- Courtesy Photo
If you wanted to call the past two years a mulligan, you wouldn't get a lot of argument. Plenty of us had plans that got torpedoed by COVID itself, or by the measures taken at various times to try to mitigate it, in spite of the many, many actions taken by people who seemed to be trying to help COVID along. If our pandemic (thus far) decade of the 2020s has hijacked you physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally, you're forgiven.
That said, for those of us fortunate enough still to have a little bit left in the tank, it's time to think about what happens next. As Arts & Entertainment Editor for this publication, it's my responsibility to have my (safely mask-covered) nose to the ground, trying to find the best and most interesting work by local creators. And I'd like to do better in 2022. So as a way of motivating myself—with the caveat that many of these things require safe, non-infection-surging environments—here's a list of my professional new year's resolutions. Feel free to help hold me to them, and even offer suggestions for where to direct my energies.
Read 12 new books by Utah authors. This state is amazingly rich in talented writers, covering every possible genre. It seems reasonable that, as I try more generally to spend more of my free time reading rather than being extremely online, I can squeeze in at least one title per month that was created by a local author, and I'm sure the knowledgeable booksellers at places like The King's English and Weller Book Works can help point me in the right direction. Self-imposed bonus points if I can explore a wide range of genres—non-fiction, poetry, young-adult, fantasy, literary fiction—along the way.
Find fresh theater talent by trying out shows by smaller companies. Make no mistake: I'm eager to get back to places I haven't yet been able to enjoy in person for far too long, like Pioneer Theatre Company and Plan-B Theatre Company. But I also know that they'll be giving me professionalism from familiar faces. One of the reasons I love Sundance is the chance to stumble upon a Next Big Thing, and I'll never forget first discoveries of local theater talents like David Fetzer and Alexandra Harbold. Whether that means exploring university theater productions or shows by smaller companies, I'd love to be able to find a few folks in 2022 where I can tell readers, "Keep your eye on this one—they're a keeper."
Take in a couple of Wiseguys open-mic nights. Open-mic comedy serves a bunch of purposes. It can be a place for veterans to try out new material; it can be the venue where we weed out those folks who have been told by their friends, "you're funny, you should do comedy," but really actually shouldn't. In the best-case scenario, kind of like in the item above, it can be a chance to find an exciting new voice just waiting for the recognition they deserve. And it would be wonderful to help provide that recognition in City Weekly.
Re-acquaint myself with Salt Lake City's art galleries. Look, I'm not gonna lie, going inside any building besides my home over the past 22 months has been something I engage in with reluctance. Unfortunately, that has meant limiting my exposure to the local visual-arts scene to virtual images—and while it's been better than nothing, like a lot of innovative measures undertaken by arts organizations during 2020-2021, it's still not remotely the same as experiencing those same works up close and personal. I'm hoping that SLC's monthly Gallery Strolls once again become part of my regular routine, so I can get to know the real depth of the work, the artists who create it, and the gallery operators who share it with us all.
Do a little bit of everything else. I began my gig with City Weekly 22 years ago covering theater, then film, and a few other things that were in my already-a-comfort zone. I've spent a lot of the intervening time talking to creators in dance, symphony and opera, but far too little time actually experiencing their work in person. It's long past time to know them all better.
This place is teeming with gifted artists, and I have the privilege of sharing what I learn about them with readers. Doing something that brings that much pleasure should make for easy resolutions to keep.