- Daisy Blake
Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival
Now in its fifth year, the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival again offers locals two remarkable weeks of new and experimental productions spanning the worlds of drama, dance, comedy, magic and more. In short, it's an ideal opportunity to witness the kind of daring and distinctive debuts that continually impress eager, enthusiastic audiences.
This year's festival features more than 150 performances of 32 different shows—mostly world-premiere works—in five Gateway storefront locations. To kick off this ambitious program, an opening night party on Thursday, Aug. 1, includes live music, food trucks and opportunity to preview several productions.
"The Fringe is a forge for independent theater where artists can show and grow their work," the festivals' new director Jay Perry writes in an email. "We have a wonderful group of mostly-local artists performing this year, lots of first-timers, along with some of Utah's best and most respected talent. I'm excited that our incredibly talented and diverse theater community can come together for two weeks to share their work, and also be a part of the growth that's happening at The Gateway."
In addition, the Fringe allows participants to explore a wide range of possibilities, whether it's a desire to launch a new company, initiate an artistic endeavor, interact with audiences and other artists, or simply move their careers forward. As for the rest of us, it's an ideal opportunity to push the boundraries of our own artistic comfort zone. (Lee Zimmerman)
Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival @ The Gateway, 400 W. 100 South, through Aug. 11, dates and times vary, $10-$70, (opening night party Aug. 1, Gateway Olympic Plaza, 10 N. Rio Grande St.), greatsaltlakefringe.org
- Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen
Inspired by Nature: An Evening of Music and Art
In a rare performance outside of California, the Song of Angels (SOA) Flute Orchestra presents a concert complementing original paintings by world-renowned wildlife artist Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen (his "Hippopotamus & Nile Softshells" is pictured). Los Angeles-based SOA is the only flute ensemble in the world with a low flute section that includes a double contrabass flute, one of only four in existence. As the lowest pitched metal flute in the world, this instrument has the ability to bring a soft lilting, as well as more powerful tones.
Under the baton of Charles Fernandez, the concert features soloists Michelle Brest van Kempen on flute and tenor Egan C. Carroll. Along with audience favorites, the program features two world premieres: "Forest Stories" by Charles Fernandez and "Land of the Arctic Fire" by Jonathan Cohen.
Exploring the rich variety of nature, Brest van Kempen's paintings offer visual storytelling. "I deeply appreciate the amazing detail of wildlife Carel exhibits in his work," Merlin Tuttle, founder of Bat Conservation International, says. "I had to look twice at several of his works to be sure they were not photographs."
A tranquil finale to a summer day, minus the sizzling heat, this special combo of music and art is a chance to get lost in the many moods of the flute while immersed in nature. "As the poet captures the beauty of life in his golden words which seem to stop time," SOA founder Frederick Staff says, "Song of the Angels Flute Orchestra seeks to bring healing and beauty to a suffering world." (Colette A. Finney)
Inspired by Nature: An Evening of Music and Art @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, Aug. 1, 7 p.m., 801-355-2787, artsaltlake.org
- Siamesepuppy via Wikimedia Commons
Antelope Island Spider Fest
There is beauty to be found even in things that scare us. Turns out, that's true of spiders, too—at least, potentially. On Aug. 3, Antelope Island State Park hosts its 2019 Spider Fest spotlighting spiders in a perhaps-they're-not-so-terrifying light.Including guided walks, presentations from experts, education and activity booths, Spider Fest also includes spider poetry, a costume contest and a drum bus. Expect craft vendors and food, too.
Don't forget the spiders themselves. Most of the arachnids currently taking over Antelope Island—and take it over they do—are Western Spotted Orb Weavers. They aren't alone in crafting webs spanning much of the island, but they are the easiest to spot at the moment. Events take place in the visitors center and outdoor amphitheater; guided walks are scheduled on the hour and quarter hour from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
"The main purpose of Spider Fest is to help visitors understand more about the spiders in general, and to dispel some myths and misunderstandings about them," Wendy Wilson, assistant park manager, says. "Anyone who is interested in spiders, afraid of spiders, has ever wondered about the types of spiders in their area or home, [would be interested in Spider Fest]," she adds. "So that's basically everyone, right?"
The only cost is the park access fee. Well, that, and perhaps a little bit of adrenaline as you fight those natural fears and get to know your eight-legged neighbors. (Casey Koldewyn)
Antelope Island Spider Fest @ Antelope Island State Park Visitor Center, 4528 W. 1700 South, Syracuse, Aug. 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 801-725-9263, $3-$10, stateparks.utah.gov
- Everything is terrible via facebook
Everything Is Terrible!
Los Angeles-based Everything Is Terrible!'s fame rose out of posting online bits unearthed from VHS tapes of the late 20th century. These videos are often focused on retro topics like microwave cooking or 1990s gamer culture. Duane, the group's celebrated mascot, is a child who was unafraid to be a star in a 1980s dance TV program. Depending on whom you ask, this humor settles somewhere in the realm of surrealism or post-irony. Imagine Tim and Eric, but curated from old video footage, and it all comes through in the group's wacky on-stage performance.
The initiative recently found inspiration from the creators and mavens of 21st-century meme culture. Two years ago, EIT! began amassing more than 27,000 VHS copies of Jerry Maguire. The endeavor was launched after members recognized how this hit romantic comedy tended to appear in every thrift store's defunct-media area. EIT! promised to build a pyramid of all these tapes somewhere in the Mojave desert.
What maintains the longevity of this project is preventing these absurdist videos from being displayed as full-frontal irony. Although its campy residue will always be present, the show runners strive to supplement their live events with costumes, puppets and a plunge into their unique understanding of the world.
Their work demonstrates a motive beyond simply sharing (and mocking) vintage videos. It's to examine how most of us love mining nostalgia while holding no actual memory of it. It's more comforting and spiritually luxurious to ponder decades-old visual nonsense than address our shared cultural alienation. In the end, we might forget, but the values from the VHS era remain evident in these artifacts.(Miacel Spotted Elk)
Everything Is Terrible! @ Metro Music Hall, 615 W. 100 South, Aug. 7, 7 p.m., $12 advance, $14 day of show, metromusichall.com