Published October 14th, 2009
Hearst Gallery Exhibit is Really-Out of This World
By Andrea A. Firth
Enceladus digital image by Ron Miller, 2007 Photos courtesy of Hearst Gallery

For centuries, artists have accompanied explorers to new frontiers to document new realms and to inspire others to follow. Space exploration-traveling past the Earth's atmosphere to the planets in our solar system and the universe beyond-while the dream of every aspiring astronaut is primarily the purview of robotic explorers and satellites. This is where art and science come together, robot and man meet. Space artists possess the curious and fastidious nature of a scientist grounding their work in facts and data. Simultaneously they possess the creativity and imagination of an artist, which enables them to translate these datapoints into beautiful images of the outer world. This is space art, and it really is out of this world.
The Hearst Art Gallery exhibit, Out of This World, includes dramatic, alarmingly realistic images of planetary landscapes created by many of the best-known space artists of our day alongside detailed photographic images taken by robotic explorers and satellites. "This whole show was done over the Internet," says exhibition co-curator Carrie Brewster who looked at hundreds of images from NASA to identify artwork for the exhibit. High-resolution images of the chosen artworks were then printed on canvas. "From start to finish, the show was created digitally," added Brewster.
The family-friendly exhibit is a walking tour of our solar system with a section of the Gallery's wall space devoted to each of the eight planets and their moons. (Don't expect to find Pluto which remains demoted to dwarf planet status.)
The Mars section includes a 1/3 scale model of the Mars Rover roaming the planet's turf. The planet's surface was created with "red dirt" from the SMC baseball infield and red rocks collected in Nevada. Exhibit-goers can also experience a fly-through flight of the Mariner Valley, a 3-mile long canyon on Mars that is a deep as Mount Everest is tall. Created by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the video is reminiscent of a flight over the Grand Canyon (not recommended for those with a weak stomach).
On November 17th, the Hearst Gallery will host a presentation by astronomer and space artist William K. Hartmann, Ph.D. "I'll try to relate the basic discoveries that have come out of space exploration to a larger cosmic perspective...For example, turning the discoveries into art, trying to take what we now know about universe and creatively turn it into something beautiful," states Hartmann. His own space artwork is on display at the exhibit-look directly right upon entering the exhibit to see his acrylic painting of a gully on Mars. The presentation will be followed by stargazing and a meteor shower watch, weather permitting.

Out of This World will be on display at the Hearst Art Gallery at Saint Mary's College in Moraga through December 13th. Exploring the Cosmos by Spacecraft and Paint Brush will be presented by astronomer William K. Hartmann on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 p.m. Stargazing and meteor watch will follow, weather permitting, at 8:30 p.m. For more information go to www.hearstartgallery.org

Ice Geyser digital image by Mark Garlick, 2000 www.space-art.co.uk.
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