Australia’s Strange Fruit giving performance through expression, dance and theatre. Photo: Martin S Rivero
A four-day festival should always be an inclination that visiting for one day will never suffice. With countless music shows, performance art and activities, the ideal method for attending would to be calling in to work, and doing the whole affair from doors open to doors closed. Saturday felt as though all of Utah had done just that, to ensure maximum enjoyment from the many offerings. Despite the crowded walkways, there was no misery in the shuffling. I had the luxury of attending during the rainy day of Thursday, which provided me the opportunity of learning where everything was. For me, this meant no misdirection in trying to get to my desired locations.I started right away at the Big Mouth Tent, which over the weekend has become my favorite spot. My goal was to catch the Wise Guys Stand-Up Comedy. Arriving slightly early, I got to watch the tail end of the Team Slam competition. My favorite team, Here Here!, performed a poem called “Earworm” that gave me goose bumps and encouraged allowing positive affirmations to play the role of an “earworm” melody. Switching from slam poetry to stand up comedy, however, can be a difficult transition, but having my two favorite literary performance arts one after the other was a perfect start to the evening.The comedians were given the challenge of providing a ‘clean’ act, avoiding those subjects and special four letter words that would potentially be inappropriate for the younger age groups attending. Being an avid supporter of the crass and foul, I was doubtful such a task could be achieved. Additionally, I’ve never seen a live stand up show, so I was a little nervous I would be forced to uncomfortably laugh for the dead air jokes. Each comedian made my cheeks hurt and delivered on point.After the comedy show I grabbed a bite and started my meandering. I was inhaling a gooey chocolate covered strawberry and banana kabob, when I almost walked right past Brett Ashley Moore’s tent. I felt pretty childish and slovenly in the presence of his work. I’m quite sure I would have felt this way regardless of the amount of chocolate I potentially had crawling at the corners of my mouth. Moore’s work, painted on pieces of dying buildings, is haunting. Amidst the merriment and festivities, the paintings forced me to pause and give them my undivided attention. When I asked him his method and mission, the dialogue was as flawless as his work. “What I’m interested in is conveying the history that is recorded in the physical layers of architectural surfaces,” Moore started. “Digging through all the layers and seeing all the decorative campaigns, imagining all the people who had inhabited these spaces.” He explained to me the exploration of the consciousness of the spaces could be just as revealing as the physical tangibility. The draw, he says “Is the physical constructs which are in a constant state of decay, and the relationship of that to the spiritual essences that might transcend time.”
In what was an empty tent on Friday, Darrell Driver’s space had barely an inch to spare on Saturday, which is no mystery, as his works’ lively vibrant colors fuel the imagination and shock the senses with its boldness. From the giggle inducing images of Darth Vader riding a Walker, his light-saber transformed into a lasso, to the breath taking native women painted with fierceness in their eyes, Driver’s work delights. Driver only started selling his painting four years ago, and paints three hours a day. His fan base is wide, but his home front always treats him well. “I do a lot of festivals and Utah’s always my best state, doesn’t matter where, I get both liberal and conservative collectors, its awesome,” he added. With a full time job and three kids, he makes the most out of his every hour, painting long after the family has gone to sleep. His efforts and passion pays off in the breathtaking images that inspire strength and beguilement.
The performance’s by Australia’s Strange Fruit at Library Square’s The Round/ Crescent Wall and were operatic in style. At such an unnerving height, the bending and twisting on the flimsy poles gave the choice between squeals of delight and gasps of anxiety, the elegance and relaxed nature of the performers entertained, and the expressive faces of the actors always provided a comedic tone to an otherwise terrifying feat.
Another brightly colored performance was that done by the roaming MarchFourth Marching Band, who paraded through the festival as festival patrons cheerfully followed suit. The scene of which included the musicians and dancers looking as though they were plucked straight from a carnival. The child in me was let in awe at the two groups, promising myself to be just like them when I grow up.
Sunday is the final opportunity to enjoy the variety The Utah Arts Festival has provided. Performances will continue until 7:30, and the festival will come to an end at 11 p.m.!