Artys 2011: Staff Choice | Artys | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Artys 2011: Staff Choice 

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The Working Dog

Literature is usually created and enjoyed in solitude, so it’s nice when an event brings writers and their audience together, especially when it gives said audience a glance at some of the best up-and-coming writing talent in the country. The students of the University of Utah’s English graduate program host The Working Dog, a free and open-to-the public reading series at the Art Barn. You never know quite what to expect at a Working Dog reading. You may hear avant-garde poetry followed by an excerpt from a novel, a humorous essay or even an experimental short story. Whatever the case, it’s sure to be an experience. 1340 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City

Ginger Bess, Pioneer Theatre Company’s
“Seasons of Love”—the beloved second-act opener from Jonathan Larson’s Rent—is already the kind of familiar show tune likely to bring the house down. But there was a particular electrifying buzz in Pioneer Theatre Company’s production when ensemble member Ginger Bess—who also shone this season in Dark Horse Theatre Company’s production of Larson’s tick, tick … BOOM!—took her solo. Tearing into the part with feverish emotion, Bess closed with the kind of sustained note that leaves an audience breathless and remembering they’ve seen something truly special.

Emily Wing Smith,
Back When You Were Easier to Love
There’s nothing groundbreaking about the idea of a brokenhearted teenager lamenting the end of a first serious relationship. But Emily Wing Smith takes that familiar territory and makes it uniquely poignant, avoiding melodramatic moping to tell the story of Joy, a high school student whose quest for closure sends her on a road trip to find the boyfriend who left her behind to go to college. Finding particular insight into the minds of teens who allow their young romances to define them, Wing Smith adds another fresh, funny and wonderfully authentic volume to Utah’s growing library of great young-adult fiction.

Dustin Bolt,
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Salt Lake Acting Company has thrown itself into a mission of providing an annual family-friendly production during the holiday season, but you rarely see a stage performer throw himself into a role with the kind of delightful physical abandon demonstrated by Dustin Bolt. Playing the titular rodent in the adaptation of Laura Numeroff’s popular picture book—which finds the increasingly demanding creature befriending a schoolboy (Michael Gardner) one lazy afternoon—Bolt acts out comic-book adventures and demonstrates a crazy dance montage with the kind of energy that entertains audiences of all ages. It’s the kind of performance that deserves more than just a cookie.


The Salty Horror Film Festival

Sometimes Utah is creepy because there are folks who like it that way. In November 2010, the Salty Horror Film Festival made its debut, providing a showcase for more than two dozen features and short films dedicated to the macabre, disturbing, frightening and sometimes just plain gross. A couple of filmmakers known for their LDS-themed work—Richard Dutcher and Ryan Little—showed off their darker side, and featured guests included comic-book artist and 30 Days of Night co-creator Ben Templesmith. For three days, those who love horror films got to revel in genre delights; they scare because they care.


Salt Lake Comedy Festival

Everyone’s hectic life needs the occasional dose of humor. But there’s no need to be passive about waiting for the comedy to come to you when you can learn how to help provide it. X96 radio producer and local performer Richie Steadman took his love of comedy to the next level with June 2011’s Salt Lake Comedy Festival—not only a showcase of folks telling jokes, but also a series of “boot camps” that provided instruction in stand-up comedy, improvisation and comedy writing, as well as information in how to get your material out there into the world. It’s like a Laughs University for the next generation of funny Utahns.

Art House Cinema 502

For too long, Utahns everywhere have had to travel to Salt Lake City for movies outside the multiplex mainstream. But Ogden now has a cinematic match for its history of unconventional frontier attitude. This tiny 28-seat venue on Historic 25th Street offers documentaries, foreign films and low-budget American independent fare that rarely gets a showing anywhere in the state, let alone outside of downtown SLC. Lesser-known Sundance-pedigree titles and Oscar nominees are now just a FrontRunner ride away. 158 25th St., Ogden, 801-917-4502,

The Nuremberg Chronicle
at Ken Sanders Rare Books
Comedian Eddie Izzard once joked about Americans’ sense of history being impressed by something being restored to the way it was “over 50 years ago!” So it’s fairly humbling to be in the presence of a book that was created when Christopher Columbus was still alive. In April-May 2011, Ken Sanders Rare Books displayed leaves from a 1493 German edition of The Nuremberg Chronicle, a history of the world from Biblical creation to the year in which it was printed. It was a rare opportunity for Utahns to see one of the earliest, most elaborately crafted movable-type texts ever created—one of only around 400 believed still to be in existence.

Meat & Potato Theatre’s
The Odyssey
A small-scale theatrical production can’t hide behind high-tech special effects when it wants to create a monster. That’s where gifted craftspeople come in. For Meat & Potato Theatre’s fascinating adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey, director Tobin Atkinson and lighting designer Samuel A. Mollner made use of rear-projection shadow play to bring to life Odysseus’ encounter with the dangerous Cyclops, Polyphemus. The ingenious trickery was part of a production that proved tales of heroic exploits don’t demand CGI—just a little TLC.


Mike Brown’s
Women, Duh!
Mike Brown may be best known as the lead singer of local punk legends The Fucktards, but he also does double-duty as bartender and writer/zine editor. His Leviathan series has been around since the ’90s, and his particular style of grammar and Bukowski-esque ramblings are a mainstay for those interested in all things gutterpunk and SLC. His latest branch off of Leviathan, the Women, Duh! series, is replete with misogynist tales of relationship woes and haiku about boobs and stalking. Volume 3 is available for $2—Brown believes in both brevity and levity, in dollars and sense.

C-Hendy’s Cricket Mural

If you’re riding the rails and lucky enough to travel between the 2100 South and 3300 South stops, look westward to glimpse a new, eye-catching mural created by local artist Curtis Hendrickson. Painted under his signature name, C-Hendy, his unique take on the LDS folkloric story of the Mormon-cricket invasion was created to combat graffiti on the TRAX side of an industrial building managed by his family. Under Curtis’ creative hand, a blue-skinned, antlered figure nicknamed Gargamel battles giant robot versions of the insects, along with a fighter-pilot-esque warrior riding a sled made of a bird skull—the only reference to the seagull saviors of the story. The mural’s incredible detail, style and sense of humor make this urban artwork a hidden treasure.


Fallen Fruit of Utah

From the sacred to the mundane, the extravagant to the humble and the high-brow to the low-brow, the Fallen Fruit of Utah exhibit at the Salt Lake Art Center examined the ideas of community, place, family, history and abundance, all through the idea of fruit. Compiled and displayed by the Fallen Fruit artist collective, Fallen Fruit of Utah included art from several museums and permanent collections around the state, as well as everyday objects and family treasures that were lent to the exhibit. Here, fruit is a unifying symbol for community and Utah’s agricultural heritage, as well as a link to our collective past.

Kat Martin

Have you ever owned a piece of art you wished you could do something else with? Well, rather than take that ugly painting of a random countryside to the DI like everyone else, take it to Kat Martin and give it a proper makeover. Martin’s interjection of geek and pop culture into boring paintings have earned her a huge following in both the local art and craft scenes, as she gives new life to works that would be discarded for kindling. And best yet, she takes requests.


Berg Propaganda

The name Berg Propaganda might not ring a bell, but the beret-wearing woman holding a rifle who appears all over downtown SLC certainly will. Whether it be a pair of paint rollers, a Hungarian woman soldiered up or simply the first name of his pseudonym, Berg has taken the city by storm with his overnight artistic statements. Nearly every street corner in the city has become a canvas to the mysterious rogue artist, forcing many to gaze upon his work and question the meanings and messages behind them.


Edward Burtynsky Exhibit at Weber State

Edward Burtynsky’s photographs document the marks humans have made upon the natural world in the name of comfort, safety and industry. The Industrial Sublime, an exhibit of 31 of Burtynsky’s large-format color photographs at Shaw Gallery at Weber State University, explores the relationship between humans and nature, the organic and the mechanical. Burtynsky calls these images “reflecting pools of our times,” a seductive, repulsive and, sometimes nauseatingly stark look at the consequences of the human race’s appetite for natural resources.

Utah Symphony’s Summer Season

During the summer off season, Utah Symphony has very little actual down time. This year, they played a series of free public performances around the valley in local amphitheaters, including the relaunch of downtown’s newly renovated Gallivan Center. The Deer Valley Music Festival featured big-name shows staged on the mountain resort’s cool hillside, like the music of the Eagles and Queen or the bombastic Broadway Rocks! And, in far more intimate settings provided by local churches, a smaller, more experimental chamber series included performances like The Jewish American Songbook and Eastern European Dances.

Samba Fogo

Samba Fogo is a mainstay in the Salt Lake City performing-arts scene, an intoxicating fusion of Brazilian dance, fire dance, pounding drums and the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira. Their performances are electrifying blurs of colorful sequined and feathered costumes, lit torches and acrobatics, all choreographed to live music. Samba Fogo’s concert at the 2011 Utah Arts Festival turned into a dance party when the main drummer said, “You’ve all been very well-mannered, but this is a party!” Audience members and costumed dancers alike took to the stage, in celebration of summer itself and the rich traditions of Brazil.

Otis Nebula Literary Syndicate

This semiannual e-zine boasts a who’s who of underground Utah writers and poets, giving them an outlet to feature their obscure and creatively structured works without censorship or strict guidelines on content that would come with any other submission-based publication. But rather than restrict itself to written material, Otis Nebula also allows film, music and artistic submissions to grace its digital pages—giving each issue not just its own look and sound, but a unique experience to the readers who visit each link.

Kelsie Jepsen as “Carl Dwimmer” in
Saturday’s Voyeur
Every summer, Saturday’s Voyeur comes along and reminds us to laugh at our local politics and remember that we have a bunch of fine song-and-dance men and women in the local theater community. Among the hyperactive and hilarious cast in the 2011 production, Kelsie Jepsen’s take on Utah GOP blowhard Carl Wimmer, er, “Carl Dwimmer,” stood out from the crowd. Not only did she capture his body-builder-meets-a case-of-Krispy-Kremes physical presence, she also displayed a great voice when belting out a tune.



Founded by choreographer Ashley Anderson in 2010, loveDANCEmore started out as a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating dance productions in nontraditional locations and venues. But rather than being just “another dance company,” LDM opened its Website to promoters and writers as a centralized zine/blog for all things dance-related in Utah, featuring previews and reviews of various performances along with the company’s own works. Adding to the events, LDM’s production of Mudson debuted earlier this year at the Masonic Temple to near sell-out crowds, making its first season a success and giving hope to future productions in 2012.

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School

Founded in New York as an excuse to get drunk while drawing human still-life works, Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School has become a worldwide sensation, spawning classes in major cities and becoming its own artistic movement. This year, local artist Maggie Zuko founded the SLC branch and debuted it on Bar Deluxe’s dimly lit stage with burlesque dancers posing for dozens of local artists. Since its inception, the event has featured transgender models, musician Allison Martin and belly dancers as the various living muses, helping bring in some of Utah’s most talented for an evening of risqué creations.

Stevan Novakovich in
The Very BEaST…
It’s not that you didn’t want to see what was hiding behind the newsprint, because, in fact, you couldn’t help but beg for a glimpse. As Novakovich ran through choreography by SB Dance founder Stephen Brown, clad in cowboy hat, boots and nothing but skin in between, it was the strategically placed newspaper held in front of his big show that stole the show, if you will. For all its provocative nuances, Novakovich’s lean ballet-trained body gracefully turning through the plodding and breaking movement mesmerized audiences to the point that they forgot he was quite nearly naked.


Juan Aldape

Juan Aldape is a man on the move. From his humble beginnings in Mexico to his childhood in Rose Park to his graduation from the U of U where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in modern dance, Aldape’s dedication and passion for life and movement are carrying him to an even bigger stage, literally: the world. Aldape recently earned a scholarship through the European Commission’s prestigious Erasmus Mundus Program to study international performance research in England, Serbia and Finland for 18 months. This comes after a five-year stint of frequent travel to New York City, where he worked with partner Molly Heller to choreograph a hybrid ballet/hip-hop movement. Aldape’s passion for dance and movement will again grace Salt Lake City, as he plans to return to operate his own dance company after he earns his master’s degree.

GoGo37 Gallery

It’s hard being a cultural hotspot when one of the biggest in the country is a two-hour drive away. But a pair of local artists/musicians have brought new life to St. George’s downtown area with a brand-new all-ages gallery and music venue. Featuring quality work from local artists and boasting sold-out shows from well-known Utah bands, GoGo37 has become a cultural focal point for the area and given entertainers down south a new platform on which to showcase themselves. Without question, this venue is the cultural jolt the city has needed for years. 37 E. St. George Blvd., St. George, 801-520-4871,

Daniel Lyman’s “Sway’d”

University of Utah architecture undergrad Daniel Lyman’s entry of hundreds of grasslike shafts won the Ballet West: Fluid Adagio Installation (BWFAI), a first-ever joint competition initiated by the the Utah chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ Young Architects Forum. The goal of the competition was to create a temporary (one- to two-year) installation to occupy the future building site for Ballet West adjacent to the Capitol Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City. Launched in early June 2011, the installation’s 1,200 nylon poles bend in the breeze and play with sunlight and shadows, creating a soothing (and sometimes surreal) moment of artistic meditation. The idea of filling empty city lots with temporary art might just catch on: The AIA Young Architects Forum and the Salt Lake Art Center are on the lookout for new “empty” art opportunities. Located west of the Capitol Theatre at 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

Salt Lake Film Society

Ten years ago, the Salt Lake Film Society started out with one rustic theater, a downtown multiplex, a modest membership and the goal of creating a home for artistic cinema in Utah. Change reels to a decade later, where the society has become the leading nonprofit for artistic and obscure films that would have never come to our state otherwise. Aside from being a Salt Lake City home for Sundance films, catering to local directors with Open Screen Night, screenings old classics and debuting new material rejected by major chains, it revitalized the independent-filmmaking base in the state—not a bad birthday present.


Started in the Japanese architecture community to get the local muses flowing, PechaKucha nights have become stimulating phenomenon in cosmopolitan cities worldwide, including Salt Lake City. The concept is fairly simple: 10 invited presenters share 20 slides of their own work and talk about each one for 20 seconds as the attending social milieu is sparked into rousing discussion. With horizons forever broadening, a PechaKucha (“chit-chat” in Japanese) might see an inventor wax on, wedged between a fine artist and a graphic designer, and then afterward casually talk with other like-minded individuals, even you, over a cocktail or two.

Angels in America

In revisiting Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America to celebrate the launch of its 40th season, the Salt Lake Acting Company’s executive producers Kevin Myhre and Cynthia Fleming said that the play was arguably the sole past production that could encapsulate the theater’s legacy of producing new and daring works. What became clear while watching Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (the second half, Perestroika, was delivered as a staged reading after Millennium’s run) was that Kushner’s intense interplay of relationships during the onset of the AIDS crisis is just as stirring today as when SLAC was one of the first regional theaters to produce it in 1995. Strong performances—particularly by Charles Lynn Frost as Roy Cohn, Alexis Bague as Louis and Lucas Bybee as Prior Walter—made the updated production a must-see.

The Drowsy Chaperone

On the surface, The Drowsy Chaperone is a standard Jazz Age musical, complete with a spunky flapper leading lady, a Latin lothario, mobsters and an aging diva. After a few minutes, though, it’s clear that this musical is both a send-up and a cheeky parody of the genre, a fizzy cocktail of tap dances and self-referential winks that’s a delight to both those who would enjoy the show’s source material and those who would yawn their way through it. The musical’s goofy sight gags were staged perfectly at Hale Center Theatre, its round stage providing many opportunities for characters to disappear and appear via trap door or refrigerator.


Blonde Grizzly’s Utah Jazz-themed Group Show

The Utah Jazz basketball team has always been one of the most consistently unexciting in the NBA when it comes to off-court personnel turmoil, but that changed this year when longtime coach Jerry Sloan abruptly quit on Feb. 10, and superstar player Deron Williams was traded Feb. 23. Smack dab in between those dates, the Blonde Grizzly hosted the previously planned Utah Jazz Themed Group Show that included more than 20 local artists—including Sri Whipple, Trent Call, Dan Christofferson and others—creating works inspired by the team and its players. Sloan’s sudden departure inspired a slew of last-second additions to the show, including some superfly T-shirts adorned with the stern Midwesterner’s visage that are still available, months after the show’s end. 15 E. 400 South, 801-355-9075,

Sundance Film Fest’s New Frontier at Salt Lake Art Center

The partnership seems so natural; it’s a shame it didn’t come together sooner. The Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program has consistently showcased experimental art, film, technology and live performances, but only those daring enough to brave the madding crowds of Park City during the festival had a chance to see the New Frontier selections. This year, the Salt Lake Art Center welcomed the program for an extended stay, allowing the SLC citizenry to check out, say, James Franco’s mixed-media video installation inspired by 1970s sitcom Three’s Company, or the interactive film The Wilderness Downtown that allowed users to play with Google maps to create their own videos for Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait.”,

Salt City Slam

Every year, the contingent that represents Salt Lake City at the National Poetry Slam kicks things up a notch. This August, the five-person team of Jesse Parent, Cody Winger, DeAnn Emett, Brian Gray and Ryan Joseph Carter traveled to Boston and became a force to be reckoned with. The group made its best showing since 2004, when the SLC team first dared to dream on the national stage. Not only did they place 19th out of 76 teams, they gained a fearsome nickname: the “Salt Beast.” We’ll snap to that.

Utah Shakespeare’s
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
For the 50th season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, director Fred Adams mined the comedic heart of Shakespeare’s extraordinary take on the seam between dreams and reality with such aplomb that, at times, the festival audience seemed to pinch itself at how hard it was laughing. While Max Robinson’s Nick Bottom’s shift from puffed-up weaver and frustrated would-be thespian to enchanted donkey generated much hysteria, it was Ben Charles’ Puck who stole the show. Whenever he scampered around the stage, squatted on his haunches and studied the characters whose destiny he was about to play with, or addressed the audience with impish glee, Charles captured both the light and the darkness of the forest where Shakespeare’s multilayered gem takes place with exquisite style.


Another Language:
With some of the most advanced computer and video equipment in the world at the University of Utah’s Center for High-Performance Computing, Another Language has pushed the limits of interactive online performances further each year since its first “Interplay” eight years ago. This year’s performance took on the most challenging script and theme yet: Beth and Jimmy Miklavcic’s working relationship as a married couple. The company’s founders discarded the ensemble format in a new performance space to create an intimate and thought-provoking piece, examining the role of technology in our lives and the ways technology can have a life of its own.

Mike Fahl’s “Masque of the Soul”

There’s something fabulously excessive and grotesque about Mike Fahl’s subjects. Take his “Plutocracy,” for example, a surreal, almost cartoon-like postcard sent to you by a body-building clown from one of your weirdest dreams. He can also shift gears and provide a new sense of exploitation to an old theme like fairy-tale princesses, where his tawdry Snow White looks like she should adorn the cover of a worn-out romance novel. By taking old images and imbuing them with new life—from the familiar to the surreal—Fahl takes the viewer by the hand for some very enjoyable soul searching.


Free Form Film Festival

Initiated in San Francisco by Tyrone Davies, a serious video artist in his own right, this monthly series takes on everything from experimental and art films that push the boundaries of visual narrative to documentaries and festival-winning short-form videos from all over the world, depicting local galleries, coffee shops and summer lawns. A dose of these can open the aperture of the mind, and the fest is taking submissions in search of the most mind-blowing moving images.

The Destructible Object and Other Essays: The Sculptural Work of Frank McEntir
A chapbook with full-color photos published by Dirt Devil Press, the collection includes six essays examining McEntire’s work, by Utah Valley University art professor Scott Abbott, former Salt Lake Art Center curator of exhibits Jay Heuman and poet Alex Caldiero. Perspectives range from the academic to Caldiero’s look at the ritualistic nature of McEntire’s work. Among other things, these essays demonstrate the lasting impression McEntire’s body of work has had on the local art environment; they are a testament to the indestructible nature of art.

Jim Williams, “The Beginning of Now”

This show featured the Salt Lake architect re-creating a sizeable portion of his Avenues home at the Gateway Lofts building, having accumulated detritus and art—his own as well as others—for decades. His own mixed-media works tend toward pop art and psychedelic styles. A puzzle and a portrait, as described in the accompanying book written by Cara Despain, the space showed how artistic clutter has been a necessary part of his life.

Kayo Gallery

In addition to small group shows like the Captain Captain Showdown, this “little gallery that could” has for years been known as a great place to see two-artist shows; with walls facing each other, it’s like an artistic conversation. The graphic design-influenced work of Dan Christofferson and Joshua Winegar and the visually arresting layerings of Chad Crane and Zane Lancaster are just two of the dual shows there in the past year. The study in contrasts is fascinating—and the far end of the room, where they meet in the middle, becomes a meeting of the minds. 177 E. Broadway, 801-532-0080,

, by Ally Condie
Someday—once we run out of fossil fuels, the stock market crashes one final time and we’re ruled by China—civilization might look back at 2011 and wonder why we spent so much time reading dystopian fiction. Or, perhaps, we’ll look back and thank authors like Ally Condie—who previously wrote four novels for Deseret Book—for showing us that even in a world seemingly without hope, growing up and choosing your own future can be beautiful as well as painful. Matched, which was a New York Times best-seller for 15 weeks, tells the coming-of-age story of Cassia as she deals with a love triangle against the backdrop of a future civilization governed by the Society, which organizes every aspect and choice of a person’s life. Though not much new ground is broken in the bleak dystopian landscape, the spectacular writing brings Cassia and her world to life. Crossed, the second book in a planned trilogy, will be released in November.,

Bridge Over Barriers

Since 2005, NeighborWorks of Salt Lake (formerly known as Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services) has helped create a massive public art project beneath the Interstate 15 overpass along 300 North. Connecting Salt Lake City’s Guadalupe and Jackson neighborhoods, the thoroughfare is often traveled by West High and Jackson Elementary students. With its 22,000 feet of concrete, 16 gray pillars and four trusses, the overpass simply formed a “great wall” of concrete between the neighborhoods. To transform the prosaic into mosaic, NeighborWorks enlisted community artist/activist Lily Yeh from Philadelphia, who trained 17 local artists (including Ruby Chacon and Jimmy Lucero) to create a mural design that embraces the diverse cultures, ethnicities, faiths and languages of the city’s west side. As it depends on the labor of artists and volunteers, Bridge Over Barriers remains a work in progress (although a 2012 completion date is hoped for) and is proof that not only can communities make art, but art can make communities. 300 North and Interstate 15 overpass, Salt Lake City


Broadway Across America’s
Les Misérables
Most people have been exposed to Victor Hugo’s tale of revolution and redemption since its 1985 London premiere, whether during one of its previous stops in Salt Lake City, at a local high school after the abridged “school edition” was made available, or via the Susan Boyle-inspired popularity of “I Dreamed a Dream.” For the musical’s 25th anniversary in 2010, a new production was staged, featuring new sets and scenery based on Hugo’s own paintings. Massive moving projections on the back wall of the stage made it seem as though the characters onstage truly were toiling in crowded factories, tramping through the sewers or falling from great heights, adding even more depth and drama to one of the most profound modern musicals.

Lost Media’s Incredibly Weird Film Night

Lost Media Archive’s curators of the curious, Tyrone Davies and Blair Sterrett, have brought their “Incredibly Strange Movie Night”—started in Provo in 2001—to Brewvies Cinema Pub. Now, Salt Lakers can enjoy a free monthly screenings of such hidden gems as The Swimmer, a 1968 film where a man swims through a series of swimming pools that lead surreally through his life. They’ve also shown Turkish Star Wars, a film chronicling the galactic adventures of two Turkish space heroes as they karate chop their way through armies of low-budget wookies and skeletons, all to a soundtrack that’s outright stolen from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Battlestar Galactica. So come out and take in a film on the weird side with Davies and Sterrett, and you won’t be disappointed. You may be confused and dumbfounded, but you won’t be disappointed.

Ben Wiemeyer’s Southam Gallery Mural

Local muralist Ben Wiemeyer has been bringing explosions of color and abstraction to downtown streets for years. One of his latest pieces to hit the streets is an epic mural on the wall of Broadway’s Southam Gallery. It’s the kind of monster one could imagine being scratched into a bare asylum wall by a schizophrenic with too much time on his hands—it’s that good! The monster—whether it’s a dragon or something harder to classify—is marked by dark, obscuring tones; then, as if to make the piece even more unsettling, there seems to be the silhouette of the NBA basketball logo emerging from the dark nebula of the creature’s world. It’s hard to explain, easy to get pulled into and very much worth gawking at if you’re strolling downtown. 50 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City

Michel Rogerson’s Rodentbonz Bindery

For bibliophiles, every book is a work of art. It’s a lofty notion in general, but when applied to the handmade journals and books offered by Rodentbonz Bindery, it becomes absolutely true. ’Bonz book binder Michel Rogerson can make hand-crafted leather journals that may incorporate anything from exotic Israeli paper to found-art elements—for example, a journal with a Monopoly board-game cover. Rogerson can custom create your perfect book, or he can even teach you the art itself in an affordable multiweek class on book binding. 801-702-0322,

Salt Lake Acting Company’s New Play Sounding Series

Actors read from podiums, flipping freshly written manuscripts while the audience imagines scenery and costumes and, better yet, has a say in the play’s final form during Salt Lake Acting Company’s New Play Sounding Series—held on the SLAC stage, usually during the run of another play. The vital process allows the playwrights to hear how the actors present the material and to see the audience’s reaction. Generally, the playwright has specific questions for the audience and vice versa, and then there’s discussion and feedback, all helping fine-tune the piece.

Utah Contemporary Theatre’s Hope Chest

In the acting community, women commonly say men always get the best roles and vice-versa. Well, not anymore—at least on one August evening per year. Utah Contemporary Theatre’s Hope Chest Fundraiser allows local actors to perform a scene or song they’d love to do but never could because they’re the wrong gender or age. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, examples include Scott Holeman singing “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors; Kathryn Atwood playing a little girl Willie from Tennessee Williams’ one-act play This Property is Condemned.

Repertory Dance Theatre’s “The Lady of the Lake”

Colleen Hoelscher evoked an Arthurian water-bound sorceress for Repertory Dance Theatre’s “Lady of the Lake,” and the playful, seductive performance itself became magical. Hoelscher learned her favorite dance—originally choreographed by Mary Frances Lloyd—in college, and now, as a more mature dancer, re-cast it in a new light first as part of 2009’s Elements performance, then again for H20 in fall 2010. The beautiful dance language—enhancing the cleansing, mysterious and crystalline beauty of water—along with splashed and sprayed water sparkling under overhead lights, will inspire even the driest of viewers.

West of Center
, Jancar Gallery, Los Angeles
Salt Lake Art Center curator Micol Hebron isn’t a travel agent, but with connections in Los Angeles, an eye for art and a desire to put Utah at the center of the international art market she facilitated a trip to the coast for a dozen or so artists. This summer, Hebron curated West of Center by collecting two contemporary art pieces from 26 Utah artists to show at Jancar Gallery in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, exposing Utah artists and their work, undoubtedly inspired by the state’s unique environment, to a wider arts community.

Iron Pen Challenge at Utah Arts Fest

The Utah Arts Festival is, by and large, a spectator event: Patrons peruse art booths, watch dance performances and listen to tunes. However, the Community Writing Center offers a fun, competitive way to interact. The Wasatch Iron Pen Literary Marathon and Ultra Marathon, open to writers, begins on Friday at 6 p.m. with a visual prompt—this year, it was the SLC Pepper Mural. With a flurry of creativity, writers burn the midnight oil to craft a piece of poetry, nonfiction or fiction—or all three—to meet the Saturday deadline. Come Sunday morning, the winners are named and can read from their quickly turned-around genius at the festival.

Rumi Poetry Club

Media coverage of the Middle East hardly ever shines a light on the area’s rich heritage of poetry—as common in everyday life as casseroles are in Utah. There, poets past and present are revered, and some have found their way into hearts abroad, including 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, whose timeless poems deal with the transcendence of love, and, locally, the Rumi Poetry Club celebrates his canon with monthly meetings at the Anderson-Foothill Library. A focused discussion precedes an open forum where attendees can wax poetic and read their favorite spiritual works. First Tuesday of the month, Anderson-Foothill Library, 1135 S. 2100 East, 801-594-8611,

Repertory Dance Theatre 45-Year Celebration and Community School

Repertory Dance Theatre has always been an advocate for being involved in the vibrant local arts scene. RDT has one of the best and most accessible community dance schools in the valley. It also has a world-renowned repertory that its company of dancers regularly perform to great acclaim. This year, in celebration of its 45th anniversary, RDT went above and beyond, flinging its doors wide open with a 12-hour mix of live performances interspersed with informal panel discussions and screenings of rarely seen archival video footage.

Sugar Space’s
Suite: Women Defining Space
Brittany Reese Dew, founder and director of the alternative arts venue Sugar Space, developed an event designed specifically to flip an old notion that, in the dance world, men create works and women dance them. Suite: Women Defining Space chooses three emerging women choreographers and provides them with rehearsal space, subsidizes production and fosters mentoring from previous participants in the program. The result is not only a fantastic opportunity for aspiring choreographers to flesh out their ideas, but an evening of boundary-pushing and innovative modern dance. 616 Wilmington Ave. (2190 South), Salt Lake City, 888-300-7898,

Pioneer Theatre Company’s
The Diary of Anne Frank
What remained surprising and affecting, long after the curtain went down on the Pioneer Theatre’s co-production with Indiana Repertory Theatre of The Diary of Anne Frank, was how eloquently Bill Clarke’s set captured the themes of the play. It evoked both the claustrophobia of life within the secret annex and allowed for the drama to flow effortlessly across the stage. By the end of the play, after the Nazis had marched off Anne Frank and the seven people with whom she shared the annex to their fate, the set echoed with both the tragedy and the hope of its lead character, even as it lifted the eye to the single window and the sky beyond.

Susan Memmott-Allred, Utah Opera’s
As much as Utah Opera’s 2010-11 season closer was about the joys of Verdi and Shakespeare coming together in baritone Steven Condy’s playful and robust Falstaff, forever in pursuit of women far above his station, it was also an opportunity to admire—albeit for the final time—the gorgeous costumes of Susan Memmott-Allred. A 33-season veteran, Memmott-Allred’s work was gloriously showcased in the solid Falstaff production, with fulsome costumes rich in brocade and color schemes of burgundy and gold a fitting climax to a lustrous career.

Tumbleweeds Children’s Film Festival

For one wonderful April weekend, children were held spellbound at the movies in Salt Lake City—not by the latest Harry Potter, but rather by a film festival at the Broadway and Tower cinemas that celebrated and explored childhood. Festival director Patrick Hubley gathered a gorgeous international selection of films that stretched from a Spanish orphan’s dreams of soccer stardom and adoption in Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime to Julian Fellowes’ superb 1930s English time-travel thriller From Time to Time. But the greatest pleasure of the festival was the sharing between parents and wide-eyed children of the joy of a cinema not wrapped up in merchandising and mechanistic sequels, but rather beautifully wrought tales of childhood that rang true for both young and old.

George B. Handley,
Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River
BYU professor George B. Handley shows how Mormon doctrine is compatible with environmental stewardship in his book Home Waters, while beautifully describing the spiritual connection we can feel when exploring the outdoors. “Earth is an odd place to find myself,” he writes, “and the oddness of it is precisely what makes it so intoxicating. This is a one-time affair, never to be repeated again, and I want all of it.”

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