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Friday, May 24: Folklife

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Muppets, Monsters and More at MoPOP

11/10/17 Jim Henson's puppet for Beautiful Day
The last time I visited Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) nearly two years ago, it was still called EMP, and I was there on my own for the thoroughly enjoyable Hello Kitty exhibition. Yesterday the Friday USk sketchers got a special treat: MoPOP member Kate generously gave us complimentary guest passes so that we could visit as a group.

I opted to upgrade my ticket so that I could see the visiting exhibition about Jim Henson, Imagination Unlimited. Many of Henson’s most popular Muppet creations were on display, as well as other artifacts from lesser-known parts of his career. Of course, young kids had a ball seeing familiar characters, but here’s what made me gulp: Adults half my age were taking selfies with Sesame Street characters because they were nostalgic about growing up with the TV show. Once I got over feeling ancient about that, I settled down for several fun sketches.

My first was of a Muppet unfamiliar to me but who apparently claimed fame on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969 when it ruined someone’s Beautiful Day. I enjoyed seeing and sketching the monster itself, but even more interesting was seeing Henson’s hand-drawn sketches from when he was developing the design. The exhibit included several such sketchbook pages and related handwritten notes that gave a glimpse into his creative mind.

Designs for Beautiful Day character
Early designs for Rowlf

Next I chose a pair of my personal favorites – Bert & Ernie. As I sketched, a nearby video loop played an old Sesame Street segment of the pair. Their exhibit was a particularly popular spot for selfies.

11/10/17 Bert & Ernie

Before I left the exhibit, I sketched a station where visitors could design their own Muppet by rearranging facial parts and hair and then view how their creation would look on a TV screen.

Selfie opp
11/10/17 Design a Muppet station

 I spent the most time in the Henson exhibit, but before the meetup, I had time for a quick run through a couple of other exhibits. One was Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds, which showed a number of set pieces, costumes and spaceship models. From the mezzanine above, I sketched one of the costume displays and snapped a photo of Kate sketching nearby.

11/10/17 Star Trek costumes
Kate sketching a Star Trek exhibit

11/10/17 Ever heard of this movie?
With only about 10 minutes left before the meetup, I dashed into Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film. Although I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre, I wouldn’t have minded spending more time in this exhibit, as some of the monsters would have been fun to draw, especially the Alien from the 1979 film. But the problem was that this exhibit was necessarily dark and spooky, which made sketching nearly impossible. I found one exhibit of a monster from the 2001 movie Jeepers Creepers (I’d never heard of it) that was well-lighted enough to spend 5 minutes sketching. 

My last sketch of the day had nothing to do with MoPOP except vicinity. Waiting at the bus stop, I looked up at the Space Needle and remembered that I have been meaning to sketch its top, which is currently under renovation. The caged observation deck is being replaced with a slanted glass wall and glass floor so that tourists can get a bigger (and more expensive) thrill than they can now (yawn). 

11/10/17 The Space Needle is wearing a messy hat lately.

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