Essentials: Entertainment Picks March 26-April 1 

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David Wolske: Vessels
"As a professional typographic designer, it's my job to bring visual clarity to other people's ideas and information," David Wolske says. It's true that he does this, but in bringing visual clarity to typographic design, Wolske is also an undisputed artist in his own right and a master in this field. Currently at Finch Lane Gallery, Wolske's work features what he does best: making the letters of words beautiful. Wolske creates text while also bringing it to new levels, creating an art form out of traditional typeset lettering and through his own invention. "Words are vessels that contain and transport thought, sentiments, opinions and convictions across time, space and cultures," Wolske says. In this show, he demonstrates his creation of an abstract language and an "isotype" technique, which he developed in 2012. By "isolating and layering the vertical, horizontal, diagonal and curved components," he says, he is able to focus on the structural components of the letters to encourage new readings. For example, "Vessel M-1," using only components of the letters W, O, R and D, registers as playful and exotic. "Vessel M-3" seems lush, rich and serene, where "Vessel No. 1" (pictured) feels enigmatic, kinetic and intense. It is surely the case that if Wolske's isotypes register so clearly, then there's much truth to his statement that "words are vessels." Moreover, he demonstrates that words are an art form that contain and transport ideas and meanings across color, shape and line. (Ehren Clark) David Wolske: Vessels @ Finch Lane Gallery, 1340 E. 100 South, 801-596-5000, through April 17, free.


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Brian Posehn
For nearly 20 years, Brian Posehn has been one of those comedians who seemed just on the verge of breaking big, appearing on TV shows like Mr. Show With Bob and David, Just Shoot Me and The Sarah Silverman Program. But the fact that he's hovered on the fringes seems like a perfect fit for a stage persona that has always been about his status as nerdy outsider. On his 2013 comedy CD, The Fartist, Posehn talks about limping his way into middle age. The guy who once joked that if he ever had a baby and talked about his baby onstage, you should "punch my baby," now realizes he'd like that baby to "remain unpunched for as long as possible." And he's self-aware about the rage that has grown within him over his once-beloved Star Wars movies: "I'm the old guy that loses his shit when that comes up. That's what my son's gonna have to hide from me: 'I was over at my friend's house and saw Phantom Menace. It wasn't that bad.'" (Scott Renshaw) Brian Posehn @ Wiseguys West Valley, 2194 W. 3500 South, 801-463-2909, March 27-28, 7:30 & 9:30, $20.


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Pioneer Theatre Company: I Hate Hamlet
Shakespeare's most famous creation, Hamlet, has traditionally been the top of the proverbial dramatic mountain. Playing a great Hamlet can make an actor's reputation; playing a bad one is ruination. What Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet presupposes is: What if an actor, cast as Hamlet, discovers he never really liked the role much, but is forced by the ghost of John Barrymore to go on? The play that unfolds is a sympathetic, if barbed, look at the life and crippling insecurity of the actor, with an (only slightly anachronistic) conflict set up between the true art an actor can create on the stage and the banal, bourgeois comforts of living in Los Angeles and acting on television. Pioneer Theatre Company's production is a fine one, and it succeeds in no small part through the excellent casting of its leads. As the erstwhile television star Andrew Rally, Ben Rosenbaum spends most of the play as the straight man to Barrymore, but still conveys the nuances of the character's (ultimately feigned) ambivalence toward the character of Hamlet. The show-stealer, in the flashier yet just as layered role, is Barrymore, played to hammy perfection by J. Paul Boehmer. Since one of the play's subtler and more profound points turns out to be that hamming it up is harder than it looks, it does the production much good for the role to be played with such care, sensitivity and skill. (Danny Bowes) I Hate Hamlet @ Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, March 20-April 4, Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; $25-$38.



Salt Lake City International Tattoo Convention
Over the past 20 years or so, more people around the world have come to embrace tattooing as a legitimate, challenging art form. Once a mark of deviancy, tattoos have slowly crept into mainstream social consciousness and are evolving into an acceptable form of self-expression. This shifting acceptance has opened doors for the tattooed community in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City International Tattoo Convention will be back for its 12th year at the Salt Palace Convention Center, bringing together approximately 400 of the world's elite tattoo artists along with an anticipated 5,000 tattoo enthusiasts. The convention is a great opportunity for Utah residents to get inked by artists from as far away as Japan. Also, because many of the artists are good friends and close colleagues, the convention allows them to share new ideas and techniques they've developed over the past year. There will be two new art shows featured this year. One (pictured) features the work of Jeromey "Tilt" McCullough from Champaign, Ill., who has spent the past five years painting 100 back-piece designs, all of which will be displayed. Additionally, Art DeckCo is a company that works with talented artists from around the world to create unique, hand-painted skateboard decks. They will showcase around 500 different skateboards this year. Participating artists will be awarded each day for the day's outstanding achievement in certain categories, such as best portrait, best color and best tattoo. (Shawna Meyer) Salt Lake City International Tattoo Convention @ Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple, 385-468-2222, March 27, 3-11 p.m.; March 28, noon-10 p.m.; March 29, noon-8 p.m., single-day ticket $20, three-day pass $40, age 12-17 $5, under 12 free.


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Daniel P. Beard: Deadbeat Dams
Ken Sanders, owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books, has a reputation for being a bit countercultural. Among his friends, Sanders counted the late author/environmentalist Edward Abbey, whose monkey-wrenching stunts often targeted development in Southern Utah, such as the Glen Canyon Dam. So it is no surprise that Sanders' bookstore will host a reading of a book titled Deadbeat Dams: Why We Should Abolish the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Tear Down Glen Canyon Dam. The surprising part is the author's own background. Far from being a monkey-wrencher, Daniel P. Beard has held powerful positions in the U.S. government. He served as deputy assistant secretary for the Department of the Interior, as staff director for the Water & Power Subcommittee and, in 1993, became commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. From the beginning of his tenure, Beard's relationship with the Bureau of Reclamation was unconventional. In an interview conducted during his service at the bureau by the branch's senior historian, Beard openly addressed his concerns about the government's management of water. "The dam-building era is over in the United States," he declared. "Frankly, they've had a lot of unintended, unanticipated, negative impacts." By the time Beard left the bureau in 1995, he had significantly shrunk the agency, giving increased decision-making authority to local-level field personnel. At a time of rising concern over drought in the West, and when conservative politicians are demanding less government, Beard's reading of Deadbeat Dams will be an interesting alternative take on how limited government might lead to better policy-making. (Katherine Pioli) Daniel P. Beard: Deadbeat Dams @ Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 S. 200 East, 801-521-3819, March 31, 7 p.m., free.

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