Aptly named for the length of time it took to put out their latest EP, 284 Days is the second release from California rock trio Dronen, fronted by Daniel Olivas on vocals, whose lyrics and style are anthems enough for the band’s claim to heavy ’90s roots. The hype about this EP seems to be the journey taken to get it recorded, which actually is just a comparison to their first album’s process and is essentially every other band’s start-up story: a lot of trial and error. They play it safe with songs like “Tonight” and “A Song to The Past,” then fully open up with “Lights Out” and “The Loss of All Real Things,” showing what they’re truly capable of. While the composition of each song is simple, the band’s countless hours of self-recording and rehearsal is fully evident. With a clean sound, passionate lyrics and fist-pumping rhythms, I’ll be throwing in 284 Days on laundry days, while lounging around the house in my ripped jeans and flannel. The biggest credit to give to their ’90s influence is their songs ranging from about 4:30–5:00 minutes long, a much appreciated and desired break from 2010’s trends of two-minute songs. 284 Days is a recommended addition to any grunge aficionado—I would even show up at a show if they rolled through town. –Andrea Silva
The Cotton Ponies
Fancy as Fuck
The Cotton Ponies = The Coathangers + Hi-Standard x Joan Jett
Fancy As Fuck introduces The Cotton Ponies with the EP’s first song “I Wanna Fight,” which reveals their formula of simple chords and sped-up beats then stuffed with processed-cheese lyrics—so bad and so good. The change of pace with “Jackass” shows The Cotton Ponies playing with the idea of a slower tempo, which gives the heavy influences of The Runaways, Joan Jett and Bikini Kill a spot to shine through. With straightforward lyricism, Abby Allen’s hisses and slurs are made to make lovers blush. In “Math Geek,” the everyday struggles women face with the accessibility of porn are revealed: “Looking at naked men every now and then … I just want more/ Too bad I’m just too poor”—the song is my new mantra for visiting that dirty little sex shop on the Utah/Wyoming border. The repetitiveness of the album and lack of instrumental creativity show that the band has a way to go in developing their sound. However, their anthems of sex, breakups and high-energy attitudes make Fancy as Fuck the album to throw on when rage-hate breakup sex is pending. –Andrea Silva
The growth of Salt Lake’s cycling community has been anything but subtle. While bike shops have been ever present and thriving, a certain niche has also presented itself as a growing opportunity for local developers who want to not only welcome and encourage non-cyclists but also inspire regular riders to support local business. In the case of Josh and Jacquelyn Van Jura, these two concepts have been the driving force behind their company, Broad Fork Bags, which has brought functionality and community to the bikepacking scene in Salt Lake City and Utah.
Four years ago, Josh decided to attempt a bike race—with zero training or preparation—which stretched from Canada to Mexico. While his journey was cut short 1,000 miles in due to a pulled Achilles tendon, that first race is what pulled him to the bikepacking community. After his return home, he started looking into everything a bikepacker would need. He soon saw that the lead times for bags was unnecessarily long for his needs, and he already had the necessary skillset, which he learned from his mother at a young age: sewing. “I grew up sewing, something that my mom had taught me, so I figured out what materials were needed and just made one at home,” Josh says. From there, the familiar six-pack-trade-for-work began as he started to share his end product with friends. After leaving work, Josh would go home and work on bags. Once curfews had to be set, like the “No Sewing Past 11 p.m. Rule,” Josh says, “I realized I was no longer able to keep sewing bags for six-packs once friends of friends of friends were wanting bags.” It was then that Josh and Jacquelyn turned to selling their wares professionally.
Cyclists all over Utah now proudly use Broad Fork Bags’ products. Jacquelyn notes how she loves being on a trail or just out biking and seeing the company gear on fellow cyclists’ bikes. The company has also provided the opportunity for the couple to become even more engaged in the community, meeting people to go bikepacking with and encouraging others to do the same. That’s what Josh believes is the main purpose of it all: “It’s about riding bikes, at the end of the day,” he says. “It was never meant to be a business—just something to help.” This cornerstone mentality has helped to extend the sense of community beyond even the borders of Utah, from visiting fellow bag-makers out of state to collaborating on orders and sharing design tips among the makers. The lack of competitiveness throughout the scene is something that Josh believes helps drive the idea of supporting local. Other bag makers with longer turnaround times will often refer customers to Broad Fork Bags, which helps create a sense of local support that’s missing from online, out-of-state companies.
Beyond bikepacking, Broad Fork’s gear is also accessible to any kind of cyclist. For the commuter, the gear could hold a change of clothes; for the responsible drinker, a bar-pack will perfectly fit a few beers. The material for all of the bags is tear-resistant and waterproof, made from the same fabric used for boat sails. The simple-to-follow instructions for bag templates ensures that every inch of your back fits perfectly to you and your bike. During the three-week lead time, Josh and Jacquelyn clean up the template, cut the materials and get to work sewing and tacking everything together for a handmade, quality and reliable piece of gear.
As far as plans for Broad Fork Bags’ future goes, Jacquelyn shares that they want to let it continue to grow organically. “While we take one step at a time, and as long as it’s growing, we want to make sure it’s manageable,” she says. A “good” problem that comes with running a popular business for bike gear is that getting busy can sometimes mean less time spent biking. For Josh and Jacquelyn, the balance between doing what they love—biking—and providing quality service is important to the success of their company. Supporting the community and being accessible and approachable creates the environment that every consumer should crave when choosing local businesses, and Josh and Jacquelyn have mastered it all.
From taking a day’s worth of supplies and camping for the night to going long distances and restocking in a new town, Broad Fork Bags’ gear helps to bolster the cycling hobby or lifestyle, allowing the freedom and ease to take a little adventure along for the ride.
To order your own custom bike packing bag, visit broadforkbags.com.
Homage to Kenny Tadrzynski’s accomplishments in life seems ill-fitting, as he wasn’t one to boast about his achievements, nor did he ever define himself by them. Rather, his interactions among his friends, who came first and most importantly to him, were what he held in greatest stock. So, in lieu of telling Salt Lake City about his overwhelming volume of contributions to SLUG Magazine as a comic book, movie and toy reviewer, or sharing his feats as a screenwriter who caught the attention of James Brothers Studio, I will instead attempt to share with you the many lessons he taught to each of us.
This first one may appear as a generic slathering, but truly, at its core, was a trait that bonded Kenny and each of his friends. He taught a special kind of irreverence, that political correctness and humor were bound to be unhappily married, and that those easily offended (or offend-able at all, for that matter) were forced to say farewell to any prudent thoughts—if there was a topic that made sphincters pucker, he would happily parade it in conversation. In a group confession, his hetero life-partner Brian Johnson admitted, “I’ve laughed at some wildly inappropriate things with him over the years.” Sethis Clark, Kenny’s “second father,” adds that because of Kenny, “I’ve learned to laugh at what would normally offend me.” His family of friends held a very poignant motto: “Nothing is sacred,” something he integrated well into his everyday life. Sadie Cousineau reflects, saying, “I think what [‘Nothing is sacred’] really meant was to never take yourself too seriously.” His thicker-than-blood brother Eric Twede unabashedly provides just a few ways Kenny has impacted his life: “Kenny taught me the true meaning of Christmas, which was actually about smoking weed in the living room and watching Money Train at full volume,” he says. “He also taught me how to torrent, how to park for free at the Broadway parking garage, how to kill box elder bugs efficiently, and that you don’t need to pretend to like things you hate, or hate things that you like for the sake of social cohesion.”
Courtney Marriott shares how he always made sure that all his friends knew that they were loved and wholly exceptional. Marriot says, “He taught me to remind myself how great I am, always making sure I remembered all the good things about myself.”
Kenny couldn’t read a compass, and for years believed that “skellington” was the proper pronunciation for “skeleton.” He obsessively cleaned, vacuuming at least once a day, and never once filed his own taxes. When he got sick, he melted into a puddle of useless, and when others got sick, he sprayed them down with Lysol to prevent contamination. He hoarded figures of action and once spent an entire summer growing biceps. He was fickle and funny and had the most extreme road rage I’ve ever encountered. And with all of this, he held no flaws.
On Sept. 1, 13 friends stand around a fresh, not-yet-filled grave, the funeral procession already long over. As the wind picks up, Jason Clark begins reciting Ezekiel 25:17. Although he is not quite able to emulate Samuel L. Jackson (via Pulp Fiction), the emotion is palpable as the others quietly join in, murmuring the only scripture passage their departed friend had ever known. The passage comes to an end: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers,” and there is a moment of silence as each in turn throws handfuls of soil onto the sunken casket. The rain picks up, someone begins playing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence,” and they walk away. Film was Kenny’s religion: He taught each of us the importance of dramatic scenes and cinematic themes; so it would only make sense that the closing of his grave would hold just as much spectacle as his life did.
With events such as the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll and various art festivals throughout the year, there is little room for debate in regards to whether or not Utah embraces the visual arts. There is always room for debating what can be viewed as art. However, Ryan Brown, the founder of the Center of Academic Study (CAS), shared the story of his efforts to create a space which encourages the knowledge that can be attained in the journey to becoming a master craftsman in the art world.
I’ve often spent hours, or at least what seems like hours, examining a painting or piece of art only to decide that I must be some fool and simply not “get it.” Alternatively, there have been moments where I’ve looked at a piece and understood immediately the emotional rhetoric of it. One of the primary goals of CAS is to teach its students, and its audience, visual art as a language. When I shared my presumed ignorance to Brown, he said, “If you don’t understand the art, it’s because there is nothing to understand. If it’s illegible, it’s illegible; it’s unsuccessful as a story, as a narrative.” An artist’s inability to communicate through their work can be largely attributed to the conventional four-year programs. The curriculum at CAS stems from traditional curriculum, found in 19th Century Paris, when art education was at its prime. “After the 19th century, when modernism started to come around, as well as the advent of the modern university, it killed art education,” says Brown. “All of the sudden, art was completely conceptual and there was no need for craft. The discipline faded.”
When Brown returned from his studies in Florence, he says, “The problem was that I knew how little I learned in the university system. I was really painfully aware of the deficiencies.” In addition to absurd ideas on grading systems within contemporary art programs, universities have tendencies to force-feed information without taking the time to teach students the rudimentary skills. Brown says, “They don’t start with the alphabet, and then words and sentence structure, then get into how to put sentences together for a story. They just throw everything at you and then ask you to write a story, without knowing any of the vocabulary. It’s really ineffective. [At CAS,] the curriculum starts very simply and everyone goes at their own paces. There are no grades, which are ridiculous in an art situation.” This all is important in allowing a student to then develop his or her own style.
Brian Johnson, a current student at CAS, shared what he felt his biggest takeaway has been thus far. “I am learning to see correctly, to find better ways of describing form, and patience that I didn’t have when I attended a regular university,” he says. From Brown’s experience, upon his return to Utah, he felt the only option he had was to spread the knowledge he had obtained. In 2008 he opened The Center for Academic Study & Naturalist Painting with the intent to create an atmosphere similar to that which he encountered at the Florence Academy of Art. He wanted to provide a place for, “Not the creative person, but the artisan, the craftsman.” He stated that he doesn’t feel that how much money you spend on furthering your craft is the key factor in making it valid. “I was studying for nine to 10 hours a day, just the basic essentials, and really training in the best environment that exists. It’s complete dedication. It’s the idea of being the very best I can be—raising not only my own level up, but help bring others with me, through passing that information on,” says Brown.
Students who wish to attend CAS and schools like it have to fight to better their skill—there is little to no support offered. The schools are often unaccredited. There is no loan assistance to aid in ways in which traditional students are supported in modern universities. This is where the difference between artistry and creativity becomes key. In Brown’s opinion, to the individual who has gained popularity by means of being creative, there is a mistake being made—the assumption that the individuals work holds merit as a piece of art. Great work takes time and discipline. Brown doesn’t blame those who are able to turn out a piece of work in a few moments and sell it to an audience who doesn’t know the difference. “To play second fiddle to someone who doesn’t care is painful,” he says. “When there is an audience who doesn’t understand the standards that qualify a great art, it makes it almost impossible to succeed at this. I think this is kind of a tragedy.” He feels that “contemporary art has dumbed down the understanding of art.” He understands that an avenue for creativity will always exist, but the purpose for CAS and schools like it is to bring back the respect for the artisan.
Brown’s long-term goal is to open a school in Paris and create the ultimate center of academia for artisans. On my way out, I asked him if there was any special message he wanted to get out. “If anyone has 50 million dollars and wants to leave behind a legacy …” I do sincerely hope that there is someone who is as passionate and committed as Brown, to redefining the standards in the art world—someone committed to continuing true art education, someone who has a rather large sum of money and very little going on. For more information about CAS, check out their website here.
One of the charming aspects of Salt Lake City is being surrounded by everything that I need at a moment’s notice. Before stopping into the show, I grabbed a few drinks at Wasted Space and had a bite to eat at The Pie Hole—both within earshot of The Shred Shed– a beautiful example of SLC’s cultural geography. As part of theThree of Clubs Tour, Flagship, Little Daylight and Terraplane Sun hit Salt Lake on their way to Vancouver, putting on a show that was engaging throughout the bands’ performances as well as between sets.
Founded on the idea of celebrating art regardless of meaning, The Museum of Nobody openly invites and encourages the exploration of creativity. Nine students from the University of Utah curated the show. Thirty or so contributors, discovered from a variety of avenues that lacked any system or regulation, were provided an opportunity to showcase their talents under a veil of namelessness.
In the center of the gallery a small stage was assembled for performance art pieces, the floor surrounding the stage was ideal for joining in a movement of movement when the urge for dancing stuck. The music performed gave off a foggy sensation downstairs, light psychedelic melancholy seemed to dominate the night. Meanwhile, upstairs heavy trance and pop music played courtesy of a variety performance based DJs. The atmospheric differences between the two levels required a passage through a hallway that featured a shower curtain with a music video being projected onto it—not an inch of space was wasted in the collaboration. The stage provided not only a visual piece, but also helped carry me from one installment to the next.
The overall set up of The Museum of Nobody had a certain intimacy—I didn’t feel as though I was at an art showing, so much as I had stumbled into somebody’s living space, and was methodically making my way throughout their home, carefully examining the components of their life’s journey, strewn about the house.
One of my personal favorites was a series of selfies pulled from Instagram’s user imseriousitsme. When I first spotted the obvious Instagram branding I assumed there would be a satirical mocking of social media, but instead was simply the pictures of a woman living. Found poetry hung from the ceilings, a kindergarten craft projects were boasted by a teacher, gold leafing adorned bamboo bowls and eucalyptus were scattered, the whole affair seemed right out of a dream.
The community’s turnout to The Museum of Nobody, was as much expected, as it was unexpected of the event. Each individual added the to the eccentric nature of anonymous art displayed throughout the Salt Lake City Photo Collective’s walls. Pantsuits and velvet ran rampant among the crowd, creating a moving installation of artistic vision. Older men with glasses, that smelt like leather and ivory, interwoven with women wearing oversized hats, cast shadows over patterns of paisley and stripes. Among all this there was not an ounce of pretentious bullshit lingering over the crowd. The lack of identity tied to each artists work, allowed viewers to observe without comparison. There was a certain security that presented itself, when the ability to name drop and judge was taken away.
As the night grew on, everyone who had gathered for the evening became familiar, sharing drinks and stories. Never once did I consider myself at a gallery, or museum. The Museum of Nobody recreated how art is experienced, and expanded the definition of art. The Bureau of Nobody should be carefully watched for future events to come.
The core values and aspirations of Utah’s homeless youth are now proudly decorating the underpass of 600 South and 600 West in Salt Lake City. What started as Lesly Beck’s graduate thesis while studying at Westminster College has grown into a visual voice for a population often looked past and ignored. Beck has been working with homeless teens since January 2014 in an effort to come up with mural designs for the underpass’ columns—a project appropriately named 9 Pillars. The project has transformed into an awareness movement, and Beck has hopes to continue developing the space into a safe place for homeless teens to be inspired in.
Beck explained that her thesis was supposed to encompass art and community, and how she became enthralled with the stories and projects around the country that revealed how art can strengthen homeless youth programs. These programs help give the youth a sense of identity and hope. “There is such a need to express,” she says. 9 Pillars began as an outreach program with the goal of providing a creative, safe atmosphere for the youth to engage in. Artists went to the shelter to help formulate the themes that the teens wanted to convey. Beck shared the messages of the images they came up with, “The 9 chosen messages are centered around the daily lives of homelessness: Hitting rock bottom, judgment, believing in yourself, community, past vs. future, trust, challenges, recourses and words of our lives.” Once the messages were chosen and the teens and artists compiled the designs, the next step was to get permits and licenses to begin painting.
Beck quickly realized that coordinating with the teens at the location site was a near impossible task. From issues transportation to being unable to meet up with them, it was extremely difficult to get the teenagers to the location to be apart of what they had created. Not all of the hiccups were with out reward—Beck received good news: “I heard that some of the youth I had been working with had gotten jobs, which is great. … I knew from the beginning that their lives were so difficult. They’re in constant survival mode because of all the challenges they have in day-to-day life.” One of the things she noted was the kids’ determination in improving their situations, and to see them achieve was rewarding. Although Beck intended for the project to be a hands-on experience, it ultimately wound up being an awareness mural.
The mural is a visual representation that creates a sense of place for the youth, as well as starts a dialogue about the homeless population. Beck saw that there was a need to be fulfilled, and she believes that the mural helps aid in that. She says, “It provides a permanent way to express their voices, as wells as a permanent reminder to the community of their presence.”
Although Beck’s thesis is now complete, she plans on continuing the development of 9 Pillars. The community has suggested that the underpass be further developed into a small park with benches, so that the youth and other members of the community can enjoy the mural and its messages. I asked if she worried that there would be any issues with the paintings being vandalized, and her response was one I had never considered: “It’s really cool, because, in most cases, taggers will leave this stuff alone—they respect it.” Beck has taken her thesis to a level of extended dedication and commitment with 9 Pillars, and doesn’t plan on leaving it behind after graduating. “I had a really hard time getting my project getting approved by the school—it was a huge undertaking, and there were a couple of times when I almost gave up, and I’m so glad I stuck with it. I’m really proud of it and I’m really happy for the youth and I hope they have ownership of it and are also proud of it,” Beck shared.
Ideas on expanding the space to hold small events and shows are being tossed around, and the progress and future happenings of 9 pillars can be found on the project’s facebook page.
The Utah Arts Festival draws a crowd even in less than ideal weather conditions. When I arrived, the rain soaked tents were no deterrent for the crowds cheerfully exploring the events many offerings. Live music provided a pleasant background accompanied by the overwhelming and delicious smell of candied nuts. The Arts Festival is one of my favorites each year, and with so many people to meet and so many activities to do, I fully understand the difficulty in carefully planning a course to avoid missing out on any of it. Thursday, I started by wandering the first grouping of artist booths and keeping an eye out to build my Friday must-see list.
If anyone is looking for recommendations, Cassandra Barney is first up. In my opinion, everything looks better in oil paint. I haven’t however, seen such life and strength brought to works of art like the bright images by Barney. The women in her paintings provide a sense of strength and self-power, something she hopes to speak to her own three daughters. Simply from our brief encounter I would say that her paintings are saturated in her own vibrant and lovely personality. She shared a picture that she called “The Protector” and shared a story of discovering how fiercely protective she can be for her loved ones. She quickly added, “ Its my superhero name, I’ve decided, The Protector.” It may or may not have involved water balloons. For entertaining conversation and inspiring prints, a stop by her tent is a must.
For the classical aficionado, Steve Duncan stands out as an artist whose stylization is on the brink of extinction. By being traditional in his form, Duncan’s gestural drawings seem oddly non-traditional when plated against the colorful pop art that decorated neighboring tents. His goal, he says, “Is to capture the human expression,” translating the emotions into “imaginary scenarios.” Using walnut-ink as his medium, the monochromatic images create beautifully dramatic scenes, dream like in composition.
House of Tenebris is a husband and wife duo mastering the jewelry design and craft. They took on their business full time in November, sharing their appreciation of the light in darkness with the world. Adrian Prazen and Rachel Prazen’s jewelry depicts a variety of sacred geometry and esoteric designs etched into copper and brass to create their extravagant, wearable pieces of art. Using real gems and stones in their jewelry, in conjunction with the connectivity of copper, many of their pieces encourage the exploration of the occult. For those who crave the desire to embrace the darker side of beauty, stocking up on their wares is highly recommended.
Bottoms Up Glass is hands down my pick of the day. I try not to play favorites, but the softness of Nikki Root’s work won me over instantly. Root’s pieces are created from recycled, and often vintage, glass. When I spoke with her she shared her passion for creating the beautiful glass panels, but also the deeply sentimental aspects of her work. “I’ve had many people come to me and ask me to use family pieces (for their panels). Every time there are tears,” She says, “ there are pieces that are passed on, and are normally so treasured that they’re kept away and never seen. My work allows them to be shown off and kept forever.” Her technique trumpets the eloquence of stained glass, and the emotion of human connectivity. The brilliance of color variety shone even on an otherwise overcast and gloomy day. The rain, if anything added to her pieces.
While the weather worsened, my expectation for the festival has only increased. Many of the activities were put on hiatus due to the rain, but tomorrows forecast has me planning to attend as many as possible. As well as getting my grub on, a person can only handle so many smells before the stomach starts making all the decisions. Friday’s schedule includes the Indie Poetry Slam, performances by Australia’s Strange Fruit, and seven different programs for Fear No Film. More information can be found at the Utah Arts Festival’s website, http://uaf.org.