The Ultimate Day Trip

We have liftoff at Moraga's Hearst Gallery.

On Christmas, 1949, twelve-year-old Oregonian Frank Hettick received
a copy of Willy Ley’s book, Conquest of Space. The book’s
stunning astronomical paintings by Chesley Bonestell (who would later
do matte paintings for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001) fascinated him,
and he began creating tempera paintings of his own along rocketeering
themes, studying rendering and perspective in high school, and
participating in the growing space fever of the 1950s and 1960s, which
he and others now deem “The Golden Age of Space Art.”  

That tradition did not end with the advent of real space travel,
however; the knowledge gained from satellites, robotic probes, and
various forms of radio astronomy and computer imaging have been eagerly
assimilated by space artists, as is demonstrated by Out of This
World: The Landscapes of Our Solar System
at St. Mary’s
College’s Hearst Art Gallery
. It is a treat for adult science and
art aficionados as well as budding future Hetticks (though not for
small children, probably). Developed by the gallery’s Carrie Brewster
and Saint Mary’s College professor of astronomy and physics Ronald P.
Olowin, the show boasts a wealth of scientific information (frozen
nitrogen geysers on Venus’ Triton, Mercury’s 700-degree daily
temperature shifts, a possible subterranean ocean on Jupiter’s moon
Europa) integrated with dazzling images of the cosmological sublime in
a range of media: paintings by Joe Bergeron, Michael
Carroll
, Kevin Davies, Don Dixon, Mark A.
Garlick
, David Hardy, William K. Hartmann, Frank
Hettick
, John Kaufmann, Ron Miller, Walter B.
Myers,
and Kees Veenenbos, along with books (including
Miller’s/Hartmann’s The Grand Tour) featuring their work;
photographs from the Voyager 1 and 2, Cassini and Mars Rover
exploratory missions; a beautifully designed interactive introduction
to our solar system by sophomore Daniel Walsh; a NASA
mini-documentary, Journey to the Planets and Beyond, narrated by
Harrison Ford; a flyby simulation of Mars’ immense and
spectacular Mariner Valley, large enough to contain the Los Angeles
basin with ease; a Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter globe; and a model of
Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Rover set against a typical Red Planet
landscape. Out of This World runs through December 13 at Hearst
Art Gallery (St. Mary’s College, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga).
StMarys-ca.edu/arts/hearst-art-gallery
or 925-631-4379.

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