemporary ideas of trampled civil liberties in the name of some nebulous sense of the “public good, as well as the claiming of moral high ground that feels lower with each subsequent abuse of power. (Scott Renshaw)
Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Oct. 24-Nov. 3, Thursdays & Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m., $10 students, $20 general admission. PlanBTheatre.org, ArtTix.org

Rick Becker
Kudu: Gifts & Decor From Africa is far more than just a gift shop; it’s an art gallery like none other in Salt Lake City. Besides the work by local artists that owner and director Susan Clissold shows monthly, the gallery is a wonderland of art objects handmade and imported from Africa. All bear the mark of African free-spiritedness; art that’s alive with expressive features as natural form meets human function. The African artists represented here may choose to create brightly colored and masterfully woven baskets, cheerfully colorful glazed porcelain dishes or lovingly created nativity-scene figures made of felt and beads. This is a manifestation of the spirit of African art. This month, featured artist Rick Becker takes the viewer via his canvases to the places where these objects might be originally handcrafted. The scenes are beautifully rustic, with a certain untamed ambiance that can cause viewers to feel as if they’re in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and not the American West. (Ehren Clark)
Kudu: Gifts & Decor From Africa, 2155 E. 2100 South, 801-583-5838, through Oct. 31, free. Facebook.com/KuduAfricanArt


FRIDAY OCT. 25

Pioneer Theatre Company: Other Desert Cities

“Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own unique way” goes the legendary Leo Tolstoy quote—yet sometimes dysfunctional family drama has a sameness that doesn’t always make it feel that way. The 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama by Jon Robin Baitz strengthens Tolstoy’s 150-year-old argument with the story of a California clan divided by politics and long-buried secrets. The title comes from a California freeway sign near the Palm Springs home of Lyman and Polly Wyeth, a pair of staunch Reagan-era conservatives. Visiting for the 2004 Christmas holidays are Polly’s liberal sister, Silda, as well as Polly and Lyman’s somewhat estranged daughter, Brooke. And Brooke is about to bring news that’s hardly a Christmas present: She intends to write a tell-all book about the life and suicide of her brother, Henry, a one-time ’60s radical. It’s an exploration of the disconnect between the way our families are and the way we like to imagine them. (Scott Renshaw)
Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, Monday-Saturday, Oct. 25-Nov. 9, see website for times, $25-$49. PioneerTheatre.org

SB Dance: Of Meat & Marrow
Decorate a stage in chain-link fences and a band in orange one-piece jumpsuits, and any production will successfully have an underground institutional feel; think something between a dilapidated mental hospital and a dingy, walled-off prison. That’s a perfect aesthetic for what SB Dance figures to be an artistically sordid adult option for celebrating All Hallows Eve. Of Meat & Marrow is a “rock opera dance circus” with a storyline blurring the lines between life and the afterlife. An evening-length work created with local rock outfit Totem & Taboo, Of Meat & Marrow features typical SB Dance material: cadaver tables, giant jacks, glistening naked bodies and more rockin’ noise then you’d usually expect to hear at a modern-dance performance. The company’s original summer 2012 performance was a smashing success, and founder/director Stephen Brown wished to bring it back. Brown says there are several new sections, new art and a redesigned sound mix. Then, of course, there’s also the new & improved human cannonball and the guarantee that it’s “30 percent sexier, sicker and sillier than the competition.” Knowing Brown and his cohorts’ willingness to push boundaries, 30 percent seems like a rather humble representation. With a movement vocabulary that combines the passion and energy of precision lines with the flip-flopping of dead-weight bodies, Of Meat & Marrow is a variation on the same captivating tension between the beautiful and grotesque that has always been artistic fodder for SB Dance. (Jacob Stringer)
Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Oct. 25-26, 8 p.m.; Oct. 27, 4 p.m., $20-$27.50. SBDance.com, ArtTix.org

Alex Caldiero: Sonosuono
When poet, polyartist and scholar Alex Caldiero steps onto a stage to do a reading/performance, you can never be quite sure what will happen. Often, it will be odd sounds augmented with strange inflection; other times there will be actual words, although in which language is always up for debate. But one thing is for sure: When Caldiero does open his mouth, what emerges is profound. Born in Sicily and raised in Brooklyn long before it was hipster-cool, Caldiero now teaches as artist in residence in the Department of Philosophy & Humanities at Utah Valley University. His newest poetry collection, Sonosuono, according to Caldiero, comes from the Italian word “for ‘I am sound/tone’ or ‘I am the play of music.’ It refers to the main thread of the work, which deals with language at its origin and the loss of language in a culture.” By exploring the roots and evolution of language, he’s also able to explore the importance of family history, and a fluctuating sense of home. (Jacob Stringer)
Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 S. 200 East, 801-521-3819, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., free. KenSandersBooks.com


SATURDAY OCT. 26

Michael Spurgeon: Let the Water Hold Me Down

It was one youthful decision in 1993—to move to Chiapas and not Chile, because Mexico was closer—that 20 years later led to Michael Spurgeon’s first novel, Let the Water Hold Me Down. If great stories are indeed those of loyalty and love during turbulent times, Sturgeon’s novel is perfectly set. Influenced by his own first-hand experiences of the Zapatista revolution, Sturgeon’s novel follows Hank, a young ex-pat who flees home after a family tragedy and settles into a new life in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. There he finds new love just as the community around him falls into a revolution. Spurgeon may be new to the fiction world, but with two collections of poems already in print, he promises a refreshing new handling of word and emotion. In fact, reviewers are already comparing his debut novel to works by Ernest Hemingway. Salt Lakers will have a chance to hear this new voice of talent at The King’s English Bookshop on Saturday. (Katherine Pioli)
The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, Oct. 26, 2 p.m., free. KingsEnglish.com


WEDNESDAY OCT. 30

Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The 2013-14 Jazz season, which starts Wednesday night at home against Oklahoma City, might best be thought of as Utah’s “Shawshank Season.” What Andy Dufresne had to go through in The Shawshank Redemption to escape from prison resembles what Utah may have to endure to break out of being a middle-of-the-road team. Andy had to go crawl through 500 yards of foulness-filled drainpipe to emerge free; the Jazz may have to crawl through a stomach-churning 50 or more losses this season to emerge in spring 2014 as a team with a chance to be elite. Enduring the drainpipe of bottoming out and then rebuilding with youth is the only way to glory for a small-market team in the 21st-century NBA. Everyone seemed to know that during the past two seasons—except Jazz management and coaches, as they tried to get their sentence at a pretty good prison shortened on grounds of good behavior by saying, “Look at us, we’re not too shabby!” Utah will have to crawl through its sewage-pipe season with a young, inexperienced starting lineup and a bench full of “Is he still in the NBA?” guys whose main value is their expiring contracts. However, the light at the end of the tunnel next spring is the Jazz being a team with a core of potentially talented young players with a season of experience under their belts, multiple picks in a loaded 2014 draft and tons of salary cap space to work with. Young stars like Gordon Hayward could also lead to pleasant surprises, but if not, take heart: There’s potential redemption on the other side. (Geoff Griffin)
EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 801-325-7328, Oct. 30, 7 p.m., $20-$256. UtahJazz.com

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Galleries

Spring City Ladies

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Mondays-Fridays. Continues through Dec. 23

Theater

Plan-B Theatre Company: Christmas With Misfits

Rose Wagner Center

Thu., Dec. 11, 8 p.m., Fri., Dec. 12, 8 p.m., Sat., Dec. 13, 4 & 8 p.m., Sun., Dec. 14, 2 p.m., Thu., Dec. 18, 8 p.m., Fri., Dec. 19, 8 p.m., Sat., Dec. 20, 4 & 8 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 21, 2 p.m. / $20

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