Some see the desert as a vast and harsh wasteland. Others see it as a delicate environmental treasure chest.

These are just two of the issues that will be examined through Brolly Arts' new multidisciplinary artistic presentation, "Desert: An Evening of Artistic Exploration," said the Brolly Arts director, Amy McDonald Sanyer.

"This is one of three projects that we will do, thanks to a community grant given to us by the Utah Arts Council," said Sanyer during an interview last week. "It's a three-part grant that is awarded to organizations who contribute to the community's cultural vibrancy and artistic diversity."

The other two presentations will be in the summer and fall, Sanyer said. "And we're working with the Sugar House community on all three of these."

"Desert: an Evening of Artistic Expression" will feature photography, dance and music.

"We partnered with Westminster College because it is in the Sugar House area, and they have been examining the desert throughout the year," Sanyer said. "When deciding what to do with the desert theme, I talked with each of the artists who will be involved with the production and asked them what they thought the desert means to them," Sanyer said. "They came away with different ideas, and they are examining those ideas in these works of art.

"Photographer Chris Noble, who is also an environmental activist, will present his work in an exhibit. He took some wonderful photos of dancers Nick Cendese and Natosha Washington dancing at the Spiral Jetty.

"What was interesting for them was the fact that they had never been to the Spiral Jetty and the freshness of that first visit comes through in the photographs."

Cendese and Washington, who collaborate as the dance troupe RawMoves, will perform on the Eccles Jones Conservatory stage while images of Nobles photos are projected as a backdrop, Sanyer said.

University of Utah modern dance professor Stephen Koester will present his work "Wasteland," a piece that uses two people and their relationship as a metaphor for desert survival, Sanyer said.

"Then we have Eric Handman's film 'Exile,' which is about a man running from something in a barren landscape," she said. "Place and self are the themes of this film."

Dancer/choreographer Erik Stern and guitarist Brad Richter collaborated on a work, "Mining for Olive," which is based on a true story of Olive Oatman, who was taken from her family by Native Americans during the settling of the West in the 19th century, Sanyer said.

"And we'll have a large-scale, multi-media installation by artist Stephanie Leitch," she said. "Her point of reference is the Bonneville Lake bed. It will take a lot of the conservatory's lobby, and there will be a lot of dirt and sand."

In addition to the exhibits and performances, there will be a questions-and-answer session and a reception for people to re-examine the exhibits after the performance.

"We wanted to give people another chance to look at the photos and arts after they see the performances," Sanyer said, "because sometimes their perceptions change.


If you go . . .

What: Desert: An Evening of Artistic Exploration, Brolly Arts

Where: Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory, Westminster Collage

When: Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $10

Phone: 801-450-8977


E-mail: scott@desnews.com /I>