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Artys 2008 | Staff Picks



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Guest Writers Series at the Art Barn
The University of Utah Department of English and Creative Writing Program co-sponsor this free monthly reading series with the Salt Lake City Arts Council. Not only do they bring first-rate authors in from all over the world, they ensure diversity by selecting from a variety of genres—e.g. essayist Jo Ann Beard, experimental fiction writer Ben Marcus and poet Arthur Sze. Just to make sure the Thursday evenings in the barn live up to their full potential, two different authors are scheduled for every reading. 54 Finch Lane, 801-596-5000,

Salt Lake Art Center Art Talks
These informal discussions provide the opportunity to engage with artists, critics, curators and historians regarding each and every exhibition at the Salt Lake Art Center. With subjects ranging from “Defining Art and the Artist” to “The Role of Art Institutions,” lectures typically run an hour and include a presentation and a question/answer period for audience participation. With approximately 35 Art Talks every year, you have ample opportunity to learn how to define art through this uniquely educating series. 20 S. West Temple, 328-4201,

Salt Lake City Reads Together Book Club
For all the controversy that our illustrious former mayor helped instigate, Rocky Anderson started something enjoyable and inarguably innocuous for all with his citywide book club. Although not necessarily as successful as he may have wished—he imagined virtual strangers everywhere talking about the same piece of literature at bus stops, picnic benches and public queues—the idea was a good one and the reading torch undoubtedly should be picked up by our new mayor, Ralph Becker.

Sundance Institute Documentary Series and Outdoor Film Series
We all know that, every January, the Sundance Film Festival inundates Utah in a way that makes it increasingly difficult to navigate to see the entries. So how does one go about seeing such great films without all that headache and hassle? Running at different times throughout the year, these two free series provide the best opportunities to view both award-winning documentaries like My Kid Could Paint That and past festival favorites such as the Coen Brothers’ classic Raising Arizona.

Salt Lake Film Society screenwriting workshop
The Salt Lake Film Society created its annual Utah Screenwriters Project to provide those interested in screenwriting the opportunity to learn everything it takes to create a screenplay, from writing narrative and engaging dialogue to finding an agent and marketing their work. To up the ante, several fellowships—including prizes such as grants, the use of a production team provided by Fast Eddie Productions and screenwriting software—are awarded to the best of the graduating scripts.

The Weight of Memory, Repertory Dance Theatre
RDT’s final performance of its season this past year was an evening-length work by choreographers Della Davidson and Ellen Bromberg, based upon text written by Karen Brennan. Besides the innovative choreography and intriguing way the group wove various multi-media projections and spoken word into the piece, the use of good old memory foam to temporarily record the movements and impressions of the dancers was wholly captivating.

Ai Fujii Nelson
After eight seasons with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, the Japanese native finally decided to call it quits. Known throughout the community for her intelligence, beauty and fluidity upon the stage, she can still be seen, larger-than life, gracing the banners hanging on the face of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Luckily for Utah, instead of simply bowing out, Fujii Nelson will still be active within the arts community here in Salt Lake City, playing with Brazilian drum core and dance companies Jinga Boa and Samba Fogo.

Monday nights at The Republican
It’s the best (not to mention only) weekly session in town. Players of traditional instruments—from fiddles to tin whistles to the uilleann pipes (a bagpipe-like instrument held under the arm)—gather each Monday to play jigs and reels. Anyone who can play is welcome and there is a different cast each week. Others are learning. For the listener enjoying a pint it’s like a quick trip to Ireland. Musicians begin showing up around 7 p.m.; music is in full swing by 8. 917 S. State, 801-595-1916,

Utah Humanities Book Festival
Now in its 11th year, the festival actually takes place all over the state, in cities from Brigham City to St. George. Held every autumn at the Salt Lake City Public Library, the festival gathers local and national authors discussing their creative inspirations, engaging with readers’ responses, and offering advice to writers/groupies. But really, it’s a great place to meet people who share your like-minded passion for reading—of stuff other than Harry Potter. The Utah Humanities Book Festival, Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Oct. 22-25,

Patti D’Beck, Pioneer Theatre Company
She may call Virginia Commonwealth University home as an instructor, but she’s made her presence felt so strongly in local theater over the past decade that it feels like she’s one of us. For years, D’Beck has been PTC’s go-to choreographer for lavish productions like Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies and Smokey Joe’s Café. This season, she made the most of two plum assignments. Last fall, she energized Paint Your Wagon with a rousing full-cast hoedown. And in the spring, she took the familiar choreography elements of Mel Brooks’ The Producers and gave them her own distinctive touch. If you’ve been dazzled by dancing on a Salt Lake City stage, it’s a good bet D’Beck was responsible.

A Damn Podcast
So named because of hosts “Adam” (Sherlock and Palcher), this freewheeling duo rates a bevy of new entries filing their way to the screen, from comedies Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express to more serious fare. They also provide lessons in flexography, looking back at great works like Apocalypse Now and Annie Hall. Top five lists like “Best Relationship Films” and “Worst Movie Titles” provide fodder for impassioned ranting without going off the deep end. Their style is breezy yet educating enough that you’re glued to your earbuds as fixedly as the silver screen.

Mestizo Coffeehouse
Mestizo opened for a few months in 2002 as part of the Cultural Olympics, then closed. After six years in which their dream of a haven for Latino and other artists on the west side of town lie dormant, Mestizo Gallery owners Ruby Chacon and Terry Hurst reopened just west of the North Temple overpass, with a new site serving coffee, art and poetry that’s brighter, larger, more versatile and, most importantly, friendlier than before. Residents responded with help in everything from construction to business planning to help create a place for people from diverse cultures to congregate and forge stronger bonds of community. 631 W. North Temple, Ste. 700, 596-0500.

Jared Gillett
Gillett is an up-and-coming artist who is known for his larger-than-life muddy cows who stare back at you with a “WTF?” attitude. And his retro toy robots paintings (“Masudaya Robot” is pictured above left) are clever pieces on childhood simplicity. But the paintings that seem to stand out capture the color, essence and style of suburban life of the 1970s and 1980s. Their snapshot essence can be seen in paintings such as “Eric’s Bicycle,” “Vanagon” and “March, 1981.” A promising artist with his best surely yet to come, catch his work at Magpie’s Nest, David Ericson Fine Art and Phoenix Gallery.


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