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From A to Z, Utah Arts Festival delivers fun

Published June 21, 2012 1:48 pm

Library Square • Event has music, visual art, film, food, workshops, kids' activities and more.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What's at the Utah Arts Festival? A little bit of everything and a whole lot of fun.

"It's a different festival for every person," says public-relations coordinator Eugenie Hero Jaffe. "If you're into film, you're going to go to the film program. If you're into music, you're going to hear music. And, perchance, if you get to cross over into something new, that makes the festival all the better and richer for you."

Besides music and film, UAF serves up visual artists, literary arts, dance, workshops, interactive exhibits, and plenty of food and drink.

Here's a sampling, from A to Z:

A = Anniversary • The Utah Arts Festival is marking its 10th year at Library Square, straddling 200 East to include part of Washington Square.

"This is our land," said Lisa Sewell, UAF's executive director, who has seen the festival wander over the years from the Triad Center to the Utah State Fairpark before settling in its permanent home.

As the festival grows (last year's 80,000 attendees was a record), Sewell and her crew have designs on the east end of Library Square — once construction of the new police headquarters across the street is finished.

"This is going to add more breathing room for us," Sewell said.

B = Ballet • Thomas Mattingly, a dancer and choreographer for Ballet West, is back with his second UAF-commissioned work in three years. The still-untitled piece is "modern, quirky and lively," Mattingly told dance writer Kathy Adams. (See Adams' story on D10 for details.)

C = Ceramics • It's been 12 years since ceramic artist Lori Mehan exhibited at UAF. In between, she's lived in Seattle, St. Louis and her current home of Chicago — with occasional trips to Utah to see friends and family. Mehan said she started making ceramics again in March after a four-year hiatus, due largely to the difficulties of finding adequate studio space in Chicago.

Mehan returns to UAF as one of four invited artists in the Artist Marketplace. What's different about her work now? "The color's different," Mehan said. "I think it's more expressive."

D = Digital Graffiti • Being a graffiti artist has so many downsides: the late hours, the danger of spray-can fumes, the fear of arrest.

Now's your chance to try your hand at being a "tagger" without those worries, thanks to a "digital graffiti" exhibit being set up by The Leonardo. Participants can use a Nintendo Wii remote to create a digital urban art design on a flat-screen TV. The interactive exhibit will be running each day of the festival, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., outside The Leonardo.

E = "Expressions in Color" • "I am primarily interested in expression," painter Pilar Pobil writes in a statement on her website. "I use form, color, light and shadow, to define as strongly as I can what I want the viewer to see and feel."

"Expressions in Color," featuring Pobil's works, is this year's UAF special exhibition, and will be on display throughout the festival and on through Aug. 3 in City Library's fourth-floor gallery.

Pobil was born in 1929 on the island of Mallorca, off the coast of Spain. Her father, an admiral in the Spanish Navy, was killed in the Spanish Civil War — and her conservative mother gave Pilar a convent-school education. She married and emigrated to the United States. In her 40s she began exploring her art.

In addition to the exhibit, Pobil will give a hands-on workshop Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23, at 1 p.m. in the library's Special Collections Room (on the fourth floor). Each session is limited to 12 students, and pre-registration and a $25 fee are required.

F = Fear No Film • If Topher Horman, director of the UAF's Fear No Film Festival, has learned one thing, it's not to underestimate his audiences.

"Our audiences have seen the best of the best of the best," Horman said. "If something doesn't measure up, or it's something they can't really embrace, they can turn on it quickly."

This year's short films are congregated in seven programs, each "about the moment where something tips," Horman said. Sometimes it's the tipping point for a person, or for a relationship, or for the nation, or the planet.

The programs represent works by Utah filmmakers, notably in the Utah Short Film of the Year competition (which screens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the festival). There also are works from around the country, and from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Screenings are scheduled at 2, 4, 6, 8 and (on Friday and Saturday) 10 p.m. in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium of the City Library. The programs have some adult content.

For children, two blocks of "Fear No Film Kids!" shorts — one aimed at ages 3 and older, the other for 8 and older — will screen hourly in the Art Yard.

G = Graphics • Albuquerque artist Scott Swezy is busy this summer. "He got into 12 festivals this year," said Matthew Jacobsen, who coordinates UAF's Artist Marketplace.

Swezy entered works in four categories for the Artist Marketplace. Juries in two categories selected Swezy's work, and he made the wait-lists in the other two. Swezy chose to run one booth in the marketplace, highlighting his graphics — one-of-a-kind etchings of ink on paper, transferred via an etching press.

H = Headliners • For all its focus on local artists, bringing in some nationally known acts "gives people an opportunity to see new and different bands that people might not get a chance to see," Sewell said. "It kind of rounds out the experience, with the caliber of the musicians we bring in."

The festival pushes a good mix of genres, and this year the headliners represent all types of music.

• Thursday's headliners are Texas folk-rocker James McMurtry, gospel-roots band Mike Farris & the Roseland Rhythm Revue and veteran reggae band Third World.

• Friday brings blues singer Curtis Salgado, who is believed to be the inspiration for John Belushi in "The Blues Brothers."

• Saturday's headliners include guitarist Joe Jordan (billed as Joe Jordan's Experiment), the country-rock band Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, jazz keyboardist Tizer (accompanied by violinist Karen Briggs) and Asian hip-hop artist Sony Bonoho.

• And on Sunday, the headliners include world music by Chicago Afrobeat Project, contemporary bluegrass by Blue Highway and funk from Brooklyn's The Pimps of Joytime.

I = Instruments • If your kid is interested in music, the Instrument Petting Zoo is a chance to test-drive an orchestral instrument.

Summerhays Music Center provides the instruments, and music teachers will be on hand to show kids the basics. (Note to germophobic parents: The instruments are well-sanitized between uses.)

The petting zoo has been a popular addition to the festival, according to UAF's Jaffe. "My son is playing cello because of it," she said.

J = Jazz • Enough with the jokes that the only jazz in Utah is our NBA team. America's one truly homegrown musical genre is well-represented at UAF.

A highlight for jazz fans will be the world premiere of composer Henry Wolking's UAF-commissioned work, "Time Passing Time." At the same performance (Friday, June 22, at 8:30 p.m. on the Park Stage), trumpeter and educator Neil Weight will receive the UAF's Jazz Masters Award.

K = Kids • It wouldn't be an arts festival without something for children to do — and the Art Yard will provide plenty of chances to make their own works of art.

The Art Yard will feature booths run by local nonprofits, allowing kids to make mixed-media artwork, stained glass, puppets, bird nests, optical illusions, racing goggles and streamer wands. Plus there are the festival traditions: face painting and the Mad Hatter booth.

New this year is a performance stage in the Art Yard, with student groups and individual artists providing music, dance and storytelling for kids — and often by kids. "It's going to be a great opportunity for kids who have some talent," Sewell said.

L = Leonardo • The Leonardo, Salt Lake City's art-meets-science museum on the south side of Library Square, makes its debut at the Utah Arts Festival with exhibits outside the museum — and price discounts inside.

Aside from the "Digital Graffiti" exhibit (see the "D" entry), the Leonardo is offering a "hands-on art making" lab, which will allow people to create art from recycled and reused materials.

Also, mixed-media artist Trent Alvey's work "Synchronicity" will be on display. It uses shallow water baths and floating metronomes for an interactive exploration of the science of water and wave dynamics. Water maps of the Salt Lake Valley will also be on display.

The Leonardo is offering discounts on its ticket price during the Utah Arts Festival. Tickets will be $7 for those just visiting The Leonardo, and $15 for a pass that covers both the festival (where tickets are usually $10) and the museum.

M = Married folks • For an artist's spouse, working a booth at the Artist Marketplace usually means sitting in the corner, running customers' credit cards and letting the artist in the family do the talking.

For husband-and-wife artists Blake and Cat Palmer, that won't be so easy — because both have booths this year.

For Cat Palmer, 32, it's the fifth year running at UAF displaying her female-centric photography, which she displays on found metalwork.

Cat's first year at UAF "kicked off my career, huge," she said. "It changed and shaped who I was as an artist."

This is the first time for Blake Palmer, 38, and it was a rocky road to get in. Blake, who creates 2-D mixed media that combines Xerox transfers of photographs combined with bold flashes of color, had been put on the wait-list for this year's festival. At the same time, when a show of his work went on display at the UAF Gallery downtown, Blake was informed that he had been picked as one of four "invited artists."

One perk of being an "invited artist" is that the festival waives its $500 booth fee. "There's no way we could afford a thousand bucks," Cat Palmer said, adding, "We've got two kids in diapers."

The Palmers, who will have adjacent booths, are now dealing with logistical hurdles. "We're realizing we only have one of everything — we only have one cashbox, we only have one podium," she said.

N = New artists • Of the 158 artists in the Artist Marketplace, 60 of them are attending for the first time. That's deliberate on the part of UAF organizers. "We're always wanting to keep it fresh-looking," Sewell said.

The selection process rewards new work. Art in the various genres is selected by a blind jury process to avoid favoritism and encourages artists to submit work that hasn't been seen before.

O = Oz Noy • Israeli jazz guitarist Oz Noy — one of UAF's national headliners — was going to learn to play drums when he was 10, until a friend took him along to watch a guitar lesson. "I liked the Beatles, so the fact that I could start playing their songs" converted him to the guitar, Noy said from New York this week.

Noy's fifth album, "Twisted Blues Vol. 1," is a departure from his previous work, in that he applies blues influences to his jazz — rather than funk grooves. The guitar, Noy said, "is a very problematic instrument in jazz, particularly in traditional jazz." But some great jazz guitarists — he cites Kenny Burrell and George Benson, among others — have opened up the instrument to modern jazz.

"To me, it really sings and it's a lot easier to say what you want to say — to express yourself," Noy said.

Noy and his quartet — Jerry Z on organ, Joel Rosenblatt on drums and Neil Stubenhaus on bass — will play on the Park Stage, Saturday, June 23, at 9 p.m.

P = Puppets • Plenty of puppets — a plethora, even — will descend on Library Square.

The Dragon Knight Stilt Theatre will provide a street-theater experience with a combination of masks, puppetry and stilt-walking. "They really blend puppetry and theater together," said UAF's Jaffe.

In the Art Yard, the Loren Kahn Puppet & Object Theatre will give performances on the Art Yard stage — and provide teacher-training workshops. Also in the Art Yard, the Puppetry Arts Guild of Utah will help children create their own puppets.

Q = Quick bites • Food vendors are a major part of the Utah Arts Festival, but it's not always easy. "Our goal is always to make the new vendor cry," Sewell joked.

Sewell said some local restaurants have turned down invitations in past years, because it's difficult to open what's essentially a second restaurant for four days.

Others, though, have answered the challenge. Among this year's food options are crêpes, kabobs, Philly cheese­steak sandwiches, hot dogs, grilled cheese, pizza, Mexican food, Greek food, teriyaki, barbecue, ice cream and gelato.

R = Robots • For the husband-and-wife team of Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, creating the comic-book robot Boilerplate was a blend of science fiction and historical fiction. Guinan's interest in history focused on the late 19th century, when inventions like the motorcar and airplane were first being developed.

"I wanted to tie them all together," Guinan said, by creating a character who knew all these famous inventors.

Because they are science-fiction fans, Bennett said, that character became a robot named Boilerplate.

In what Guinan calls "a 10-year overnight success story," Boilerplate has developed from vignettes on their website to a book (published in 2009) that was optioned to filmmaker J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Super 8," "Star Trek") and is now in development.

Guinan and Bennett, who live in Portland, are now artists-in-residence at The Leonardo — where an exhibit of "Boilerplate" is on display through August — and will teach a workshop on comic-book writing at UAF.

Bennett said the workshops — each set for 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in the Community Writing Center — get would-be artists and writers to ask key questions: "How do you tell a story in pictures, in a comic book? How do you make the story flow from one panel to the next?"

S = Sand • This week, 20 tons of sand will be dumped on 200 East, between the City Library and the City-County Building. That sand will become the art material for sculptor Ted Seibert, lead sculptor of the suburban Chicago firm Sand Sculpture Company.

The company's creations have been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Rec­ords as the tallest (at over 34 feet) and longest (at 6.53 miles) sand sculptures ever made.

And the material won't go to waste after the festival. The sand will be given to Salt Lake City parks, to use in playgrounds and other facilities.

T = Timpanogos • With all the loud music and other exciting things going on at the Utah Arts Festival, it's easy to forget the Literary Arts programs.

"It's always a challenge for us to highlight that, because it's tucked away," said Teri Mumm, UAF marketing coordinator.

This year's programs — at the Salt Lake Community College's Community Writing Center — include two performances by veterans of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Sam Payne will perform Friday, June 22, at 1 p.m.; Debi Richins will perform Saturday, June 23, at 1 p.m.

U = Urban Arts • Four groups — Higher Ground Learning, Spy Hop Productions, Uprok and the arts collective Copper Palate Press — are joining forces for the Urban Arts area, south of the Park Stage.

The main event at Urban Arts is the Open Road Project, a two-part work that everyone is invited to take part in, said Greg Covello, artistic director of Urban Arts.

Covello and artist Mason Fetzer are leading the project, which starts with Higher Ground students conceptualizing an open road scene and cutting out stencils of the elements needed to create it: cows, signs, fences, telephone poles, birds and so on. The students will paint that road scene on a mural on Thursday and Friday, from 1 to 4 p.m.

From there, festivalgoers will be able to add their own graffiti to the scene, which becomes an ever-changing artwork created by everybody.

And the whole thing will be captured on time-lapse video by Spy Hop to create a documentary. Spy Hop students also will be recording "found sound" around the festival, which will be used to create a soundtrack for the video.

Again, festivalgoers can get involved, using smartphones to photograph their additions to the mural and send in their photos to add to a massive slideshow.

Covello said urban art "gets a bad rap. All urban art isn't illegal. It's a style to be considered."

V = Volunteers • More than 1,000 volunteers make the festival run, doing everything from setting up and taking down exhibits to running the eARTh team recycling program, Art Yard and other programs. "It can't happen without the volunteers, no way," Sewell said.

W = Walking music • A piece of New Orleans, the "second line" parade, will be visible and audible on Thursday and Friday around Library Square.

The Stooges Brass Band, a New Orleans group that blends traditional jazz with a dash of hip-hop, will perform as a national headliner on the Amphitheatre Stage on Friday at 8:30 p.m. But three times before that — Thursday at 9:15 p.m. (leading to the concert by Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue on the Festival Stage), and at 5 and 8 p.m. Friday, the Stooges will lead what's called a "second line" parade.

The tradition comes from New Orleans jazz funerals. A funeral band leads mourners with a dirge on the way to the funeral. On the way back, the music turns upbeat — "because the person has gone to heaven," Jaffe said — attracting a second line of partygoers behind the mourners. "It's a spectacle," Jaffe said.

X = X96 • The alt-rock radio station is co-sponsoring, along with Stevens-Henager College, the "Chill Lounge" at the east end of the Park Stage. It's a place to enjoy food and a beverage and still get a clear view of the Park Stage, where many of the local music acts will perform. Some of the popular Utah bands on this year's roster: Ghostowne, The Folka Dots, The Trappers, Laserfang, Spell Talk and The Devil Whale.

Y = Yoshi's • The Utah Arts Festival will have its very own sushi roll, thanks to Yoshi's Japanese Grill, which is appearing as a festival food vendor for the second time.

The roll will be a modified California roll — crab, cucumber and avocado inside, with chili paste, mango and tuna on the outside — said Eddee Johanson, owner of Yoshi's. "It's a little mellow, something a little summery and light. Something good for those epically hot festival days," Johanson said. And you can wash it down with Uinta Brewing's Arts Fest Amber, a beer made specifically for the festival.

Z = Zombies • OK, so there won't be any real zombies at the Utah Arts Festival. But it's good to be prepared, right?

That's why the Community Writing Center has scheduled as one of its kids mini-workshops a session called "Zombie Survival Guide." (It's set for Saturday, June 23, at 3:30 p.m.) Other kids mini-workshops cover topics such as one-act plays, rock poetry and dada poetry.

spmeans@sltrib.com

2012 Utah Arts Festival

Where • Library Square, 200 East and 400 South, Salt Lake City

When • Thursday through Sunday, June 21-24

Hours • Noon to 11 p.m.

Admission • $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (65 and older), free for kids 12 and younger. A four-day pass is $30. A lunchtime special offers $5 tickets for Thursday and Friday from noon to 3 p.m. A "y'all come back" pass, available at the exits, is good for 2-for-1 admission on a return visit.

Information • Visit http://www.uaf.org.