Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

DJs and dinosaurs: Sketches of Natural History Museum's First Friday

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Off-Ramp is the only radio show we know of with a resident sketch artist. In a world where everyone takes photos of everything they see, and we soon forget what we saw and what we photographed, Mike Sheehan explores the world with his sketchbook, leaving us with delightful, indelible images of life in Southern California. Here's his latest sketchbook and letter.

Hi John,

I finally got to one of the Natural History Museum's First Fridays. Been wanting to go forever. I've always loved this museum, it's one of my favorite places to sketch. Where else can you get a dinosaur to pose for you? 

Don't take our word for it! Go to the next First Friday at the Natural History Museum

So I thought it would be cool to draw at this event and see the museum at night. I had it in my mind these things were sedate quiet affairs. I was wrong. I got there early and people started slowly arriving. They have little loungey seating areas in the diorama halls. I love seeing the museum dark and lit with colored lights. 

They had a DJ set up at the far end of the African Mammals Hall and a band in the North American Mammals Hall. People were hanging and having drinks (yes, they have a bar!). The DJ was playing some mellow stuff, set up in front of one of the dioramas. It's a cool mix of people. All types, different ages.

I took off to wander the museum a little. It's tough not to want to draw everything there. You can also tour it with an expert. But I made it back to the hall to find some nightlife to sketch. Always a challenge to draw in the dark.

The other cool thing about this is along with the nightlife you can also go upstairs and hear a lecture. I learned all sorts of things about the La Brea Tar Pits. I kept missing the band, but I was having too much fun where I was. It was pretty packed, the music was flowing, and some kids showed up, went to the front and started breakdancing. That seemed to set everybody off, and the whole place went crazy dancing. At some point in the middle of this, I saw a dinosaur walk by.

Kinda felt like a weird Ferris Bueller movie moment.

The DJ brought everything to a crescendo right when it hit 10. A perfect evening. I stayed behind while everyone filed out and sketched the T-rex that I've been drawing since I was a kid.

So, not a sedate affair after all, but a party at the museum. I just wish they did it every weekend.

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