Starting a New Year: The Arts Desk on Their Past Favorites and Pieces To Look Forward To


Members of the Arts Desk


Here on the Arts Desk of the Chronicle, we talk about art. A lot. While 2020 shut down many creative productions as COVID-19 and its subsequent stops, restrictions and shutdowns rose, 2021 brought some resurgence to the world of arts and entertainment. Now that we’ve entered 2022, a new year with a lineup of exciting releases to anticipate, some members of our team are looking back on what made an impact on them in 2021 and what 2022 may bring as we start a new Spring semester.

Hannah Keating – Arts Desk Editor

One of my Christmas presents in 2020 was an annual Audible subscription, setting me up with a stash of 12 credits to redeem for audiobooks and access to other features — podcasts, sleep audios, original stories and more. I started to fall in love with the format: it’s an easy way to consume books quickly and multitask while doing it, especially loving authors who narrate their own books. My yearly favorites stack up as “Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much” by Jen Winston, “The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green, “The Power of Ritual” by Casper Ter Kuile and “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor.

I just watched “Don’t Look Up” — what a way to ring in a new year, right? — and realized how much I enjoy that niche genre of existential, dark comedy. So, when I saw a trailer for the new Apple TV+ series “The After Party,” slated to premiere on Jan. 28, I already felt like I’d be hooked, as it stars some of my comedy favorites — Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”), Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Rec”), Tiya Sircar (“The Good Place”) and Sam Richardson (“Veep”). Having stolen the password to my mom’s account, I can’t wait to watch it.

Luke Jackson

For me, one of the most exciting parts of 2021 was seeing movies return to cinemas. I have always loved going to the theater: something about the smell of overpriced popcorn, the oversized screen and deafening audio just speaks to my soul. I was lucky enough to see quite a few films in theaters this year but most special to me was Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel.” While I found the movie itself to be superb, what added to the experience was that it was Ben Affleck’s and Matt Damon’s return to writing a screenplay. Their first film, “Good Will Hunting,” remains one of my favorite movies of all time and it was an absolute delight to witness their return on the big screen.

2022 is already setting up to be a very exciting year for movies. While I have my own personal issues with the constant onslaught of unremarkable superhero movies, my inner child cannot contain its excitement for Matt Reeves’ “The Batman.” Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the dark and gritty underworld of Gotham City. I’m stoked to see what Rob Pattison does with the cowl and I truly can’t imagine a better Riddler than Paul Dano. As much as I try to pretend that I’m too highbrow for superhero flicks, you bet your bottom dollar I’ll be seeing “The Batman” on opening night.

Whit Fuller

Rock group The Plot In You evolved exponentially in 2021 with “Swan Song.” The listener can hear the development from rock and heavier sound to synths and heavier lyrics — a change that served the band well. Transparent and emotional lyrics lent themselves to the record as well. It was hard for me not to have this record playing throughout the latter half of the year. The raw and emotional tone of vocalist Landon Tewers underlaid with electronic melodies made this my record to have on repeat this year.

I’ve been in love with Ocean Vuong’s work since my encounter with his 2016 poem “Trevor.” His upcoming April 2022 release “Time is A Mother” promises to be just as emotive and striking. The poet reflects on the loss of his mother and grief but doesn’t let those things define him. I look forward to exploring more poetry as the new year begins. Vuong’s poetry feels like a homecoming for me and an excellent place to return to during the year.

Tervela Georgieva

An art favorite of mine this year was “The Invitation” showcase from SALT Contemporary Dance. This was a return to the Kingsbury Hall stage for SALT, one that recognized just how intimate the relationship between performers and audience is. Each needs the other for any kind of performance. This return to the stage did not leave us in our seats either. We walked through Kingsbury Hall’s backstage and dressing rooms, seeing parts of the theatre we don’t usually see as audience members. SALT invited us to see that the magic of the stage reaches beyond it.

Music is so integral to my everyday experience and it’s become a way of tracking the different phases of my life throughout the pandemic. In 2022, I’m excited for new album releases such as Token’s “Pink is Better,” the final Brockhampton album and, as we’re all hoping after four years of longing, a new SZA album!

Megan Fisher

During this crazy year I have become obsessed with HBO’s “Succession.” A mordant, acidly witty series, “Succession” follows the Roy family, whose patriarch oversees a Fox News-type media conglomerate, as the children vie for control and scheme to get into their father’s good graces. With its twisted alliances, uneasy allegiances, reversals of fortunes, tragic figures and rollercoaster ride mixture of comedy and drama it most resembles Shakespeare out of any art being created today. Every performance on the show is masterful, but Jeremy Strong’s intense and bleeding work as the doomed scion Kendall Roy will go down in the acting history books. 

Since I got vaccinated last April, I have slowly been going to the movie theater more often. In 2022, what I look forward to most of all arts-wise is not any particular piece of work, but a feeling. I look forward to sitting down in a theater seat, having the lights dim around me and shut out the world until the only thing I can see is the huge face of a movie star. I want to be able to enter into the movies. What I look forward to in 2022 is sitting in a theater and hearing others laugh and cry and gasp at the movie that I am also watching, and know that others feel the same as I do.

Avery Greig

Although it has been another rough year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 has been full of wonderful art. The “Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem” exhibition at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts pokes out in my memory. Pieces from powerful artists of color like Faith Ringgold, David Hammon, Carrie Mae Weems, and Mickalene Thomas filled the UMFA’s galleries and was enriching to experience as a student at the University of Utah.

I’m looking forward to an array of incredible art in 2022. Predominantly, Beach House’s initial chapter releases are a harbinger for their mammoth 18-track dream pop album “Once Twice Melody,” and I have been on the edge of my seat for its release.

Makena Reynolds

I enjoyed watching the art that emerged in 2021, especially the amount of media that was produced through the female gaze as societal norms shifted. In 2022, I am looking forward to seeing art that incorporates social change into the narrative, and aligns with the changing values of society. In addition, some specific pieces I am eager to see in 2022 include season 4 of “Stranger Things,” “The Wonder,” “Am I Ok?” and, of course, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

Lee Kedem

This year has so many wonderful new pieces of art released. Something I have admired are all the queer-female centered stories being delivered in a graceful and beautiful way in the media. Two of my favorite projects have surrounded Emily Dickinson. The first is the TV show “Dickinson” on Apple TV, that tells the tumultuous yet romantic relationship of Sue and Emily, a story that was buried in the sand for far too long. The second is the same love story with its own unique dialogue and a gorgeous score — “The Emily Dickinson Musical” written by Makena Reynolds and composed by Teagan Reynolds and JT Kaufman.

New work celebrating love and acceptance — that is something I look forward to seeing more of in 2022. These stories are so critical because they offer a warm embrace for today’s youth that deserve to see their stories told through art. Art is a medium that humans can share personal stories which others can resonate with — it’s a universal means of providing connection. This is important because it allows us to feel seen, heard and not alone. I can’t wait to experience the artistic projects to come in this connected realm of creativity in 2022.


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