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

Artys 2011: Staff Choice 

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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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