Russel Albert Daniels: Blossom as a Rose
Russel Daniels is a longtime local photographer whose work has bridged the gap between photojournalism, in which he has a B.A., and visual art. The common thread between the two is that they both tell a story, and his shots display an uncanny economy of visual language to communicate with the viewer.
He has pursued a number of narrative photo projects, and his latest is Blossom as a Rose. Titled after the verse from the Book of Isaiah—"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose"—the series features images from both historic and obscure sites around the Mormon West. Among them are the LDS Temple Granite Quarry (pictured), Suicide Rock, an FLDS compound and suburban streets in the valley. The story they tell is of the way inhabitants—from settlers to current residents—have been shaped by the landscape and have made their own mark on it in return. The challenges and isolation of the high desert wilderness helped make this place and people what they are.
The gallery with a quirky, subversive name has hosted several shows taking flights of fancy this past year. It's now more grounded at year's end—but no less adventurous for its roots in local culture and geography. (Brian Staker)
Russel Albert Daniels: Blossom as a Rose @ God Hates Robots, 314 W. 300 South, Ste. 250, through Dec. 30, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. or by appointment. GodHatesRobots.com
Marcus & Guy Seidel
One of the best pairings to hit the SLC comedy scene in recent years has been the combination of Marcus and Guy Seidel. The two have taken their love for music and comedy, and seamlessly blended them into a musical impression medley that pokes fun at just about every genre under the sun.
"I believe the show has become so popular because it is something different," Seidel says. "We incorporate stand-up and music without being what I think is cheesy. We do songs and medleys that connect with all ages and circles."
Marcus brings his outstanding array of impressions—ranging from music icons to famous actors—and pairs it with Seidel's commentary and massive mental catalog of songs that he plays perfectly on his acoustic guitar. Their Musical Impression Show is like watching two karaoke masters with a sense of humor go to work on your favorite earworms. They've gone from being a simple novelty routine at the end of lineups to a frequently sold-out act that audiences keep returning for.
This Friday, the duo hits the downtown Wiseguys stage to perform classic bits as well as new material. Special guests are kept secret until showtime. And because it's the holidays, they'll be throwing in some Christmas tunes to get you in the spirit before the weekend. The show closes out what has been an amazing year for Seidel, who won a Best of Utah Arts award and raised more than $19,000 for his annual Comedy Cares show. (Gavin Sheehan)
Marcus & Guy Seidel @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m., $15. WiseguysComedy.com
Gallery at the Station: Michael Calles/Saline Visions
It doesn't matter where you go during the final weeks of the year: Every place is crowded with busy shoppers buying presents, returning them or spending their gift cards.
Union Station's galleries offer a respite from the hustle and bustle. Located at the front of Ogden's historic 25th Street, these art galleries feature the best of Ogden's art scene in a quiet locale.
In the primary Gallery at the Station, paintings by local artist Michael Calles line the walls. These artworks primarily feature the wildlife of the Western United States, like coyotes and cougars portrayed in a slightly impressionistic style. And in the smaller Myra Powell Gallery, there is a photograph exhibit from the Wasatch Camera Club called Saline Visions, which focuses on the natural diversity of the Great Salt Lake region.
Danial Larsen, gallery manager, says seeing the artwork—all of which is available to purchase—is only part of the fun. "Not only can you experience and discover high-caliber and great works of art within the station, but you can also take a step back in time and embrace history by enjoying the architecture and design of a historical landmark," she says.
That station has existed on 25th Street since the mid-1800s, although this is the third building to inhabit its place. In addition to hosting the two galleries, the building also has four museums that house firearms, trains, cars and cowboy memorabilia relevant to Utah's history. (Kylee Ehmann)
Gallery at the Station: Michael Calles/ Saline Visions @ Union Station, 2501 S. Wall Ave., Ogden, 801-393-9890, through Jan. 6, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free. TheUnionStation.org
Salt Lake Film Society: It's a Wonderful Life
Every year, the Salt Lake Film Society's Broadway Centre Cinemas hosts free Christmas screenings of the 1946 Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. And every year, those screenings are an opportunity to be reminded—or to learn for the first time—that most of what you think you know about this movie as cheesy holiday Americana is false.
While plenty of folks remember the story's happy ending, with George Bailey (James Stewart) running through the snowy streets of Bedford Falls wishing "merry Christmas, everybody," and his daughter blankly reading her line about angels getting their wings, there's plenty of uncomfortable material bubbling beneath its surface. Most obviously, it's the story of a divine suicide intervention, as the guardian-angel-in-training Clarence (Henry Travers) attempts to show a despondent George, whose life is falling apart, that his life has value.
Beyond that, however, Capra and his writers craft a story that's far from a simple celebration of small-town America. George's domesticity and eventual role running the building and loan are part of a war he's fighting within himself over his big dreams for going out into the world; his conflicted not-quite-a-proposal to Mary (Donna Reed) is one of strangest such scenes in movie history. There's nothing simple about the way Capra presents the conflict between individual desires and a sense of communal responsibility. During a Christmas season at the end of a particularly hard year, maybe that's one of the most wonderful ideas we can explore. (Scott Renshaw)
It's a Wonderful Life @ Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. 300 South, 801-321-0310, Dec. 24, 3 p.m.; Dec. 25, 7:30 p.m., free. SaltLakeFilmSociety.org