Photo courtesy of Robin Fairchild
As light reflects off of the cheeks of smiling teenagers, a foot plants defiantly in front of the raging crowd. A tattooed snake slithers from the ankle of that foot, up a bare leg, while a black cord coils around a pelvis with short black gym shorts, down and around the calf of the opposite limb. This is Henry Rollins, the famed front man of Black Flag, to whom another kid bows in a head bang.
Sandria Miller has immortalized this moment in a black and white photograph at the Tin Angel Café. Tin Angel kicked off their third year anniversary celebration on April 11 with an exhibit of Miller’s photography, delicious hors d’oeuvres and live punk rock. The party was a testament to the life of a restaurant consisting of “fine dining with a rock n’ roll attitude,” as co-owner Jerry Liedtke puts it. Liedtke, along with his wife Kestrel and longtime friend Robin, rekindled the name “Tin Angel” from Liedtke’s father’s original business—one of Salt Lake City’s first drag bars of the late 1960s. As a punk rock kid turned culinary connoisseur, Liedtke creates dishes that focus mainly on Mediterranean flavors, but also on tastes from around the world. "I get lots of stuff imported,” says Liedtke. “We're a lot about flavor and a lot about origin. If I find something that's really yummy, I just get it.” Tin Angel boasts wholesome, “good” food with an ideology that states "chickens weren't born with fingers and buffalos weren't born with wings." Not to say that the restaurant is just a hub for nutritionists— “We're also trying to keep it 'no big deal,’ ” Liedtke says. “You don't have to be labeled as a vegan, or labeled as an organic farmer or something like that to eat good food, and to have good food, and your kids [to] know what good food is and to get a variety in your food.”
With Tin Angel’s rockin’, unpretentious take on dining, Miller’s prints of the local 80s punk scene feel right at home. After reminiscing about the original Tin Angel bar and Liedtke’s punk rock heydays in Salt Lake City, the café and Miller arranged her photographs around the inside walls for the anniversary. Miller’s pieces depict shows at the Indian Center, the Speedway Café, and Alice’s, to name a few. In a three-part series from the stage, she has captured the energy of a past D.R.I. show: the final print of the series pinpoints the exact moment a stage diver contorts onto the front row, who, in turn, pushes back. "I like shooting people and action,” says Miller. “It’s all available light. And with available light, I mean, some are moving, some are doing whatever—I think you get more of a feeling of the motion, which is what I was after.” Miller definitely lives up to her artistic insight—many of her prints juxtapose figures bearing static, airborne hair with those blurred in the throes of violent movement. In another picture of Rollins, onto which she added vibrant coloring, Miller reproduces the front man’s thrust forward, his long hair flowing against his motion.
Miller, additionally, does not neglect Salt Lake’s original punk staples in her show. In another piece that hangs high on the wall, a crowd surfing kid washes ashore to the stage, supporting himself with his left hand while his right clenches in a fist toward a guitarist of Maimed For Life. Swimming in the same vein, Tin Angel managed to get local veterans Victims Willing to perform, along with John and Jamie Schuman of the legendary Massacre Guys in an acoustic set. Robin made sure to keep the party going by pulling people into the pit, while others pushed around on skateboards up a quarter pipe to Blood Worm’s old school punk tunes. With savory salsa made by employee Sara Toast and an open bar in tow, the Tin Angel Café has indicated their presence as a place that celebrates the food, music and art of Salt Lake City with a punk rock sensibility.
Check out more photos from the event HERE!