Go Go’ers, if Project Runway has been the defining cultural event in your life lately, it’s time to upgrade. This Saturday, instead of your usual soccer/gardening/grocery shopping/workout and/or search for hangover-curing carbs routine, mix it up and go to a museum. (Or if you’re super efficient, go to a museum in addition to all of the above. Show off.)
Saturday is the perfect day to culture up because the Smithsonian, the granddaddy of all museums (even though it’s not strictly one museum but many), is sponsoring Smithsonian Museum Day, which means every household across the nation (yours too, even if it’s just you, Mr. Tickles, and the dust bunnies) can download a free ticket good for two admissions to one of the participating museums. In L.A., that means more museums than you could visit in a month….
Immobilized with indecision at the array of opportunities? The following venues are worth noting for their first/last chances at interesting exhibits and/or unique one-off events for the day. Ms. Go Go is happy to help.
Autry National Center in Griffith Park – Be one of the first to see the Autry’s Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied exhibit, celebrating David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of Mexico’s great muralists (along with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco), who spent seven months in Los Angeles in 1932. Also check out the Earth and Fire sale featuring collectible Mata Ortiz Pottery (including demonstrations by Salvador Baca and Virginia Lazoya de Baca) as well as vintage and contemporary fine silver jewelry from Mexico’s Taxco region. Hey, big spenders…Autry members get 10% off.
FIDM Museum and Galleries – In conjunction with their Disney Alice in Wonderland Design Exhibition, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise is offering a tea party and a kids day. You can come for tea, scones, cupcakes, Colleen Atwood’s costumes, Alice-inspired designs from a diverse range of designers, and the Annette Green Perfume Museum (the only fragrance museum in North America). The kids can come for the crafts. Okay, maybe the kids can get a cupcake too.
The Grammy Museum – Les Paul, a pioneer of the electric guitar movement, said, “…the guitar is…everything: a bartender, a psychiatrist, a housewife.” If the above piques your interest, you’ll probably want to check out the Museum-Day-only-screening of Electrified: The Guitar Revolution, narrated by Henry Rollins who will be joined by GE Smith, luthier Paul Reed Smith and Smithsonian curators. You’re sure to come away with a greater understanding of the electric guitar; Les Paul, however, may remain a mystery.
MOCA/The Geffen Contemporary – This is the last weekend to catch Dennis Hopper Double Standard curated by Julian Schnabel. It’s the first comprehensive exhibition of the late Hopper’s prolific, multifaceted, 60-year artistic career and includes paintings, photographs, sculptures, assemblages, film installations, and, most recently, “graffiti-inspired wall constructions and large-scale billboard paintings”. Discover the artist behind the actor, the motorcycles, the blow-up dolls, and the inhalers.
Watts Towers Art Center – For the most soul-stirring, foot-stomping event on Museum Day, head to the 29th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival, featuring jazz great Randy Weston (celebrating his 85th birthday), master percussionist Babatunde Lea, the Environmental Rhythms of Big Black (a.k.a. Big Danny Ray Black), Senegalese Balle Fette Bu Senegal, Afro-Cuban Fausto Cuevas y Sus Compadres, Japanese Taikoproject, ancient Mexican traditions from Cuauhtemoc Mexica Dance, and the annual Drumline Challenge (Centennial High School faces Washington Preparatory High School). All this plus tours of the Watts Towers, art activities for kids, stilt dancer Professor Peter Abilogu, a drum circle led by Matt Gibson III, and food! Also check out the CCH Pounder-curated exhibition: Wisdom Knots & Other Symbols by influential, African-American artist Varnette P. Honeywood whose work was discovered by Bill and Camille Cosby and featured on The Cosby Show. Honeywood passed away just last week on September 14.
Skirball Cultural Center – Soul Power is director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte‘s 2008 documentary film assembled from footage left over from the Oscar-winning doc When We Were Kings. Albert Mayles shot some of the aforementioned footage (along with other camera operators) of the Zaire ’74 music festival that was organized in conjunction with the Muhammad Ali – George Foreman heavyweight boxing championship match Rumble in the Jungle. The film (screened only once in the afternoon) eschews interviews for a candid, behind-the-scenes peek at and exhilarating performances by James Brown, B.B. King, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, Bill Withers, and Manu Dibango. Prepare to subsequently dust off some of your cherished vinyl for a new listen.
Whichever museum you choose, Mr. Tickles may never be the same….
Ready? U Know U Want 2 Go Go….
Smithsonian Museum Day
Saturday, September 25
Free; one ticket and two admissions per household
Click below (or cut and paste in browser) to download your ticket and find a list of all of the participating Los Angeles area museums: