- Lizet Alaniz
Darcy Gaechter: Amazon Woman
On her 35th birthday, Darcy Gaechter set in motion a process that would lead her to your typical mid-life bucket list item: becoming the first woman ever to kayak the Amazon River from the source to the ocean. The ordeals she survived in order to accomplish that goal make writing a book about it seem like the easy part.
The new book Amazon Woman: Facing Fears, Chasing Dreams and a Quest to Kayak the World's Largest River from Source to Sea chronicles Gaechter's amazing, challenging adventure in a memoir full of almost unbelievable details. From the tumult caused to her personal and professional life at the outset of this journey to the life-threatening events of the river journey itself, the book explores 148 days that took the author on an unprecedented voyage with two traveling companions. Twenty-five straight days in Class 5 whitewater rapids? Check. Making it through a canyon while it was being dynamited for a hydroelectric project? Check? Surviving encounters with drug traffickers, Peruvian communist rebels, black-market animal poachers and an indigenous South American tribe that believes this white woman has come to steal their children's organs? Double-check.
The King's English Bookshop sponsors a live virtual book event for Gaechter on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. Register to attend and receive the event link through kingsenglish.com/event, then join the author for a discussion of her fantastic, inspirational and also terrifying geographical and personal journey. Order autographed copies of Amazon Woman through The King's English while supplies last. (Scott Renshaw)
- Pioneer Theatre Company
Pioneer Theatre Co.: The Costume Collection Masks
While some smaller outdoor productions have launched during the summer, most of Utah's primary theater stages have been dark since the COVID-19 pandemic hit home in March. That reality has forced companies to get creative in ways to find income streams, and support artists and artisans who would typically be working on now-suspended performances. For Pioneer Theatre Company, one such notion has involved taking items from the company's amazing storehouse of costumes, and turning them into a necessary and important commodity for our current "new normal": protective masks.
The Costume Collection Masks project (pioneertheatre.org/masks-to-order) applies PTC's costume shop to the task of creating masks in compliance with CDC guidelines, but which also allowed buyers to wear a little bit of the company's rich stage history. Individual costume items have been transformed into anywhere between six and 15 masks (depending on the size of the source material), at $25 for each limited-edition design. A new design—like the one pictured, from the PTC production of The Last Ship—will be released every week. Four full-time positions are supported by this effort.
"If we're making masks, it needs to be creative and whimsical. We thought it would be fun to give our supporters the chance to own a piece of PTC history with masks made out of costumes from some of their favorite productions," said PTC Artistic Director Karen Azenberg via press release. "The masks are practical and usable, but are also an amusing conversation piece and another way to support getting our incredible artisans back to work." (SR)
- Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou
Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Ethnic cultural festivals have been among the many traditional Utah summer events cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as gathering in large groups has been unadvisable. But that didn't stop the local Pacific Islander community from thinking about how to craft a "social distance edition" for the 8th annual Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Already in August, Pacific Islander Heritage Month has included a backpack giveaway, curbside plate sale and Utah Ukelele Association Zoom workshop. Still to come are product launches for local entrepreneurs, an online book club and drive-through arts festival, with schedule available at upihm.com. "The committee looked at the goals and the outcomes from the annual event as it's much more than a community gathering," says Susi Feltch-Malohifo'ou, executive director of the non-profit PIK2AR that organizes the event. "We looked at each of the areas of the 'in person' event that we thought were key, ... and how we could do this online, what translates well. Anything we could do would be better than doing nothing. ... We choose the theme Revive, Strive & Thrive, as we didn't know what this was going to look like, but we were striving for our community to thrive."
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Utah Pacific Islander community. Pacific Islander Heritage Month offers a chance to support businesses run by members of the community, and while PIK2AR and the grants it has received have already provided $15,000 in funding to support families hit with illness and health-care costs, assistance is still needed. Visit pik2ar.org/get-involved/donate/ to learn how you can help. (SR)
Park City Kimball Arts Festival Online
Every August, arts lovers look forward to escaping from the valley heat into the (relative) cool of the Wasatch Back, to stroll down Park City's Main Street for the Park City Kimball Arts Festival. Well, not every August, as it turns out; COVID-19 changed those plans, as it has changed so many plans this year. Instead, Kimball Art Center has crafted a virtual experience to support local artists and provide other experiences and resources to offer the next best thing to the in-person experience.
At parkcitykimballartsfestival.org, visitors can browse through visual art by categories—painting, drawing, sculpture, digital, jewelry, wood, ceramics and more—or search by individual artist names in order to view work, or even commission new work. Recorded Art Talks provide a more up-close-and-personal introduction to some of the participating artists, like 2019 Best in Show – Painting artist Signe Grushovenko introducing digital artist Daryl Thetford. As Summit County restaurants also face struggles in this time, you can get a visual "taste" of local establishments like Twisted Fern in a recorded talk by chef Adam Ross.
While live entertainment might not be possible, you can still get a bit of the festival music experience through performances like a 45-minute set from Provo local band The National Parks, co-sponsored by Park City Institute. The festival site also offers information on other Park City activities—many of which are idea for socially-distanced times—so visit for a chance to keep supporting local arts, and get ideas about how to get out and about, even if it can't be to an arts festival. (SR)