The Gemini astronauts are not given as much credit as they deserve. The accomplishments of the Apollo patriots cast a large shadow over astronaut corp before and after. Even still, the gents of the Gemini program trailblazed the way for the later explorations. The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum just released these photographs from their deep archive that paint a much more human face on the Gemini crew that were lost “somewhere between ‘the right stuff’ and the moon.” Among many other things, Gemini gents were pioneers of orbital photography, using the Hasselblad that the Apollo lads made famous on their moon landing.
San Francisco is a city that can really make you feel like a transplant. You ended up here like a tumbleweed, blown into this golden city by the bay by some sort of random chance.
Alec Huxley’s acrylic on canvas spacemen trapped in San Francisco struck me in this regard. His artist statement states that his work captures the reality of a lucid dream through the lens of a vintage space helmet. The city of San Francisco truly seems like a lucid dream; in what other city in the world does every house have excessively large bay windows and is painted the primary colors akin to a kindergartener’s lunch box? It is many ways an urban version of Alice’s Wonderland. Huxley’s San Francisco is stripped of its iconic colors and its other trademark identifiers, captured in a greyscale whose figures are floating above it rather than immersed within it. They are outsiders, transplants, tumbleweeds like me.
Alec Huxley is from California, Alaska, Texas, Scotland and Washington. His work is currently showing at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. Scope his work this weekend before the exhibition closes on the 28th.
Thirty years ago yesterday in 1982, Sally Ride was tapped to ride in STS-7. She was selected to be the first American woman to fly into space. I usually try to share the freshest space artwork that I can find on the outerwebs, but I am selfishly taking the opportunity to share the work that originally got me going in space art, that highlight the LADIES of the manned space exploration- Philip Bond’s 2009 “Women in Space”.
Bond began the series with the intention of drawing each female astronaut; while still shy of capturing the nearly sixty that have flown, his results are cosmic. Bond’s sublime, cartoon-like portraits transform these female space pioneers into galactic superheros. Dipped in hues of lime, violet and blue, the collection forms a vibrant girl power astro yearbook. The series begins with Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to venture into space beating Sally by twenty years, and includes another twenty women who have bravely taken flight off earth.
You go girls. RIDE SALLY RIDE.
Happy Belated Cosmonauts Day! Yesterday, April 12 was the 51st anniversary of the first manned space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, orbitting the earth aboard Vostok 1. Also, for all the American patriots reading this, yesterday was the 31st Anniversary of first space shuttle launch – Columbia STS-1 in 1981.
Every April 12th, there are gatherings of space fans and fanatics for the International Yuri’s Night. There are over 75 organized events in 34 countries to celebrate the achievement of making it spaceward.
The above logo was created by Karen Lau of Astracultura around the 40th Anniversary of Yuri’s flight. As much as I enjoy the logo itself, I am especially fond of the typography used in all of the event’s branding; in particular the Faux Cyrillic Y, as the Faux Cyrille lettering is common Western trope used to allude to the USSR and/or Russia. Even as Yuri’s night was founded by Westerners (Loretta Hidalgo, Trish Games and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic), it is a celebration to commemorate the international milestone of putting man into space.
I first came across Philip Scott Andrew’s Last Days photo essay a while back while I was still working on contract at NASA Ames Research Center right before the end of the Space Shuttle program. Ames is home to the largest federal supercomputer, the NASA Kepler mission, and a slew of other amazing missions/projects; it is not involved in launch of manned space crafts. Even still the day after the Shuttle Program it seemed like a dark veil or stormy cloud hovered above the Research Park. Few engineers and employees were out and about; the heads of the seldom few were hung heavy. Even I, whom didn’t dream of being an astronaut as child, who starting working at NASA because it was a golden opportunity to share amazing content in an innovative fashion, sunk a little.
Andrew’s photographs capture end of the NASA Space Shuttle Program in such a triumphant manner. In his frames, there is no confusion or dismay about where the Space Program is headed. There is no bitterness to lack of direction and aimless quest of human space flight. It glorifies the accomplishments and tireless of work of so many individuals to place man into orbit.
His artist statement in Issue 9 of Daylight Magazine reads:
In the simplest terms, these photographs tell a story about men and women who show up to work every day and launch spaceships. It is a marvel, a symbol of the United States’ twentieth century dominance. But it is a tragic story. The U.S. is abandoning not only its manned spaceflight program but the individuals behind it whose ingenuity, bravery, and attention to detail made the program not only possible, but reliable… In looking back, we can look ahead to find the next adventure over the horizon.
Last Days truly captures a moment in time. The work is pretty phenomenal in taking a snapshot of the unparalleled nationalistic spirit and technical accomplishment only possible through the hands of many. Check out his website, it’s full of gems.
The photos of Lado Alexi are filled with sexy, fashionable people, but clearly he also has a soft spot for space suits. He took the spacesuit, something that’s decidedly not sexy, something made for protecting the human body from the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space, and turns it into something mysterious and sensual. The model almost appears to be protecting herself with the suit, the last photo looking like she’s preparing to suit up. The colors are also pretty fantastic, they almost look like something from an old pulp comic book. Be sure to check out the rest of his work as well, he’s got a great eye.
I thought I would pass along this little gemstone that I stumbled across on Tumblr. I am really digging on Kyle Jones’ Space Cadet – and the rest of his work for that matter! His work reminds me of something straight outta Hanna-Barbera Productions circa the 1960s. I am particularly fond of the marshmallow clouds against the red horizon. I still can’t place the green rabbit friend of the cadet, but if this what the future looks like, I’m really excited.
Bobby passed along these drawings to me by Jonathan Andrew Taylor. I may be mistaken, but I believe the top image was inspired by Hubert Vykukal’s AX-3 experiment suit (which Alex wrote about a while back). The AX hard body suits were heralded because they gave the body almost complete range of motion; an astronaut could move into something like 95% of the body positions that they could if they were in the buff. Although, Taylor’s drawings make the suit seem rather limiting with the astronaut barely capable of peaking over the bottom of his helmet. I’m fond of the tri-color palette that Taylor employs. Stripping the suit of its standard patriotic colors, he recasts the image into another a sphere. It’s as if Taylor’s astronauts have complete range of motion in capturing a child-like pursuit of imagination.
Stan Gaz’s series Ensnared – Astronauts and Butterflies, explores the themes of “loss, memory, transition, and transformation.” His images depict archetypes of the hunter and the hunted, though it’s hard to tell which figures are really trapped. Is it the astronaut in his white, sterile suit or the delicate butterfly? Seeing this series made me think of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir The Diving Bell & the Butterfly. Bauby, physically crippled by locked-in syndrome, uses the extended allusion of the diving bell (much like a space suit) to illustrate his oppressive state and still his mind is able to take flight like a butterfly. In Gaz’s artist statement, he states, “The roles can be oddly interchangeable, caught up in a cycle in which each is trapped by the other—where neither is ever free of the other’s influence, but nevertheless transformation still takes place.”
We can never get enough of space suits here on TFIB, so it’s only right that I share the work of Señor Salme. His illustration style reminds me a lot of P. Craig Russell, a comic book artist who’s a classic in the industry. But Senor Salme’s work is a nice variation on Russell’s work, also having a touch of Mike Mignola as bit of a manga influence to round things out.
He clearly loves space suits as much as we do, as he’s got three images in his portfolio that explore the idea of astronauts. I’m really loving what he’s doing, I’d suggest checking out more of his work by clicking here.