Essentials: Entertainment Picks May 15-21 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Culture » Entertainment Picks

Essentials: Entertainment Picks May 15-21




Stephanie Leitch: The Mote and the Beam

In her newest installation, The Mote and the Beam, Stephanie Leitch uses white yarn—hundreds of threads of it—connecting the walls of the Gallery at Library Squarea to emphasize interior space, as opposed to the perimeter walls on which artworks are usually hung. Noting that “mote” originates from the Greek word for speck of dust, she says that the yarn emulates suspended dust, but also, in the blur of their taut edges, the effect of light on the camera’s eye. The installation title suggests tracing the trail of light back to its biblical implications, equating the act of perception with human fallibility, and it’s a striking statement. But in the sense of “mote” as particle and “beam” as wave, it also echoes the ambiguities of contemporary physics. Leitch’s installations are topographies of varied terrains, by turns spiritual, social, geographical, or combinations of several. It’s the overlap of different maps, and the map with the territory, that makes them telling. (Brian Staker)
Stephanie Leitch: The Mote and the Beam @ Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, through June 13.

Good Company Theatre: 35MM: A Musical Exhibition
Visual arts and performing arts generally exist in discrete worlds, ignoring the ways that creative work of all kinds can influence innovative artists. But composer/lyricist Ryan Scott Oliver saw the work of photographer Matthew Murphy and wondered, “Why wouldn’t it be possible to craft a piece of musical theater out of these images?” Good Company Theatre’s production of 35MM: A Musical Exhibition shows the result of that unique idea, turning 15 photographs by Murphy into musical “snapshot stories” that wonder, through song and narrative, about the background and context of those specific moments in time that have been captured forever. Actors Sean Bishop, Derek Gregerson, Jennifer Hughes, Taylor Knuth and Karli Rose Lowry perform this song cycle that speculates on a single image, giving it dimensions of sound and motion the original photographer might never have imagined. (Scott Renshaw)
35MM @ Good Company Theatre, 260 25th St., Ogden, 801-564-0783, through May 25, Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 4 p.m., $15-$17.

Howard Brough: o.o.o.m.g.A.W.E.D.: icons and boojums for the semi-agnostic
By introducing his cryptically titled show to the community through an artist’s statement divided into three stanzas—the first one reading “doodle dramas/ tiny traumas/ machinations per the soul/ hellzapoppin’ o-fer-heck-sake/ take it down ‘da wabbit’ hole”—Howard Brough gives you an idea of how to approach his work. A sense of humor is definitely in the picture, as is an open attitude to its meaning; you can tell that the artist does not take himself too seriously. Looking closely at the artist’s statement reveals more than the initial reading might suggest. These nonsensical-looking pieces are, to Brough, sophisticated doodles that represent traditional iconic veneration that the “semi-agnostic” don’t take seriously other than as pure ritual. The reference to hell at the end of that stanza points to the devil-may-care attitude of the “semi-agnostic”—and, apparently, the artist as well. (Ehren Clark)
Howard Brough: o.o.o.m.g.A.W.E.D.: icons and boojums for the semi-agnostic @ The Gallery at Library Square, 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, through June 13, free.


Living Traditions Festival

It’s hard to deny that one of the most appealing elements of the annual multicultural celebration Living Traditions is the food. In one location, you can experience everything from American Indian fry bread to Basque sausage and succulent Tongan pork from a spit-roasted pig. Still, those who come for the shaved ice, Turkish iskendar kebabs or soul-food mainstays like deep-fried catfish inevitably stay for all the rich cultural arts on display. This year, music headliners include Red Baraat (drum and brass from India via Brooklyn) and Quetzal (Chicano music filtered through political upheavals of 1990s Los Angeles). Local groups like German choral companies, Taiko drummers and even an intertribal powwow provide additional opportunities to get to know your neighbors’ rich cultural backgrounds better. What Living Traditions does best is provide a great way for elders to pass down dances, music and arts distinct to their own heritage, promoting the longevity of a strong cultural foundation. (Jacob Stringer)
Living Traditions Festival @ Salt Lake City & County Building, 450 S. 200 East, May 16-18, free.

Tim King: Betrayal
Robert O’Dowd remembers morning physical training runs with his Marine Corps unit that would take him through white clouds of DDT. That was in 1962, before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring revealed the hazardous effects of the toxin on the environment and people. DDT wasn’t the only toxin that O’Dowd was exposed to during his military service, but it was the only one he was aware of until 25 years later, when he experienced a series of health problems—bladder and prostate cancer, chronic hypertension, panic attacks, hyperprolactinemia—that indicated significant exposure to toxins. When O’Dowd investigated, he found evidence of exposure to Radon 226 and the known carcinogen Trichloroethylene (TCE) while working on the El Toro air station in California, which the EPA had—unbeknownst to O’Dowd—marked as a hazardous-waste Superfund site. O’Dowd went to the government to demand compensation and medical attention and was denied. Instead of quitting, he gathered evidence and the testimonials of other veterans and co-wrote—with journalist and fellow Marine veteran Tim King, who visits Weller Book Works this week—and self-published the book Betrayal: Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder and Government Cover-ups. The textbook-size volume is a fast read. O’Dowd and King hook readers, starting with O’Dowd’s fall into poor health before retracing his steps back to the source of his illness and his first days of Marine boot camp. The book briefly detours into other theories of government killings and cover-ups, but finishes on a strong note with testimonies from U.S. military veterans who are suffering the consequences of government negligence. (Katherine Pioli)
Tim King: Betrayal @ Weller Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, 600 S. 700 East, 801-328-2586, May 16, 6 p.m., free.

Ballet West: Innovations
Rounding out Ballet West’s 50th anniversary season is its annual spring production Innovations, a show artistic director Adam Sklute created to not only push the artistic boundaries of the world-class company but also to propel ballet itself into a prosperous future. “The art form cannot grow by curating existing works alone,” Sklute says. “We must always be creating new works—that is what keeps the art-form alive and growing. … Only by taking chances can you find the next great discovery—and that goes for everything.” Beginning en pointe with The Sixth Beauty—a world premiere by Philadelphia-based choreographer Matthew Neenan—Innovations will also see three current company members (soloist Christopher Anderson, artist Tyler Gum and soloist Emily Adams) try their hand at choreographing their peers. This is another main reason Sklute created the show: To give his own dancers a chance to create for a professional production. “My dancers are wonderfully creative and brilliant individuals, and I wanted them to have a platform to try their hand at creating,” Sklute says. “And let’s face it, as much as I don’t like to talk about it, the performing life of a dancer is short, and this gives them a chance to see if they have the talent, ability and temerity to take their ideas to the next level after they finish their performing careers.” Rounding out the program is a piece commissioned for the 50th anniversary titled Great Souls, choreographed by principal artist Christopher Ruud, that demonstrates perfectly just what bold, innovative futures these dancers can have. (Jacob Stringer)
Ballet West: Innovations @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, May 16-24, 7:30 pm, 2 p.m. matinee May 24, $45.


Rio Gallery: Abstract

Practitioners of abstract painting in Utah have had very self-assured, assertive and personal styles. The group exhibit Abstract at Rio Gallery displays the work of more than 30 artists, including current abstract painters Meri DeCaria and John O’Connell, as well as works by local abstractionists no longer with us, like Lee Deffebach and Douglas Snow, who helped define Utah as a site where abstract art could not only occur and have a place, but flourish. Abstraction has played a seemingly unlikely yet fundamental role in the history of Utah art. It’s almost as if the experience of living in the region is sometimes difficult to capture through purely representational works, and requires an artistic style and sensibility that’s grander in gesture, more emotionally and spiritually all-encompassing. Relative newcomer Toni Doilney’s acrylic “The Treehouse” is teeming with natural rhythms, while Oonju Chun’s oil work “Facial Recognition” is filled with a childlike inventiveness. The historical aura of the Rio Grande building lends a sense of the historical span and importance of abstract art in the state and, as usual, it’s an added pleasure to view an art exhibit in that situation. The dialogue the works engage in is elevated as well. (Brian Staker)
Abstract @ Rio Gallery, 300 S. Rio Grande St., 801-236-7555, May 16-June 6; Gallery Stroll artists reception May 16, 6 p.m., free.

Pioneer Theatre Company: Sweet Charity
There’s a fundamental exuberance to the most satisfying musical comedies that wipes away resistance to the exaggerated situations and broadly brushed emotions. And that’s the way Sweet Charity serves up giddy satisfaction, even when it’s a little too “period piece” for its own good. Loosely adapting Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, the show follows the romantic misadventures of Charity Hope Valentine (Nancy Lemenager), a New York City dance-hall hostess perpetually convinced that the latest guy is The Guy. After being shoved over (literally) by one cad, she finds herself swept into the life of Italian movie star Vittorio (Sean McDermott, pictured left), and eventually besotted with shy, neurotic Oscar (John Scherer). Set decisively in the show’s original production year of 1966, Pioneer Theatre Company’s production revels in the Day-Glo colors and miniskirt fashions of the era. That also means keeping the “Rhythm of Life” production number set in a hippie religious community, which feels a bit too “far out, man” for comfort, though it does offer the fun of cast members in flower-child character interacting with the audience during intermission. The real energy, though, comes from Lemenager’s enthusiastically physical performance as the eternally optimistic Charity; she does her best work in a scene set while she’s hiding in the closet of Vittorio’s tiger-striped bedroom. Familiar songs like “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See My Now” provide the kick of nostalgia, but it’s the spark of committed performances that can make any show feel like it still works today. (Scott Renshaw)
Pioneer Theatre Company: Sweet Charity @ Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, through May 24, Mondays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Fridays, 8 p.m., Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m., $59.


Wendelin Van Draanen & Mark Huntley Parsons
The life of a professional writer isn’t an easy one—pressing deadlines, fickle public reactions, the inherent insecurity of any creative field. So it probably helps more than a little bit if the person you’re sharing your life with really gets what that’s all about. Wendelin van Draanen and Mark Huntley Parsons have been writing for two decades and have been married even longer than that. While their respective careers have explored a variety of different areas of writing, they’re both now focusing their energies on the youth audience. Van Draanen’s novel Flipped was adapted as a film, and she continues to work on the Edgar Award-winning Sammy Keyes mystery series; Parsons just released Road Rash, the story of a 17-year-old drummer out on his first tour with a successful band. This week, they bring their joint tour to Salt Lake City to share their work with their readers. (Scott Renshaw)
Wendelin Van Draanen & Mark Huntley Parsons @ Weller Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, 801-328-2586, May 21, 6 p.m., free.