Cosmic Wonders: - The Moon, the Stars, and the Space Between

Main Gallery

Cosmic Wonders:

The Moon, the Stars, and the Space Between

September 22 - December 30, 2018

Curated by Jennifer Gately

Linda Connor, Russell Crotty, Don Jolley, Amelia Konow, Marty Knapp, Michael Light, Charles Lindsay, Loewy and Puiseux, and vintage instruments from the Lick Observatory collection

Since our earliest ancestors, humans have sought to understand the mysteries of the universe and our place within it by recording what we witness in the night sky. Across centuries, cultures, and religions, mystics, sages and scientists have documented the skies with diagrams, illustrations, and navigational charts. 17,000 years ago prehistoric people painted stars on cave walls in Lascaux, France, while the Greeks penned some of the oldest descriptions in 270 B.C.

Aided by the first telescopes in the early 17th century, astronomers brought the wonder of the heavens closer to earth. Later, in the 19th century, the birth of the camera made it possible for astrophotographers to capture the magnificence of the night in greater detail, and to discover stars, nebulae, and galaxies detectable with the naked eye. 20th century space travel freed astronomers and scientists from earthbound viewing and today new technologies have brought us staggering revelations and new frontiers that are almost beyond comprehension.     

This exhibition of drawings and photographs features local and nationally-known artists who attempt to convey the wonder of the cosmos by depicting the night sky with tools as humble as a pencil, through a range of photographic techniques. Works include detailed ballpoint pen observations by Ventura artist Russell Crotty, remarkable late 1800s heliogravures of the moon’s surface by French photographers Maurice Loewy and Pierre Henri Puiseux, early images of the cosmos newly printed from original glass plates housed in the Lick Observatory archives by Marin photographer Linda Connor, and digitally re-mastered original NASA photographs from the first voyage to the Moon by San Francisco photographer Michael Light. Oakland artist Amelia Konow and NASA’s SETI Artist-in-Residence program founder, artist Charles Lindsay, marvel over the beauty of the universe with scanners, polaroids, electricity, and carbon to create mysterious cosmic abstractions inspired by the Hubble telescope and universal symbols. Locally, Point Reyes photographer Marty Knapp captures coastal Marin’s magnificent night sky while Bolinas science teacher Don Jolley translates the wonders of the cosmos above Bolinas throughout the course of a year through the creation of detailed hand-drawn astrolabes. Fascinating vintage observational tools and instruments from Lick Observatory compliment the artworks.