Jim Henson’s loveable, laughable Muppets have provided some of the most irreverent, inspirational, and educational entertainment of the past 50 years. But few know that Henson, who died unexpectedly from pneumonia at the age of 54, had a prolific career in television commercials and success with experimental film prior to the creations of Sesame Street (1969-) and The Muppet Show (1976-1981).*
Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a collaborative effort between The Jim Henson Legacy and The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service tells the story of “Jim the Man” rather than simply “Jim the Puppeteer” in a effort to provide deeper insight into his process of visual thinking.
The retrospective, – – in the middle of a 12-venue tour – – is a collection of original drawings, photographs, video footage, puppets and Muppets. It stops this Summer at Seattle’s Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum. In addition to hosting Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, EMP|SFM is also presenting Muppets, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy.**
Be sure to check out the appropriately named Mudgarden Experience – – a Seattle only component to the exhibition. Envisioned by EMP|SFM’s Director of Education, Margie Maynard, and designed by local puppet maker, Annett Mateo, this interactive puppet rock band – – comprised of Northwest rock icons Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Carrie Akre – – allows visitors to experience what it might be like to film a live puppet television show.
(At the media preview tour, Carrie Akre had a chance to rock out with her puppet likeness while EMP|SFM’s Director of Public Programming, Sam Vance, played drums with a puppet inspired by Keith Moon and Mike Musburger.)
Summer events associated with the retrospective include lectures from Henson’s widow Jane Henson and writer Craig Shemin. There will also be screenings of The Muppet Movie, clips of Henson’s experimental film and work for NBC Experiment in Television, a presentation of Labyrinth with special guest Karen Prell (aka “Red Fraggle”—and a local girl), and performances by the Clay Martin Puppet Theater and the Carter Family Marionettes.
Wednesday, May 27th 2009
Muppet History 101 with Craig Shemin
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Muppet Music Moments Film Screening
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Commercials and Experiments with Karen Prell
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Exposed: Inside Film screening of The Dark Crystal
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
“Look Both Ways” with special guest Jane Henson
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Exposed: Inside Film screening of Labyrinth with special guest Karen Prell
-Stay tuned for a more detailed feature by yours truly on Jim Henson’s Fantastic World and the man himself coming soon in the July issue of Geek Monthly!