October 02, 2017

Mars: Astronomy and Culture features historical drawings, photographs, books, screenings, movie posters and more

Opens October 14 and continues through January 21, 2018 at ArtCenter College of Design’s Williamson Gallery

Space science sci-fi fans will not want to miss Mars: Astronomy and Culture, an exhibition blending scientific, literary and cinematic representations of the Red Planet. Curated by Jay Belloli, the exhibition opens Saturday, October 14, 2017 at ArtCenter College of Design’s Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery in Pasadena and continues through January 21, 2018.

The opening reception on Friday, October 13 from 6 to 10 p.m. is free and open to the public. The event is part of ArtNight Pasadena when art lovers ride free shuttles to 18 participating cultural institutions throughout the area. For information on exhibition related special events, tours and screenings, please visit http://williamsongallery.net/mars.

“My hope is that the exhibition helps people better understand the science and beauty of the only other planet in our solar system that could support human life, as well as the importance of Mars in culture during the last 120 years,” said Belloli. “As far as I know, this is the first exhibition that has unified the scientific exploration of Mars with the Red Planet's role in popular culture.”

“Jay has organized four space photography exhibitions in the past, two of which took place at the Williamson Gallery as part of our ongoing exploration of ArtScience themes,” said Stephen Nowlin, director of the Williamson. “When he proposed Mars, my reaction was an enthusiastic yes!”

Mars: Astronomy and Culture exhibition will feature astronomical drawings and photographs from one of the earliest images of the Red Planet, drawn in 1659, to beautiful photographic images from the Curiosity rover, created at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and sent to Mars in late 2011. Classic 19 th century books with Mars images are also represented in the exhibition.

Also on display will be some of the earliest images of Mars from earth-based telescopes, the first image of the planet from a spacecraft (taken from NASA’s Mariner 4 in 1965), as well as numerous images from other NASA JPL Mars landers and orbiters, which have done the most extensive exploration of the Red Planet. The exhibition will present images from European Space Agency Mars missions and from the Indian Space Research Organization orbiter.

Mars became part of the national zeitgeist in the late 19th century when American astronomer Percival Lowell thought he saw canals on the planet. This meant a possible present, or past civilization existed on the planet, and inspired famous English author H.G. Wells to write the science fiction classic The War of the Worlds. The 1897 novel is about a Martian invasion of Earth. Numerous Mars science fiction novels soon followed by such celebrated authors as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury. Several of these popular novels as well as press articles and magazine stories are included in the exhibition.

Finally, in the 1950s, Mars became a theme of numerous popular feature films. The posters advertising these movies, beginning with the 1953 classic The War of the Worlds, are featured in the exhibition.

A catalogue is being published in connection with the exhibition, including all the images in the show and fascinating interviews with two JPL scientists and a leading expert on Mars science fiction.

After the Williamson Gallery presentation of the Mars: Astronomy and Culture exhibition, it will be on view at the Art Gallery at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Additional presentations of the exhibition are anticipated.

Belloli is a prolific curator, organizing contemporary art and astronomy exhibitions in Southern California for the past 35 years. He has served as the director of gallery programs at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and interim director at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

The Mars: Astronomy and Culture exhibition advisor is Dr. Randii R. Wessen, the A-Team Lead Study Architect at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and exhibition assistant is Jennifer Gunlock. Mars: Astronomy and Culture is dedicated to the memory of Jurrie van der Woude, who worked as the senior image coordinator in JPL’s Public Information Office.

Mars: Astronomy and C ulture has been made possible by support from Ann and Olin Barrett, The Bridge Foundation, Francine Tolkin Cooper and Herb Cooper, Susan and John Caldwell, Jim Crawford, Ada Gates, Bill Hannon Foundation, Karen and Steven Hillenburg, Judy Kelly, Gina Knox, Mei-Lee Ney, Bob and Arlene Oltman, Joan and Jeff Palmer, Peggy Phelps, Karen Smits, Clare and Chris Tayback, and other individuals; a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance; and through the generosity of the Williamson Gallery Patrons.

The Pasadena Arts Council EMERGE Program has been the fiscal receiver for funds for the catalogue, printing and framing of the photographs, and related expenses.

ArtCenter College of Design’s Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery is located at 1700 Lida Street in Pasadena. For more information, contact williamson.gallery@artcenter.edu or, call 626 396-2397.

Williamson Gallery Hours:
12 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday
12 to 9 p.m., Friday
Closed Mondays and holidays

For directions to the gallery, visit williamsongallery.net/directions

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About the Alyce De Roulet Williamson Gallery: The Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at ArtCenter has established broad reputation for exploring the intersection of science and art. Through a two-decade series of programs and exhibitions, it has contributed to the emergence of an international movement among universities, journals, conferences, artistic studio practices, and design strategies that promotes an intensified collaboration between the humanities and sciences.

About ArtCenter: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
O 626 396-2385

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Mars War of the Worlds poster
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Mars Williamson Gallery