And just like that another year is over. 1990 is history - and made history, in arts and entertainment.
Rising stars, shooting stars, falling stars. Kudos and controversies. Many, many notable losses to time and the Reaper. Much can, and does, happen in a dozen months.Herewith, the critics and specialists of the Deseret News take a look back, recalling the phenomena and personalities - locally, nationally and internationally - in the news in 1990.Books and literature
Amid the cheers and tears in literature this year, the most significant event for people in range of the Deseret News would be the selection of Mark Strand, a professor at the University of Utah, as America's poet laureate for 1991.
Strand's personal style and looks almost make him a prototype of America's notion of a poet. He's already appeared in more magazines and on more television programs than any of his predecessors.
In 1990, death - as expected - claimed several giants, though the notable losses this year weren't as many as in past years. In 1990 the bell tolled mostly for novelists. Walker Percy, the American Catholic novelist who gave us "The Second Coming," passed away. Australian Nobel laureate Patrick White, Lawrence Durrell ("the Alexandria Quartet") and the brilliant Argentine novelist Manuel Puig ("Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Betrayed by Rita Hayworth") also died.
Octavio Paz of Mexico won the 1990 Nobel Prize for literature. John Updike, with the publication of "Rabbit at Rest" showed himself to be the conscience of the nation. And in popular fiction actress Carrie Fisher proved herself as a writer also.
In non-fiction most critics felt Ronald Reagan's biography, "An American Life," was the thinnest thick memoir of the year. And Shahrazad Ali created a firestorm by publishing her self-help book, "The Blackman's Guide to Understanding the Black Woman."
In Utah, the publication of "The Testimony of Mr. Bones" by Olive Ghiselin, Alane Ferguson's winning an Edgar for her novel "Show Me the Evidence" and BYU's Dave Wolverton scoring big in the world of science fiction rank as highlights.
Michael Fillerup, Levi Peterson, Franklin Fisher and Phyllis Barber also made significant contributions to the local literary storehouse. - Jerry JohnstonDance and music
What kind of a year was it? Well, Carnegie Hall and the Chicago Symphony each turned 100. Aaron Copland turned 90 and promptly died. Leonard Bernstein announced his retirement and promptly died. And the Utah Symphony turned 50. . . .
No one is suggesting the Utah Symphony is about to die. But the close-to-$2-million-dollar operating deficit announced following its anniversary gala last spring cast something of a pall over the celebration. (In fairness, it also followed a $4-million boost for the endowment fund, including a state grant of $1 million.) Subsequently the musicians voted to scale down a previously agreed-upon salary increase for 1991, extending the contract itself through '91-'92.
Utah Opera, on the other hand, did suffer a death - that of founder/
general director Glade Peterson; prominent stage director Anne Ewers succeeds him (see interview on E4). The Repertory Dance Theatre observes its 25th season in 1990-91, and the Oratorio Society of Utah gave its 75th consecutive annual performances of Handel's "Messiah."
Burch Mann's American Folk Ballet, based in Cedar City, toured the Soviet Union, including stops in Moscow and Leningrad. As did the National Symphony under its music director, Mstislav Rostropovich, marking an emotional homecoming for the latter after 16 years in exile.
After an uneasy year of alarums and excursions in the wake of the ill-starred Mapplethorpe-Serrano photography exhibits, Congress re-authorized the National Endowment for the Arts for three years, without placing official restrictions on what grants it may or may not allow. NEA director John Frohnmayer logged a very difficult year, and it's expected the agency will regulate itself quite rigidly in its future grants-awarding role.
Soprano Joan Sutherland - "La Stupenda" - retired after singing her final performances of "Les Huguenots" in Sydney, Australia. Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras performed in troika at the Baths of Caraculla in Rome. Wagner's "Ring" had major summer performances in San Francisco and, after dominating the year at the Metropolitan Opera, was telecast nationwide in June.
The legendary Manaus Opera House reopened in the Brazilian jungle city, and the Paris Opera-Bastille finally opened in March, nine months late, with Berlioz' "Les Troyens" and mixed reviews.
In Paris, Patrick Dupond succeeded Rudolf Nureyev as director of the Paris Opera Ballet, after a frequently stormy eight-year tenure. Some companies like Dance Theatre of Harlem solved financial woes by temporarily suspending operations. Orchestras, too, felt the pinch, the Denver Symphony regrouping for the second time in as many seasons, now as the Colorado Symphony.
Following the New York Philharmonic's appointment of Kurt Masur to succeed Zubin Mehta, the Philadelphia Orchestra likewise looked to Germany for a new music director, naming Wolfgang Sawallisch to take over for a departing Riccardo Muti. Conversely Estonia's Neeme Jaervi moved into Detroit in place of Gunther Herbig.
In addition to Copland and Bernstein, death claimed composers Peggy Glanville-Hicks and Vladimir Ussechevsky; singers Martial Singher, Eva Turner, Eleanor Steber, Erna Berger, Richard Lewis, Elizabeth Harwood and Kurt Baum; conductor Werner Janssen; and pianist Jorge Bolet. - William S. Goodfellow and Dorothy StoweFilm and video
The No. 1 film of 1990 was a spectral romance, the No. 1 video was a 48-year-old animated film, the X was booted out of the movie rating system and a galaxy of stars passed away. And by the end of 1990, box-office earnings will likely fall just shy of last year's $5 billion.
"Ghost" was the year's most popular movie, earning more than $200 million. You won't find it on any critics' top 10 lists, but audiences obviously responded to the mix of romance, fantasy, comedy and violence, which also explains "Pretty Woman" coming in a close second. Yet, for some reason, Hollywood turned out more violent gangster movies than any other kind.
On the video side, Walt Disney's "Bambi" sold more copies than any other cassette, and the biggest rental tape was "Look Who's Talking."
The movie rating system finally got rid of the least-used rating - the dreaded X - replacing it with NC-17. The merits of that move are still being debated, and only time will tell if it will help parents keep children away from stronger adult fare or merely allow Hollywood to push the limits of taste even harder.
Julia Roberts is the newcomer whose star rose the highest, thanks to "Pretty Woman," and Arnold Schwarzenegger solidified his position as the industry's top box-office draw with "Total Recall" and "Kindergarten Cop."
Hollywood mourned some significant losses in its ranks with the deaths of such favorites from the golden age as Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, Irene Dunne, Eve Arden, Rex Harrison, Mary Martin, Paulette Goddard and Joel McCrea. Others who passed away this year included Sammy Davis Jr., Terry-Thomas, Pearl Baily, Jill Ireland and the Master Muppeteer, Jim Henson. - Chris Hicks Theater
The new Theater League of Utah and the brouhaha over "Miss Saigon" were, respectively, two of the biggest stories locally and nationally in the world of theater.
The TLU, a non-profit subsidiary of The Space Agency, designed solely to bring national touring companies of Broadway plays and musicals to Salt Lake City with season subscriptions, was a resounding success.
Sure, there were some initial ticket handling problems, but both shows for the 1990-91 season - "A Chorus Line" and "Les Miserables" - were sell-outs. ("Les Mis" won't be here until the end of April for a two-week run, but the excitement and interest this has aroused could easily warrant a third week, which is virtually impossible because the road tour is booked months in advance.)
The best news out of this is that Salt Lakers have let it be known where it counts - at the box office - that we can support excellent theater at considerably higher prices than we're accustomed to paying, and John Ballard of the Space Agency has commented that this support will most certainly be noticed in New York, where most national touring companies are mounted. This should bode well for even more first-rate productions in the future.
Locally, theater companies continued to proliferate, with Ralph Rodgers opening his new Pages Lane Theater in Centerville, a welcome addition to Davis County. The new Hale Center Theater in Orem is building a solid audience in its first full year of operation.
Nationally, two of the hottest stories concerned the flap over National Endowment of the Arts grants (with frequent references to the "C"-word - censorship), and the controversial Actors' Equity ruling in August (rescinded a few days later) over the casting of Jonathan Pryce, a non-Asian performer, in the leading role as a Eurasian pimp in the latest London theatrical import, "Miss Saigon."
There was so much furor over this latter incident that one would've thought the war had resumed - along 42nd Street instead of in Vietnam.
London-based producer Cameron Mackintosh even went so far as to cancel the scheduled Broadway run of the award-winning show, although it had already racked up an advance sale of $25 million.
After Equity reversed its decision, the show was placed back on the front burner. It will open for previews on March 23, with its official opening scheduled for April 11 at the Shubert Organization's Broadway Theatre. - Ivan M. LincolnVisual arts
A look at the 1990 visual art scene brings both good and bad news.
The bad news is that staggering prices paid for paintings at auction houses resulted in a dramatic increase in insurance costs for other works by the masters. As a result, many museums could not afford to show blockbuster exhibitions. Also, the works sold in those auctions disappeared from public view as they ended up in private collections.
The 1989 issue over censorship in the arts spilled over into 1990. Ignited by Robert Mapplethorpe's graphic photographs, the controversy polarized the U.S. The problem was partially resolved in October with the Hatch amendment, which freed NEA from obscenity rules.
On the local level, two of Utah's finest artists passed away: painter LeConte Stewart and ceramist/
sculptor Larry Elsner. And several art galleries called it quits; most notably, Gayle Weyher's downtown and Park City galleries.
Also during 1990, the Zoe Macks Gallery at 380 S. State surfaced. But after several months, it quietly disappeared.
The good news? F. Anthony Smith and Christopher T. Terry were this year's recipients of the UAC's Visual Artist Fellowships. And previous winners - Lee Udall Bennion, Allen Bishop, David Dornan and Moishe Smith - combined efforts in an impressive exhibit at the Salt Lake Art Center (SLAC).
Utah painter John O. Erickson received a regional fellowship for Visual Artists in the 1990 WESTAF/
Many local artists ventured out of state to win honors in national competitions and/or become regulars in galleries.
A few local artists surprised us with new, exciting styles; three that immediately come to mind are Ursula Brodauf Craig, Susan Makov and Edith Roberson.
Art museums and centers in Utah featured fewer traveling exhibitions than usual, due to increased cost. However, the Utah Museum of Fine Art featured "Masterpieces of the American West." Other museums and centers relied on local talent for many of their shows. Two of the best were "Contemporary Works on Paper" at the SLAC, the annual April Salon at the Springville Museum of Art.
Retrospective shows in 1990 spotlighted the lives, styles and works of Francis Zimbeaux and Theodore Wassmer. - Richard P. Christenson