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After Blastoff-Saturn

National Air and Space Museum
After blastoff-Saturn. Sketch done in soft pencil of a walking fireman and fire truck # 50 of Cape Kennedy; side view of the fire truck in the center of the page; side view of the fireman on the left; pencil sketch on back of three firemen.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

After 12/13/14, What Are the Next Fun Dates for Math Lovers?

Smithsonian Magazine

Time can be a lot of things, depending on whom you ask: money, an arrow, an illusion or the fourth dimension. No matter your definition, though, most people today agree on how to tell time, counting 60 seconds in a minute and 24 hours in a day. And while different cultures celebrate their own months and holidays, the 12-month Gregorian calendar is now the most widely used option for marking a given date.

For those of us in the United States, December 13 is auspicious because it will be the last sequential date of the 21st century: 12/13/14. The next such numerical alignment won't roll around for another 89 years. In Europe, this milestone has already passed, because folks there prefer to format dates starting with the day. For Europeans, 11 December 2013 (11/12/13) was the last sequential date of the century.

But numberphiles need not despair. Counting from one to 365 is just the simplest form of a mathematical tool called an integer sequence, says Neil J. A. Sloane, a visiting scientist at Rutgers University and founder of the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, or OEIS. "Our days are numbered," Sloane quips. So what other types of sequences can we look forward to celebrating this century?

Primes (11/13/17) and Mersenne Primes (07/13/17)

A prime number is any whole number greater than one that can't be evenly divided by anything other than one and itself. Primes are often called the building blocks of arithmetic because they are major players in number theory—a field that sounds obscure but can be worth some big bucks and international bragging rights if you can solve a particularly vexing conjecture. Accordingly, loads of integer sequences look at variations on prime numbers. Perhaps the most famous are the Mersenne primes, any prime number that is one less than a power of two. For example, two to the third power is eight, eight minus one is seven, which is a prime, so seven is a Mersenne prime.

An RSA SecurID device for encrypting data. RSA is an algorithm based on public key encryption. (CHRIS HELGREN/Reuters/Corbis)

Satisfying these conditions means that the numbers get big in a hurry, and while Mersenne primes are a bit too predictable, they helped mathematicians realize that other types of large primes can be useful for creating what are known as public-key encryption schemes, says Sloane. In such a scheme (not a pejorative in this context), two very large primes are multiplied together to get an even bigger number. Interested parties can post that number—the public key—someplace such as social media or in an email. Anyone can then run the number through an encryption algorithm on a computer or dedicated encryption device to create a secret message. Only the person with the original two primes—the secret key—can unlock it using the same algorithm. "It is based on the fact that it is very hard to find prime factors of big numbers," says Sloane. "You can make a huge number … let's say 2,000 decimal digits. Want to crack that code? Tough, you can't do it."

Fibonacci Numbers (08/13/21)

Pick up a pinecone and chances are you are holding a Fibonacci sequence. This is when each number in the list is the sum of the previous two—for example, 8 plus 13 is 21. The sequence is named after an Italian mathematician who used the pen name Fibonacci, and who published it in his 1202 book Liber Abaci. Like how Schrödinger used a cat to explain quantum physics, Fibonacci explained this number sequence using a hypothetical population increase in rabbits. In his example, females are able to mate at a month old, mating pairs always give birth and the rabbits never die. By this formula, the number of rabbit pairs produced in a year follows the sequence.

Square tiles with sizes based on the Fibonacci sequence can be arranged in a way that offers a close approximation of the golden spiral, an idealized mathematical form that pops up a lot in nature, from seashells to sunflowers:

A Fibonacci arrangement. (Animated gif created by Victoria Jaggard)

And American travel buffs should arm themselves with the Fibonacci sequence if they're headed someplace where distance is measured in kilometers, suggests Sloane. The standard conversion is that one kilometer equals 0.62 miles. But another handy trick is to simply take the next smallest Fibonacci number: If a sign says it's 89 kilometers to Cologne, just go one number down in the sequence to get 55 miles.

Recamán's Sequence (07/13/20 and 08/25/43)

Not every integer sequence grows in an immediately obvious way. For instance, the numbers in Recamán's sequence go up and down again in a seemingly random fashion. Knowing the rule may not exactly simplify things either. The mathematical conditions for getting the numbers in this sequence are:

For a number greater than zero, a(n) = a(n-1) - n if the result is a positive number that is not already in the sequence. Otherwise, a(n) = a(n-1) + n

Perhaps the clearest way to sense the pattern in the Recamán sequence is to listen to it, says Sloane. Math and music have an extremely close relationship, and transforming Recamán's sequence into notes creates an otherworldly soundtrack that could be straight from a composer's pen:

To illustrate this connection, Sloane and his colleague David Applegate created simple music files for various sequences—and found the sequences behind some famous musical scores, such as Beethoven's "Fur Elise". "Music is very sequential," says Sloane. "When I hear Bach, I think he would have loved the OEIS. He would have contributed many sequences."

Look-and-Say Sequence (01/11/21)

Then there are the integer sequences that are more like riddles than pure mathematics. Here are the first five terms—can you spot the pattern?

1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221 …

Spoiler: The trick is to literally say aloud what you see and write that down. After writing down "1", you see one "1", or 11. Then you see two "1s", or 21. That gives you one "2" and one "1", or 1211. And so on. "Almost nobody guesses this sequence," Sloane chuckles.

Mathematician John Conway, currently at Princeton, was playing around with the sequence while at the University of Cambridge when he noticed an amusing coincidence: as the numbers get bigger, they can be broken down into 92 fundamental pieces, just as matter can be broken into the 92 classic elements on the periodic table, from hydrogen up to uranium. "That just took my fancy, there's no connection whatsoever," Conway says in an interview. The revelation doesn't offer any useful mathematical insight, but it did give Conway fodder for a whimsical 1987 paper called "The Weird and Wonderful Chemistry of Audioactive Decay."

African Voices

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website exploring the diversity and global influence of African culture. Includes interactive historical timeline from pre-history to the present, an exploration of overarching themes, highlighted African art, interviews with modern Africans, a bibliography, and interactive maps.

African Cosmos: Creation.mov

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
This is an introduction to the scientific theory of creation, for the exhibition African Cosmos: Stellar Art, at the National Museum of African Art. ARTLAB+ teens interviewed the artist and scientists, filmed them, and edited the final shorts.

African Cosmos.mov

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
This is an introduction to the African Cosmos, for the exhibition African Cosmos: Stellar Art, at the National Museum of African Art. ARTLAB+ teens interviewed the artist and scientists, filmed them, and edited the final shorts.

Aerial of Ft. Pierce

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
The image is located in the Mary Rice Oral History Interview which is part of the National Museum of Natural History's Centennial Interview Collection.

Aerial of the Ft. Pierce Marine Station. In 1971, the Fort Pierce Bureau, a marine research facility in Florida, was established as a separate bureau under the Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Science. In 1982 the facility became known as the Smithsonian Institution Marine Station at Link Port, and was then administered by the National Museum of Natural History. In April 1995, the Smithsonian entered into an agreement with the MacArthur Foundation for the purchase of property near the Fort Pierce Inlet with access easement to the Indian River Lagoon for the purpose of relocating its facilities and program of research to a land-based laboratory. In 1998, the Station was renamed the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, reflecting its new location. The overall mission of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce is support and conduct of scholarly research in the marine sciences, including collection, documentation and preservation of south Florida's marine biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as education, training, and public service.

Aerial Perspective of Circular Conference with TV Monitors

National Air and Space Museum
Aerial Perspective of Circular Conference with TV Monitors, July 1974. Page from a spiral-bound sketchbook. Nine figures are gathered around a table, mostly sitting but some are standing. They are all focused downward at the table, and the aerial perspective blocks faces from view. This element of the sketch is in high contrast. To the right is a row of TV monitors. Pen scribbles in the upper left. Writing in the lower right says "July 1974 USSR."

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Aerial Perspective of Circular Conference

National Air and Space Museum
Page from a spiral-bound sketchbook. An aerial perspective sketch of a circular conference. Eight men are seated around a square table, leaning in intently. The patchy, high contrast quality of the sketch causes the figures to blend in with the shadows and white background. Pen scribbles in the upper right corner. Writing in the lower right says "July 1974 USSR."

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Advertising photography is more than a thousand words: Al Rendon remembers a photography session with Selena

National Museum of American History

Selena laughing in black denim pants and silver lamé top, holding a Coca-Cola.

Advertising agencies have relied on images to engage consumers since the late 19th century. Images convey both information and emotion in a glance; images can tell us how to feel about a product.

Photography has been critical to modern advertising’s success. Ad agencies regularly work with professional, freelance photographers who seamlessly blend art and commerce in order to craft just the right image. This is the story of one such photographer: Al Rendon.

A man with facial hair.

Rendon, a professional photographer in San Antonio, Texas, has been photographing Tejano music and culture in that city since the late 1970s. When we collected from the advertising agency of Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates in 2015, Rendon’s photos of Tejano music star Selena stood out. These photos, taken for a Coca-Cola advertising campaign, showed an energetic, beautiful young woman that embodied the idea of the "all-American" girl, but with a mix of glamour and sex appeal that Selena mastered. The photos let Selena's natural sparkle bubble up and illuminate the product. Who wouldn't want to share a Coke with Selena?

We were so interested in the story behind the photographs that we asked Rendon to tell us about his work and the process of photographing Selena. Amelia Thompson interviewed him in September. The following is an excerpt of that conversation. The full transcript is also available

Selena in gold lamé top with matching hat, holding a Coca-Cola

Why have you focused on the Tejano or Mexican American experience?

I had started my business back around 1979-1980. I had been mostly doing simple public relations, black and white photography, back then, and running a photo lab. In 1985 I got an opportunity to be the photographer for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, which is a Latino arts organization here on the west side of San Antonio, where it's a predominately Mexican American community. I rediscovered my Hispanic roots…. Before I knew it, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to document [Hispanic culture].

Two men stand and one sits in this formal portrait. All three wear suits and ties.

Had you worked with Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates prior to the Selena/Coke campaign?
I already had a working relationship with them. Back in the '80s, Hispanic advertising was coming into its own. Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar was one of the largest Hispanic ad agencies, not just in San Antonio, but in the country. When these large corporations hired them, they also wanted them to use Hispanic talent. Being one of the few Mexican American commercial photographers in San Antonio, I got to work with them on some of their projects…. By the time they were doing the Coca-Cola account and got Selena involved, I had already been doing work for Selena. They recognized that I had a good rapport with her.

Selena and Rendon look at a photograph in a studio.

How did that rapport shape your approach to this particular photo shoot?

This particular shoot came about kind of quickly. They had signed her up for a special promotion where they were going to do life-size cutouts and point-of-purchase posters and all kinds of different materials to promote Coke. As part of that promotion, they had a contest where people could enter to win a trip to one of her concerts and get to meet her backstage and be photographed with her. Apparently, the ad agency had used another photographer to take some pictures for this promotion, and Selena and her family were not happy with the photos and so they needed a reshoot. The family, Selena particularly, made it pretty clear to the ad agency they wanted them to use me.

[We] got some direction from the art director from the ad agency. There was a representative there from Coca-Cola. We all put our heads together and decided what we were going to do and what order we were going to do things in.

A mannequin wears a black leather outfit: boots, motorcycle pants, and a bedazzled leather jacket.

Selena looks like the "all-American" girl in the Coke photos. Can you talk about how you tried to capture a certain image of her for Coca-Cola?

I think they were actually going for that look. We didn't want her to look like a glamour shot and we didn't want her in clothing that looked like something she had just stepped off stage. We wanted her to look more "everyday" so that the consumer could relate to her better. That's why in the life-size cutout she's wearing jeans with just a simple white top and a jean vest.…

Selena in black denim pants and blue shirt, holding a bottle of Coca-Cola.

At this point they were kind of relying on me more than anything because they had already gone through one shoot. They wanted to let her and me make a lot of those artistic decisions, so that she would be happy with the finished product. All through the process, we were taking Polaroids and looking at them and dissecting them and trying different things. There are some things we tried that we didn’t even put on film because when we looked at the Polaroids it was obvious it wasn't working. Selena had very, very good taste. She was always very conscious of her image and the image she was projecting.

Selena in black denim pants and black leather vest with pink shirt and pink boots, holding a Coca-Cola

What are your memories of working with Selena?
I remember her being very much the opposite of a diva. She was very humble. She was very easy to work with, very friendly. She just came in and lit up the room.

A black and white portrait of Selena staring into the camera.

The Coke images and the photo you took that is now at the National Portrait Gallery capture two very different aspects of her as a popular icon. Can you talk about the formal portrait and what you hoped to show in that image?

The portrait was part of a photo session I had done a year prior to the Coca-Cola shoot. It was for a live album that she was recording in Corpus…. I wanted a couple of serious pictures. I knew that's not a shot that the record company would probably use for anything; I took that picture more for me because that was kind of my image of how I saw her. To me, she was a very serious artist.

The entire interview with Al Rendon is also available online.

 

Kathleen Franz is a co-curator of the American Enterprise exhibition and chair and curator of the Work and Industry Division at the National Museum of American History. Amelia Thompson worked in the museum’s Office of Communications and Marketing.

Posted Date: 
Friday, October 20, 2017 - 13:30
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Admiral Bridge aboard the USS Lake Champlain

National Air and Space Museum
Admiral Bridge Aboard the USS Lake Champlain, GT-5 (Gemini 5). The admiral is sitting at his commanding station in the bridge of the ship while two other men are standing looking out the window to the right. The interior of the room is lightly shaded with a wash, making the people white in contrast. A helicopter is seen in the distance through the window on the far right. The details of the room's structure are detailed. Writing in the lower left reads: "Admiral's bridge aboard the USS Lake Champlain recovery carrier for GT-5."

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Adding weight to Julia Child's kitchen

National Museum of American History

On the 105th anniversary of Julia Child's birth (August 15, 1912), the museum's food history team is thinking anew about Julia's life and legacy. In fact, we just launched the design phase for a "refresh" of our exhibition, FOOD: Transforming the American Table, 1950–2000, which features Julia's home kitchen as the opening experience. The FOOD exhibition opened in the museum and online nearly five years ago, and while the refresh won't involve a complete overhaul of the gallery, it will allow us to accomplish some important updates: we will swap out some of the exhibition's more fragile textiles and paper components, in keeping with museum standards for conservation. We'll also extend the time period covered by the exhibition to 2015, allowing us to explore several contemporary food-related innovations and issues. Since we never stop collecting objects and archives reflecting the history of food in America, we are also looking forward to incorporating some recently acquired materials into the refreshed exhibition.

White rectangular weight with blue painted text.

Among the newly collected items we're preparing for exhibition are three hand-painted ceramic pâté weights donated to the museum last year by Shirley Collins, founder of the cookware company Sur La Table. Seattle artist Margi Beyers specially made the weights in 1982 at the request of Collins, who opened the first Sur La Table store in 1972 at Seattle's Pike Place Market. In 1980 Collins moved the store across the street from the market, where it still stands as the flagship location for what is now a chain of more than 100 stores across the United States.

Rectangular white weight with text painted on it in gold: "For weighty matters."

In 1982 Collins was part of a group associated with St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle that launched a series of cooking classes to raise funds for the cathedral's programs. They invited Julia to teach the first class. While Julia was most widely known for her ongoing work in writing cookbooks and producing television shows, she was also traveling widely to teach and support the work of local organizations. For Julia's class at St. Mark's, Collins donated all the equipment for the stage and consulted with Julia to make sure she had all the tools and cookware she needed. Years later, in an April 2016 interview, Collins recalled that "Julia was so wonderful, so encouraging . . . so generous and gracious" at that first demonstration and in the many book signings, talks, and fundraisers at Collins's store that followed in subsequent years.  

Rectangular weight in white. A little rabbit and chicken are painted on it in rustic style and a few leaves.

Julia Child's mastery of French cooking naturally included classic dishes like pâtés and terrines—mixtures of ground meat (traditionally ground pork, veal, and pork fat) and spices, layered with other meats, game, mushrooms, and the like. The ingredients are layered in a baking dish, covered with foil and a heavy lid, and set in a pan of boiling water, which is then placed in a preheated oven to cook. The weights come into play when the mixture is cooked and removed from the oven. The lid is removed from the baking dish, and weights are placed on top of the foil to ensure there are no pockets of air in the meat. As the terrine cools, the meats are thus pressed into smooth and seamless layers.

Color photo of two women in a kitchen surrounded by cookbooks, rosemary plants, dishes, plates, and more. One is holding a pan or pot and peering into it, while the other, by her side, does something that is hard to see due to a rosemary plant.

Do American home cooks make pâtés and terrines? Did they in 1982, when Julia demonstrated the technique in Seattle? It's hard to say, but if there were ever a person who could nudge American cooks into trying to master a terrine, it would be Julia Child. In typical fashion, Julia provides her readers of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1 (1961) with inspiration and encouragement: "The memory of a good French pâté can haunt you for years. Fortunately they are easy to make, and you can even develop your own special pâté maison." Also true to form, Julia offers suggestions for adapting equipment in the kitchen—in this case, weights for making a perfect French pâté or terrine. She suggests "a piece of wood, a pan, or a casserole which will just fit into the terrine. On or in it, place a 3- to 4-lb. weight or parts of a meat grinder" to ensure a tight formation. In similar fashion, Chef Pierre Franey, in his "Kitchen Equipment" column in The New York Times, November 11, 1981, wrote, "I take the cover off the terrine and replace it with a ¾-inch thick piece of plywood cut to the size of the terrine. On top of that goes a weight of one pound. The weight I have is lead, but it could just as well be a one-pound can of peas."

In a store for cooking implements, two women sit at a table. One smiles and watches. The other shakes the hand of a someone coming to greet her. Behind them are cheese graters and other supplies.

So, here we have three beautifully crafted, hand-painted ceramic weights for doing a job that two experts in French cuisine tell us could be performed by parts of a meat grinder or a can of peas. What's so special about these pâté weights and why we're delighted to have them in the permanent collections, are the deep and genuine associations with Julia Child: the memory of her generosity and pluck in traveling around the country to teach cooking classes, give talks, and sign books. They also remind us of her support of others in the culinary field, including fellow cook and businesswoman Shirley Collins, who was also striving to bring kitchen ware, culinary know-how, and inspiration to home cooks across America. 

Extending Julia's legacy

Writing blog posts like this one is just one way we share Julia Child's history with the public. Check out these opportunities to learn more and get involved.

Cover of cookbook in red and yellow with black and white photos of chefs around cover

On August 11, we hosted a special Cooking Up History program in the museum's demonstration kitchen. We explored Julia's lifelong quest to master new culinary techniques and traditions by preparing dishes she (as well as her fans and students) learned from chefs Madhur Jaffrey and Zarela Martinez in the 1990s.

Blue graphic with illustrations of cooking implements and text: "Smithsonian Food History Weekend"

The team is also well into planning the many components—roundtable conversations, cooking demonstrations, a Julia Child-inspired dine out with D.C.-area restaurants, and much more—for this year's Smithsonian Food History Weekend, October 26–28. The weekend kicks off with a gala at the museum, where food writers and chefs will help honor New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, who will be presented with the 2017 Julia Child Award by The Julia Child Foundation.

Paula Johnson is curator in the Division of Work and Industry.

Cooking Up History is made possible in part by Sur La Table and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. Special thanks to Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., and The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts for their support of the Smithsonian Food History Gala and the exhibition FOOD: Transforming the American Table, 1950–2000. The exhibition will benefit from upgrades and the creation of related programs as a result of the foundation's generosity. 

Posted Date: 
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 08:00
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Adams Morgan - “A Right to the City” Exhibition

Anacostia Community Museums Collections and Research
Excerpts from oral history interviews about the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC that appear in the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s exhibition, “A Right to the City” (2018- 2020). In a moment of rapid population growth and mounting tensions over development, “A Right to the City” explores the history of neighborhood change and civic engagement in the nation’s capital by looking at the dynamic histories of six Washington, D.C., neighborhoods: Adams Morgan, Anacostia, Brookland, Chinatown, Shaw and Southwest. The exhibition tells the story of these communities through the eyes of the Washingtonians who have helped shape these neighborhoods in extraordinary ways. They have used their collective community power to fight for quality public education, healthy and green urban spaces, equitable development and transportation, and a truly democratic approach to city planning. MORE INFORMATION: http://www.anacostia.si.edu/Exhibitions/Details/A-Right-to-the-City-6222 Interviewees include: - Mary Pierce, brother of Walter Pierce - Ronald Pierce, co-founder of the Ontario Lakers Youth Organization and brother of Walter Pierce - Topper Carew, filmmaker, SNCC activist, and founder of The New Thing Art & Architecture Center - Marie Nahikian, co-founder and first executive director of the Adams Morgan Organization (AMO)

Adam Rippon's Olympic Mesh-capades

Smithsonian Institution

When professional athletes face the end of their career, many look ahead with uncertainty and wonder:
“What’s next?” But when Adam Rippon stood on the Olympic podium in 2018, making history as the first openly gay American to medal at the winter Olympics, he was sure about his next steps. Rippon was a darling of the American Olympic media, entering all of his interviews ready with a joke and a willingness to
speak candidly about his personal journey. In this episode, Rippon brings that same attitude to Sidedoor, talking about his Olympic costume, fame, and the male private part that we didn’t realize was private.

Ad Reinhardt and Colette Roberts

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 13 x 19 cm. Inscription on verso (handwritten): Ad Reinhardt, Colette Roberts, c. 1958/9.
Shows Reinhardt and Roberts paging through a portfolio of Reinhardt's works as a group of people look on.

Actors’ Brain Activity May Change When They Are in Character

Smithsonian Magazine

Skilled actors do so much more than memorize and deliver lines; they embody their characters, getting to the root of their motivations and behaviors. According to the Guardian’s Nicola Davis, a new study has found that this immersive process may lead to distinct changes in actors’ brains—changes that suggest acting involves an element of self-suppression.

For the new research, published in Royal Society Open Science, scientists recruited 14 theater majors at McMaster University in Canada, along with one graduate of the program. All of them were trained in method acting, an intensive technique that involves immersing oneself in a character; the goal, according to the study authors, is to "become" that character. During the experiment, the actors were scanned by an MRI machine while being asked various questions, like “Would you go to a party you were not invited to? and “Would you tell your parents if you fell in love?” They were tasked with silently thinking of their answers in four different ways: from their own perspective; from the perspective of someone around their age whom they are close to; from their own perspective while using a British accent; and while in character as either Romeo or Juliet.

"Participants were instructed to answer the questions from a different perspective in each scan," the study authors note. "[N]o changes of perspective occurred within a scan."

Before the Rome0 and Juliet scan, the actors were given time to get into character through various methods, like reciting lines from the play. But the researchers wanted their responses during the scan itself to be off-the-cuff, just like the answers to the other questions. This was important, because the scientists needed a consistent way of comparing brain activity while acting to brain activity while thinking from one's own perspective or from the perspective of a third person.

Taking the point of view of a third person is, according to the study authors, akin to theory-of-mind,” a concept that describes the ability to think about and understand the emotions, beliefs and intentions of other people. The team hoped that the scans would offer insight into what happens in actors' brains when they take theory-of-mind to another level, not simply empathizing with the persepctive of another person, but adopting it. As the study authors point out, the participants answered the third-person questions using the pronouns "he" or "she." But when they got into character, the actors responded to the questions using the pronoun "I," a shift that is "central to training in the method system of acting."

The results of the scan showed that when the participants answered questions in both a British accent and from the perspective of a friend, activity decreased in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with self-awareness. This decrease in activity was even more pronounced when it came to the Romeo and Juliet scans. The actors seemed, to a certain extent, to be losing themselves in their roles.

The researchers did not anticipate these results. “We thought there might be activation increases relating to pretending to be some kind of character,” Steven Brown, lead study author and a neuroscientist at McMaster, tells the Independent’s Josh Gabbatiss. “[I]nstead we saw this activation decrease.” Just putting on an accent appeared to be enough to ratchet down activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is [p]erhaps the most surprising finding of the study, the researchers write.

Taking on the part of Romeo or Juliet did, however, lead to increased activity in one part of the participants’ brains: the precuneus, which has been linked to consciousness. “Actors have to split their consciousness,” Brown explains in an interview with the Guardian’s Davis. “[T]hey sort of have to monitor themselves and be in the character at the same time.”

Not all experts are convinced by the new research. Philip Davis, director of the Center for Research into Reading, Literature and Society at the University of Liverpool, tells the Guardian that in reality, actors don’t suppress the self—they engage with it. But the study represents an intriguing avenue of inquiry, suggesting that when actors shift into a new character, their brain activity changes too.

Activity in the VAB

National Air and Space Museum
Activity in the VAB 1969. Scene with a tall window in the center; color scheme mostly in browns and yellows; command capsule on the floor on the right; men doing various activities on the floor.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Acid Etching Room at the National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Institution Archives
In this video clip, G. Arthur Cooper and Richard E. Grant demonstrate how fossil specimens are etched out of a rock using an acid etching technique. The demonstration took place in the Acid Etching Room in the National Museum of Natural History during an interview with Pamela Henson on May 18, 1987. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9530, Session 2 Tape 3.

Abused Animals in Connecticut Get Their Own Legal Advocates

Smithsonian Magazine

Thousands of animal abuse charges are filed in the United States each year. But these cases are frequently low priority in courts and are either dismissed or not taken seriously. So the state of Connecticut is trying to make a change. 

As Pat Eaton-Robb reports for the Associated Press, since the end of last year, the state can appoint legal advocates in the courtroom for animals that are abused or impaced by crime—similar to advocates appointed for victims or children. In the first six months since the law became active, advocates have been appointed in five case. And last week, for the first time, an advocate testified in court: Taylor Hansen, a law student at the University of Connecticut School of Law, testified in a dogfighting case alongside his professor Jessica Rubin.

“Every state has the problem of overburdened courts that understandably prioritize human cases over animal cases in allocating resources,” Rubin tells Eaton-Robb. “Here’s a way to help.”

The new piece of legislation establishing these rules is called “Desmond’s Law.” As Jordan Otero Sisson writes for The Hartford Courant, the legislation is named after an abused shelter dog that was starved, beaten and strangled to death in 2012 by his owner Alex Wullaert. Though the prosecutor suggested prison time, Wullaert was assigned to what's known as accelerated rehabilitation. As Sisson reports, this meant that after completing the program "his charges were dismissed and his record was wiped clean." 

In fact, Sisson reports, only 20 percent of animal abuse cases in Connecticut are prosecuted, and when there is a conviction, the sentences are similarly light.

Now, there are currently eight approved advocates available (seven lawyers and a law school professor with her students) for animal cases, Eaton-Rob reports. And if a judge decides it is warranted, he or she can assign a legal advocate to work in the best interest of the animal. "[Advocates] can do investigative work prosecutors often don’t have time for, such as interviewing veterinarians and other witnesses," he writes. "They also make arguments, write briefs and make recommendations to the judge."

In the recent case in which the advocate testified in court, a pitbull covered in scars was found on the street and tracked to a home of Raabbi Ismail where two other dogs with signs of fighting were found. The creatures lived in an area full of dog feces and rotting food, and were in poor condition. One of them had to be euthanized, Eaton-Rob reports.

Hansen testified that animal abuse is often linked to abuse in humans and that the dogs' owner should not be allowed into the accelerated rehabilitation program. For example, one study in Chicago found that 65 percent of people arrested for animal abuse had also been involved in battery against people, Laurel Wamsley reports for NPR.

As Eaton-Rob writes, "[Judge Omar Williams] agreed the charges were serious. But after a 45-minute hearing, he found the crime was not on a list that would automatically prevent Ismail, who had never been arrested before, from participating in the program, known as Accelerated Rehabilitation." However, the judge did follow Hansen’s recommendation that the man be barred from owning, breeding or living with dogs for two years and perform 200 hours of community service.

While other states do not yet have a similar statutes, the field of animal law is growing, Wamsley reports. In 2000 only nine law schools had courses in the field but that number is now over 150. Apart from cruelty cases, animal law focuses on things like abuse of circus or performing animals and the welfare of farm animals.

Advocates of the law also point out that the move has national implications since the FBI now tracks animal cruelty convictions in its database, Sisson reports. "If there are no convictions or if they somehow get dismissed or annulled then, in a way, we're not helping the federal prerogatives that created the database," Julie Shamailova, another UConn law student working in the program tells Sisson. "What's the point of having a database for animal convictions if they're not getting convicted?"

Abrazo

Archives of American Art
Newsletter : 31 p. ; 22 x 18 cm Volume 1, number 1 Fall 1976 issue of Abrazo, a quarterly newsletter published by Movimiento Artistico Chicano (MARCH). Issue contains printed reproductions of photographs and illustrations. Newsletter contains writings in both English and Spanish, including announcements, poems, articles, and interviews.
Only representative pages have been scanned.

Abram Lerner and Joseph H. Hirshhorn

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Abram Lerner, Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG), is standing next to Joseph H. Hirshhorn, donator of his collection to the Smithsonian Institution.

Abram Lerner & Joseph H. Hirshhorn in a Sculpture Exhibit

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
At the Kenneth Snelson opening, Abram Lerner, left, Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, stands talking to Joseph H. Hirshhorn next to an abstract sculpture by Snelson.

Abigail Tucker on “In Search of the Mysterious Narwhal”

Smithsonian Magazine

Abigail Tucker is a staff writer at Smithsonian magazine. She recently ventured up to Greenland to report on narwhal research, and her story “In Search of the Mysterious Narwhal” appears in the May issue.

What drew you to this story? Can you describe its genesis a bit?

I read a news item about scientists attaching temperature sensors to narwhals. The story wasn’t much more than a blurb, but it alluded to a lot of things I’d never thought about—like what, exactly, a narwhal was, and how on earth a person would tag one. So I called Kristin Laidre, the American scientist working on the project, and when she started talking about the amount of work, and waiting, involved I knew it would be an interesting piece.

Did you have any complications in your travels?

It depends what you mean by “complications.” On several occasions the power went out at these tiny Greenlandic airports where I waited to catch rides on small planes and helicopters, which made me a little nervous. And the weather wasn’t great on the days that I traveled. But for the most part I was not delayed – in fact, storms twice prevented my aircraft from making scheduled stops for other passengers, so I essentially flew direct!

What did you find most interesting about life in Niaqornat?

I hadn’t realized that dogs would be such a big part of life there. Because I traveled to and from Niaqornat by helicopter and boat, I didn’t think about the fact that, in deepest winter, teams of dogs would be able to cross the frozen fjord. This makes winter a great time for visiting friends in nearby towns.

The dogs, a special Husky-like breed, are work animals. They stay staked outside even during storms and are not always the friendliest creatures. The puppies, though, are allowed to wander around the village, eating whatever they can find. They are very fat compared to their mothers.

What was your favorite moment during reporting?

So many things amazed me. As we were preparing to board the boat that would take us the final leg of the journey to Niaqornat, we saw a trio of fin whales loping just off shore, and hunters were in the midst of butchering pilot whales on the beach. I thought the narwhals would arrive any minute. Little did I know!

But even though the narwhals never showed, I learned a lot by interviewing and sharing meals with villagers. Eating narwhal was quite an experience.

One afternoon a villager took me ptarmigan hunting in the empty mountains around the town. One of his arms was badly disfigured. I asked him what had happened, and he explained that once when he was out ptarmigan hunting as a boy, a boulder had fallen on it and crushed it. He had been trapped, alone and freezing, for hours. Yet as an adult he crossed the mountainsides with complete confidence, as though nothing had ever happened.

What surprised you the most about narwhals?

I hadn’t realized how immensely valuable their tusks had been. I was in Greenland as the world economy really began to slide, and it made me think about how we assign worth to certain objects, and why.

Abigail Tucker on "One Man's Korean War"

Smithsonian Magazine

What drew you to this story?
John Rich is a distinguished journalist who couldn't seem to stop recording history, even in his spare time. His color pictures were meant to be personal keepsakes but they've become invaluable artifacts. His drive to ceaselessly report is impressive and very inspiring.

Did you have a favorite moment while interviewing John Rich?
John's memories of the war are impeccable and he has not lost the love of details that animated his radio and television broadcasts. It was great whenever he came up names or dates or even quotes from half a century ago. He could remember, for instance, the song the Scottish bagpipers played as they marched past him into battle.

Were there any interesting moments that didn't make it to the final draft?
John has powerful—and of course, quite vivid—memories of Iwo Jima and other World War II battles. He told me that a bullet whizzing very close by makes a sound "like tearing silk."

Did your conversation with Rich and looking at his photographs change your perceptions of the Korean War?
The color photographs made the soldiers look so much younger, like guys in a high school yearbook.

Since Korea, photography has become so widespread and so instantaneous that it's impossible to control the images that are released. What effect do you think this has had on public perceptions and reactions to warfare?
I think people have a much more certain understanding of the ugliness of war, which heightens our sense of what's at stake.

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