Artys 2012 | Artys | Salt Lake City Weekly

Artys 2012 

City Weekly's 7th Annual Arts Awards

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Best Chewing of Scenery—Literal Division
Topher Rasmussen, Course 86b in the Catalogue (Salt Lake Acting Company)
Ah, life is good for a modern-day evolutionary throwback subsisting in the central Utah desert! At least, that was the sense we got from Topher Rasmussen’s portrayal of missing link Sterling Jensen in Kathleen Cahill’s farcical comedy Course 86b in the Catalogue. Literally chewing the scenery (or, more accurately, the props), in his first Salt Lake Acting Company performance, Rasmussen found his inner ape and gave himself over to the role with such uninhibited joy and abandon it was difficult to believe such a young talent has already developed sufficient range to paradoxically infuse such an over-the-top performance with so much perceptivity and tenderness.

Blonde Grizzly Star Wars Show
Blonde Grizzly celebrated its grand re-opening by gathering a group of local geeky artists together for a Star Wars-themed art show May 5, just after Star Wars Day on May 4 (“May the fourth be with you.”). Wookiees, Sith Lords, Queen Amidala (pictured, by Candace Jean), R2-D2, C-3PO, Han Solo, Ewoks, the Skywalker siblings and the big guy himself, Darth Vader, were immortalized in a variety of mediums, by artists such as Desarae Lee, Andrew Sato, Dave Styer and other Jedi masters. Some pieces were cartoon-like, others gorgeously realistic, but all were joyful depictions of a movie series that’s become an essential part of our popular culture. 213 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-355-9075,

Castle of Chaos
Managing one haunted house can be a daunting task every fall, so imagine the coordination behind putting three together every year in different cities. The Castle of Chaos has hired some of the best costume designers, special-effects engineers, set decorators and versatile actors around to run productions in Ogden, Taylorsville and Orem. Next time you’re traveling down one of the dimly lit Castle corridors waiting for whatever may come at you, take a moment to enjoy the surroundings and realize all of that was no easy feat. Multiple locations,

Must Come Down
Born from the fantastic odd mind of Kenny Riches, Must Come Down was filmed entirely in Salt Lake City in a matter of weeks with actors David Fetzer and Ashly Burch taking the main roles. The film focuses on two 20-somethings meeting their quarter-life crisis at the same time, and the awkward hilarity that ensues when those two lives collide as both become friends. The film received several invites from film festivals, including the 2012 Cinequest, and will premiere at the Salt Lake City Film Festival on Sept. 23.


Tattoo Purses by Miss Amanda
Tattoo artist Miss Amanda has taken her ink-slinging skills to a new canvas by tatting up vintage purses, wallets, and bags. Try a pink skull on a leather purse or perhaps a cream-colored clutch painted with purple orchids. Miss Amanda has taken the high-caliber artistry of ink-to-your-flesh and brought it conveniently to very chic and fashionable bags and accessories.

Twilight Concert Series 25th Anniversary Show
In celebration of its one-year anniversary, the SLC Photo Collective launched an exhibition cataloging the silver anniversary of the Twilight Concert Series. The showcase includes photos from the very first shows back in 1987, with people lying on blankets, documenting the attendance, venues and performers as they changed and grew over four different decades to the beyond-capacity shows at Pioneer Park today. 561 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City,

Salt Lake City Film Festival
No clever film-fest name here. That doesn’t matter much to the minds behind the Salt Lake City Film Festival, as they strive to excel in the content of their films rather than build hype around the festival itself. Every summer, the festival finds some of the best films overlooked by major-market festivals and presents them to attendees at a reasonable ticket price.

Xanadu (Weber State University)
There’s undeniable nostalgic appeal in Douglas Carter Beane’s self-aware adaptation of the notoriously cheesy 1980 disco musical about an artist, a Greek muse and the music of Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra. Director Jim Christian and his wonderfully energetic cast turned that concept into a production with a sold-out original run in November 2011, executed with the kind of affection and charm that left the audience with a goofy grin on its face. And what audiences saw was validated by an invitation to the American College Theater Festival regional competition, where it was recognized for directing, choreography and musical production.

Echo Theatre
Sitting between the two most popular music venues in Provo on one of the most popular blocks in the city’s entertainment scene, the Echo Theatre launched in April 2012 as one of the few independent theater companies to reside in Utah County. Founded with a mission of producing plays that aren’t cookie-cutter or all-improv—and don’t require a multicolored robe—the company puts on a new production every month. Each play is put together by a volunteer staff, with the goal of showcasing productions written locally with the past year. This isn’t just the theater that Provo needs—it’s theater the area deserves.

My Turkey Sandwich
Celebrating its five-year anniversary this coming season, Sarah Donohue and Aaron Wood started small dance company My Turkey Sandwich on a whim. The dancers worked with the Rose Wagner Center and well-established dance companies to gain space and work with fellow dancers to perform their small, one-shot productions for sold-out crowds. The biggest selling point is that every performance is an original piece, and in many cases, will never be seen again.

Best Pull Your Chain T-Shirts
Paper Street Shirt Company
For those looking to piss off the religious right or, for that matter, the religious in general, there’s nothing better than having a T-shirt that says “Fuck Your God” in bold blue letters. That’s just one of the many eye-catching creations being printed by Salt Lake City’s Paper Street Shirt Company. Founded by the musical duo Cornered By Zombies as a way to cheaply make their own band merch, the company has taken off as a anti-establishment store and hotspot for local metal bands to print their own outrageous slogans and logo-adorned black shirts.


tEEth: Home Made
Choreographer Angelle Hebert and composer Phillip Kraft are the directors of tEEth, a performing-arts company based out of Portland, Ore. The fact that they used to call Utah home is in part why they brought their piece Home Made to town for a short run in fall 2011. Set to an original score by Kraft, the work was one of the most powerful and thought-provoking evening-length performances that graced the Rose Wagner Center Black Box Theatre in the past year. Sure, the dancers shed their clothes, but after that shock wore off, what was really exposed was the raw intimacy that can exist between two people.

Central Utah Art Center vs. Ephraim City
For the past six years, the Central Utah Art Center has showcased all that is beautiful, strange and occasionally offensive in the artistic desert of rural Utah. Since 2006, CUAC has brought thousands of visitors to the center, but CUAC directors believe recent edgy exhibits have offended the conservative Ephraim city fathers, who may have objected to nudity in Flaming Creatures, an abstract art video that depicts the gay and transgender life, or 2012’s bold take on the plight of the immigrant in the SuperHUMAN exhibit. CUAC directors say that, as a result, the city cut off funding and evicted them from their space in a move that amounts to small-town censorship from small-minded critics. Still, CUAC is pressing on, petitioning the city and raising funds to keep a true contemporary art space for local and national exhibits in central Utah.

EZ Come, Ez Go: Growing Up Through Graffiti
Graffiti as an artistic medium is probably one of the oldest and least respected forms of art—probably because a crude tag on the side of business or an overpass often fails to inspire much reverence from passersby. But for graffiti gurus Alex Martinez, Justin Johnson and Jamie Ure, graffiti can be grand, elegant and a reference point for growing up in Salt Lake City. The trio’s Ez Come, Ez Go exhibit exemplifies this mature theme in a mural complete with a stylized beehive staked in the heart of cityscape swirled in urban color and imagery. They also bring graffiti grace to the walls of Mestizo Coffeehouse, providing proof of the positive influence the often misunderstood art form has had on their lives. Mestizo Coffeehouse, 631 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-596-0500,

Why I’m a Mormon, edited by Joseph A. Cannon
This book is valuable if for no other reason than it shows there’s no such thing—or shouldn’t be, anyway—as a stereotypical Mormon. As religion professor Terryl Givens explains, “The restored gospel is a gospel of liberality and generosity. My faith encompasses and embraces them.” This first publication of Ensign Peak, a Deseret Book imprint designed to introduce Mormons to a non-LDS national audience, takes a “big tent” approach that allows for an American Indian attorney general, Mexican legislator, female champion surfer, a Thai symphony conductor and a prominent Mitt Romney doubter named Harry Reid to all be included in the same book.

Michael Ballam, Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre
Just one weekend taking in all the shows of Logan’s wonderful Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre can feel full to bursting—so imagine the energy it takes to do everything that general director Michael Ballam does over the course of a month. Ballam delivered the pre-performance mini-history lessons on the productions of Faust, Tosca and Kiss Me Kate, and he visited with festival attendees for breakfast Q&A sessions and other special events. And just in case he might be suffering from any down time, he took on the role of Alfred P. Doolittle for My Fair Lady in a terrific performance.

Emily Fox
Emily Fox turned a keen new eye on princesses and wedding culture with her exhibit Princess Religion at the Sweet Library. The striking paintings of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the others are colored in the traditional color palette of Disney princesses—pink, turquoise, red, blue—but turn a distorted mirror on the traditional ideal of the slim-waisted, blissfully happy married princesses, forcing viewers to question what exactly women and girls have for so long been looking at for guidance and inspiration.

Snapshots (Repertory Dance Theatre)
According to RDT’s artistic director, Linda Smith, “RDT is using the art of dance to raise awareness, encourage dialogue, stimulate investigation and curiosity about the health of people, neighborhoods, communities, cities … the world.” So, naturally, the company took to the streets to learn how local students personally interact and engage with their place. Afterward, RDT dancers returned to the studio to hunker down and create eight new dances—Snapshots of those responses, if you will—that explore the world they live in through choreographic means.


Tiny Robot Factory
Can’t afford a pet? Can’t even take care of a houseplant? No worries! These miniature robots are the greatest nonliving companion you’ve had since the Pet Rock. Each robot, carefully crafted by artist Sunny Tellone, has a personality all its own, with its own set of transistor wiring, nuts and bolts and even moveable pieces. They’re so adorable, in fact, that Tellone often runs out of stock within weeks of making each new creation, turning them into the biggest collectors items in the craft scene today.
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