Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Japan

Some artists I’m happy to know have organized “Dear Japan,” an exhibit and sale of small, affordable artwork to benefit victims of the recent disasters in Japan. This small image was created for the show. It’s a pen and ink and watercolor painting of a Texas Ebony bonsai tree in the bonsai collection at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — a seamless synthesis of Texas, Brooklyn, and Japanese themes into one 4” x 6” image (9” x 12”, framed). That may be a first. (As always, click the image to enlarge it.)

The work will be exhibited and for sale along with many others on Saturday, June 4, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Art Connect New York Gallery, 491 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY. (From 7:00 to 8:00 the work that has sold will be packed up, and at 8:00 you walk out the door with your purchase.) The maximum price for any piece of work will be $200. Contributing artists include, well, there’s a bunch of us — 170! Read more on Facebook, here, or follow the Dear Japan blog, here. All the event details are on the Dear Japan blog here. I hope I’ll see you at the show!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Salad days

I’m off to Providence, Rhode Island this weekend for a college reunion. Above, work done for the Brown Daily Herald in the distant and bygone era of my undergraduate education. (Mac Plus: 8 MHz of pure processing power.) My deadline handling has gotten only moderately better over the years. Or is it moderately worse? Regardless, I’m looking forward to the weekend. And as it happens David Scott of Gemini 8, Apollo 9, and Apollo 15 will be there to receive an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree. He’s already got two graduate degrees (of the non-honorary type) from M.I.T., his bio says, but I don’t guess you can have too many. Probably I’ll cart a copy of Moonshot up to campus in case I’m able to corner him in the refectory.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Destination Moon

It was fifty years ago today that John Kennedy declared to a joint session of Congress: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” It’s amazing how something that happened half a century ago can still sound like science fiction, but there you are.

It’s also interesting to consider how Kennedy chose the Moon as a goal, out of all of the options for the United States in space. Most advocates of space exploration, Wernher von Braun among them, envisioned that our exploration of space would begin with the construction of space stations around Earth, then move to missions to the Moon, and thence on to Mars — a step by step progression out from Earth. But in 1961, when the United States seemed to lag intractably behind Soviet progress in space, space stations looked like just one more thing that the Russians would be able to do first. Landing on the Moon, though — there was the first big, impressive thing that the United States seemed to have even a chance at doing before the Soviets, and so landing on the Moon it was.

John Noble Wilford had an interesting piece about the speech — and the decision behind it, and the program that followed — in the Times yesterday, here. You can view documents associated with the decision and speech at NASA’s web site, here. None are more interesting than the frank evaluation of the U.S. space program prepared for Kennedy in April of 1961, here. Finally, here’s a little something for all you alternate timeline fans out there: clips from a mock documentary about how things might have gone had we followed the Wernher Braun route, here. The clips follow a plan outlined in an influential series of articles that ran in Colliers magazine in the early ‘50s, with illustrations by Chesley Bonestell. More on him, here.

Above: an early sketch from Moonshot. The MESA panel on the side of the LM should be open here, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Meet Marty McGuire!

I’m happy to announce the publication of Marty McGuire, a new book written by Kate Messner, which I had the pleasure of illustrating. The book is out now from Scholastic. Marty McGuire is a warm and funny novel of the third-grade, involving frogs, school plays, and princesses. Kate has created a wonderful story and set of characters. I painted the cover art and drew about fifty black-and-white interior pieces for the book.

Kirkus Reviews says:

“When the promised land of third grade does not pan as promised, Marty McGuire finds herself playing a completely new role.

Mrs. Aloi, her maracas-shaking teacher, is putting together the parts for the class play of The Frog Prince, and she decides that Marty is perfect for the part of the princess. Marty, who prefers learning about frog anatomy to kissing or, worse, throwing a frog, is horrified. She gets little support from her scientist mother or her teacher father—a princess she shall be! On top of this bad news, Marty’s best friend has joined the girly-girl group and does not seem interested in playing outside and pretending to be Jane Goodall anymore. Messner gets all the details of third grade right: the social chasm between the girls who want to be like the older kids and the ones who are still little girls, the Mad Minutes for memorizing arithmetic facts, the silly classroom-control devices teachers use and the energy students of this age put into projects like class plays. Floca’s black-and-white sketches are filled with movement and emotion and are frequent enough to help new chapter-book readers keep up with this longer text.

Believable and endearing characters in a realistic elementary-school setting will be just the thing for fans of Clementine and Ramona.”

Thank you, Kirkus! Also please note the Jane Goodall subplot. What is in the water this spring?

Marty McGuire is available now, in both hardcover and softcover. Hopefully you’ll find it at your thriving local independent bookstore. I’ve also put links to all the usual online suspects on my web site, here. You can also read more about Kate Messner, and Marty McGuire, on Kate’s web site, here. I hope you’ll give Marty McGuire a look and that you enjoy the story and drawings!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy birthday, Martha Graham

Today on Anita Silvey’s Childrens Book-A-Day Almanac there’s a review of Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring. From that review — as well as from today’s Google Doodle — one learns that today, May 11, is Martha Graham’s birthday. Happy birthday to her! Thanks to Anita for the thoughtful, generous, and well-timed review. You can read it here, and if you scroll down to the comments you’ll find a link posted by Sandra Jordan (co-author with Jan Greenberg of Ballet) that will lead you to the story behind today’s Google animation — a collaboration (again with the collaboration!) between Google and the Martha Graham dance company.