On Today’s Show: A New Twist on Tie-Dye by Jennifer Parry Dodge; Neutra-Designed Public Housing That was Never Built

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Parry Dodge’s home studio, with hand-dyed fabric inspired by her backyard flora

Hand-dyed fabric in colors inspired by backyard flora and fauna, dries at Parry Dodge’s home; photo by Parry Dodge

Jennifer Parry Dodge has brought tie-dyeing into the digital age, while continuing a regional tradition of coloring with natural indigo and cochineal, a dye made from insects who feast on prickly pear fruits; Alissa Walker reports. Plus, Matt Holzman reports on the “Never Built” housing in Chavez Ravine, designed by Richard Neutra, that was halted through a combination of red-baiting and fears of a community being destroyed.

Never Built: Elysian Park

Elysian Park plan. Courtesy of Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
Elysian Park plan. Courtesy of Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

For weeks now we’ve talked about Pacific Standard Time Presents, a series of exhibits sponsored by the Getty that explores LA’s architecture and urban form since the 1940s. But the show that has really got the buzz is Never Built at A+D Museum, ironically an exhibit that did not receive (nor apply for) Getty support, and about projects that never existed.

Now the show has opened, and it is fascinating to see models of saucer-shaped buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and a Causeway that was intended for the Santa Monica Bay. Some projects are so bizarre we are relieved our forbears didn’t build them; others invoke a sense of regret at missed opportunities for Los Angeles.

KCRW’s Matt Holzman has been going behind the scenes to report on some of the projects in the exhibit and why they never got built. One was a huge housing project designed by Austrian émigré Richard Neutra (above), that was intended for Elysian Park Heights and is now the site of Dodger Stadium. He tells the story of how red-baiting, unfamiliar accents and fears of a community being destroyed conspired to defeat an ideal of decent public housing.

Never Built is on exhibit at A+D Museum at 6032 Wilshire Blvd, and will remain open until October 18th.

LA Designer: Jennifer Parry Dodge

Jennifer Parry Dodge in her studio, photograph by Megan McIsaac

In early June KCRW DJ (Design Journalist) Alissa Walker attended CAMP, a business conference for creatives held at a summer camp in Big Bear, California. They spent their days, she writes, “taking foraging lessons and even mixology classes—this was not the camp of my youth!—but the workshop that probably captivated me the most was indigo-dyeing with Jennifer Parry Dodge.

Under the moniker ERMIE, named after her great aunt who supported her artistic endeavors, Parry hand-dyes textiles, clothing, and accessories in the yard of her Highland Park home (which she notes is now appropriately spatter-painted).”Alissa met Jennifer at her at her studio in Highland Park – layered with the bright colors and psychedelic textures of both completed pieces and works-in-progress – and talked to her about what inspires her, her detour into nursing, and the “wabi sabi” effects of using natural indigo dye, made from a plant that produces those brilliant blues, cochineal, a dye made from insects who feast on prickly pear fruits, resulting in a dazzling pink color. (And gives a whole new meaning to the term “bug juice.”)

She also hears about how the designer has updated the craft for the digital era, reproducing her one-off designs for a larger audience—meanwhile perpetuating a craft as old as civilization yet exploring new boundaries for its application.Jennifer Parry Dodge has also created a custom-designed blanket available only to KCRW listeners. See DnA Design Picks on the KCRW store.

ERMIE’s Milky Way Blanket, exclusively available in the KCRW Store, photograph by Kate Miss