THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR AUG 27 - SEP 2 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly


Utah Museum of Fine Arts reopening, Utah Film Center pop-up drive-in movies, Ryan Niemiller @ Wiseguys, and more.

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  • UMFA Permanent Collection

Utah Museum of Fine Arts reopening
Many local museums and art galleries have opened, slowly and gradually, over recent weeks, The Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah has taken longer than others—which, according to executive director Gretchen Dietrich, is all about the museum's connection to the University community.

"As this sort of dragged on, we realized that opening in line with the University's fall semester made sense," Dietrich says. "We are first and foremost a university art museum, and because the U was working so hard, and has experts in the pandemic and health fields, we figured that working closely with them was the right decision. ... It's felt really weird and awful and unhappy for me and our staff not to do what we do, but we're also dedicated to keeping our staff and our visitors safe. So it felt okay to wait until we had other information."

UMFA reopens this week on a limited Wednesday-Friday schedule, featuring many of the same exhibitions that were installed at the time of the pandemic closures in March, including Utah Women Working for Better Days and Beyond the Divide: Merchant, Artist, Samurai in Edo Japan (pictured). Dietrich notes that juggling the pieces of the planned exhibition schedule has been one of the most logistically challenging components of dealing with the pandemic. "With all of our colleagues locally, regionally and across the country, everybody has approached this work with an incredible desire to be accommodating," Dietrich says. "We're in this together. If we can't get our organizations back on track financially, there are going to be lasting consequences on the community and the staff." (Scott Renshaw)

  • Cinecom slash Vivendi

Utah Film Center pop-up drive-in movies
If you're like most people who've been playing it safe during this pandemic, you might have watched a lot of movies over the past five months, but you haven't gone to the movies. With indoor theaters still a high-risk spot, drive-in movies have seen a resurgence in popularity, both in the few remaining permanent locations like West Valley's Redwood Drive-In, and at various pop-up locations that allow for a communal viewing experience in a family-safe way.

Utah Film Center contributes to the availability of such options with several pop-up drive-in screenings through mid-October, at locations in Alta, Midvale (The Belgian Waffle & Omelet Inn parking lot, 7331 S. 900 East) and downtown SLC (Land Cruiser Museum parking lot, 470 W. 600 South), all beginning at approximately 8:30 p.m. This week, the downtown SLC location features the classic Talking Heads concert documentary Stop Making Sense (pictured) on Thursday, Aug. 27 and the 2014 Irish animated fantasy Song of the Sea on Saturday, Aug. 29. The Midvale location showcases several features from the Mountainfilm on Tour adventure documentary series on Aug. 27, 28 and 29.

"There will never be a substitute for the feeling you get when you gather, in-person, with other people, to watch a movie," says Utah Film Center executive director Patrick Hubley. "Now more than ever, Utah Film Center believes that the communal film experience can provide much needed human connection and provide a delightful escape. We programmed our drive-in lineup to appeal to a wide variety of audiences so people from all walks of life can feel the warmth of connection again."(SR)

  • via Facebook

Ryan Niemiller @ Wiseguys
When you have a visible disability, and you're trying to make it in the field of entertainment, you kind of have to acknowledge it head-on. That's why comedian Ryan Niemiller chose to make it the first thing he mentioned during his audition for America's Got Talent in 2019, where he ultimately landed in third place. "So obviously I have a disability," Niemiller shared with the judges. "I think the technical term for it is 'being very handsome.'"

In addition to those dashing good looks, Niemiller also has a disability of both arms, which he has often folded into his act, even touting himself on his website as "The Cripple Threat of Comedy." "I have had other jobs in the past," Niemiller says. "I used to juggle chainsaws. It went well for a while, but I couldn't take the politics. ... Having these arms is the one thing I have in common with a woman with huge boobs: People struggling to make eye contact."

His high-profile AGT appearance has given him even more of a chance to have fun with his uniqueness, including messing with people who come up to him after recognizing him from the show. "They ask, 'Um ... are you that guy from AGT,'" Niemiller says. "I say, 'No. What makes you think that? What specifically about me? Do you think we all look the same?'" Get a first-hand look at Niemiller's comedic talents when he plays Wiseguys Gateway (194 S. 400 West, Aug. 28-29, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., $20. Tickets are limited due to social distancing measures. (SR)

  • Photo Collective Studios

Gateway mural: "Keep a Grateful Heart"
In a time of anxiety, it can be hard to look on the bright side. That's one of the reasons local artist Ann Chen wanted to provide people with a chance to think about positivity with her new interactive public art installation "Keep a Grateful Heart," now open at The Gateway.

"My art has always been rooted in optimism, as it reflects who I am as an individual," Chen says via email. "But during this pandemic, I've also created work that echoes my struggle to stay positive, and concerns for the future. I think it's necessary to recognize the grief and anger, but at the end of the day, we need to have hope to move forward."

For this piece, Chen devoted a third of the mural space to an illustration of a woman walking her dog and birdwatching, inspired by some of the things the artist herself is grateful for. The remainder of the mural consists of an interactive component: rows beginning with "I'm thankful for..." and offering an opportunity for visitors to complete that sentence in ways that are meaningful to them.

"This mural will reach a lot of viewers, and as a creative, I would much rather brighten someone's day with my art than add to their anxieties," Chen says. "I certainly don't want to pretend the world is alright, but having sincere gratitude is always important, whether there is a pandemic or not. ... I chose to depict commonplace activities, because these simple, everyday moments are what we tend to take for granted." (SR)

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