Category Archives: Space Arts

“Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future” film now available at Amazon Prime

The documentary, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future, is now available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime.

What do the Golden Gate Bridge, the Chrysler Building, the film Citizen Kane, and America’s Space Program all have in common? They were touched by the hand of a wry-humored and slightly cantankerous artist named Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986).

His paintings of the Golden Gate Bridge convinced doubting San Franciscans that the bridge could be built. His designs for the Chrysler Building made it an art-deco masterpiece. As a special effects matte painter, he created the legendary Xanadu Castle for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Even greater was Chesley’s impact through his space art. First published in Life Magazine in 1944, his visions of planets and galaxies, made before the advent of powerful telescopes and satellites, sowed all the seeds necessary for one of the most revolutionary chapters of our country: the United States Space Program. His iconic “Saturn As Seen From Titan” became known as “the painting that launched a thousand careers.” His space art graced the covers of countless science fiction magazines of the 1940’s and 50’s. Teaming up with rocket experts Willy Ley and Wernher von Braun, he co-authored a long series of influential books beginning with the best-seller, The Conquest of Space.  His evocative imagery fired the imaginations of a country looking to conquer the next frontier, and so the quest began!

Illustration of a Mars expedition landing site by Chesley Bonestell for Colliers Magazine, April 30, 1954.

Summoned by Hollywood producer George Pal, Chesley lent his talents to classics like Destination Moon and The War Of The Worlds. Television requested Chesley’s help with the series Men Into Space. Even today, you can see his influence on filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and many others.

Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future compellingly reveals a nearly-forgotten artist whose mysterious, almost magical, ability to envision distant worlds inspired generations to reach for the stars. Often compared to a twentieth-century da Vinci, this first-ever film about Bonestell explores the life and works of an artist whose influence and timeless imagery are regarded by many as unparalleled. This documentary was produced by award-winning filmmaker Douglass M. Stewart, Jr. and Co-Produced by Ron Miller and Melvin Schuetz, authors of the Hugo Award-winning book, The Art of Chesley Bonestell.

See previous HS items about the film here and here.

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Chesley Bonestell:
A Brush With The Future

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A Chesley Bonestell
Space Art Chronology

Artists commissioned to create paintings on sides of Blue Origin New Shepard rockets

Uplift Aerospace is a company that

provides exclusive products forever transformed by their travel beyond our atmosphere in the realm of the stars. Our products symbolize humanity’s boundless capability and commitment to exploration.

One of Uplift’s projects is to use Blue Origin‘s New Shepard vehicles as canvases for original art pieces:

Uplift Aerospace is Using Rockets in Space as a New Platform
for Evolutionary Artwork

Uplift Aerospace is exploring the limits of evolutionary art by painting commissioned pieces on the exterior of a Blue Origin spacecraft and launching them to space and back on an upcoming New Shepard mission. Internationally renowned artists are collaborating with Uplift Aerospace and the heavens to create this historic artwork.

By painting the vehicle that humanity has used to explore the stars, the artwork will both symbolically and physically represent our search for knowledge and connection. Small details of the painting will transform throughout the journey to and from space as the artwork experiences the phases of a rocket launch from the ground, through the air at Mach speeds, in the vacuum of space, and landing back on Earth. Testing by Uplift Aerospace has ensured that adhesion, integrity, and relative coloration of the paints will endure the rigors of space travel.

“The Mona Lisa would not move today’s viewer quite so poignantly without the telltale signs of its now centuries-old story and its emergence from the brush of a Renaissance master. Journey and story will also leave a unique and indelible mark on Uplift Aerospace’s first artwork to return from space travel,” says Dakota Bradshaw, Museum Professional.

Artists Jeff Hein, recognized as a “living master” by the Art Renewal Center, and Mark R. Pugh, a master of surrealist painting, are working closely with engineers and material experts to ensure the highest retention of their artistic craftsmanship throughout the journey. Both artists have paintings in prestigious private and public galleries around the world and look forward to having their work forever transformed by the journey past Earth’s atmosphere:

“I’ve always felt that creativity is uniquely human. The things we make define us individually and collectively. It is thrilling to have an expression of my humanity propelled into outer space, far from our world, and toward infinite others. After 18 years of painting, I have been fortunate to show my work all over the world, but I’ve never shown in space. It’s truly amazing,” says Hein.

These unique pieces will inspire a new era of artistic collaboration. Not only will outer space wield its brush to put the final touches on the paintings, but the beautiful form of the rocket shows how world-class engineering is an art itself. This partnership represents humanity’s endless capacity for bringing together different frontiers, in this case technology and fine art, in novel and astonishing ways. Mark R. Pugh describes his involvement in this historic collaboration:

“I like to create art as a mix of traditional imagery with modern elements. Painting with a classical approach on the side of a rocket is an exciting way to merge the traditional with the modern. So much creativity goes into engineering these incredible machines, so to be able to have a piece of them displayed as an element in a work of art, particularly one that has spent time directly exposed to elements outside the Earth’s atmosphere, makes this truly a valuable piece of history, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

After its mission, the artwork will be curated and delivered to its patrons, who will own a piece of art and aerospace history.

“The idea that the artwork will be lit by distant galaxies, with earth as a backdrop, is a beautiful visualization, and I think this characteristic will allow viewers a closer connection with the cosmos and the precious planet we call home,” says Josh Hanes, owner of Uplift Aerospace.

Uplift Aerospace is currently accepting bids for these unique murals. See the links below for media contact and additional information.

Additional Links for Media:

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A Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology

Space Songs – Live concert from Air & Space Museum

The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum is hosting an online space music event tonight at 8:00 pm EDT: Space Songs: Through the Distance

Join the National Air and Space Museum Thursday, April 30 at 8 pm EDT for a YouTube concert event, sharing songs about space and isolation to celebrate how extreme situations can bring out the very best in us all and why there’s no challenge we can’t face together. This recorded concert, hosted by Tested’s Adam Savage, will feature special guests and performances by Sting, Clipping, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Dan Deacon, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Valerie June, Lukas Nelson, Grace Potter, and Vagabon.

We know that people love space. And it’s not just because of Moon rocks and pretty pictures of the cosmos. Space exploration is an extraordinary expression of humanity and can inspire us like nothing else.

Naturally, there are a lot of great songs about spaceships and astronauts—about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances And many artists use solitude to fuel creativity and experimentation. We could all use a little bit of that inspiration right now. So while our museum remains closed to the public, we want to share some songs that inspire us with viewers at home.

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See You In Orbit?:
Our Dream Of Spaceflight

MIT Media Lab’s Sojourner 2020 art mission to the ISS

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon for the CRS-20 mission to the International Space Station returned today for a safe landing in the Pacific. Five payloads from MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative were among the payloads delivered in March to the Station and returned on the Dragon:  Five MIT payloads deployed on the International Space Station – MIT News.

The payloads were integrated into the Nanoracks BlackBox, a locker-sized platform with mechanical mounting points and electrical connections for power, data, and communication capabilities. Payloads are fully integrated into BlackBox on the ground; when they reach ISS, the astronauts aboard integrate them into ISS experiment racks, then simply leave them alone — the boxes are completely self-contained and remotely commanded via Nanoracks from the ground. This system allows for larger and more complex research payloads on the ISS, as the astronauts aren’t required to come near any potentially hazardous materials and don’t need any special expertise to run the experiments.

“Five MIT Space Exploration Initiative payloads are enclosed within the Nanoracks BlackBox platform, further encased in a sample ISS experiment rack containment box, shown here in preflight testing for launch to the International Space Station in March.” Credits: Ariel Ekblaw, MIT News

Four of the payloads involved technology and scientific projects. The fifth, called Sojourner 2020, contains a group of

artworks, the first-ever international “open call” art payload to the ISS, selected by SEI’s arts curator Xin Liu. Sojourner 2020 features a three-layer telescoping structure. Each layer of the structure rotates independently; the top layer remains still in weightlessness, while the middle and bottom layers spin at different speeds to produce centripetal accelerations that mimic lunar gravity and Martian gravity, respectively. Nine artists contributed works in a variety of different media, including carved stone sculpture, liquid pigment experiments, and sculptures made of transgender hormone replacement meds. Sojourner 2020 highlights the ways in which the arts can contribute to new means of encountering space; by including projects from indigenous peoples and gender minorities, the project additionally emphasizes key values of human dignity, equality, and democratizing access. 

The artists had responded to the Media Lab’s open call issued in 2019 for artworks in low Earth orbit.

Sojourner 2020 (a 1.5U size unit, 100mm x 100mm x 152.4mm ) will be launched into low Earth orbit for about 30 days. It features a three-layer telescoping structure which creates three different “gravities”: zero gravity, lunar gravity, and Martian gravity. Each layer of the structure rotates independently. The top layer remains still in weightlessness, while the middle and bottom layers spin at different speeds to produce centripetal accelerations that mimic lunar gravity and Martian gravity, respectively. Each layer carries 6 pockets that can hold projects.

“Sojourner 2020 features a three-layer telescoping structure. Each layer of the structure spin at different speeds to produce centripetal accelerations that generate artificial gravities. Designed and built by Xin Liu.” Credits: Wenjun Liang & MIT Media Lab

Each pocket is a container with 10mm in diameter and 12mm in depth. Though the space is limited, the artist groups proposed and accomplished artworks in a variety of different mediums, including carved stone sculpture by Erin Genia, liquid pigment experiments by Andrea Ling and Levi Cai, sculptures made of transgender hormone replacement meds by Adriana Knouf, among the others.

With space transport costs dropping, more an more artists can use space for acts of self-expression:

Sojourner 2020 highlights the ways in which the arts can contribute to new means of encountering space. While access to space is becoming more possible due to commercial launch providers, those sending projects often remain scientific or engineering researchers. Sojourner 2020 broadens this to include an unprecedented collection of international artists, thereby both democratizing access to space as well as opening space exploration to transdisciplinary perspectives. By including projects from indigenous peoples and gender minorities, the project additionally enacts key values of human dignity and equality.

See also this artistic Media Labs project that included a parabolic flight : Mollastica – From Deep Sea to Deep Space — MIT Media Lab

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Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR (DESIGN)

NASA Langley student space art contest winners

Earlier this month NASA Langley announced the winning entrants in a space art competition: Winners of 2020 NASA Langley Student Art Contest Named | NASA

The winners of NASA’s Langley Research Center’s 2020 Student Art Contest have been selected out of nearly 1,300 entries from 40 states and Puerto Rico.

This year’s contest received a record 1,277 entries from students across the United States. These students, part of the Artemis generation, depicted the theme “We Are Going” with insightful compositions and beautiful creativity. Each piece is wonderfully imaginative, and each student, from kindergarten to 12th grade, used their incredible talents to showcase their interpretation of the theme.

(Finalist # 55) 6th Grade Mehar Kapoor

(Finalist # 55) 6th Grade Mehar Kapoor – 1st Place / 6th Grade

The art contest is intended to illustrate where NASA is going next in the realms of research, development, missions and innovations that highlight NASA’s human exploration activities which touch aspects of our lives here on Earth.

This year’s guest judge was Michael Kagan, an award-winning artist who’s had his artistic talents showcased in solo and group exhibitions all over the world. His most recent exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, entitled “I Was There When It Happened,” featured Kagan’s lifelong interest in NASA, technology, space and innovation.

(Finalist # 39) 8th Grade Kendra Vincent

Finalist # 39) 8th Grade Kendra Vincent – 2nd Place / 8th Grade

The grand prize winner was announced a few days later: New Jersey Student Takes Grand Prize in NASA Langley 2020 Art Contest | NASA

The simplest of ideas can turn into the grandest of results. One high school student took the simple idea that space is reachable, translated that idea into art, and is now the grand-prize winner of NASA’s Langley Research Center’s 2020 Student Art Contest.

Camila Garcia, a tenth-grader at North Bergen High School in North Bergen, New Jersey, earned the highest honor in the yearly competition.

“Camila Garcia, a tenth-grader at North Bergen High School in North Bergen, New Jersey, was named the grand-prize winner for her entry in the 2020 NASA Langley Student Art Contest.” Credits: NASA Langley Research Center

“My inspiration for my artwork was simply the idea of things being reachable,” she said. “It was a very consistent concept within my thumbnail sketches, especially since they all revolved around people.”

Camila’s winning entry is a woman astronaut gazing out into space and the Moon with the words “We Are Going” at the bottom of her helmet.

“In the case of my artwork in particular, it’s more emotionally centered around the idea of something being reachable as the mere gaze I have (I am the subject of my drawing) towards the Moon is that of amazement at how far I’ve truly come,” she said.

(Finalist # 14) 3rd Grade Daniel Chia

(Finalist # 14) 3rd Grade Daniel Chia – 3rd Place / 3rd Grade

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Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR (DESIGN)

Sample of the artworks displayed in “Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR”