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 Prolific Scribe
Shannon Hale

Award-winning Utah author Shannon Hale’s released her latest book, graphic novel Calamity Jack, back in January and has no books set for release until 2012, but she’s stayed busy: On her blog she tackles censorship, book-rating systems, morals in literature and more, inviting fellow authors, librarians, parents and readers to join in the discussion. Hale dissects the controversial issues with tact, but is frank in expressing her own opinions, giving readers plenty of food for thought about the changing landscape of literature. Oh, and Hale crafts these blog posts while working on two novels, caring for two young children and being pregnant with twins.

Best P(art)ies
The Utah Pickle Factory

Sipping wine from a plastic cup—or straight from the bottle—in one of Salt Lake City’s most inspiring artist hives feels cosmopolitan, but not fancy; the setting from rafters to floors is gritty. The 14,000-square-foot brick structure in the industrial Granary District of west downtown is filled with designers, painters and sculptors and their wild imaginations set to cloth, canvas and clay. The mostly young crowd at open houses at The Utah Pickle Factory, formerly known as the Pickle Company, gets to interact with the artists in their place of work—sometimes in the piece of work for large installations. For young—or just fun—people who feel constricted in stuffier SLC galleries, the Pickle Factory is a way to explore local art without feeling embarrassed that you brought your own tall-boy PBR.

Best Iron Comic

Probably no single local entertainer has ever worked as hard as Marcus did to just fill a room in May 2010—he was a comic on a mission, and that mission was to film a stand-up special in front of a jam-packed Kingsbury Hall. Despite several weeks of tireless promotion in every last cranny of local media, he didn’t quite fill every seat, but the cameras rolled on The Hand That Feeds (a self-financed comedy concert special Marcus would then pitch for a TV network slot) nonetheless. Even after shooting the marathon three-hours-plus performance of jokes, stories and observations, Marcus still greeted fans and signed autographs afterward, and then hosted an after-party. The Hand That Feeds will be released on DVD and available for downloading in October.

Best Drunken Movie Podcast
Groundbreaking Shit!

It may not be technically “groundbreaking” (who doesn’t have a flick-critique podcast anymore?), but few Utah-produced shows are as funny as Groundbreaking Shit!. Hosts Lydia, Matt and Nichole drink, curse, giggle, drink some more, pontificate and occasionally even offer some spot-on criticisms of movies new and old, as well as director vs. director face-offs (pretty sure no one’s ever done Spike Jonze vs. Sofia Coppola before). It’s even entertaining if the listener is sober—if you’re into that.

Best Primate Painting

Four primates that painted as a hobby made the leap to a public show in July and August 2010. Working with local artists, the Hogle Zoo orangutans—Talukan, Elijah, Eve and Acara—painted more than 30 pieces that were displayed at the Foothill-Anderson branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library system. The paintings were auctioned off to raise money for the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Foundation, which is trying to preserve orangutan habitat in Borneo that is threatened by, primarily, deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations. 2600 Sunnyside Ave., 801-582-1631,

Best Canceled Art Program
YouthCity Artways

Budget shortfalls in Salt Lake City forced the cancellation of the popular youth arts program, YouthCity Artways. The program served many age groups, was especially adept at introducing young children to art through classes that were, well, fun. They also partnered with area schools to bring arts education into the classroom. Now, the task of introducing children to art will be left to the Salt Lake City Arts Council, which will receive grant money to target more at-risk populations. It’s an admirable goal, but the beauty of YouthCity Artways was that it targeted the whole population.

Best Watercolor Photographs
Stephen Speckman,
Using photographic tricks that don’t include the word “Photoshop,” Speckman creates landscape photography that has the hazy colors of Impressionist watercolors. His pictures are primarily of notable northern Utah landmarks, such as the “Spiral Jetty.” The best of the exhibit, which can be found at Utah Artists Hands, is “Antelope Island Bison.” In that picture, the bison are shrouded in a haze of muted tones that suggests “cold, windy day.”

Best Sister Act
Jennifer Joan Thompson and Kelly Hutchinson,
tricks the audience into accepting too quickly a basic motif: Kay (Jennifer Joan Thompson) as the frantically responsible and professional sister, and Emma (Kelly Hutchinson) as Kay’s schizophrenic and institutionalized sister. Hutchinson convincingly takes Kay from medicated zombie to an off-her-meds holistic-health superstar—securing laughs in each form—while Thompson’s performance slowly dropped clues of Kay’s own subtle neuroses. Thompson and Hutchinson’s sister act reveals the think-big questions that are the precious gems of Bess Wohl’s script, which would be lost entirely but for the skills of talented actors who deftly portray the blurry line between crazy, and not.

Best Therapeutic Art
River of Life
For hundreds of women of Murray’s Center for Women and Children—a Volunteer of America detoxification center—fighting addiction and homelessness is a painful struggle. For some, however, art has become a way to express where they’ve come from and where they’re going. In August, the women and their children unveiled a collaborative mural titled “River of Life,” depicting a river running past caricatures of storm clouds and volcanoes and on to sunnier, idyllic settings where the women and their children emerge into the light of a new day. It’s a good reminder of the cathartic power of art to express, heal and bring people—especially families—together. 697 W. 4170 South, 801-261-9177,

Best Salt Shake-Up
Levi Jackson’s ReIntroduction

Levi Jackson’s work rubs salt into old wounds, taking an old ecological disaster and reinterpreting it in an aesthetically beautiful way. Jackson revisits the Cainesville Wash, where an uncapped oil well from the ’50s leaked saline and cut a giant scar into the desert. Jackson, a Brigham Young University sculpture student, arranged 25 transparent containers filled with a combined ton of salt adjacent to the site of the disaster east of Capitol Reef National Park. He then photographed the piece and took it all down again—a piece that’s not only art but a gesture at reconciliation between environment and the recklessness of industry.

Best Local Zombie Studio
Ritual Pictures

For Russ Adams, there’s an appeal to making medieval zombie movies. Mainly, you don’t waste time having to explain the hows and whys of a zombie incursion, and instead just drop the undead into a frightened culture. Ritual Pictures’ latest production-in-the-works, The Light of Daigh, plays off of medieval plague hysteria by making the dead chase after the living and enjoy a bloody feast of the peasants who haven’t kept up on their cardio. This little studio that could is looking for donations to get this feature up and running, and could use patrons of the zombie arts for help.

Best Familiar Horrors
Grant Fuhst

There’s something oddly familiar about Grant Fuhst’s works—somehow this artist committed to canvas an image pulled right from a surreal dream that sticks to you as you wake up and leaves you shaking your head—like his “The Deathbird,” an homage to a Harlan Ellison short story, where the main figure poses like a bishop from a classical painting but with the face of nightmarish hawk; or “Rocket Girl,” where the half-naked heroine rests against a lunar terrain, staring into the viewer’s eyes. Fuhst’s striking works remain a mainstay at the Poor Yorick studios for being both expertly crafted as well as just creepily familiar, even if on a subconscious level. Poor Yorick Studios, 126 W. Crystal Avenue, 801-759-8681

Best Theater for the Great Recession
Utah Contemporary Theatre

When it comes to supporting the arts, there’s what we wish we could do financially, and there’s what the realities of the current economy permit us to do. But in a bold and visionary gesture, Utah Contemporary Theatre decided it would try to support us. Beginning with April’s production of Talking Wales: Finding Sir Formidor, UCT became Utah’s first all-free, all-the-time professional theater company. Donations are happily welcomed at performances, as are opportunities to buy T-shirts and the like. When artists take a chance on providing unique, original work without the promise of seeing a dime, it’s a remarkable act of faith.

Best Departures
Utah Symphony

It’s been an emotional year at the Utah Symphony: Keith Lockhart, music director of the symphony since 1998, departed on a resoundingly high note after completing the “Mahler cycle” by conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor. Taking the baton from him is Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer, from whom we notice another “departure”—away from the tried and true. The rich and varied 2010-11 season (which includes “first” compositions from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) signals Fischer’s determination to enrich the symphony’s repertoire with more challenging and lesser-known works. Following the symphony’s lively Deer Valley Music Festival that this summer featured Ben Folds, Randy Travis, and the music of Led Zeppelin, the orchestra will take a weeklong tour of southern Utah in September. Catch Fischer while he’s spanking new and giving his best juice to a willing orchestra. 123 W. South Temple, 801-533-5626,

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