Artys 2010 | Artys | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Artys 2010 

Celebrating Utah's Arts: The best in local theater, dance, art & more.

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Best Not-Just-a-Twilight-Ripoff
The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain

True, the premise—a teen girl’s romantic attraction to a mysterious, dangerous, possibly supernatural bad-boy—instantly inspired comparisons to the Twilight series. And author Bree Despain certainly capitalized on that connection with a promotional event during the opening weekend for the film version of New Moon. Yet Utah author Despain’s debut novel proved harder to pigeonhole than that, providing a quirky and effective spin on the “prodigal son” parable. And the ranks of Utah’s talented young-adult novelist cohort continue to grow.

Best Multitasker
David Ivers, Utah Shakespearean Festival

Actor/director Ivers could have been forgiven for taking it easy during this past year before he takes over as co-artistic director for the Utah Shakespearean Festival on Jan. 1 (alongside fellow fest-fave Brian Vaughn). But instead, he spent the summer delivering a couple of mesmerizing performances. In Much Ado About Nothing, Ivers’ Benedick is an anti-marriage wiseass whose speeches and physical contortions had audiences roaring. Ivers’ sense of comic timing was undeniable doing Shakespeare, and his multiple roles in Hitchcock spoof The 39 Steps further proved his ability to bring the funny as he manically switched costumes and accents in filling dozens of parts.

Best Use of Crowd Sourcing
Philip Jones,
Worlds of the Crystal Moon: World of Grayham
According to Wikipedia—the Internet’s most reliable source of information—crowd sourcing is “the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve ... goals.” Fantasy author Phillip Jones has redefined reader feedback when he crowd sourced his latest edition of the Worlds of the Crystal Moon: World of Grayham. Jones solicited his readers to help write the fantasy novel and develop characters using Web 2.0 technologies like Facebook. With a little help from his Internet friends, Worlds of the Crystal Moon has become a phenomenon, where anyone in any world can help create this story. How’s that for fantasy?

Best Supporter of Comedy in Utah
Keith Stubbs

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger supporter of local comedy than Stubbs. The owner of all four Wiseguys Comedy Cafés, Stubbs works tirelessly, not only to pursue his own stand-up career, but also to promote Utah comics and bring big-name touring comedians to the area. Since the West Valley City location opened its doors in 2001, many Utah comics such as Marcus, Bengt Washburn and Ryan Hamilton have used Wiseguys as a launching pad to successful careers in stand-up, and have had the opportunity to share the stage with some comedic legends, which would not have been possible without Stubbs.

Best Summer Arts Investment for Kids
U of U Youth Theater School for Youth summer camp

Over a succession of balmy June evenings, child graduates of the University of Utah’s Theatre School for Youth two-week summer camp, directed by the wonderfully energetic and inspired Penelope Caywood, put on a series of shows at Kingsbury Hall to demonstrate all they had learned. Whether it was reciting Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet, performing in a musical about how hard it is to make friends or more somber, message-driven fare, the energy and drive of the young thespians was achingly clear. At the end of each evening, all the kids got up onstage and rousingly sang the camp’s theme song, swaying and holding hands, faces wide with beaming smiles as they belted out how much they love Youth Theatre.

Best Biblio-dick
Ken Sanders

It’s one thing to be a well-known and respected rare-book dealer in your hometown. It’s quite another to be a book dealer who becomes a central character in a nonfiction book. That’s Ken Sanders’ “storied” life for you. In The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, Allison Hoover Bartlett tells the true story of rare-book thief John Charles Gilkey and of a dealer (Ken “Biblio-dick” Sanders) who dons a detective’s hat to track him down. It’s hard to tell who loved books more: the obsessive thief or the obsessive detective. But the happy ending came when Sanders got to host the author and sell her books from his own bookstore. 268 S. 200 East,

Best Dash of Salt
New Utah Museum of Fine Arts Executive Director Gretchen Dietrich and curator Jill Dawsey made the Utah art scene a little more globally savvy with the introduction of UMFA’s salt, a new semi-annual series of exhibitions designed to showcase work by emerging artists from around the world. The first show, concurrent with the Las Artes de Mexico show, featured the works of Mexico City artist Adriana Lara. Lara’s work “takes the exhibition format itself as an object of inquiry, arranging objects in unexpected, sometimes humorous configurations.” For her UMFA show, that meant the banana peel on the floor of the gallery wasn’t some loose garbage, but a part of the show placed there each day, and the roll of toilet paper on top of a glass case wasn’t an accident either.

Best Blonde Utahn Turned Mexican Muralist
Pablo O’Higgins: Works on Paper
Pablo O’Higgins is a virtual unknown in his home state of Utah, but he’s beloved by the working class of Mexico, thanks to his paintings, sketches and murals depicting that same working class as heroes of the Mexican revolution. Despite a conservative upbringing in the Liberty Park neighborhood, O’Higgins lit out for Mexico City when he turned 20 and ended up apprenticing for Diego Rivera. He eventually become a prominent communist artist, traveling to Russia and landing on a deportation list of the Mexican government during the ’50s. UMFA’s Pablo O’Higgins: Works on Paper showcased a series of lithographs of his beloved rural Mexican workers and farmers, and reintroduced Utah to one of its forgotten, yet noteworthy, sons.

Best Bizarro Gallery
Stolen & Escaped

Located in the basement space below Frosty Darling, the cozy (read: very tiny) Stolen & Escaped gallery opened during the July 2010 gallery stroll with the aptly named My Awesome Art Show. The colorful and offbeat presentation included works by Kelly Peterson (“Animals of Destruction” depicted attacking various sea and air transports), Dave Hurtado (small robots fashioned from electronics leftovers, pictured left) and 10-year-old Kinny Blandford (“Roadkill Peanuts,” the hit of the night). For a funny, left-of-center distraction, Stolen & Escaped is the place to hit during gallery stroll. 177 E. 300 South,

Best New Voyeurist
Victoria Elena Nones

Nones couldn’t ask for a juicier role for her Salt Lake Acting Company debut than Mama Bear/political “maverick”/Republican loudmouth Sarah Palin. Not only did Nones get every Palinesque wink and wave just right, her bombastic pipes and bawdy stage presence made her a Saturday’s Voyeur highlight in a year when there was plenty of competition, thanks to the foibles of Kevin Garn and Sheldon Killpack. And if you want to hear someone bring down the house doing karaoke like no amateur is capable of, find out the next time Nones is taking the stage at Jam.

Best Place to Get Consignment Art
Home Again

Walking into Home Again in Sugar House is like finding the cave of wonders. A path winds through the furniture, antiques, paintings and other treasures that cover nearly every inch of floor and wall space. For the past 11 years, locals have been consigning their artwork here. So much inventory was coming from the south valley that, in 2007, owner Emily Larsen opened a second location in Midvale. The historic buildings both stores are housed in, the variety of art you can find and the friendly staff all add to a wonderful experience that beckons you to return for more hunting. 1019 E. 2100 South, 801-487-4668; 7490 Holden St., Midvale, 801-255-5457

Best Environmental Art
Reawakened Beauty: Tillman Crane’s Jordan River Photographs
Salt Lake Valley’s Jordan River provided a meeting point for art and environmentalism in Tillman Crane’s exhibition at the Salt Lake Art Center. Of the photographer’s collection of 30 palladium black & white prints, nine were made mural size and went on the road to introduce K-12 students to the human and natural history of the Jordan River. The Center for Documentary Arts created a 32-page educational catalog to accompany the traveling exhibit. When it arrived at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center close to the river, it made for the perfect opportunity for the ARTrageous education program to give kids a true hands-on experience. Not only did they experience the exhibit, they then walked to the river and collected samples to take back and use in their own art project about the river.,

Best Unconventional Space for Unconventional Exhibits
Garfo at the Visual Art Institute

Tucked into the quiet residential neighborhood north of Sugar House Park, the old Garfield School had fallen into disrepair before it was adopted by the Visual Art Institute after-school arts program. Its exhibitional counterpart, Garfo Gallery, has for more than a year offered challenging art openings like Containment (using the human figure as “container”) and Friends of Friends, in which artists referred other artist friends to display. The results have been an always-intriguing mix of the best local artists, as well as national and international up-and-comers. 1838 S. 1500 East.

Best Theater Director for the Flower-Child Revival
Randy Barton

How appropriate that when the times got harsh for Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, the board, in May 2009, brought in an uber-local boy instead of a big-city theater guru to save the day. Randy Barton, the afternoon host of KPCW’s The Local View and founder of nonprofit Mountain Town Stages, seems to have a feel for what motivates the aging ski bums who comprise the Park City arts patronage to support local theater: sex, drugs and rock & roll. Hence, the success of Egyptian's production of Hair and hosting of Reefer Madness, a production of Dark Horse Theatre Company. More and more, the theater is the gathering spot for large and small shows, from stand-up comedy to cabarets and touring performances; Barton’s mad impresario skills seem to be keeping the lights on and the crowds coming back for more. Not too bad for the guy who founded the Sconecutter chain.

Best Place to Get Framed
Signed & Numbered

Locally owned and operated, Signed & Numbered not only sells one-of-a-kind art and screen-print posters—many of which are on consignment from Utah artists—but also has amazing prices for custom framing. The staff is friendly, and its stock is constantly being updated. Owner/artist Leia Bell manages the eclectic inventory, while her husband, Phil Sherburne, former owner of Kilby Court, manufactures the frames from raw and reclaimed wood. This allows Signed & Numbered to charge much less for its materials and labor than any big-box frame store. Why go anywhere else? 2105 E. 2100 South, 801-596-2093,

Best Celebrity Non-Sighting at Sundance
Banksy graffiti artist

With the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, about the infamous, unrecognizable graffiti artist Banksy, opening at Sundance this year, the buzz soon became almost less about whether the artistic prankster would unmask himself than whether the stenciled images that started turning up on walls around Park City and even Salt Lake City were genuine Banksy works. As critical word on the film spread like similar aesthetic wildfire, the impression became that, as fascinating as the pieces were, they shed as little light on this mysterious figure as the playfully rendered film.

Best Kindle-Killer
Marriott Library Book Arts Program

E-book sales are on the rise, but tangible, bound books still possess qualities that can’t be replicated in a digital device. The Book Arts Program at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library has been championing the beauty and tradition of books since 1995, hosting semester-length classes and weekend workshops on binding, letterpress, engraving and other aspects of book design and production. Whether you have shelves of cherished, well-worn tomes at home or are looking for yet another artistic outlet, the Book Arts Program is sure to inspire and increase your appreciation of books. Marriott Library, Fourth Floor, 295 S. 1500 East, 801-585-9191

Best Unscripted Asides
John Terry, University of Utah Theatre Department’s
The Rocky Horror Show
Don’t envy an actor who plays Frank N. Furter, the larger-than-life transsexual from Transylvania in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show. One minute you have a devotee shouting obscenities practiced a hundred times at late-night showings of the film version, and the next you have another devotee shouting another obscenity, or three shouting different things. As the lead performer, you’ve got to keep the play on track, but you can’t ignore the hecklers; shouting at the performers is part of Rocky Horror’s magic, on screen or stage. Terry was comfortably able to respond to most all of the heckles and outbursts without losing a step, or the pace of the script. Terry’s athleticism also made for a very limber and energetic Frank—which made the fishnets and heels all the more arousing.

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