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

Artys 2011: Staff Choice 

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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.

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