Essentials: Entertainment Picks July 17-23 

THURSDAY JULY 17

Salt Lake Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is filled with romance, trickery and mystery. But his play is only the blueprint for the production by the University of Utah's Salt Lake Shakespeare. Using a bit of creative license, director Hugh Hanson emphasizes the whimsical elements of A Midsummer Night's Dream and uses inspiration from the tale of Alice in Wonderland to create an all-encompassing dream-like form of entertainment. Patrons also have the option of having a little dinner before their theater with the featured Picnic in the Plaza, where guests are invited to bring food, lay out a blanket on the grass and have a picnic before the show. (Camri Mecham)
Salt Lake Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream @ Babcock Theater, 1395 Presidents Circle, University of Utah, July 17-27, Thursdays & Fridays 7:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 & 7:30 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m., $8.50-$18, U of U students free with arts pass. Theatre.Utah.edu

FRIDAY JULY 18

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15th Street Gallery: Fahimeh Amiri
The works of Iranian-born artist Fahimeh Amiri often fuse ancient and traditional Persian deity and lore with the plight of Iranian women today. Yet Amiri's refined, stylized, symbol-driven, color-harmonizing and geometrically graphic canvases are not the kind that hits the viewer over the head with politics. Amiri's showing of 20 canvases at 15th Street Gallery is a break from demographics and sociology; it's an investigation through animated form into the everyday—well, almost. The canvases on display at 15th Street have a summery carousel of color, lucidity of line, and a fascination of formal shape and structural quality. And while they may deal with less-difficult, less-challenging subject matter than her more politically charged works, their delightful aesthetics make them a enjoyable treat. That said, Amiri is unable to resist incorporating her feelings on contemporary Iranian women into her subjects. In "Breeze" (pictured), the yellows range from deep papaya to bright lemon, and the blues from heavy cobalt to light turquoise. Lines form graphic, sweeping gestures, creating bold rhythms until the graceful subject is revealed—an Iranian woman. But her face is featureless and cast down, giving her a more universal character. While she wears a headdress, her clothes are full of color and her face is exposed. Yet there is despondency to her pose, and she sits in front of a curtained window. Has she truly found her liberty, or is she a domesticated woman? (Ehren Clark)
Fahimeh Amiri @ 15th Street Gallery, 1519 S. 1500 East, 801-468-1515, through Aug. 11, free. 15thStreetGallery.com

FRIDAY JULY 18

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Joe Rogan
Perhaps best known in the past for his hosting duties on Fear Factor—in which he regularly goaded people into eating things like animal testicles and live spiders—comic Joe Rogan is now probably better known for his popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experiment, in which he likes to question everything. It speaks to the comedian's wide-ranging interests that he can talk to just about anyone about pretty much anything. And these conversations aren't just simple interviews: Rogan's podcast routinely runs several hours, and might include both host and guest getting super high (he's a big advocate for recreational drug consumption) or fall-over drunk. He can chat with esteemed guests like author Sam Harris regarding atheism, with physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson waxing poetic about the cosmos, or with celebrity chef and travel writer Anthony Bourdain detailing the ins and outs of mixed martial arts. Rogan also provides color commentary on MMA for various outlets, and often turns the conversation in that direction, critiquing both the morality and the moves. But while Rogan has shown he can host extreme game shows, hold elaborate conversations with serious intellectual heavyweights and even act a little (in the television series NewsRadio), he's still first and foremost a comedian. He's been doing it for more than 20 years, and as aggressive and inquisitive as he is about the world on any one of his other entertainment platforms, he brings even more energy while standing on stage holding a microphone, poking fun at all those things that make his own life so interesting. (Jacob Stringer)
Joe Rogan @ Wiseguys West Valley, 2194 W. 3500 South, 801-463-2909, July 18-19, 7:30 & 10 p.m., $35. WiseguysComedy.com

FRIDAY JULY 18

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Spaces: Jarvis, Rice and Vincent
The title of the exhibit Spaces at Rio Gallery carries a double meaning: the spaces that separate us, and the spaces that connect us. The artists' works also span the spaces between varying artistic media. Weber State University grad Holly Jarvis, born in Oxfordshire, England, outlines the contours of a new landscape with her "digital paintings," which utilize collage, drawing, painting and digital materials. The collaged elements re-contextualize the works, and the spaces they evoke are highly personal ("The Tendency of Obstruction" is pictured). Andrew Rice uses oil sticks to create works on paper that inhabit the space connecting painting and drawing. Layers of color and texture accumulate to create an urban landscape in which visual richness is equated with social space. The act of viewing them places the audience in that social space, while allowing the ambivalence of distance. Based in color theory, the acrylics of Utah Valley University associate professor Marcus Vincent suggest architectural forms with their compositional shapes, as well as a kind of transcendence of physical space. They are the most dramatic of the three, due to their spontaneity. The three artists use the space of the Rio Gallery as well, to connect with each other and with the viewer. The dialogue these artists have constructed through their works is intriguing, and likely to spawn dialogues between viewers in that space. (Brian Staker)
Spaces: Jarvis, Rice and Vincent @ Rio Gallery, 300 S. Rio Grande St., 801-236-7555, July 18-Aug. 22, Gallery Stroll reception July 18, 6-9 p.m., free. ArtsandMuseums.Utah.gov

FRIDAY JULY 18

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Andrés Quintero Muñoz
Colombia may be known for growing some of the best coffee in the world, but the nation's coffee industry is also part of an entire culture—and Colombian photographer Andrés Quintero Muñoz has documented that culture, with his work on display at Mestizo Gallery. Plantations owned by them, and he captured every detail of the coffee growers' lives. After that, the federation expanded his project to document the circumstances of those in the wider cultural landscape around coffee production—and considering the importance of coffee to the nation's economy and culture, it's really the story of an entire people. Colombian history, traditions and folklore are all wrapped up in the coffee bean, and the story is engrossing. The exhibit will be open for the July 18 and Aug. 15 gallery strolls, 7 to 9 p.m. There will also be a Meet the Artist reception Tuesday, August 5, at 7 p.m. (Brian Staker)
Andrés Quintero Muñoz @ Mestizo Gallery, 631 W. North Temple, Suite 700, through Aug. 30, free. MestizoArts.org

SATURDAY JULY 19

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Urban Arts Festival
It's a pretty gutsy move to think that the city that hosts the successful and popular Utah Arts Festival needs another variation of an arts fest. Four years ago, Derek Dyer—executive director of the Utah Arts Alliance—made just such a move with the Urban Arts Festival, creating an event focusing specifically on local, emerging, edgy and contemporary art. "We want to show the works and artists that would not fit into a more traditional festival," Dyer says. "We are serving the artists that may lack the opportunity anywhere else to get their work out to the public as well as the public that wants to be moved by new thought-provoking art and music. ... We are not the biggest festival ... but what we provide is a really authentic and fun experience and I think that is why the festival has grown so quickly over the last four years." Originally located on Pierpont Avenue, the one-day gathering has found a new home at The Gateway, where it can better accommodate hundreds of exhibiting artists, live music and dance performances, a short film festival, kids art activities and live street art, not to mention a couple of beer gardens and skateboard competitions. "One of my favorite parts of the festival is the annual skate-deck art show," Dyer says. "We do an open call for artists to submit their work; all we ask is that they use a skate board as their canvas. I love seeing what comes in for the show." (Jacob Stringer)
Urban Arts Festival @ The Gateway, 82 S. Rio Grande St., July 19, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., free. UrbanArtsFest.org

SATURDAY JULY 19

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Maggie Stiefvater: Sinner
Fans of young-adult book series often latch on to characters that might not have been the original focus of the works. Over the course of the three books in her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Maggie Stiefvater centered the narrative about werewolves on the relationship between Grace and Sam. But the werewolf Cole St. Clair—introduced in the second book, Linger—now gets a showcase of his own. Sinner gives Stiefvater a chance to return to Cole, the one-time rock star who became a werewolf. He was nearly killed at the end of the third book in the trilogy, Forever, but was able to contact Isabel, the girl who once loved him. What happens when Cole is back in the public eye, and Cole and Isabel's paths cross once again? Places in the signing line will be reserved for those who purchase a copy of the book from The King's English Bookshop. (Scott Renshaw)
Maggie Stiefvater: Sinner @ The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, July 19, 7 p.m., free. KingsEnglish.com

SATURDAY JULY 19

Llama Fest
It is that time of year again to celebrate the South American animal that we all let pack around our hearts: the llama. The llamas at the 20th annual Llama Fest at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork will draw you in with their adorable personalities and their friendly desire to make your acquaintance, but there are many more reasons to stick around and celebrate. Vendors will be providing food inspired by the llama's homeland south of the border: nachos, empanadas, braised vegetables and more. There will be continuous live music played by bands such as The Desoto All Stars and Mid-Life Crisis—so don't eat too much of the delicious food if you want the ability to dance the night away. You can even take a little of Llama Fest home by purchasing a hand-crafted Andean item like a rug, shawl or carving. (Camri Mecham)
Llama Fest @ Krishna Temple, 311 W. 8500 South, Spanish Fork, 801-798-3559, July 19, 5 p.m., $1-$3. UtahValleyLlamas.com

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