Jay Meehan: Memories of the Snow Park Amphitheater
May 9, 2018
"If there is an original thought out there, I could use it right now."
~ Bob Dylan
Neurotics such as myself don't deal well with change. I'm the kind of guy that if I would have had any say at all when Park City icon Art Durante up and sold Main Street Hardware, there would have been a stipulation in the contract that the new owner had to leave the aisles and parts bins exactly the same regardless of what usage loomed.
That is to say, the onus would have been upon the buyers to reconfigure the space to fit their needs without disturbing Art's original layout.
There is really no getting around the fact that, for me, the layout at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater harbors more fond memories from over the years than any other outdoor venue.”
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And that would have included all matters of shop minutiae ranging from the "Dummy On Duty" sign that McGee freehanded to hang above Art's desk to the area set aside for the precut-to-order replacement windowpanes Art kept in stock for your humble scribe.
There was this rambunctious 2-year old Newfoundland named "Nikos" up at our turn-around shack at the top of Main Street, you see – one who liked to fashion his own entrance and egress portals to fit the moment at hand.
In a manner similar to when Johnny or Mavis Clyde would have a freshly poured mug awaiting me at the bar once I entered the sacred Heber watering hole that was "Tinks," Art, solely by deciphering my body language, would have the proper pane (or "pain," as he came to spell it) set aside by the time I sidled up to his counter.
I thought I'd get that little comparative yarn spun and out of the way before actually allowing you a hint as to where this might be heading. Neurotics will do that, stretch out their preamble, as it were.
So, all that being said, you can just imagine how well I'm dealing with the somewhat recent bombshell that intervening variables have nudged the Park City Institute, my longtime cultural "grad school," into relocating their summer performance art campus.
Now, no doubt, the educator types that make up the PCI Board and Staff are approaching this particular "change" with much more maturity than the Portly Gray Dude currently working the keyboard.
Where their predisposition is to virtually and actually work-the-room, I have no such methodology. I reach for the bottle. I let the dogs out and entice them into eating my homework! I wrap myself in "woe-is-me" and knock back a few. I stare into the abyss. I contemplate the void. All of which doesn't move the needle much.
If PCI's total contribution to the wider community were solely the making available of master-class level instruction at no cost to local students, wouldn't one think that sufficient to entice more of us aesthetic wannabes to hop on their bandwagon?
Admittedly, not all of PCI's performance fare finds itself in my historical wheelhouse. However, over time, they have caused me to stretch my cultural sensibilities to include all manners of human creativity, most of which were not part of the kit-and-kaboodle I rode in on.
A shout-out is most definitely due those who sponsor PCI's highly eclectic balancing acts, I might add. Often selecting slates of performing artists known more for edification than for selling out venues is an obvious high-wire maneuver in the current live entertainment environment. But that is what sets the Institute tribe apart from the rest.
And then there are those wondrous "TED Talks," both from the Mother Ship and local students, which confront our comfort zones (as all meaningful performance art should). But, I digress. Go figure! What I originally set out to whine about here is the paradigm shift of outdoor venue relocation.
There is really no getting around the fact that, for me, the layout at Deer Valley's Snow Park Amphitheater harbors more fond memories from over the years than any other outdoor venue. And this includes Red Butte Garden and USANA Amphitheater and the Gallivan Center down in the valley so low.
I mean, admittedly, I've had ecstatic experiences at the Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theater, Monterey Fairgrounds, and the intimate meadows of Golden Gate Park, but looking back, nothing touches Deer Valley. And the most cherished part of that had to be the St. Regis Big Stars Bright Nights fare put on by The Park City Institute.
This is not to say that I lack confidence in their alchemical powers to right my grad school ship. Wherever it lands, I have little doubt my cultural growth will continue.
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