5 design things to do this week

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This week: Get into Jim Henson’s world at the Skirball Cultural Center, see how Africans struck iron at the Fowler Museum, check out experimental architecture at Helms Design Center, catch Mary Little’s subtle fiber and fabric craft, and join a vinyl listening and printing session in Pasadena.

    Interact with your favorite Jim Henson characters while learning the art of puppetry, at the Skirball Cultural Center

1) The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited

Mix it up with Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Ernie and Bert, Grover, and other favorite puppets created by Jim Henson (1936–1990), creator on The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, and Sesame Street to Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. Better yet, do it at night. The Skirball Cultural Center kicks off The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited this Friday with a late night opening, complete with DJs and food trucks. Come check out more than 100 objects and twenty-five historic puppets — and then design your own puppet and try puppeteering in this highly interactive exhibition.

When: June 1-September 2; Late-Night! June 1, 6 to 10 p.m. 

Where: 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049. Click here for directions.

Tickets: Free for members; Non-members:Late night,: $5; exhibition during regular hours, $12 (except Thursdays which are free)$5; click here for more information.

Artist unknown (Ndengese peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo), Throwing knife–shaped currency (oshele), 19th century; Image © Fowler Museum at UCLA. Photo Don Cole, 2018) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

2) Striking Iron Opening Party

The technologies of iron smelting and forging likely began on the African continent around 2,500 years ago. Now you can witness that legacy in a new exhibition at the Fowler Museum called Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths. See blades in myriad shapes and sizes, wood sculptures studded with iron, musical instruments and elaborate body adornments — made by over 100 ethnic groups living in 19 countries, mostly south of the Sahara, and dating to the 19th and 20th centuries. Exhibition co-curator Marla C. Berns says the diverse works show “how, through their mastery, blacksmiths have invested great cultural importance and meaning in the objects they make.” The opening party Saturday features a lecture by co-curator Tom Joyce and a DJ set of African music spun by Tom Schnabel of KCRW’s Rhythm Planet.

When: June 3–December 30, 2018; Opening party and lecture, Saturday, June 2nd, 6-9pm; the museum is open Wednesday – Sunday

Where: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 308 Charles E Young Dr W, Los Angeles, California 90095; Parking available in UCLA Lot 4, 398 Westwood Plaza, directly off Sunset Blvd | $12/day

Tickets: Free; click here for more information.

Bryan Cantley’s Taxo 3B. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

3) Formu:LA and Forward-slash / Back-slash \ ARCHITEKTUR alongside  Cal Poly LA Metro Student Design Exhibition  

If you see an architecture firm whose name plays with letters and punctuation marks you can expect it to be on the more experimental end of the spectrum. Case in point: Formu:LA, helmed by Bryan Cantley, and Forward-slash / Back-slash \ ARCHITEKTUR, founded by Christoph Kumpusch. Now both architects will exhibit their work that places great emphasis on the drawing, rendering or model as a design project in itself. See Cantley’s Taxo 3B drawing, above; and, top of page, structure at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada built by Kumpusch’s Columbia-based Extraction Laboratory summer workshop. These exhibits will complement a display of work by students at Cal Poly LA Metro program. The students’ design challenge: to conceive 70-story mixed-use/mixed-class housing/hotel/office tower for downtown Los Angeles. Come check out the future!

When: May 31: Reception, Lecture, and Discussion with Bryan Cantley, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm; June 2: Cal Poly LA Metro Program in Architecture and Urban Design Student Design Exhibition and Reception followed by lecture by Christoph Kumpusch

Where: Helms District Design Center, 8745 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232, Free Parking at the corner of Helms Ave. and Venice Blvd.

Tickets: Free and open to the public; click here for more information.

Mary Little at work (image Courtesy of the artist, Sydney Brown photo) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

4) Mary Little: The Shape of Cloth — Closes June 2

Mary Little was raised in Northern Ireland and is now based in Los Angeles, but her subtle fiber wall hangings and fiber forms are inspired by the scenery of the soft rolling hills and textured coastline in the area where she grew up. See her work in an exhibition at the Craft in America Center through Saturday. With a background in furniture design, Little uses upholstery techniques to manipulate her material through ephemeral folds and tucks that are “permanently documented in the cloth.”

When: Closes June 2, 2018; Tues – Sat, noon – 6pm

Where: Craft in America Center, 8415 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90048, Tues–Sat, noon–6 pm

Tickets: Free and open to the public; click here for more information.

Volume 29, Marrow Siren, January 2018, art by Marcos Navarro (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

5) Vinyl Moon Listening Party

Art and music event conjoin at sp[a]ce gallery in Pasadena next Sunday. Every month VINYL MOON, a membership club, takes 10 of their favorite new songs by up-and-coming artists and presses them on gorgeous colored vinyl. They also work with a different visual artist each month to create exclusive artwork and deluxe packaging. Members and non-members alike are invited to join their “listening party” this coming Sunday at sp[a]ce, a gallery within the offices of Ayzenberg, a branding and marketing company in Pasadena. “Unvarnished Truth” artist Martha Rich will be there to release her “talk bubbles.”

When: Sunday, June 3, 5 – 8pm

Where: sp[a]ce gallery at Ayzenberg, 39 E. Walnut St., Pasadena, CA 91103

Tickets: Free and open to the public; click here for more information.

KCRW’S grand opening celebration in October for its new building. Photo by Frances Anderton. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

PLUS: Have breakfast with KCRW president Jennifer Ferro! She’ll be speaking at an AIA|LA City Leaders Breakfast this Friday, June 1,  from 8 – 9:30 am at Clive Wilkinson Architects, 6116 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. She’ll talk about KCRW’s new state-of-the-art facility designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects. Tickets cost $15 for AIA members, $25 for non-members. Register here.