The traditional, backbone items of the Utah Arts Festival - national and local performing artists on three stages every day, exhibit/sales booths for visual art and crafts, visual art exhibit, children's art yard and fine food vendors - will all be there.
But this year look for such new additions as large numbers of commissions to Utah artists, including a composer's commission to celebrate the 15th anniversary, and the new Art in Public Places commission, in the festival's biggest edition ever.All this mobility and growth excites Linda Bonar, artistic director of the festival and purveyor of "Fine Art, Serious Fun."
The annual event will be held at the Triad Center June 26-30, from noon to midnight Wednesday-Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission will be $4, $1 for children 2-12, $2 seniors 62 and older, with a family pass for up to two adults and four kids, $9.
Those attending the festival should try to avoid the crush of visitors in town for the National Square Dance convention at the Salt Palace. Bonar suggests festivalgoers head north, to take advantage of parking lots at West High and the Community High School.
"We have examined each of our existing programs for quality and content and have made major improvements," said Bonar. "We've added programs, and we've stressed the first-rate artists in all genres, living and working in Utah, whom we want to nurture and support. Eight of our 12 program areas feature Utah artists exclusively, while the remaining four showcase a mix of Utah and nationally known artists, with their new ideas.
"Also, we have focused on supporting artists who are creating new work - absolutely essential to the growth of the arts. To this end we began two years ago to reward Utah musicians with additional cash bonuses above and beyond their normal artistic fees, for writing and performing their new compositions, and we've been commissioning during the past 3 years in visual arts and dance/theater."
Through Bonar's astute artistic and financial sense, the festival paid off in one year a $100,000 deficit accumulated in 1987 and has operated in the black the past three years, with ever-increasing budgets that top off this year with the biggest ever - in excess of $600,000. She and her talented staff have marked many new directions and signed a wealth of artistic talent to appear each year. Their reward has been a first-time grant to the festival from the National Endowment for the Arts, recognizing its "nationally significant programming."
"Of the four performing artists on our national wish list, we were able to secure three, led by Brenda Bufalino's American Tap Dance Orchestra, Saturday at 10 p.m. in the Amphitheater," said Bonar. "Besides dancing, Bufalino is an author, actress and choreographer, and her company has dazzled crowds from Lincoln Center to the Cotton Club."
Also on the agenda is Laurie Anderson (Amphitheater Friday at 10 p.m.), a Grammy-nominated performance artist who specializes in storytelling with many enhancements ("completely ancient, not at all avant garde. The things that work best are the simplest, most direct stories," she says.)
Brazil's prominent Hermeto Pascoal and his group take the Plaza stage on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. He's a multi-instrumentalist who moves from ballads to free solos, from percussion pieces to a saxophone quartet, or pots and pans, hubcaps and sewing machines.
Bela Fleck, recipient of two Grammy nominations, has brought the banjo into the mainstream of jazz innovation. With his Flecktones "dream band," he will present some of the world's most exciting contemporary music, said Bonar, on thePlaza Stage, Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.
He'll be preceded at 9 p.m. by Laurie Lewis, a champion fiddler and singer, nominated for best country album in 1990. She and her band, Grant Street, will perform her original songs - bluegrass, old-time country, swing torch songs, and folk ballads - "a melting pot of rural roots music," said Bonar.
Chris Proctor returns to his Utah fans at 3 p.m. Saturday on the Park Stage. A former national fingerpicking champion, he has spent the past 10 years playing acoustic guitar all over the country, and making recordings such as his latest, "Steel String Stories," for Flying Fish Records.
Kicking off performing events in the amphitheater on opening night will be the Utah Symphony, Joseph Silverstein conducting, performing Henry Wolking's symphonic piece, "Forests," which won this year's composer's commission. Bonar hopes to make this commission an annual event, and the winner of the 1992 commission will be announced after Wolking's premiere.
That's Wednesday at 8:30, and it will be followed by Ballet West at 10 p.m, dancing the first act of "Romeo and Juliet." You might want to begin your opening night in the amphitheater with a 7 p.m. concert by noted Utah pianist Marjorie Janove, who will premiere "Waltzes," a piece she commissioned from Utah composer Ricklen Nobis.
Other evenings at the amphitheater, featuring largely local artists on the same time schedule, will be: Thursday - Zivio Ethnic Dance Ensemble, Children's Dance Theatre, and Utah Regional Ballet; Friday - Intermountain Brass Quintet, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and Laurie Anderson; Saturday - Utah Saxophone Quartet, Repertory Dance Theatre and the American Tap Dance Orchestra. On Sunday, the winner of the Gina Bachauer competition will perform at 12:30 p.m.
The Plaza Stage will present many lively artists, including some headliners, and times are staggered (7:30, 9, 10:30 p.m.) so you can catch a little of what's going on on both stages. The Park Stage will present afternoon events from noon to 6.
Eighty booths will feature a tremendous variety of pottery, painting, watercolors, wooden toys, furniture, jewelry and clothing. There will again be an Artist of the Day booth, and visitors will find informative fun at the demonstrating artists' stage, with three or four artists daily demonstrating such crafts as paper making, furniture, carousel animals, violin making, broom making, fiber, woodworking, ceramics and pastel drawing. Or try the "sheep to shawl competition" at noon on Friday.
If you don't like some of the statues or murals you see around town, here's your chance to make a difference: The festival's Art in Public Places program will commission a piece of art (hopefully annually), as a gift to the city. A hand-picked jury has selected five artists to present their proposals, and the public can vote for its favorite among the detailed drawings, blueprints and models of each. No more grousing, Salt Lake City - it's in your hands.
The theme of Children's Art Yard 1991 is "Fantastic Apparitions: Scenes from Vanished Kingdoms," with imaginary and fanciful scenes to spark and encourage creativity among small patrons - Mayan, Incan and Aztec kingdoms of Central and South American Indians, Egyptian pharaohs and medieval kingdoms. Face painting, storytelling and more will greet young participants.
Food arts will come from 21 artists, including Dim sum dumplings, frozen cheesecake-on-a-stick, Navajo tacos, other ethnic and just plain good treats.
The literary arts booth will feature books for purchase by many of Utah's finest writers, fiction and non-fiction, with many authors on hand to sign their books.
Plan to walk through the viaduct, down by the old Salt Lake Hardware Company, at the northwest corner of the Triad grounds, to see this year's environmental art project, appropriately titled "Detour." A collaboration of Gary Vlasic and photographer Scott Peterson, the installation will feature three large billboards with bold black and white images. Then proceed into the Hardware Building to see the imaginative "Theatre of Consequences: a modern melodrama in several acts," combining multi-media of visual effects, music and drama, by the Company of Four, nightly at 8 and Sunday at 4 p.m.
Visual arts are the silent, but very important partner at the Festival. Don't miss "Exhibition 1991; contemporary craft and sculpture," the fourth annual art exhibit, in the Union Pacific Depot, featuring 24 Utah-based artists.
Musicians, singers, dancers, jugglers and more will stroll the festival grounds, celebrating the spontaneity of impromptu art.
Bonar acknowledges the efforts of more than 1,000 volunteers who help stage this community event, and local foundations and corporations who have made generous contributions.