Arts and Culture

Salt Lake Comic Con kicked off Thursday, and the allure of pop culture, science fiction and comics is expected to break attendance records.

Last year’s event was the first in Salt Lake history and surpassed expectations. About 72,000 people attended the Con in 2013, setting a new record in attendance for a convention in Utah. The 72,000 people also set new highs in attendance for a first-year comic con event.

Excitement over the convention has expanded vastly since last year, as evidenced by the more than 120,000 tickets which have already been sold for this year’s Con.

choir, matsiko World Orphan Choir
The Pioneer

The Matsiko World Orphan Choir is coming to Shepard of the Hills United Methodist Church in St. George. The choir is made up of 17 children from as far away as India, Peru and Liberia.

The choir is part of the International Children’s Network, an organization which seeks to pair sponsors with orphaned or at-risk children.

Don Windham co-founded the International Children’s Network with his wife in 1997. 

Orphan Cars: A View From Kenosha

Aug 20, 2014
Brian Champagne / Utah Public Radio

If you drive a Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, or Plymouth, your car is an orphan… the company that built it is no longer in business. You can expect it to get tougher to get parts as time goes by. But that’s nothing compared to the people you’re about to meet. UPR’s Brian Champagne traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin to bring you their story.

  View the entire album on Facebook.

The artist, Cache Valley local Michael Bingham, in his studio with the skeleton of his enormous, floating astronaut sculpture.
Ali Snow / Utah Public Radio

When the Salt Lake Arts Council called for submissions for their temporary public art project in January, Cache Valley artist Michael Bingham heeded the call. His proposal was one of 12 selected to make their street sculpture visions a reality. 

Standing in the midst of this metal shop there’s an overwhelming sense of power, energy, and even danger. Perhaps it is from the massive machinery that fills the room, each with their own capabilities to cut, mold, and bend steel with ease.

This is the studio in which Cache Valley artist Michael Bingham works every day. We chatted together next to a giant, nine-foot tall skeleton of an astronaut made out of steel rods and rebar. When thinking about what he could make that would align with the public art project’s theme “Flying Objects,” he said an astronaut is immediately what came to mind.

“Probably a combination of things. Childhood dreams of wanting to be an astronaut [laughs]. Maybe like every other little boy," Bingham said. 


The audience sits outside on the grass to hear the Utah Symphony play, with gorgeous southern utah scenery in the background.
Ali Snow / Utah Public Radio

Can you imagine a more picturesque setting to have an open air concert than Utah’s National Parks? That’s just what the Utah Symphony has set out to do for their free concert series this week.

This week the Utah Symphony will embark on their “Mighty 5 Tour,” a tour which will hit Utah’s five iconic National Parks: Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Zion.

Set against the stunning natural backdrop of “Red Rock Country,” they have programmed music that complements as well as contemplates this breathtaking scenery. Two movements of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” will be on the program, perhaps emphasizing the almost “other-worldly” nature of this scenery for those who have never experienced it before.


Fazal Sheikh; courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is scheduled to showcase two exhibits of Hindu art in upcoming months.

The first show is a traveling exhibition “Moksha: Photography by Fazal Sheikh,” which showcases black-and-white photographs that tell the story of outcast widows taking refuge in a holy Indian city, Vrindavan.

Ryan Cunningham / Utah Public Radio

Thursday wraps up the Ninth Annual Governor’s Native American Summit, which took place on the campus of Utah Valley University. The Summit was created under former Gov. Jon Huntsman in an effort to improve state government relations with Utah’s Native American tribal leaders. Governor Gary Herbert, who was Lieutenant Governor at the inaugural Summit, spoke to attendees on Wednesday morning, and he took care of some long-awaited business in the process.

In a darkened theatre, Karen Keltner conducts the orchestra. She is looking down at her musical score which is spread out on a stand.
U-T San Diego

Have you ever considered what an amazing act of faith it is, for a conductor, to signal an upbeat and come down and expect sound to happen? We now introduce a fearless Karen Keltner, resident conductor of the San Diego Opera, who has helped to make the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre a success now for eighteen seasons.

A native Hoosier from South Bend, Indiana, Karen Keltner says that she was bitten by the collaborative music-making bug early on in life. She began to take piano lessons at age six and the deal was, she had to practice an hour a day.

Run My Roadtrip: History And Custard

Jul 28, 2014
Brian Champagne / Utah Public Radio

Summer is the time of family reunions, vacations, and roadtrips. Brian Champagne is traveling across the country with your tips and suggestions on where to stop and how to deal with family and kids. From custard to historic sites, Brian reports.

Southern Utah University and the Utah Shakespeare Festival have announced that Big D Construction has been selected as the general contractor to head construction of the new Beverley Taylor Sorensen Center for the Arts.

Festival Co-Artistic Director David Ivers expressed enthusiasm at this latest milestone in the project.

Blue angels plane
Carl Berger / Utah Public Radio

The Thunder Over Utah Airshow will be in St. George this weekend. The event will feature historical reenactments, the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and some more quirky displays.

Between 20 and 25,000 residents and tourists are expected to attend the show this year. Show Director Kevin Walsh says he expects the event to be good for local businesses.

Walsh says he basically grew up at air shows. Both he and his father have each been in the business for more than 20 years. At the show Friday, he said he was excited to have the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform at the event.

Run My Roadtrip: On The Road Interview

Jul 25, 2014
Brian Champagne / Utah Public Radio

You're listening to Utah Public Radio, I'm Kerry Bringhurst. We continue our conversation with Brian Champagne, a professor of journalism at Utah State University, and a contributor to UPR. Run My Roadtrip, a series of reports we've been hearing from Brian, and we're with him.

Run My Roadtrip: Crossing The Great Western States

Jul 21, 2014
road and wilderness out front windshield
Brian Champagne

Summer is the time of family reunions, vacations, and roadtrips. We asked you for your travel tips to help UPR guest reporter Brian Champagne run a roadtrip from Kenosha, Wisconsin and back. Brian sent us this report, after crossing Wyoming and Nebraska.
Like many family roadtrips, Brian’s isn’t going quite as smoothly as expected. He reports:
 

Bar Fights And Gunfire, "Nerds" Defy Stereotypes

Jul 18, 2014

Very often as humans, we try to categorize the things we experience and the people we meet. We often dismiss what we do not understand. In a lot of ways, it makes it easier for us to get through life. Unfortunately, this is also how stereotypes are formed. This story is about a group who don't fit their stereotype.

rainbow gathering
Wikipedia

Over the holiday weekend—and in the days leading up to it—you may have heard us report on something called the Rainbow Gathering. The event, which took place over the weekend, is a meeting of the self-proclaimed Rainbow Family, a group formed in the early 1970s at the height of hippy culture. The group has met annually since 1972 at its national gathering, and this year, about 8,000 Rainbow Family members convened just a few miles east of Heber City, Utah.

Ever since the location of this year’s Rainbow Gathering was publicized, there were concerns about a clash of cultures arising between the free-spirited attendees and the small-town residents of Heber. But did that conflict really pan out?

It’s the Fourth of July, and I’m having lunch at a busy burger joint in Heber City, Utah, called Dairy Keen—not to be confused with a different burger joint with a very similar name. As you could probably guess, business is booming today, and an unofficial survey of customers reveals that most people are from out of town. But no one here looks like they’re heading to the Rainbow Gathering today. I asked Dairy Keen manager Kim Houtz if she had actually come into contact with the Rainbow Family.

Layton Teen Sings His Way To Broadway Stage

Jul 3, 2014

There’s no business like show business, and after a week performing on stage in New York City, a Layton student plans on turning musical theater into a career.

Performing on a Broadway stage is the dream for many theater students, but recent graduate of Northridge High School, Matthew Richards, has already had that experience.

After winning Best Actor in Utah’s regional competition, Richards participated in the National High School Musical Theater Awards, or Jimmy Awards, in New York City this past week. He won third place, $2,500 and the chance to sing a solo on a Broadway stage.

"I was just really honored to be chosen as a finalist. It was so cool to just stand there and be all alone on stage and just sing my heart out," he said.

A man in a suit sits on a bench, with his back to the camera, looking on at a large painting on the wall.
Impulsive Eye Photography

What do the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, and the Utah Arts Festival all have in common? It may not be what you would initially think. The answer? The Utah Division of Arts and Museums helped to found each of these organizations. 

It’s no secret that the arts in all their forms are flourishing in Utah. In fact, Utah is home to the oldest arts council in the nation.

Laurie Baefsky is the Grants Manager of Utah Arts and Museums.

“If you look at how arts and museums are particularly valued by the citizens of Utah… we have some staggering statistics. For six years running we were voted ‘Top 25 Arts Destination’ by American Style magazine. We also have the highest per capita piano ownership in the nation, right here in Utah,” said Baefsky.


"Flippin' Sweet!" Napoleon Dynamite Turns 10

Jun 12, 2014
Fox Searchlight

Ten years ago this week the film "Napoleon Dynamite" hit the silver screen and became an almost instant success. Social media is abuzz with talk of the 10-year anniversary. UPR's Matt Jensen went back to Preston, Idaho where the film was shot to see where it all happened.

It’s the last day of classes at Preston High School where much of "Napoleon Dynamite" was shot during the summer of 2003. The independent film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival the following January and made its debut in theaters later that summer.

The bible is making a mighty comeback in the U.S. with the highest rated show in the history of the Game Show Network: “The American Bible Challenge.” This high energy program brings together a colorful range of teams from every religious denomination across the country to put their knowledge of The Good Book to the test.

Deborah Dushku Gardner is a member of the first ever Mormon team to compete on the show. They call themselves “The Mormon Moms.”


Two men singing a duet with a chorus of women in the background. Appears to be a scene from the play Les Miserables.
Utah Festival

Over 250 high school students will strut their best stuff  at the 4th Annual Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards at Utah State University. 

Months of preparation will culminate in a spectacular evening on Saturday, May 10 featuring young aspiring actors and actresses from across the state of Utah. The competition is partnering with several programs including the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre to provide winning artists with scholarship, mentorship, and apprenticeship opportunities. 


The cover of this DVD, showing a photograph of a woman and her baby, as well as three small photographs from three of the experts highlighted in this film.
The Power of Mothers

This year marks the 100 year anniversary for the celebration of Mother’s Day in the U.S. For the past three years, two local filmmakers have traveled the globe, compiling the perspectives of experts and mothers into a special Mother’s Day DVD. 

To go beyond the usual flowers and chocolates, local filmmakers Shelly Locke and Barry McLerran have set out to honor mothers in their new DVD entitled “The Power of Mothers.” Together they scoured the globe to gather wisdom and insights from world leaders and mothers themselves.


Woman in a red volunteer vest poses, smiling. Has a volunteer badge attached to shirt.
Logan Regional Hospital

Since October of last year, patients and visitors at Logan Regional Hospital have been enjoying the soothing ambiance music provided by volunteers. This new program, called "Musicians for Healing," has provided university students and members of the community the opportunity to donate their time and talents to create a peaceful hospital atmosphere.  Ramona Fonnesbeck, the Director of Volunteer Services, worked with the administration to bring this program to the hospital. In the process, she was able to secure a brand new, baby grand piano.


Part 6: Aging Alone

May 7, 2014
woman stands in front of house
Utah Public Radio, Elaine Taylor

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part six of six.

“My name is LaRue, and that's L-a capital R-u-e. It means ‘the street’ and I always figured it meant I’d been walked on all my life [laughter], which is not true. Anyways, my address is ‘home.’”

As baby boomers hit retirement and the U.S. population ages, more and more people are left living alone in their later years. And more are choosing to stay at home.

LaRue Willis was born in Idaho in 1928. She married her husband in 1953 and together they had eight children. Three years ago her husband passed away, leaving LaRue to forge a new life for herself – alone. On the day I met with LaRue in her ranch-style house in northern Cache Valley, she described how hard the last few years had been.

“The hardest part is the loneliness. Sometimes I get panic attacks when I am alone and it’s really difficult.”

Part 5: Green Living On An All-Natural Orchard

May 6, 2014
Facebook.com

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 5 of 6.

“My name is Lorin Harrison and my name is Ali Harrison, and our address is Paradise Valley Orchard.”

Paradise Valley Orchard is one of the only pick-it-yourself orchards in Utah. People come from around the United States come to personally pick apples off the trees.

Through their naturally grown orchard, which includes 250 apple trees, a three-quarter acre garden, a food dehydrator, rabbit fur clothing, a commercial juicer, and chickens, Ali and Lorin say they try to practice green living day-to-day.

“Our effort here is to be sustainable for ourselves. 75 to 80 percent of what we eat we try to grow here on the property," Ali said. "We like to trade things, we trade vegetables for eggs and dairy and cheese. So, I think trading is a way to be sustainable.” 

Ali said the orchard is all naturally grown.

“We’re not certified organic, so you have to be careful about the term because they don’t like you saying you’re organic if you haven’t done the certification," Ali said. "What we tell people is that we grow everything naturally."  

She said that includes no added chemicals and no non-organic pesticides.

Regardless, Lorin said killing off bugs with chemicals is not always beneficial.

Connie and Parry Winder.
Taylor Halversen

"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 4 of 6.

“My name is Connie Winder and my name is Parry Winder, and our address is Cache Valley Sunsets.”

Parry Winder was an air force pilot and due to the nature of his work, he, his wife and four children would move every three months to three years, with individual trainings and deployments for Parry in between. The family has moved a total of 23 times, living in many diverse places.

“Of course our unique place would be Germany, such a different place to live,” Connie said.  

“We feel like it was an opportunity so we lived in a small German village rather than on the base. We shopped in the German stores and we went to the German restaurants and tried to become immersed in the German community and the German way of life, and it was just great; we loved it,” Parry said.

“Our favorite place was probably Alamogordo, New Mexico because we finally were able to buy our own home and have our own fenced-in back yard. Probably not the place that everyone would want to live; it’s not on anyone’s bucket list to go to Alamogordo, New Mexico, but we loved it,” Connie said.

The Winders say each place brought something interesting and new, but along with the unique opportunities that came with a career in the air force, there were some difficulties as well.

“Sometimes I could tell Connie where I was going and sometimes I couldn’t because we were in classified operations so we just would deploy and I’d say ‘I’ll be back when I’m back’,” Parry said.

Pages