The Red Door: Salt Lake City’s sleekest bar

Story and photos by MORGAN PARENT

Glasses clink together and again as they’re set on glass table tops throughout the room. The music is at the perfect volume for listening without having to shout to hold a conversation. You feel relaxed here.

This is the Red Door that faithful patrons have come to know and love.

IMG_6927Opened in October 2002, “the Red Door became the second non-smoking club in Salt Lake at a time when bars were private clubs which allowed smoking,” said Louise Hannig, the owner. “My vision was a comfortable warehouse vibe with a unique martini menu and liquor selection.”

Hannig’s vision continues to live on after 17 years. The Salt Lake City bar, located at 57 W. 200 South, specializes in craft martinis, cocktails, and ambiance. The red painted brick with subtle artwork, exposed lighting, and odd monkey in the corner give the spot an eccentric feeling, unlike any other in the city.

IMG_6926Getting the joint going was no small task. In the beginning, Hannig spent hours at the bar for eight months straight, working out the quirks and making sure it could run smoothly. Although preparing to open was occasionally challenging, the hard work and personality that went into the creation is evident.

The lighting was custom-made, the tables were handmade by a local artist, and Hannig and her friends painted the brick walls.

Down to the bartender name tags, the Red Door is a full experience. Though some say the styling of the name tags was a bold choice, “it actually happened as a happy accident,” Hannig said. “We had just opened the bar, but I hadn’t planned any name tags yet. A friend who was helping me said she had her actual missionary name tag with her, so she wore it the night we opened. We took the idea from there and I used a favorite line from my favorite show as a kid, “MASH,” and tweaked the wording.”

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The name tags read “Sister” or “Brother” then the name of the bartender, followed by “Church of the Emotionally Tired and Morally Bankrupt.” This play on the influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues in the design of the A-Frame sidewalk board in front of the bar.

IMG_6919Martyn Duniho, a University of Utah graduate student, is a Red Door regular. He’s been patronizing the establishment for a few years and considers the Vesper Martini his go-to mix. “This is by far my favorite place to get a drink,” Duniho said. “The staff are excellent at what they do, and the crowd is rarely too rowdy. Weekend nights can get a little crazy, but weekday nights are just perfect.”IMG_6920

Lynnae Larsen-Jones, manager of the establishment, said those who know Red Door believe in its great drinks and mature atmosphere. Alternately, those who aren’t familiar with the bar tend to think it may be too fancy for them, there is a dress code, or it’s only for old people.

About this reputation, Duniho said he “fully agrees. The atmosphere can’t be beat, but before visiting the first time I assumed it would be a snooty kind of place.” Now he can’t imagine going anywhere else.

The people who frequent the Red Door are certainly a spread of personalities. Larsen-Jones said the people have been the most interesting part of working at the bar over the last 16 years. “Especially the couples who come in for a few drinks then start fighting with each other and want the bartender to weigh in on the argument, tell them which one is right, or play therapist. But that kind of situation isn’t super common,” she said.

“Most of the guests coming in are generally pretty alright — just weird in their own ways,” said Larsen-Jones. No matter the attitude of the customer, Larsen-Jones’ philosophy of bartending is to “be nice no matter what and don’t ruin your own night. Also, don’t worry about tips. You don’t know what’s going on for other people.”

As diverse as the individuals drinking here are, the types of cocktails are equally varied. Hannig has seen bar trends change time and again over her nearly 30 years of bartending.

IMG_6930Vodka martinis and drinks such as the Cosmopolitan and sour apple martini were very popular when the Red Door opened. Bourbon and other classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned were in vogue next, around five to seven years ago.

Gin has been the preferred drink base recently, although it was rarely ordered in a martini or craft cocktail 15 years ago. Tequila and mezcal, liquors which are typically shot, seem to be next up in the ever-evolving cocktail mix craze.

Witness to these changing trends, Larsen-Jones has adapted to each new style. No single drink tops her list of favorite drinks to make. Rather, making something up on the spot provides her the opportunity to have fun and use her knowledge of how flavors mix to create something in line with the customer’s desires.

“I don’t know how she does it, but every drink Lynnae makes is amazing,” Duniho said. “I can ask her to include a couple specific ingredients then she does her thing and hands me something delicious.”

At the end of the day, owning the bar throughout the years has been worth the effort to Hannig: “Pouring what you love to do in every drink makes a bar successful.”

 

Sundance is evolving: how the Sundance Institute’s programs are encouraging artists and locals alike

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Story and photos by Charlene Rodriguez

The Sundance Institute has been a prominent organization for independent filmmakers and Utah culture since its creation. However, the Institute has significantly evolved. While filmmaking and collaboration remain at its core, the Institute continues to expand its reach by encouraging diversity and inclusion through its programs. 

According to the Institute’s website, the Sundance Film Festival was first established in 1978 by Sterling Van Wagenen in Salt Lake City. Yet the Institute wasn’t founded until 1981 by Robert Redford. 

 Having initially started as an organization aimed at promoting American-made films and Utah filmmakers, the Institute now extends past its local reach, offering opportunities for upcoming filmmakers from national and international backgrounds. 

Hands-On Experience 

Among the plethora of programs the Institute provides, its fellowships for young filmmakers stand out.

The Ignite Fellowship, as detailed on the Institute’s website, is a collaboration between the Institute and Adobe that is open to filmmakers between the ages of 18-24. Out of thousands of applicants, only 15 are selected for the year-long fellowship. The experience includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the Sundance Film Festival, as well as mentorship from Institute alumni professionals and access to workshops, labs and other associated programs.  

“The Sundance Ignite Fellowship is a great opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of the industry and also be connected with other emerging filmmakers,” stated Maya Cueva, a 2019 Ignite Fellow, during an email interview.

Ignite Fellows are selected based on their submission of their one-to-eight-minute short films as well as “their original voice, diverse storytelling and rigor in their filmmaking pursuits,” according to a 2018 news release posted on the Institute’s website. 

Cueva detailed her experience attending the 2019 Sundance Film Festival: “It was an amazing experience going to films and events, being able to discuss and pitch my first feature documentary, and being able to connect with the other fellows in the program.” 

When asked how this experience has impacted her perspective on filmmaking, Cueva said, “This experience has definitely given me an opportunity to challenge the way I make documentaries and my style of filmmaking, particularly because the group of fellows do both narrative and documentaries.” 

Opportunities like the Ignite Fellowship allow young filmmakers to network and learn from professionals in the field. This has the potential to jump-start careers while providing the professional environment to further foster individual voice and style. 

Rooted in Utah

While expanding its home offices, broadening its reach and diversifying its stories, the Institute remains grounded by its Utah roots. It aims to encourage the participation of audiences of all ages through its community screening programs. 

The Filmmakers in the Classroom program began in 2000 but is now an annual opportunity for local high school students to view and later discuss a short film with the creators themselves. 

“We’re definitely doing those to bring those middle, junior high and high school students in and kind of expose them to independent films but also giving them the opportunity to meet filmmakers as well,” said Laralee Ownby, assistant director of Utah Community Programs, during a phone interview. 

Year-long programs like the Summer Film Series serve as an option for Utah locals across the state to experience independent films without having to trudge through the grueling festival traffic and crowds.“All of our year-long Utah programs are free and open to the public. That’s one thing that we want to make sure of. That we’re reaching everyone in Utah.” 

The effectiveness of these programs speaks for itself. Through an email interview, Jenny Diersen, Park City special events and economic development manager, shared statistics from previous years’ programs. 

During the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the Institute’s Utah Community and Student programming reached a total of 11,387 people. This includes Filmmakers in the Classroom, free screenings for high school and college students and various other community screenings. The 2018 Summer Film Series reached a total of 4,113 people over the course of eight screenings. 

Elevating Art and Culture Locally 

Even outside of its own programs, the Institute continues to contribute to community programs that support the development of art and culture in Park City. Project ABC is one of these outreach efforts. 

According to the Project ABC: Arts, Beauty, Culture website, Project ABC is a Summit County initiative that focuses on the promotion, expansion and implementation of artistic and cultural opportunities for local emerging artists and individuals interested in the arts. 

This project includes recommendations for City, County, Businesses and individuals to help grow many areas of arts and culture,” Diersen said. “As arts and culture grows in our community I think it will be important to make sure we continue [to] represent our unique community, history and environment.”  

Collaborative community efforts like Project ABC ensure artistic sustainability throughout the city. Although Sundance focuses primarily on filmmaking and film production, its outreach encompass a variety of expressional styles. 

While the Sundance Institute continues to grow and develop new opportunities for upcoming filmmakers, it doesn’t lose track of its background. With its community programs reaching thousands of individuals each year and support for local artistic cultivation, the Institute keeps inspiring new generations of artists and filmmakers.

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Art with a cause: artwork from cancer patients, caregivers, and staff at the Huntsman Cancer Institute

Story and gallery by MADISEN GATES

The Huntsman Cancer Institute stands as a gentle giant overlooking the University of Utah from the northeast corner of campus. Its massive glass structure is a symbol of excellence and elegance. The building illustrates its mission statement; “The patient first, a united effort, excellence in all we do.”

Treatment can be a stressful time for those who have cancer. The side effects for most people range from physical symptoms to emotional ones.

But what lies inside the facility is more than a treatment center for cancer patients.

For years, HCI has been a leading innovator for cutting-edge cancer research, including creative and emotional therapies.

Shelly White founded the Artist-in-Residence program in 2012 and has served as its director since then. Patients, caregivers, and HCI staff can participate in group or individual art projects every Tuesday throughout the year.  

Coming from a musical family, White said she believes that art can be both mentally and physically supportive.

She applied and was approved for a LIVESTRONG grant that offers funding for creative arts programs nationwide. She was determined to find a way to implement these benefits at HCI.

But these weekly classes are not just art workshops.

The artists leading the program each year act as mentors. Participants can learn skills in pain management and how to relieve stress. They can also spend quality time with loved ones through various art projects. These projects can include painting, mask-making, ceramics, and even designing maps. The patient is able to gain control over one aspect of their treatment – their art.

“I think a lot of the time people feel like they’re having all these things done to them that they wouldn’t choose. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, you wouldn’t choose those things,” White said. “And you get to make choices about ‘what do I want to get engaged in.’”

Each current artist will choose the artist for the next year to ensure the quality and engagement during these workshops. Every prospective artist can attend a session as a guest presenter. The current artist observes how the guest presenter interacts with the patients and attendees. This improves the success of the project to continue enriching the patients’ time in treatment.

Laura Wilson, the current mentor for the program, has been making art her whole life. Her favorite form of art is fine arts, which she studied at Carnegie Mellon to earn her BFA. Every artist is free to run the sessions in their own way. “People are just really happy to be here. The level of creativity here is really high,” Wilson said. “You have people dealing with very hard things, and they just free themselves.”

White said the greatest motivation to continue searching for artists to expand these projects is watching patients flourish creatively. “Seeing the whole person” develop, she said. “Giving people an opportunity for people to express themselves beyond words.”

The sessions are always kept open to allow participants more freedom while they create. There are no rules as to what a participant can or cannot create and participants are able to come and go from the art sessions in between regular treatments.

Vibrant clay tiles form a legacy piece displayed in White’s office.

A brown and red clay art piece is displayed in White’s office, which became a legacy project for one participant.

 

 “With some people, it’s a legacy,” White said. “There was another woman who was in her 40s who had daughters that were probably in their 20s who did this piece. It was a legacy piece because she wasn’t going to survive the cancer, but it was a really meaningful thing she could do with her daughters to make this piece.”

For most participants, the art represents much more than a fun craft project.

Caren Pinson has been attending the sessions for many years as a cancer survivor. She described her time in the Artist-in-Residence program as “life changing.”

“I have medical post-traumatic stress, from long before I moved to Utah and when I actually did first move over it was pretty bad. I didn’t ever really want to see a doctor again,” Pinson said. “But being here, this is really the safest place I’ve ever felt.”

Pinson continues to contribute many ideas to improve the program. She recalled a previous conversation with one of the HCI acupuncture specialists who said, “Huntsman hires compassion and they can teach everything else.”

Seven years later the program has flourished. In addition to the Artist-in-Residence program, a Writer-in-Residence and a music therapy program can be found on the HCI calendar throughout the year.

The programs aim to go even deeper in the upcoming years. It is the hope of the director to pair biologic researchers with participants to show the value of arts through basic science.

The emergence of these programs is a testament to the dedication of the staff at HCI. It is a giant not only in dominating the cancer treatment field, but also for the heart that lies within the walls.

 

Utah musicians discuss struggles for work and appreciation from residents

Story and illustrations by NATALIE ZULLO

Upon graduating from college, professional musicians look toward their careers with hope. But outside of the campus, they worry about their careers due to the lack of professional opportunities available.

Hallie Mosteller, a violin teacher in the Sandy, Utah, area and member of the Orchestra at Temple Square said, “I maybe thought I would have a little more option. But I have found that I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I never thought I would have, like the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Joanne Andrus, owner of Andrus Music, agrees that there are a lot of opportunities in Utah for music. She said, “I think the thing that’s great about living in Utah is that that there are a lot of avenues, a lot of venues, that you can use to make money.”

But opportunities to share music on the professional level do not come to everyone. “I think if you have a talent level, there is a lot of work out there,” Andrus added. “But you have to be the best of the best to have those kinds of opportunities.”

Those musicians who are not “the best of the best” worry about their financial future.

In a previous interview, Kasia Sokol-Borup, assistant violin professor and director of the String Preparatory Division of the University of Utah’s School of Music, said, “When people think that what we do is just this constant inspired magical moment, they feel that we should feel lucky when we’re asked to do that in front of other people.”

Mosteller, violinist in the Orchestra at Temple Square, said she gets asked to do a lot of performances for free. “Especially in Utah, you get asked to do a lot of church things like performing in church. It definitely takes a lot of work to be able to make a living performing. It’s tough. I’m a little worried about it.”

To help make ends meet, many musicians have turned to teaching children and owning their own studios. But they fear that their rates are an issue for parents.

“I do feel like music is highly valued and the arts are very import to our culture,” Andrus said. “But I do feel like people don’t like to spend a ton of money.” Andrus charges $25 per private lesson but has had experiences with parents who refuse to pay her rates.

Mosteller, who is both performing and teaching, said she worries about her future as a teacher. “I feel like you hit a brick wall teaching. I probably would need to get another job.”

Sarah Affleck, Utah mother of six, feels differently about the rates musicians offer. She said in reference to hiring private music instructors for her children, “Price was never an issue for us because we were happy to invest in that for our children. I would pay their prices because I know how genius they are.” No matter how high the price of the musician, Affleck said she feels that music is a long-term investment for her children. It is a skill that can be taken with them throughout their lives no matter their age.

Affleck’s children have been privately taught piano, guitar, voice, cello and composition from instructors around the Salt Lake Valley. When asked if Affleck hired an instructor based on a music degree and skill, she replied, “Their background in music education was less important to me. What was important to me with the instructor was how well they interacted with children. That was probably the number one over degrees or skill.”

Mosteller has felt in her performing career that her degree is not as important to employers as her skill and experience. She said, “I feel like experience is definitely more valued, like with the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Musicians tend to take up other musical careers to help with finances giving private lessons, including teaching the arts in school orchestras, choirs and bands. But musicians are seeing the loss of music in the education system.

Sokol-Borup said, “I think the fact that people ask for so much music and [desire] it shows that music actually is a basic human need, which when you look at the way our education works, it’s as if it wasn’t.”

In reference to the current school system, Andrus said, “It’s not just STEM it should be STEAM. It shouldn’t just be science, technology, engineering and math. We need to throw the arts in there. Because that’s what makes our children people. That is what humanizes all of us is the arts.”

Leslie Henire, concert mistress of Sinfonia Salt Lake, also has noticed the lack of arts in the lives of children. “It’s necessary for us as humans to have beauty and art and culture in our lives. I just don’t see any other way. It’s a necessity and it’s becoming less and less,” she said.

Affleck feels strongly about music in the lives of children. She wants her own kids to be involved in music “for their own self-expression and creativity. Music is a powerful brain tool.” She added, “It can be used for education. It stimulates the brain.”

For many Utah musicians and parents, music is crucial in school curriculums and individual lives. Andrus said it is also a crucial part of humanity.

“That creative part of life gives a huge reason to get out of bed every day and if we lose that, we lose part of our culture, part of our humanity and we lose all the benefits that come to our brains by creating and being more than just robots,” Andrus said. “We have things that we can accomplish that are so much bigger if we include the arts in our curriculum for our kids and in our lives as adults.”

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Tayler Lacey talks new EP and journey to being a musician

Story and gallery by JENNA S. O’DELL

Tayler Lacey performed at The Underground at 833 Main St. in Salt Lake City on a cold March night. It is an industrial-looking building down a narrow alley. The door is marked only by band stickers. Inside, the walls are plastered with stickers and graffiti. There are small rooms that line a long dark hallway that can can be rented out to bands for practicing and performances.

It was $5 to get in this atypical venue. The room is lit with fluorescent bulbs. You can hear the sounds of musicians practicing in other rooms and the performance was unplugged.

Tayler Lacey, 22, is a Utah native who currently resides in South Jordan. At 13 he started guitar lessons. Lacey plays several instruments and admits his selection of genre influenced his choice in the ones he wanted to play.

He describes his genre as folk but credits many artists including Jack Johnson for influencing his love for acoustic music. Shakey Graves inspired him to be a “one-man band.” He enjoys the simplicity and storytelling of Bob Dylan’s lyrics and said “lyrically, Paul Simon is a genius.” 

Lacey describes writing a song as a mindset, not a mood. “I have to be by myself because it’s hard to get other people on the same wavelength.” 

Performing is Lacey’s favorite part about being a musician. His hope is to make an impact on those he’s performing for, and that they can connect with his music. With all the live performing he does, the performance anxiety he initially felt transitioned to anticipation and excitement.

“I would tell my younger self to not get discouraged and to stop comparing yourself to others,” he said. “Do it because you love it not because you want to get famous.”

During his March performance, there was a lot of interaction with the crowd which consisted of friends and local music enthusiasts. One admitted this was her first time going to the Underground and jokingly said, “I’m going to get murdered going to this place.” Lacey’s set consisted of some songs from his previous albums and from his new EP. His song “Ghosts” was a crowd favorite, everyone was singing along.

He said that this EP is different than everything else that he has out. “I think it was a very transitional time in my life. I started doing solo music again after breaking up with my guitar player. I was also moving from place to place and going through transition in relationships. I chose the name “Street Corners” because of the love of busking and hearing street performers play but also because through every change I feel Salt Lake is my home and the street corners never change.”

Tayler Lacey’s new EP “Street Corners” is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Bandcamp. If you would like to see Lacey perform, he will be touring the Pacific Northwest Summer 2019.

Comics create common ground in Salt Lake City

Story and photo gallery by GREG HOUSE

It’s Wednesday and for those in the know, that means new editions of their favorite comic books are hitting the shelves at Black Cat Comics, located at 2261 Highland Drive in Salt Lake City.

The walls of Black Cat Comics are brightly colored, seeming to come from the comics that line its shelves. Customers walk in and out throughout the day and Greg Gage — the man behind the operation — greets many of them by name, often with a prearranged stack of new arrivals set aside for the customer to purchase.

Gage grew up reading comic books, but gradually stopped as he got older.

“I kind of got back into them on a whim,” he said. “I picked up a couple of books I used to read and was like ‘God, this is cool,’ and after that, it was over.”

Gage reintroduced himself to comics as a young adult and he saw that the stories being told were not just the shallow, fun superhero romps he remembers from his childhood.

“There’s some real, honest-to-God literature in here,” he said. “It’s not just people jumping around like idiots punching people. There’s more to this than I thought.”

When he decided to open his own comic book store in 2004, he knew that creating a welcoming environment for his customers and hiring employees who understood that were both key ingredients for this business, which celebrated 15 years in business in May 2019.

With such a wide selection to choose from, there are many reasons why fans like Kyle Jackson keep reading comic books.

“I like reading a lot of different titles that show characters who are something to aspire to,” he said. “Not that I think I can learn to have superpowers, but the people underneath the masks are what is great to me.”

Taylor Hoffman used to shop at a different comic book store. But, after feeling like her reading choices were being judged by some of the employees, she started shopping at Black Cat Comics. She said she found the sense of community she was looking for.

“I immediately felt so much better, like I had a place to go,” she said. “After I graduated college, I kept coming by until Greg hired me and started paying me to stick around and talk about comics.”

As an employee at Black Cat Comics for more than five years, Hoffman tries to make sure that even younger readers feel like equal members of the community.

“I just love picking out things for little kids,” she said. “Especially younger girls because I wish I had that when I was a kid.”

Over the years, Hoffman has seen some of the store’s regular customers come in with their newborn babies and as those babies grow up she starts to recommend comics for them as well as their parents.

The all-ages section of Black Cat Comics is home to books featuring characters from Saturday morning cartoons as well as child-friendly versions of heroes who might otherwise be considered too violent.

“This is my baby,” she said, motioning to the all-ages section of the store. “I try to read all of these so I know how to talk to the kids who come in.”

It isn’t hard to see why a child would enjoy a weekly trip to the comic book store and Hoffman thinks comics can be an educational tool for them as well.

“Comics are such a great medium for younger kids to get into the habit of reading because there’s the picture books without as many words and then they graduate into [books with] more speech bubbles,” she said.

However, comic books are not just a children’s medium any more. A wide variety of heroes means there is a character for everyone, especially with the bigger publishers like Marvel Comics, who are pushing for more diversity in their mainstream lineup of characters.

Whether it is a young woman of color taking over the mantel of Ironman, now Ironheart, or a revelation that the X-Men team member known as Iceman has come out of the closet as a gay man, diversity plays an increasingly important role in today’s comic book landscape.

Sina Grace, who wrote the now concluded Iceman series for Marvel said on a public Instagram story post about writing inclusive stories, “To my knowledge, no publisher puts something out simply cuz it’s LGBTQ friendly,” he wrote. “Even Iceman, the reasoning was: there’s a story to be told about a man dealing with a secret he’s kept for 10+ years, not THAT he’s gay.”

When Gage first opened his store, he wanted to create a place where everyone can feel welcomed, regardless of their identity or background.

“Inclusivity makes more people feel more welcome in this space,” Gage said, “and that’s what I want, both from a business standpoint and a community standpoint.”

Come support esports at the University of Utah

Story and gallery by HOLLIS LEJA

Esports and video games in general are starting to become a bigger part of our culture. In a 2018 report by the Entertainment Software Association, 60 percent of Americans play video games daily, and in 2017 Americans spent over $29 billion on video games. The report also said “56% of the most frequent gamers play multiplayer games.”

The University of Utah is one of the first universities in the nation to have a college esports team. This is something to be excited about because it is likely you may be a video game fan too. Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) is the name of the department leading this change and it has created the first varsity esports team in the U’s conference.

The university’s EAE program is one of the top programs in the world for video game development. It is rated no. 3 in the nation for its undergraduate and graduate programs and has published over 100 student-made video games. The U’s esports team was the first varsity esports team in the U.S. and currently offers this unique experience across four different game titles: “Rocket League,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” and “League of Legends.”

“League of Legends” is one of the most watched third-person Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games in the world. Two teams of five players battle champions with various roles and abilities to be the first to destroy the other team’s nexus — a structure that is well-defended in the middle of each team’s base.

“League of Legends” was the first game to become part of this program back in 2017 and it boasts one of the largest followings in the esports industry. According to Riot Games, the creator of “League of Legends,” over 80 million people tuned in to watch the World Championship in 2017 and Riot expects that number to only continue growing. The 2018 World Championship concluded at the end of October and was hosted by South Korea. North America, represented by the U.S. team Cloud 9, took fourth. This is the first time an American team has placed in the top-4 since 2012 during the first Worlds Championship.

Riot sees the potential in esports just like the University of Utah does. Riot said it has over 500 university League of Legends Clubs on campuses across the U.S. For the 2019 college season Riot will be offering scholarships to both players and staff of the teams that compete. The 2019 collegiate season will start Jan. 15, just in time for spring semester.

In spring 2018, the University of Utah League of Legends Team was in the top spot for the collegiate tournaments played. AJ Dimmic, the esports director at the U, said the team was able to get over 300,000 views on Twitch last season and created over 350 hours of content. Dimmic is working hard to help the team and program continue to grow while creating a place where fans of gaming can come watch and support some of the university’s best players.

Kenny Green works as game studio relations for the University’s EAE program and volunteers his time as the head coach for the League of Legends Team on campus. He is also a student pursuing his master’s degree in game production. He’s been playing “League of Legends” since it came out on beta for PC in 2009.

Green said he tries to instill a “culture of being a family” with his players. The team works on building trust with one another and practices up to 20 hours a week, helping each other improve at the game as they prepare for the 2019 season.

The U currently has 11 students on scholarship for the League of Legends team, each pursuing different degrees varying from organic chemistry to pre-med. Green said his players are just like any other student-athlete on campus and are held to the same standards. Students in the program must be enrolled as full-time students, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and progress through 20 percent of their degree with each season.

Like most of the players and coaches in the program at the U, Green is very passionate about his role with the team and video games in general. He said some of the biggest challenges they face right now are space and budget. The program is on campus in building 72 located at 332 S. 1400 East, Suite 240, formerly used by the College of Law. Green said he is working on making a bigger area for teams to practice and so people can come watch the team play local games in the old mock courtroom in building 73 located at the same address.

The U and EAE are invested in esports on campus and in improving the program. The student-athletes and staff have worked hard to represent the best the U has to offer. Dimmic, Green and the team said the best way students can support the team and program is to come watch the games on campus and subscribe to the university esports Twitch channel. With student support the U can continue to be a leader in innovation and invest in programs like the ones in EAE.

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ABOUT ME:  Amy Boud

I am a current Communication major at the University of Utah, and an Assistant Event Coordinator with Stadium and Arena Event Services.  My plan is to graduate and become a destination wedding planner in Park City, UT.  My husband Troy is a solar engineer, and we are the proud parents of a little Schmorky (Schitzu, Yorky, Maltese mix) puppy named Goob.  Together we hope to make the world a better place by helping the environment, and helping people to live their dreams.

Local Business Cross E Ranch Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Story and images by EMMA CHAVEZ

Cross E Ranch is a small local cattle ranch in the Salt Lake City neighborhood of Rose Park. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

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The Great Red Barn was built in 1880.

David Hinckley purchased the land from the Jeremy family, of Jeremy Ranch Park City, in 1968. David kept the business in the family, as his son, Dalon, and daughter, Heather, are the current co-owners.  

Cross E Ranch has a long history. Dalon, 29, began working with his dad when he was just 8 years old. He explained that originally the ranch was in the business of sheep, but his father quickly turned over to cattle. “We don’t do sheep anymore because, well, we’re just not that crazy. Sheep take a lot more work and are kind of a delicate animal,” Dalon says. Instead the ranch now raises black Angus beef. That’s just fine by Dalon, though. The cows are his favorite part of the job.  

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The ranch now raises black Angus beef.

“The cows keep us grounded in what we do each day,” Dalon says. The most interesting part of the ranch’s history, in fact, is its cattle brand. It is the cross E, and the namesake of the ranch. It is the oldest cattle brand still in use west of the Mississippi. It is a bit of a mystery. “We know it was used by a commander in Brigham Young’s Mormon Battalion, most likely Ethan Jeremy, but we aren’t sure,” Dalon says.

But the Jeremy family would not sell the ranch to David Hinckley unless he promised to keep using the brand, and David’s family have felt very honored and proud to be owners of such a historic brand ever since.

There a plenty of photo ops all over the ranch.

Running a cattle ranch is difficult work, but the hardest part isn’t the manual labor like you would think. Dalon likens being a rancher to that of a gambler, playing the highest of stakes. The nature of the business is luck. “There’s a lot of hope involved,” Dalon says. “You can gamble up to $300,000 on a crop of produce, and then you’re weather dependent.” Or in the case of a festival, “you’re hoping that in six weeks you can recuperate your investment and then make enough to make it worth it.” 

In the last 50 years, though, the stakes have increased tenfold. The entire business has changed. Dalon explained that he is now competing on a global agricultural market. His operation is now expected to be equally as efficient as a ranch that is working for a mass retailer, and shipping globally. It puts a strain on his resources.

Even more concerning has been the encroachment of development. Hundreds of acres of Dalon’s land have been bought out by the state government due to water accessibility, or shut down due to new EPA regulations. The changes began to greatly affect the business. “About seven years ago, we started losing hand over fist money, nearly $400,000,” Dalon says. “We had to completely reinvent the diversification of where our money was coming from.”

A display outside the Cross E Ranch pumpkin patch.

These changes forced the family to get creative with their revenue streams, which is how the Cross E Ranch festivals began. The ranch puts on three major festivals a year, the Summer Fun Free Days, the Baby Animal Festival and the Fall Festival. It also offers a multitude of private events, such as weddings, summer camps and corporate events.

Despite the stress the festivals cause him, Dalon says the creative aspect they bring to the job is the real fun part of the business. His goal is to constantly come up with new ways to make the farm better and more entertaining for the guests. Dalon just wants people to connect with agriculture, so he spends his time thinking of new ways to make the farm experience more accessible.

The Fall Festival, specifically, has been a major success since it started in 2014. Mother-daughter working duo Teresa and Kristal Hyde consider it their favorite festival. Kristal, who is the ranch’s event coordinator, described the Fall Festival as “fun, family, and good times.” Teresa, who helps run the ticket booth, nodded in agreement and added, “I’ve gone for the past three years before either of us worked here. They make their own doughnuts and it’s my favorite.”

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“There’s something for everyone.”

Of all the activities available, both Kristal and Teresa recommend the hay ride as a must-go-on when the festival next comes around, while Dalon insists everyone try the food. “There’s a doughnut shop, caramel apples, kettle corn, and a concessions shop where you can try a Cross E hamburger,” Dalon says. “There’s something for everyone.” This 2018 Fall Festival included a 14-acre corn maze, a 12-acre pumpkin patch, hay rides, slides, animals, and plenty of food. Check the Cross E Ranch website for more details on its variety of year-round festivals and activities.

Dalon is very excited with the direction the ranch is heading currently, but admits that it is expensive to change. He and his sister Heather haven’t taken a paycheck in two years. “Herding people and cows are really similar,” he said with a laugh, “but they do require different fencing. We haven’t made any money on the festivals yet because we keep reinvesting in them.” It’s quite a strenuous transition period.

An old tractor turned display on the edge of the ranch.

In the future, Dalon hopes the ranch will stay in the family. Heather has four daughters that she would like to see be involved. The siblings would both like to continue toward the direction of mixed use, with plenty of entertainment, but also maintaining the interactivity and ambience of the ranch.

Chi Omega Sorority Promotes Make-a-Wish

Story and gallery by VIRGINIA HILL 

As a college student, it can be hard to get involved with service or even think about anything other than yourself and school. But an unlikely group is encouraging students to get involved in philanthropy and making it fun. Chi Omega, or Chio, is hosting a service-oriented week to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Chi Omega is a national sorority with the local chapter being part of the University of Utah campus. Chio attracts hundred of women every year and encourages friendship and sisterhood. According to the Chio’s mission statement, it strives to promote friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence, community, campus involvement, and personal development. While sororities throughout the country may get a reputation contrary to this mission statement, the annual efforts of the local Chio chapter to host a Wish Week in service to the Make-A-Wish Foundation demonstrate its devotion to the sorority’s mission.

Savanna Dubell, president of the local chapter of Chi Omega, made it clear how important service is to her and the members. She explained Chio’s history with Make-A-Wish and the dedication to service. “For almost 30 years Chio has had a national philanthropy, it is a cause that the sorority believes in and that all chapters would work to raise money for. A while ago they made a partnership with Make-A-Wish and that is who we continue to work with today,” she said.

From Sept. 24-27, Chio hosts Wish Week, a week completely devoted to planned, paid admission events that attract peers to come and participate in philanthropic efforts. This annual event changes from year to year depending on plans made by the director of philanthropy.

Eliza Parkin, the 2018 director, gave a brief summary of the week she planned: “Monday was dessert night, where girls bake or buy treats and other students come and buy them, Tuesday we partnered with Buffalo Wild Wings to bring wings to our house where boys or girls can compete in a wing eating contest, Wednesday we partnered with Chipotle so they will give us a portion of all profits made at one of their locations, and Thursday we hosted a big soccer tournament for anyone who wants to watch or participate.”

With all these events there is some sort of purchase or buy-in, and Parkin explained that 100 percent of the money went toward Make-A-Wish to help one particular child.

This child is an important one and the focus of all of Chio’s efforts. With the philanthropic efforts each year, Chio is able to donate the money to a particular child through Make-A-Wish. Both Parkin and Dubell feel that this personal approach to donation and philanthropy “incentivizes the girls to work towards something meaningful and feel that their efforts and money are going toward something real.”

This year’s 2018 Wish Girl is Mackenzie, a 13-year-old who has been battling cancer. According to Chios interviewed for this story, Mackenzie has a bubbly personality that has not been diminished by her personal health struggles. Mackenzie has a wish to go to Disney World and with the efforts of Chio, they hope to reach this goal by the end of the year. The women have all been able to meet Mackenzie and are touched by her story.

Meggie Nelson, a sister of Chi Omega, said, “Mackenzie and Make-A-Wish are very close to my heart and our chapter wants to do everything it can to raise money for her.”

Chios are pushing to completely fulfill her wish and are on track to do so. The Chio women’s efforts to do just that are tremendous, they worked tirelessly to plan and orchestrate great events, they posted announcements and calls to action on social media to encourage friends to come and participate. These events turned out to be packed with students and peers enjoying themselves and contributing what they could to this cause.

The women’s devotion to this has been encouraging and sets an example to others about service. This devotion seems to be a national effort as well. According to the national Chi Omega website, chapters have raised “more than 20 million dollars and have volunteered over a million hours for Make-A-Wish.” But Wish Week is just the beginning of Chio’s philanthropic efforts this 2018 school year. According to Parkin, the chapter will continue to host events and find ways to raise money for Mackenzie through the end of the school year. There is even talk of hosting a masquerade ball to further their efforts. The work of Chio and its leaders has made for a successful Wish Week.

 

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Sorority members flashing the Chi Omega sign at Dessert Night.

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Sorority members and their peers showing support for the week’s events.

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Gearing up for the wing contest.

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Sorority girls posing with Wish Girl Mackenzie.

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Rows of college students prepare for the wing competition.

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Mackenzie is introduced to the group of students.

 

 

Reaching out to China’s past

Story and gallery by PORTER L. ANDERSON

The Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City has for many years been a free and open facility where visitors can come and conduct research about their ancestors. The library is the largest genealogical library in the world and attracts people from all walks of life to travel to Utah just to take part in the work that takes place there.

Recently the library has implemented a new interactive activity for those visitors who come from China. “The Genealogical Society of Utah and the Family History Library have always been working to build an open and informative experience for visitors of our great state,” said Yvonne Sorenson, the library’s administrative representative.

The Family History Library is located on Temple Square, which is the most visited tourist site in all of Utah. Temple Square is a large plot of land with many different facilities that are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Christian church that has a strong following in Utah.

The interactive experience that can be found on the main floor of the Family History Library is meant to be the first look into genealogical work for those who haven’t had much experience before. Visitors are guided by the volunteers that work in the library to several different stations where they are able to learn about famous relatives, facts about their birth, interesting stories about ancestors, and so much more.

The newly remodeled main floor has been open for almost two years but just recently the administration decided to create an experience specifically for Chinese guests who couldn’t take part in the regular activities due to lack of Chinese records in the library.

“We realized that so many international visitors would come to visit Temple Square but, we would often have to turn them away from our interactive activities. We wanted to help reach out to these people in any simple way we could to help the guests get excited about family history work while making them feel welcome to our facilities,” Sorenson said.

The Chinese experience has been in place for almost three months and the results have been nothing short of amazing. One of the translators for the library, Charles Garrett, said, “It is so amazing to see these wonderful people come to the library and be so excited to see that they can learn simple things like the origin of their last name. They just seem to light up and get excited to learn more about their families.”

While the program is still in the testing phases it remains very simple but, with the results that have been observed over the past few months, the administration of the library is really excited to continue building on the experience. “I would love to see the experiment we have created grow to a more substantial point,” Garrett said when asked how he felt about the future of the program.

While the future of the program seems bright, no concrete plans have been made to improve the activities or even keep them up and running after the test period is over at the end of the year. The patrons of the library are very inspired by the activity and seem genuinely excited to revisit the library if they were to visit Utah again.

“This was very interesting for me because it taught me a lot of information about myself that I didn’t know. I only wish the building had the materials for me to do more searching into my past,” said Li-Wei Chen, a visitor who is traveling from Shanghai.

This is the exact result that the library administration was hoping to see from these visitors. “We were hoping that we could build the excitement that we see the locals get when visiting but, we’re a little short on resources to do it. I think the team in charge of the program has done a wonderful job creating this experience and I hope that we decided to put more effort and keep the program for the long-term,” Sorenson said.

The library has access to thousands of genealogical resources but few of those are Chinese, which makes the program that much more impressive. The program being added for the long-term would be a great addition to the library but would also help the state of Utah as well. Creating global attractions like the Family History Library builds the state’s reputation as a place that welcomes all visitors.

With the inclusion of the Chinese experience in the Family History Library, it shows that the LDS church is aware of the importance it holds in building tourism and attending to the growing international attention that Utah is getting.

Sorenson added, “We want to continue to create a global experience here that can be enjoyed by all. The journey may be difficult and we may struggle to find a way but, we are determined to help all find the joys that genealogical work can bring to an individual.”

To act, or not to act … There is no question at the Utah Shakespeare Competition

Story and photos by KIM DAVISON

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Next year’s Utah Shakespeare Festival season is full of classics like “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and “Twelfth Night.”

Every year, when the leaves begin to crunch, the air starts to feel crisp and the sounds of students reciting Shakespeare fill the hall of every junior and senior high school, it means that it is time for the annual Utah Shakespeare Competition. Young thespians from far and wide make their way south through Utah’s red rock to Cedar City, ready to take the stage. These kids love what they do and cannot wait to share it with the world.

The main element that makes the Shakespeare Competition so special is that it is part of the large and well-known Utah Shakespeare Festival. The competition, held at Southern Utah University, celebrated its 42nd year in 2018. Fox 13 Salt Lake City stated, “The competition is the largest scholastic Shakespeare competition in the country, and this was a record-breaking year with nearly 3,600 students from 123 schools in seven states and the U. S. Virgin Islands.”

The different sections of the competition include large ensemble scenes, duo/trio scenes, minstrels, dance and technical elements, all separated by divisions based on the school size.

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Troupes are able to bring props, set pieces, masks and more to make their scenes stand out from the other schools’.

Each school puts together an ensemble scene to perform at the competition. This is by far the element that takes the students and their director the most time and preparation. Penelope Caywood, the artistic director of Youth Theatre at the University of Utah, said she thinks that “competition is great motivation” for her students.

Some schools rehearse for a few weeks, others for months. The ensemble scene needs to be perfect and show the theater program and students in the best possible light. Scenes can be chosen and performed from any Shakespeare play, but some have a higher degree of difficulty than others. This can be a large factor in deciding which scenes to take to competition because they need to be challenging and have a competitive edge. This is similar to a gymnast selecting certain elements based on their degree of difficulty.

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Some schools choose to perform Shakespeare works that are not his traditional plays, like epic poems and sonnets.

The Shakespeare performed at the competition is unlike any other Shakespeare you will see. Because the ensemble groups are restricted to 10-minute scenes, they have the ability to take creative liberties with the themes they highlight. There are scenes that use a “Game of Thrones” or “Harry Potter” theme or some that choose to tackle political issues of today using Shakespeare’s words to drive their points home.

The students have a chance to let their individual and small group talents shine in the monologue/duo and trio scene competition. For this event, the students do most of the work on their own time. They rehearse outside of school to hone their craft and give the best performance they can. These competitions have lots of rules and are strictly timed at two or five minutes depending on the event, but are worth it if they want to show off their Shakespeare chops!

All of the musically talented students from schools all over the country come to compete in the Utah Shakespeare Competition’s madrigal and minstrel contest. There are no separate divisions, which makes the events far more competitive. Participants prepare songs from Shakespeare’s time and perform with either vocals, a mix of vocals and instruments, or just instruments.

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Penelope Caywood, the artistic director of Youth Theatre at the University of Utah, giving her dance ensemble some last-minute tips before the performance.

There is also a dance competition, which is a great place for seasoned dancers to show their technique and for new dancers to learn and improve their dancing abilities. Peyton Lozano, a senior from Skyline High School in Granite School District, has competed for three years. “It’s a big bonding experience,” she said. “We do really cool shows every year. It’s also the one time in the year that we get to dance. It’s not just about performing Shakespeare as it’s traditionally done.”

For students who are interested in theatrical elements other than performing Shakespeare, side competitions are options. Each school brings an improvisational team to Southern Utah University. Improv is difficult but fun when done well. It is the art of making up scenes and dialogue on the spot. It’s usually funny and the kids who compete are talented and quick on their feet.

Another option is the Technical Olympics. Students interested in stage management, costume design, lighting, sound, and hair/makeup get to put their skills to the test. Because each element is timed and the students compete as a team, the Technical Olympics gets extremely competitive and is exhilarating to watch.

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Trophies and certificates are given to the winners of the competitions. Some students even receive scholarships to Southern Utah University.

This is a competition, after all, so the students get the chance to win awards in any of the categories. A sweepstakes award is given to the group that has the most wins overall. The competition is split up into different divisions based on school size and age. Max Brown, a junior from Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City, talked about his first experience at the Utah Shakespeare Competition. “It was all very fun,” he said. “It was nice to be recognized for all of our hard work! It’s cool to put a lot of effort into something and then have other people who weren’t involved in the process also think that it is good.”

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An ensemble working on its scene where each member of the cast portrays a different personality trait of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Shakespeare’s writing has the ability to impact people of all ages and backgrounds. His work helps students find ways to talk about and deal with issues that can be otherwise difficult or uncomfortable. Caywood, with the U’s Youth Theatre, said, “We’ve talked about so many current issues through Shakespeare, whether it’s the #MeToo movement, immigration, whether it’s racism, rape and other kinds of abuse. There have been so many things that we have been able to talk about with these high schools students as we are processing and getting ready for the show. I don’t know of another time in the year that we get to address some of those issues and talk about Shakespeare at the same time. He’s so timely.”

 

 

University of Utah eSports program welcomes NCAA involvement

Story and photos by ALEX HALE

SALT LAKE CITY—Despite nation-wide hesitation about whether or not the NCAA should get involved in eSports, members of the University of Utah’s eSports program believe the organization’s involvement would bring much-needed resources and legitimacy to the world of competitive collegiate video gaming.

In December 2017, the NCAA announced that it would be seriously considering if it has a place in college eSports. Since then, many eSports athletes and faculty have been quick to express their distaste of the NCAA’s potential involvement. However, those at the University of Utah think differently. A.J. Dimick, the Director of Operations of eSports at the U, and Kenny Green, head coach for the U’s League of Legends team, both come from traditional sports backgrounds. They said their experiences with the NCAA were nothing but a good thing for them. They passionately believe that collegiate eSports only stands to benefit from the NCAA.

Dimick and Green have both observed that one of the largest sources of hesitation toward the NCAA’s involvement stems from restrictions that would be placed on monetized streaming. Currently, college gamers are allowed to earn money by independently streaming their gameplay to online audiences. Under the NCAA’s jurisdiction, the students would still be allowed to stream, but monetization would be prohibited.

However, the NCAA would make partial and full scholarships for eSports athletes more accessible than ever. In most cases, the money awarded from a scholarship would be greater than the amount earned from monetized streaming. There are only a small handful of streamers who earn enough income that they would be losing money if they demonetized and instead accepted a scholarship. Dimick called it “ludicrous” that people would push away the NCAA to protect streaming income that is “barely even enough to pay for a movie ticket every month.” He continued, “I want the most amount of resources for students who are passionate about eSports, and monetized streaming isn’t the way to do that.”

The U’s varsity eSports program already prohibits its students from monetizing their independent streams. In fact, the U’s team members already adhere to many NCAA-inspired regulations. Official team practices may not exceed 20 hours per week, they must be enrolled as full-time students, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and progress 20% of their degree within each season, and they are eligible for 4 seasons of play within 5 years of first enrolling. If the NCAA stepped in, “We wouldn’t feel stifled since we already follow a lot of the same rules” said one of the U’s eSports athletes. “Our program would just get better.”

Dimick and Green want to create a path to the greatest academic and professional success for their student athletes. The U is already doing what it can. For example, all competition winnings are collected by the university and put toward eSports scholarships. With the NCAA on their side, Green knows they can do more. “I want scholarship money for simply being involved, not just for winning. The NCAA can make that happen.”

Greater support from the NCAA wouldn’t just equal more scholarships, explained Green. It would mean access to better facilities, coaching, compensation, and greater research into proper nutrition and exercise. Even though athletes wouldn’t be allowed to market themselves with monetized streams, the NCAA would pour a huge amount of resources into promoting and fostering each athlete’s brand presence. If athletes want to go pro after college, the NCAA paves a helps them gain the recognition they need to break onto the scene.

It would also give the athletes a means to identify with their school that they’ve never had before. “For so long, gamers have been considered ‘other,’” said Dimick. “They deserve to feel like they’re part of the greater community.” If the NCAA officially welcomed eSports onto the scene of college athletics, Dimick believes the athletes’ passion and energy would be a favor to the university. Green agreed, saying “If the NCAA gives us the formal recognition we think we deserve, our sense of school pride and camaraderie will shoot through the roof. When we win, the entire campus cheers us on. When we lose, they’re helping us get back on our feet.”

Dimick believes eSports can finally find its place with the NCAA’s help. Currently, without a common umbrella like the NCAA to fall under, eSports programs are placed wherever they can fit. The U’s program resides in the academic department, specifically under Entertainment Arts and Engineering. Though some people from both ends of the traditional sports VS eSports spectrum would consider it a “cultural violation,” Dimick thinks eSports belongs in the athletics department alongside traditional sports. He observed that their needs and functions are similar, and the “nerds and jocks don’t mix mindset” is fading. “Why create an entirely new, identical program when we would already fit so perfectly within the athletic department?” he asked.

Dimick said, “If you’re trying to put college eSports on the biggest stage it can possibly be on and have resources devoted to eSports and the students that are interested in this, then you certainly want to explore NCAA membership and participation in college eSports.” For the faculty and students at the U, the NCAA and eSports are a natural fit. Green and Dimick encourage those who are skeptical to learn more about what NCAA membership, involvement, and regulation would really mean and to carefully weigh the benefits against the drawbacks.

The Women Behind the Silver Screen

SALT LAKE CITY, (April 24, 2018) — In light of recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein and movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp finally bringing public attention to the marginalization of women in the film industry, institutions like the Sundance Institute are creating programs to help even the playing field for female filmmakers.

While these initiatives are presenting new opportunities for women, there is some concern that this reactionary response will become a band-aid solution to the broader issue of sexism in the film industry. The women leading these movements are determined that this will not end with a conversation, it must evolve into action. They acknowledge that change on such a large scale, especially when it is so institutionalized, demands time, conscientiousness, and ongoing effort. “I am hopeful, I have a lot of hope in the #Metoo and #TimesUp movements,” says Dr. Sarah Sinwell, a professor at the University of Utah. “I believe with celebrities coming out and telling their stories it enables other people to tell their stories. I believe that by putting money and funding and resources behind these kinds of institutions and what, for instance, McDormand talked about with inclusion riders and all those sorts of things that the general public is aware, not just the movie going public or not just the women, female film directing interested–people public. So many people are aware of this and I think that the constant publicity and the constant discussion and the way it’s entering schools and non-profit spaces and the way it’s kind of not just about those celebrity experiences but that it’s framing all these other contexts. I think that is why it may move into a space beyond this present one.”

Solutions must go beyond simply honoring the women who are already making films, and must take into account the inequality in resources and opportunities women face in making films in the first place. A study released by Women In Film in collaboration with Sundance found that even with the recent shift to more progressive attitudes toward female filmmakers very little actual change in the film industry has taken place.

 

“Currently, the presence of women behind the camera in popular films is infrequent at best. Assessing 250 of the top-grossing U.S. movies of 2011, one study found that only 5% of directors, 14% of writers, and 25% of producers were female. These statistics have fluctuated very little since 1998, seeming to suggest that the traditional Hollywood economic model or power-structure is a leading impediment to access for women filmmakers.”

-Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers Phase I and II Research By: Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., Katherine Pieper, Ph.D. & Marc Choueiti

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The nominations at the Sundance Film Festival this year reflect their efforts for greater representation but, while higher than mainstream Hollywood representation, only 37% of the 122 films presented at the Sundance Film Festival were made by women. “What that says to me is that they are working harder to try to be more inclusive of women but we’re still not even at the 40 percent,” says Sinwell. “So, the numbers are growing, but they’re still not high enough, and I think that’s an issue not just of Sundance but I think it’s across the board that there’s not enough women directors, there’s not enough women directors getting high budgets like male directors, there’s not enough women directors working in a variety of locations and a variety of production companies.”

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37% of the 122 films at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival were made by women.

­­One often proposed solution to the problem of unequal representation of women in film festivals is the creation of separate categories for women and there are festivals created specifically to honor women in film, however some believe that this could lead to further marginalization or othering of women in film. “I think we need to value both, I think we need to value festivals that are specifically focused on women, that talk about the ways they value women, that incorporate women and that are inclusive of women and I think we need to promote quality filmmaking and make sure that women are a part of that narrative, of the general quality filmmaking or Sundance independent filmmaking narrative as well,” says Sinwell. “This is actually something that comes up a lot when people hear I’m teaching the Women Directors class, they say ‘why do we need a Women Directors class, isn’t that excluding all these other categories right?’ But I always remind people the reason we need it is because there are so few women that are talked about in general film history classes or intro to film classes, that the class is made necessary because the lack of women in our history textbooks and cinema kind of classes general classes.” Lois Brady

City hopes Murray Theater, historic hostess to the stars, can return to glory

Story and photos by VICTORIA TINGEY 

She’s hosted Judy Garland and Adele. Wrestlers and ballerinas. But after being down on her luck and threadbare, the time has come for the storied Murray Theater to be great again. The plans to restore the historic building have the city reaching for the future.

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Murray City Theater-Neon Sign

Murray City purchased the 79-year-old structure with the purpose of rehabilitating it into a cultural arts facility, and bringing the building — which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 — back to life.

Built during the Great Depression, the theater, which is located on 4961 South State St., opened in October 1938 and soon hosted live bands and film productions. The first film was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” with Tyrone Power and Ethel Merman. Show prices were 20 cents for matinees. 

“The facility captures the vision of a broad array of cultural facilities which are distributed throughout Utah,” Kim Sorensen, the Murray City Parks and Recreations director, wrote in an email.

The building’s unique design catches people’s eyes as they enter the city. This structure stands apart because of its age, architecture and charm.  

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View inside of Murray Theater from the balcony

“The façade is an excellent example of Art Moderne complete with rounded corners, horizontal windows and a vertical marquee that serves as a landmark along heavily traveled state street,” Sorensen said.

When asked how this structure will enhance the community, Sorensen addressed that because this facility would provide year-round indoor space, and programming options will expand significantly. It will provide a venue for both small professional and amateur ensembles made up of members from local orchestras and band organizations.

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Layout of Murray Theater hung up in the Foyer

As the city looks at the plans to refurbish this structure, they are trying to look what will help create a long lasting concept that will draw people as it once did. 

Jeff Martin, city facilities manager, said, “The City has asked for an assessment about the theater that includes: asking the community how to best utilize the space and what costs and upgrades will be needed to meet the community’s needs.”

The building was bought by the City in 2016. Their plans were to be able to repurpose this building so that they could positively enhance the downtown area of Murray.

“It’s not everywhere that a historic theater is owned and operated by a city, and one where they are actively looking to renovate and provide a fresh venue to their citizens,” Martin stated.

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Detailed architecture in the front entrance of the Theater

The architecture helps to emphasize the old rustic feel when walking into the building. This building has played a big role in the history of Murray and they believe that it can still add value to maintaining cultural entertainment  and historic identities within the community.

Community members and visitors see the special features that add character to the city.  

“When working, the neon sign on the front of the building puts out bright vibrant colors that light up the surrounding block. It really attracts your attention as you’re passing by,” Martin said.

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Old piano located on Murray Theaters center stage

There are other unique features about the building that Martin indicated including that there is an air handler that provides cooling and heating for the main theater room. The original fan is up to 6 feet in diameter and approximately 6 feet long. They included that the original motor still drives the belts that turn a large pulley to operate the fan that still works to this day.

They believe companies that create neon signage is a dying industry. It is harder to find people who can make repairs to the glass work involved and components to keep it operating. The color and light output that comes from these types of signs is really unparalleled. The city officials believe that these building gives a sense of how far the City has come.

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View of the Theater from the stage

“As I have worked with these buildings, some visitors came to watch movies at the theater when they were kids. While others attended events and concerts. Those memories tie into future generations and connections to build upon. It adds another aspect of how Murray is unique to its surrounding entities,” Martin said.

The reinvestment in the building is going to add to improvement of properties that run through State Street, an important corridor for the Wasatch front because of it’s big transportation roadway. Any enhancements that will be made will better the community at large. There have even been long term plans by state representatives to try to create more reinvestment in properties on state street because of it.

“This project will help revitalize our downtown area which is in dire need. It will be a catalyst to get things going, drum up the old history of Murray!” said Susan Nixon, the Associate Planner of Murray.

The city administrators are confident that the enhancement of the Murray theater will be an important catalyst for redevelopment of the downtown of Murray. It will add value to the social and cultural elements of the community. This project will bring the past into the future and make the area of Murray vibrant again.

 

Building a ‘Cvlt’-Like Following   

Story by EVERETT OLSEN

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 OCDope Serenades the audience to her hit single “Pull You Under” Screenshot of video by Everett Olsen

Sweaty bodies pack the small Salt Lake City concert hall. It’s Saturday night at the Goldblood Collective, and the energy in the room is electric. This isn’t the first time that the local rap collective “The Peoples Cvlt” has opened the show here before, but no one in the group expected a crowd like this.

Mad$haw co-producer of the collective, yells over only five feet away.

“Do you see this? This is nuts there must be 100 people in here!”

The small venue overflowed with enthusiasm as the group paraded the stage readying the audience for their final performance of the night. Mad$haw raises the microphone to his lips.

“When I say Peoples, yall’ say Cvlt,” he cries out. “Peoples!”

“Cvlt!” The crowd energetically echos, then again.

“Peoples!

“Cvlt!”

“Now everybody sing along if you know this one, it’s called “Pull You Under,” off of our new mixtape! This will be our last song of the night thank you Salt Lake City!”

The crowd quiets in anticipation as OCDope, one of two female vocalists present in the group, takes center stage microphone in hand. With a confidence large enough for the whole collective, OCDope delivered a performance that mesmerized the crowd, wrapping up the groups most successful show to date.

Salt Lake City certainly isn’t known for its production of Hollywood rap stars, or any sort of celebrities for that matter. Yet scattered throughout the Salt Lake Valley is a network of independent artists all chasing the same dream. A dream planted in the mind of every kid who has ever turned on their car radio.To make millions of dollars and perform for thousands of people.

The Peoples Cvlts’ story is not another boring overtold narration of overnight success. This group serves as a realistic and practical demonstration of how to make the most of granted opportunities, establish a presence in a local niche, and use various tools to build a loyal supportive fanbase.   

Before all 13 independent artists met and decided to make records together, Riley Teague or Teague recalls the day when Max first approached him with a radical new idea.

“He said he was sick of the 9—5 grind and wanted to start making music and taking classes for producing.”

Teague explained it only took a few short months before Mad$haw

“Took off and started getting a lot better.”

Mad$haw continued to dedicate himself to this new passion setting aside time from his job and family to work on instrumentals and production each week.

While attending his weekly production class Mad$haw met another producer Sean Motta or 4K. The two young producers quickly hit it offand began working together on instrumentals each wednesday in Mad$haw’s basement studio.

Vocal artists like Teague and Kiefy Kush another Cvlt member started working with the two producers while slowly introducing in other artists. Teague remembers how it all started like it was yesterday.

“I started inviting friends that I knew could rap then it took off. We started meeting up weekly and making songs ”

While slowly growing and improving the collective continued to meet each Wednesday evening. Many members would come directly from school or the job to meet up, relax, and express themselves creatively.

 

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 The Peoples Cvlt, shown above, during an album cover photo shoot. Photo courtesy of Jade Larson

 

It’s low key, and is kind of a nice stress-free environment,” 4K explains. “There aren’t any expectations. I think that’s why our music turns out so well, because we enjoy the circumstances under process of making it at Mad$haw’s studio.”

Kiefy Kush, a Salt Lake rapper who has been making music for 15 years, shared one reason he believes the collective has had such early success in a market typically sodifficult to penetrate.

“With there being so many diverse creatives in one collective, we have the ability to produce, provide and promote much more efficiently than if it were just one person juggling everything,” Kush said.

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 Kiefy Kush catching a vibe. Photo courtesy of Jade Larson

With the release of their debut 14 song mixtape “Cvlt Tape 1,” The Peoples Cvlt averages 1,486 streams per song released on their soundcloud page. An impressive figure considering the recent founding of the group.

Outside of making the music, the collective is constantly networking and plotting their next moves towards breaking out. In the past month The Cvlt has gotten on the ticket of two much more high profile concerts, in hopes to expand and capture their ever growing audience.

The first is Redfest, an annual concert put on by the University of Utah for its student body. The headliners of this show are big names in Hip-Hop like the Migos and Amine, the concert will be held April 15. The show nearly sold out with in the first week of being announced.  

The next event is a three-day music festival held at the Bonneville Salt Flats early in june this year. This event will feature a number of artists performing on multiple stages. Both of these opportunities should bring along hundreds of new ears and potential fans for the expanding Peoples Cvlt.

This Salt Lake based collective has served as the perfect reflection of what it means to work together week in and week out, seize opportunity, and produce a collaborative sound that is pleasing to the ear. With each artist still chasing the same dream of exposure, The Peoples Cvlt will continue to grind on until they don’t need to remind others of the name.

 

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 Mad$haw, Father Cactus, and 4K. Photo courtesy of Jade Larson

“It’s hard to break out of the Salt Lake scene, like, really hard,” producer 4K said. “I don’t think anyone’s ever done it. We’re going to be the first ones to break out, though. I know it. I’m going to make sure it happens.”

The University of Utah brings benefits to local students through Piano Outreach Program

Story and gallery by KATYA WAGSTAFF

When school ends, many kids race out as fast as they can. But others stay to play music written hundreds of years ago. While they wait, some are doing cartwheels or chatting with other students about book fair and recess. Some eat a snack or run around the room. All are waiting for piano lessons.

Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students studying piano at the University of Utah School of Music extend group piano lessons to five local elementary schools through the Piano Outreach Program. Three of the schools are Title I, which means that a large percentage of students come from low-income families. Students at these schools participate in the Piano Outreach Program for free.

According to the program’s website, “The program not only helps them learn a life-long skill, but also seeks to improve their performance in core academic subjects, like math and reading, and to prevent behavior and truancy problems.”

The program’s website further states that the program benefits School of Music piano majors by providing teaching opportunities and the chance to “learn valuable life lessons through service, preparing them for future careers.”

Mio Cowden, coordinator of the Piano Outreach Program, has a short break between private piano lesson instruction. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in piano performance and music history. She teaches at Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah Preparatory Division, and the Piano Outreach Program.

Her piano studio is a small, insulated room holding two sleek, black baby grand pianos side by side. In the corner is a small desk covered with music files. She relaxes on a piano bench with her back leaning against the wall.

Cowden’s role as coordinator entails training graduate student assistants, organizing fundraising and donations, scheduling assignments, observing each school once a month to check students’ progress, contacting principals and answering parents’ questions. “Basically I do a lot of stuff,” she said, laughing.

The program currently teaches approximately 200 students in five schools. These piano lessons expose elementary-aged students to the “joy of music,” Cowden said.

“There are so many kids, not just at Title I schools, who have never had the opportunity to learn piano,” she said.

“When a child walks into my classroom, the circumstances under which they live don’t really matter. That’s what I love about music, it is universal to anyone, no matter their situation. If anything, these children in tough circumstances are more grateful for an opportunity to do something new.”

– Claire Thueson, graduate instructor at Washington Elementary

 

When students begin piano lessons “they find another talent that they didn’t know they had and they get so excited,” she said.

Cowden explained that not only kids, but their parents also get excited. For example, a father told Cowden about his daughter, a third-grader from Afghanistan who attended one of the Piano Outreach Program elementary schools. Her older brother participated in the piano classes. She wanted to participate, too. However, in her family’s culture and religion, girls don’t learn to play instruments.

This girl still wanted to learn and asked her dad, “Why did you come to America?”

He responded, “To give you more opportunities.”

“Then give me the opportunity to learn the piano!” she cried.

“Let me think about it,” her dad replied.

The next day he decided his daughter was right and gave her permission to attend piano classes after school.

She was very dedicated, Cowden said, and learned Mozart’s “Turkish March” in just one year.

Cowden turns to the piano and plays the first few seconds of the fast-paced piece. This piece is generally for intermediate, not beginner students.

The young girl played this piece at the final concert, held at the School of Music’s Thompson Chamber Hall. Her parents and siblings attended the performance and were thrilled. Her dad realized that girls should also learn what they want to.

Shortly after, her dad called Cowden and relayed their story. He added that after the concert, he bought his daughter a keyboard as a present.

“I’m glad I got her a keyboard,” he says, “but I almost regret it because she’s unstoppable. She practices from morning to night!”

Her brother dropped out of the program, but she never misses a class.

“I’m not trying to change anyone’s culture,” Cowden adds, “because it’s really up to them. But it’s very exciting to see a girl take this opportunity and find a new talent.”

Claire Thueson is a doctoral student who also is currently a graduate instructor at Washington Elementary, a local Title I school.

She spends about 12 hours every week preparing for and teaching 24 students at the elementary school.

“I have students of all ages and backgrounds that come to piano class, anywhere from first-graders to sixth-graders,” Thueson said via email.

The kids are split into groups: one plays musical games or worksheets with an undergraduate assistant, while the other group practices on the keyboards for their recital. Thueson rotates the groups, “giving assistance and offering encouragement and correction when needed.”

Similar to Cowden, Thueson believes some of the strengths of the program are that it is  “able to offer exposure to music to a large number of children that otherwise may not get the opportunity.”

Some of the challenges she faces include making sure each child is getting “personalized education and attention,” despite their various ages and abilities.

Although she teaches at a Title I school with a high percentage of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, Thueson said, “I honestly don’t notice a huge amount of difference. When a child walks into my classroom, the circumstances under which they live don’t really matter. That’s what I love about music, it is universal to anyone, no matter their situation. If anything, these children in tough circumstances are more grateful for an opportunity to do something new.”

Another graduate instructor, Cheney Doane, teaches at Uintah Elementary. This school does not have Title I status, so the class is fee-based, though group class tuition is cheaper than private piano lessons.

His classes also include a range of students from first to fourth grade. Although it’s a challenge to keep them engaged despite different levels, Doane also considers the age range a benefit.

“It’s an asset to have this group of students together because they can learn from each other.”

Not all of these kids will continue studying music, but that’s OK, Doane said. If they want to continue, the Piano Outreach Program provides a “stable foundation” in music. If they don’t, it’s still a “positive, brain-healthy way to spend time after school.”

Doane wants his students to have fun and look forward to this class.

“I want their association with music to be positive, not filled with dread,” he said.

Doane’s most rewarding moments are at the end of lessons when parents come to pick up their children. A student will run up and say, “Mom or Dad, come listen to this piece that I can play!”

The Piano Outreach Program takes a lot of commitment and time. “There are days when you walk in thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this today,’” Doane said, “and you walk out thinking, ‘Man, I’m really glad I had Outreach today.’”

 

 

Arts Pass benefits University of Utah students, staff, faculty

Story and photos by MADELEINE M. PORTER

The University of Utah Arts Pass provides funding to programs, enables students to be in touch with their creativity, and gives the U community the ability to explore beyond their comfort zones.

The Arts Pass is “open to all students and faculty members at the U and includes screenings, performances, concerts, and exhibitions.” It is programmed into a person’s campus identification card, and permits them to attend some fine-arts events at a discounted rate and others free of charge.

When Bryan West Kilpatrick was in his second year of college, 2012, the Arts Pass was released. “It gives students access to discounts and anything in the performing arts, including the Pioneer Theatre which is the only professional theater on a Pac-12 campus,” Kilpatrick said in a phone interview. He is a logistics manager for the West Coast and was a theater major for four years.

Discounts are  particularly beneficial to U students. Many are on a college budget and don’t want to spend money on entertainment.

Some students still refrain from going to a wide array of the fine-arts events available, for the fear of having to attend alone. After speaking with multiple students, this fear is a driving factor as to why they do not attend.

Ali Lorenz is a dance major in the School of Dance, which is part of the College of Fine Arts. “It can be really intimidating to attend events, especially in the arts. That is a very unfamiliar field for a lot of people,” Lorenz said.

Pioneer Theatre Company advertises that “current University of Utah students may take advantage of student discounts through the Student Arts Pass to attend performances at discounted rates. With a valid University of Utah UCard, students may receive up to two tickets.”

Students with a valid UCard receive two discounted tickets per performance. Two tickets is intended to inspire students to involve their peers in the arts. Immersing themselves in a field that may be unfamiliar is a challenge that can be overcome.

Kilpatrick added, “There are some shows and exhibits that I wouldn’t end up going to because I didn’t want to attend alone.”

The fear of attending alone affects the number of attendees at the many different productions available. Lorenz noticed this very early on in her experience within her modern dance productions.

“The Arts Pass in our (modern dance) community is so blatantly obvious because we use it to attend productions required for class,” Lorenz said. “However, there is a gap between us, students in the College of Fine Arts, and the rest of the University as a whole.”

The University of Utah has an array of different fields that students are involved in. Students can enjoy the fine arts at a discounted rate while the Arts Pass is still available to them.

Saige Miller, a double major in communication and sociology, believes that fine arts are crucial in any form of education.

“The fine arts are a prerequisite to many different branches of education. You need creative writing or fine arts in engineering or in STEM education. I think it is so central to learning and people should want to learn more about it,” Miller said.

Kilpatrick also commented on the importance of fine arts. “If you are in a major that doesn’t do anything artistic or creative, it is still nice to go explore something out of your comfort zone. We have some pretty amazing student-run shows that are going on and some are even produced by students.”

Not only does the Arts Pass give students the opportunity to explore different types of fine arts but it also aids in the funding that is given to the College of Fine Arts.

The Arts Pass helps the College of Fine Arts keep track of how many students tickets have been used each year, which helps the budget manager determine the budget amount for the semester.

Lorenz said that when the modern dance program merged with the ballet program in summer 2017, it also merged the two separate budgets. Cole Adams, her production class professor, explained that the Arts Pass affects the amount of funding each program receives.

“We get funding through the Arts Pass based on how many students are using the Arts Pass. The budget manager for that year looks at the amount of students who have used the pass. The greater the number of attendees the more funding our program receives because that means people are interested and want to keep attending,” Lorenz said.

The funds that are available to the College of Fine Arts are used for the resources it takes to produce the event.

University of Utah students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in many different forms of fine arts. Attending events helps the College of Fine Arts’ budget grow so more intricate shows can be produced.

 

Day of the Dead, celebrating and remembering our dead

IMG_9221Story By: CHRISTIAN GONZALEZ

West Valley City, Utah -The Utah Multicultural Center hosted its 4th annual Día de Los Muertos celebration on Saturday, October 28, 2017. The festivities included traditional Mexican dances and a large variety of family-friendly activities such as skull-face painting and a dress-up contest. There was also a specific area where visitors could observe altars created in remembrance of loved ones who had passed away. “We want to make sure we don’t forget all of the good things our loved ones did while they were alive, day of the dead is way to let their stories live on through our generations,” said Francisco Perez, an attendee of the event. The event highlighted various aspects of Mexican culture and served to represent loved ones who have passed away by remembering the lives they lived.

Although this celebration was held on Oct. 28, 2017, the actual dates for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico are November 1-2. Beatriz Aguilera, now a 71-year-old woman, has been visiting the cemetery for el Día de Muertos, going as far back as she can remember. For Aguilera, it has become less a celebration and more a day of remembrance.IMG_9226 She still retains the vivid memories of her past when she would visit her great grandfather’s grave at age ten. “I remember helping my grandma prepare a table filled with things that were my grandpa Chema’s. At the center of the table we would always place portrait of them from their wedding,” said Aguilera. She recalls waking up early to help her grandmother prepare her dead grandfathers favorite food, along with pan de muerto (a spanish bread). “After preparing food all morning, we would use my grandmother’s finest silverware and carefully place the food on the altar along with belongings that represented the wonderful life he lived. It seemed as if for that night we were expecting him to join us for dinner,” Aguilera explained. As the years pass, the traditions of this holiday allow her to remember both of her grandparents, her older brother who passed away at a young age, and her mother who died a few years ago. Every November 2, she travels to the cemetery with her children and grandchildren to spend time with all of those who have passed on. Aguilera and her family use this day to celebrate the life of their loved ones and remember the legacy they left behind.

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Many of the altars at the Utah Multicultural celebration were similarly decorated. They use flowers, candles, food, and short paragraphs describing the lives of each individual on display for all to see. Also showcased on the altars were statues of the Virgin Mary, who it is said watched over the graves and protect the spirits of the deceased as they travel through the after life.IMG_9222 Many of the items displayed on the altars may only seem relevant to the individual but one thing we can learn about this celebration is that nearly every object holds a symbolic meaning.

The flower “cempasúchil”IMG_9462 or in English, the marigold, is known for its powerful scent and vivid bright yellow color. There is much speculation regarding the purpose of this flower. However, the common belief derives from the ancient Aztecs, who believed the bright yellow represented the sun, and that the flower could guide the deceased in the dark using its petals. Today the flower is used to decorate graves, with its bright color, as well as to guide the spirits of the deceased toward their families during the night.

The previously mentioned pan de muerto or in English, “bread of the dead” represents the human skull. It contains four intersecting protrusions that are shaped liked bones. They are said to represent the four corners of the universe. The circular shape of the bread represents the never-ending cycle between life and death. Finally, one thing you will notice at almost every cemetery when celebrating the Day of the

Dead is a very strong odor.IMG_9463 Copal, a resin made from tropical trees, fill the air with its strong aroma when it burns. “The smell is said to guide the spirits of the dead to their altars and purify them of any evil,” said Javier Peña, a local dancer familiar with Aztec traditions.IMG_9464

Peña explained that although many who attend the Day of the Dead celebration are not familiar with the symbolic meanings, he said, the most important thing to remember and celebrate our dead. “We want our children to remember the importance of our Mexican heritage and, although we no longer live in Mexico, remembering our ancestors is as equally important to us as the relationships we have with the living.” said Francisco’s wife, Fatima Perez. IMG_9223Both have been celebrating this holiday since they were children. The knowledge they have of their ancestors has helped them live better lives, said the Perezes.  Overall, Dia de Los Muertos is a day is to remember loved ones and the lives they lived, and the festival was designed as a celebration of life more so than one of death.

https://unewswriting.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/christian-gonzalez

https://unewswriting.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/reflection

 

 

Women in music: a local look at a larger problem

Story and slideshow by TAYLOR LINES

Marny Proudfit pulls away from the microphone. She’s still singing but the melody is farther away and sounds eerie. Proudfit is doing it on purpose. It’s a technique she learned through years of performing. Stepping back from the mic gives her sound more depth.

The man in the sound booth turns the microphone’s volume much louder to combat the loss of vocal intensity. The microphone screeches with feedback.

Proudfit has told him not to do this two times before. “Come on, don’t touch the mic volume, dude,” Proudfit says sternly. “When I pull away I’m meaning to.”

This is a normal occurrence for Proudfit, a local musician in Salt Lake City. In an industry dominated by males, she often stands alone as a woman and has found people treat her like a damsel in distress.

It is no wonder Proudfit often is the only women in the room. According to Berklee College of Music, men make up 61 percent of professionals in the music industry. When it comes to promotion, live music and management, that number rises to 70 percent.

One week after the sound incident at WhySound in Logan, Utah, Proudfit sits at a friend’s house with her long brown hair covered by a baseball cap. She sips a hot toddy in the living room. The chatter of people in the kitchen buzzes down the hall.

Proudfit has a singing voice that commands attention but when she speaks she is calm and quiet.

“That was one of those moments I thought OK, this is because I’m a girl,” Proudfit says. “You didn’t do this to any of the other men who are playing. If they told you not to touch the sound anymore, you wouldn’t. But you are because it’s me.”

Proudfit is well traveled and has lived in Boston, Los Angeles and New York playing music and cultivating her sound.

She says her experience as a woman in the music industry didn’t change based on where she was living. Playing shows at venues that are popular tend to treat Proudfit like she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Ben Thornton, also a musician, has played for many years with bands all over Salt Lake City. Currently he is the drummer for the female-fronted band, First Daze. Before playing with females, Thornton wasn’t aware of the issues women faced in the local music scene.

“Women go through experiences that men will never understand,” Thornton said while twirling his drum sticks. “Their experience creates stories that make really great music.”

By creating and performing music with women he believes he has gained a better understanding of certain attitudes within the industry. “People will say, ‘Wow she’s so cool, she can play the guitar.’ Well of course she can play guitar. Why couldn’t she?” Thornton said of his female bandmate, Gui Pelaez.

Pelaez has been playing music her entire life. She says music is an emotional connection, one she has spent the last five years developing.

Sitting at her volunteer job at Impact Hub in downtown Salt Lake City, Pelaez looks like she transported from the 1970s, sporting flared pants and a chunky belt. She is outspoken and passionate about the music she makes.

As the founder of an all-female fronted band, she says she regularly feels like a token. Venue workers will think the equipment she lugs to shows is for other people. Fellow musicians often don’t know how to acknowledge her because they aren’t sure if she’s performing.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s weird to meet other girl musicians. I sometimes don’t know how to act around them because they aren’t there that much,” Pelaez said.

The lack of women performing and tokenism within the industry is a problem on a large scope. Popular female musicians such as Grimes, Lily Allen, Lady Gaga and Beyonce have all come forward to talk about their struggle being taken seriously in the music industry.

Although women hold top spots in popular music, they are often overly sexualized or asked who the man behind their music is. A woman writing and producing her own music is unfortunately something that isn’t always widely accepted as fact.

Lari White, an R&B musician, highlighted the disconnect the music industry faces with women making music in a story by Nashville Scene. White was involved in every aspect, from writing to producing. When showing her album to a studio, executives turned to her husband and congratulated him on a job well done.

Music festival lineups are almost all predominantly male. A study by Huffington Post concluded half of the attendees at festivals are women, yet men make up 66 to 93 percent of lineups.

Pelaez said the hardest part about being a female musician was gaining the confidence to let go of insecurity and adversity and be comfortable calling herself an artist.

“I think that’s something empowered woman do,” Pelaez said of becoming comfortable in the music scene. “I think that they know who they are and I think they know what they’ve gone through and what hurdles are there. If you’re aware of the issues then it’s easy to talk about them and they aren’t mountains anymore.”

On every level of music, whether international or local, women are facing challenges to be heard and represented. Pelaez feels that not being afraid to shake things up within the industry can lead to change.

If women like Proudfit and Pelaez and men like Thornton continue to get up on stage or write music knowing what they are up against, change might not be that far away.

“Consider me for who I am and what I offer through my art,” Pelaez said. “Not what I am.”

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Sugarhouse slam poets: breaking stereotypes and dropping mics

Story and gallery by SAMANTHA SHAW

Watchtower Cafe sits tucked between a tattoo shop and an art supply store on State Street in Salt Lake City. On the second Thursday of every month, slam poets from all over the city gather to share their art at Sugar Slam.

Slam poetry in its official form has been around since the 1980s and individuals craft poems for the purpose of being performed. Dorothy McGinnis, 19, defined slam poetry as “poetry, but for the masses.” She also described the art as removing poetry from the academic space.

McGinnis was first introduced to the idea of slam poetry by a junior high school English teacher in Salt Lake City who showed her YouTube videos of performances. At age 13, she began going to open mic nights.

In high school, her theater teacher was a nationally acclaimed poet and encouraged her to go to slams and expand her horizons. It was then that she performed her first slam poem and she’s been slamming ever since. McGinnis now serves her community as president of the Wasatch Wordsmiths, the nonprofit organization that holds the monthly Sugar Slam.

In October, McGinnis returned from representing the Sugarhouse neighborhood at the 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS) in Washington, where she performed her favorite poem, “Pompeii (In Which I am Mt. Vesuvius).”

In comparing the national slam poetry scene to the one in Salt Lake City, McGinnis said, “We’re very very white.” Although the diversity of the community is something poets love about slam poetry, the demographics of Utah are not in their favor. However, McGinnis went to the IWPS Nationals on an all-woman team, which is rare on a national scale and a first-time occurrence in Utah.

While much of the Utah slam poetry scene is white, one will still see plenty of diversity at the monthly slams. Every gender, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic class can be found ordering a classic latte or a Watchtower Café special like the Butterbeer. Competing poets and onlookers alike all squeeze around heavy wooden tables, surrounded by blackboards with doodles of video game and anime characters such as Princess Peach, the Avatar and Kirby.

Another prominent local poet is Bryce Wilson, 21, a student at Salt Lake Community College. He came in second place in the Sugar Slam that was held Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. He started slamming after a breakup when a friend advised him to write down all the things he hated about the relationship. Wilson performed that list at his first poetry slam in Salt Lake City and took first place.

A typical slam starts with an open mic, where anyone can get up and perform anything. “There’s always one open mic that’s really good and you wonder why they aren’t competing,” Wilson said. Every slam has a host, who introduces the poets and keeps the audience engaged.

After the open mic, the host selects five people from the audience to judge the slam. The host attempts to choose judges have never attended a slam before, and they cannot know any of the competing poets.

Before the official slam begins, the audience calls for the “sacrificial poet.” Wilson’s favorite part of a slam, the sacrifice performs a poem for the newly appointed judges so that the competitors can, in Wilson’s words, “gauge the five random weirdos who are going to be giving these ambiguous points.”

After the sacrifice, the first round of the slam begins. Wilson said most poets will kick off the competition with a funny poem in round one and move on to a darker, more introspective piece in round two. In round three, anything goes! Some poets are eliminated after each round, based on the subjective scores. After the scores are announced, the host reminds everyone to “applaud the performer, not the score.” The final round’s scores determine first, second and third place. The only prizes are “bragging rights and experience,” Wilson said.

Both McGinnis and Wilson credit slam poetry with giving them more confidence, a better sense of self and connections within the community that will last a lifetime. They encourage anyone who is interested to get involved, whether that be as an audience member or as a poet.

Two regular events are held in the Salt Lake City area. The Sugar Slam takes place on the second Thursday of every month at Watchtower Café at 1588 State St. while the Salt City Slam is held at Even Stevens on 400 East and 200 South every last Monday. The Wasatch Wordsmiths keep the community updated on events and featured poets via their Facebook page.

Three Salt Lake City fashion creatives discuss the impact of social media marketing

Story and photos by BRITT BROOKS

A swipe, a like, a comment, a follow.

To get a look at marketing in the 21st century, go no further than your smartphone. Today you can look at any online platform and find a person, product, or brand that sparks your interest. But the businesses that perhaps utilize social media the most are those in the fashion industry.

Whether it’s celebrity-sponsored posts, live streams of runway shows, or notifications for product drops, fashion can be an immersive experience now more than ever. The elite fashion gods such as Gucci, Versace, Chanel and Balenciaga all have millions of followers on social media. But what about the startups?

Three up-and-comers in Salt Lake City’s fashion industry gave insight to their experiences with social media. The impact can be positive or negative depending on how active users are with the content presented to them.

Sydni Zaugg sat in a window seat at Salt Lake Coffee Break, her platinum blond bob stood out against head to toe black clothing and silver jewelry. Zaugg, 19, is a college student who attended the International Fashion Academy (IFA) in Paris in 2017. The program spanned three weeks and allowed her to attend Paris’ spring Fashion Week in early March.

Zaugg said she wouldn’t have even known about the opportunity had it not been for Instagram. After following IFA professor and trend specialist Agus Catteno on Instagram, Zaugg realized her wish to be educated about fashion in France was a possibility.

Zaugg direct messaged (DM’d) Catteno and asked questions about her job at IFA and  the opportunities for classes. Without her connection to Catteno, Zaugg wouldn’t have had a welcoming person to show her the ropes, and probably wouldn’t have gone to Paris for classes in the first place.

Parisian fashion influenced Zaugg’s personal style. And it serves as her template for advising others as she pursues a career as a stylist and photographer in Utah.

Social media give Zaugg a platform to share her availability for styling sessions and examples of her work such as dark, moody and romantic photoshoots with friends and models. But as with everything, it isn’t perfect. Zaugg mentioned the downside of pursuing likes and comments: a loss of creativity.

Avant garde clothing still graces the runways, but Zaugg has noticed brands moving toward more streamlined, minimalistic styles. This can be attributed to regular trend cycles. But Zaugg sees it as a reflection of the heavy use of social media marketing. Current fashion can be more about who you are, not what you wear. Big entertainment names like Kardashian and Hadid can be more influential than the brands themselves.

The integrity of the fashion industry can quickly fall victim to the whims of celebrities and influencers. Copycats are bad for any creative-based industry. To combat this ever-present sameness, Zaugg has a perfect mantra: “Clothes should give you confidence to express yourself how you want to, not how everyone else dresses.”

Someone curating new and wearable pieces for women is Madison Martellaro. A 21-year-old senior at the University of Utah, Martellaro has already started a company. In April 2017, she began working on her online clothing store, Fleur Fashion Boutique. She can be seen wearing multiple pieces from her boutique’s line including jeans, bomber jackets and everyday T shirts.

Martellaro came into the fashion industry alone, with virtually no connections. After months of research and hard work, she was able to start her business and advertise through social media to grow a following before the boutique launched on Nov. 9. She credits her online following of nearly 1,000 people to creating brand awareness before items were even available for purchase.

To get a good idea of what her customers actually want, Martellaro used polling features on social media. Polls and comments influenced the way the boutique website looks and functions. For example, followers wanted to know the models’ sizes and dimensions as well as see the clothing from multiple angles. These are two details about Fleur Fashion Boutique that came directly from future customers’ wish lists.

During her first photoshoot, Martellaro held a livestream. The feature on Instagram enabled her to connect even more with her future consumers. “I want to show people really what goes behind a business,” she said. In a world where new competition crops up every day, a behind-the-scenes connection with followers is priceless.

Martellaro takes a lot of pride in curating pieces that women of all sizes can wear and personalize. One of her biggest goals is to sell clothes that can be worn day to night, and look glamorous no matter the occasion.

Packaging is an important part of her brand’s final presentation and delivery. For a cohesive image, all clothing and accessories come wrapped in tissue paper with the greeting “Hello Beautiful” in bold font on the outside. Fleur Fashion Boutique encourages its recipients to take selfies with their deliveries, creating a wider community of people that talk about the products.

“That was the biggest thing for me,” Martellaro said, “making sure women felt empowered and special.”

Keeping a cohesive and unique image is one of the top priorities for Davis Hong. A polished and composed 24-year-old, Hong graduated from Salt Lake Community College with a design degree. Sitting in a wrap-around black coat of his own design, Hong said he likes to wear his own creations.

Recently rebranded under its new name, BYSHAO has been in the works for over two years, and is set to launch in 2018. Hong has made huge strides toward creating his ideal company and style.

Sustainable, ethically sourced materials are of utmost importance for BYSHAO. Only natural fiber fabrics like cotton and linen blends are used in the designs. To avoid creating more waste on our planet, Hong prefers working plant-to-piece with certified organic materials, and avoids polyester. Natural textiles and humane working conditions are the core of his passion for sustainable clothing, and it’s something he’s sticking to.

The pieces of BYSHAO are best described in Hong’s own words as minimalistic, gender-neutral and timeless. Specializing in overcoats and tops, BYSHAO is both modern and classic with structured silhouettes and neutral colors.

Participating at the 2017 Art Meets Fashion show in Salt Lake City, Hong’s brand was one of the five main shows. Events like this help secure a following that he hopes will subscribe to BYSHAO’s e-newsletter. Emails are more of a personal connection with consumers, directly informing them about lookbooks and future sale dates. A great way to foster a connection that leads to loyal customers is to start on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

As Hong’s demographic isn’t necessarily in Salt Lake City, he finds it important to get to know his followers through social media. He mentioned his use of geo tags, event announcements, stories and live videos to view people from the other side of the planet. “You can basically be right there and see the people there as well,” Hong said.

Networking locally and internationally has furthered Hong’s knowledge and increased the presence of his brand. Social media form connections that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. He’s found photographers, models and hair and makeup professionals to work on photo shoots and runway shows.

The internet is a fantastic way for startup businesses to get their name into the hands of others. “Social media is very much an open portfolio,” Hong said. The ability to view others’ work passively before making real-life connections is something new to the world. This can acutely affect professional creatives, as a lot of their work can be judged from a 5-inch screen.

Without social media tools, Hong would have had a much harder time making local and international connections in the fashion industry. It’s unlikely that Martellaro would be the owner of a business she built from scratch at such a young age. And Zaugg never would have known about the opportunity to study fashion in Paris, or launch her career as a stylist.

Connecting with customers, mentors and possible collaborators — no matter where they are in the world — is perhaps one of the greatest online inventions of all.

Successes and advice from new Utah artist: Jennifer Seeley

Story by Danielle Haddad

Already by the age of 24, local artist, Jennifer Seeley, has already reached levels of success some artists can only dream of. Seeley was born and raised in South Jordan, Utah, where her paintings hang in galleries all across the state. She has also been a part of some of the most competitive shows and earned spots in numerous events throughout the state.

A few recent events in Seeley’s life includes a marriage to Roberto Mata and her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a double emphasis in Art Education and Drawing/Painting from Logan’s Utah State University. Seeley is currently teaching at Corner Canyon High School in addition to expanding her artistic career to Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, California and soon Florida, where she plans to move this winter.

The Utah Arts Festival Holiday Show features one of Seeley’s most in demand pieces: a limited edition moose painting with a vibrant, yet deep, red background that was actually inspired “from being in Parmoosek City so much, and everyone loves the moose and kept requesting the moose,” says Seeley. The show includes 70 artists, 40 of whom are local artists showcasing jewelry, photography, glass, books, cards, clothing and more. The Utah Arts Festival Holiday Show is located at 230 S 500 W, in suits 120 and 125, which is where Seeley’s work can be found. The show is an opportunity for people living in or even visiting Salt Lake City to see how richly talented the community is in their creative and artistic abilities.

Becoming a known artist in a state filled with over 40 fine art galleries alone, is a journey Seeley  made in just a year and a half. “You get rejected all the time as a beginner artist,” Seeley explains. “I feel like the reason I’ve had success is because I’ve tried everything and I’m super persistent, and that’s what it takes.”

The fact that she’s been able to appear in the winter show as well as the Utah’s summer art festival, Park Silly Sundays, the Ogden Arts Festival, and more is due to her persistence and pre-application analysis. Seeley says that the application process for shows is “super competitive … you have to pay all of this money just to apply and then sometimes you don’t get in … and sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s: do you fit into the gallery? That’s really important.”

Though only starting to promote her work a year and a half ago, Seeley has pertinent advice based on her own experiences for new and upcoming artists like herself. “The best thing to do as far as galleries go is to visit the gallery first. Take a look around at the prices and the type of work that’s there and if it fits, then you should go ahead and make a contact and follow up, follow up, follow up.” Seeley’s paintings of a bison and wolf that continue the new line she has been working on can be found in a St. George art gallery.

Furthermore, she discusses a common problem for artists, such as having a large body of work and not knowing which pieces to show. In response she says, “I’m trying to find a way to filter it, and I think limited edition prints is the way to do it, and it also keeps the value of the originals up.”

In addition to galleries, Seeley has been featured in Utah’s Summer Art Festival as well many other shows around Utah and neighboring states. Seeley explains that, “Utah’s art festival is really hard to get into; a lot of people don’t know that … Most people that they take are from out of state just because it’s so competitive and they only take the best of the best.” She states that “the hardest thing for a beginner is that you want to be in the biggest and the best shows,” and lucky for her, she was, since the festival is such a large event. According to the Utah Arts Festival, “Having garnered numerous awards internationally, nationally and locally, the Festival remains one of the premiere events that kick off the summer in Utah each June.”

Throughout her education and career, Seeley received several scholarships, awards and ample success and recognition. Utah will experience the loss of a great artist after Seeley moves out of state. However, she will have the opportunity to flush her talent over Orlando, Florida and gain even more recognition for her signature array of animal paintings signed by “Jenn”.

NYC to SLC: music journalist Charissa Che

Story by Mack Culp, chasingmack.com

I got to sit down with Charissa Che this week to find out what a life as a music journalist is like. I met Che only two weeks ago when I picked her up in the rain for an Uber ride. I learned she is also a student at the University of Utah and new to Salt Lake City. Che was equally excited to learn about my journalist aspirations, because she has been writing in New York City for 10 years. Instant best friends.

I’m waiting to meet her at The People’s Coffee downtown Salt Lake City. The air is crisp, even inside, and my approach might not be. But my plan is to ask questions on the cusp, see where the conversation takes us, because that’s what an interview is anyway. Nothing calculated for a new friend.

Che ordered an earl grey tea, and I a second late. I start by asking if I could record on my iPhone for my notes. Che politely agrees.

Che is somewhat unassuming, but that’s what a journalist should be. Blending into the environment she investigates. Pulling it apart for what it is. Asking the question when you least expect.

Culp: Tell me about your work for Salt Lake Magazine.

Che: For Salt Lake Magazine, I’ve written lots of pieces on local bands. They’ve been able to meet with me. It’s mostly been at coffee shops, but with the more major acts who are touring, they can’t meet, so on the phone. I already had some contacts at record labels, so once they found out I was writing for Salt Lake, I started getting emails from them inviting me to shows, interviews. I’ve written for so many magazines. I see these people, and I’m like, I know you. You’re from Columbia, Atlantic Records. Once they hear I write for a different magazine, they’re on top of it.

Culp: I’m curious what it’s like to write for the mobile app/magazine, SOUNDS.

Che: I can write for wherever I am [for] SOUNDS MAGAZINE. I used to write about the New York scene. Once I was here (Salt Lake City) I pitched to my editor, hey theres a lot of cool music coming out of here that I don’t think people give credit for.

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 Lower East Side, NYC. Photo by Charissa Che

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 Lower East Side, NYC. Photo by Charissa Che

Culp: What do you do for SOUNDS Mag?

Che: I just went around, interviewed some local bands, talked about who stopped by, took pictures. It’s a several page spread [called] The Salt Lake Scene report. The magazine itself is interactive, so it’s an app. We had Ellie Goulding a few years ago, Elton John. I did the Ellie Goulding cover story. My most recent one, was a Josh Stone cover story.

It puts all the control in your hands. You have to make the moves. As intimidating as it is. I used to be intimidated setting up interviews, and now it’s just like old hat. It’s kind of up to me, I fashion the story as I want. It makes you prouder as a reporter, once that final project it up, that you knew you were behind every part of it.

Culp: What is the future of working journalists?

Che: Journalism is a lifestyle. It’s not an office job. Not everyone is born with the inherent curiosity to want to investigate things. It will fulfill your need to get questions answered. I don’t know what the future of print is. Lifestyle magazines will always have a niche. You want to have it on your coffee table. I feel like eventually everything is going to be digital and that’s a little scary. I like magazines, I like print. I like things that you can touch, smell, and keep. But, I feel like however it goes there will be a novelty attached to it and we will find a way to like that too.