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Flight Plans Newsletter

New Exhibit Illuminates Artist's Perspective on Apollo Space Program

Date: 
07/01/2009

Show of Paul Calle's original NASA art from the 1960s opens July 1

SEATTLE, June 25, 2009

--As part of the 40th anniversary celebration of humankind's first steps on the Moon on July 20, 1969, The Museum of Flight brings to Seattle the exhibit "Apollo 11: An Artist's Perspective - Original Sketches from NASA Artist Paul Calle." The exhibit will be on display in the Museum's "Space: Exploring the New Frontier" exhibit July 1 through September 7.

Paul Calle was one of the first eight artists chosen by NASA in 1962 to document the American space program's Project Mercury. Calle continued to illustrate space exploration for the next 40 years with the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle Missions. He was the only artist allowed to be with the Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins the morning of July 16, 1969 as they prepared for their historic launch to the Moon. The exhibit will feature sketches and other works by Calle from the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, local collectors and from the artist's personal collection. For more information and images see http://www.museumofflight.org/exhibits/paulcalle_apollo11 In conjunction with the exhibit, the artist and his son Chris Calle will be at the Museum to talk about NASA art and the Apollo missions in a public program in the William M. Allen Theater on August 29 at 2 p.m.

In 1962 NASA  chose Paul Calle to participate in the newly established NASA Art Program.  The purpose of the program was to record the history of space exploration through the eyes of artists. Beginning with Gordon Cooper's Project Mercury flight in May 1963, Calle has documented the action surrounding Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle flights. His assignments took him from launch facilities of Cape Kennedy, Florida to aircraft carriers during spacecraft recovery missions in the South Atlantic--before the Space Shuttle, American spacecraft returned to Earth with "splashdown" landings in the ocean. Calle was the only artist to be with the Apollo 11 crew as they prepared for their historic Moon launch at Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969. NASA had asked artist Calle to document the activities of the Apollo 11 astronauts in the hours before their launch so that the record of the historic event would be as complete as possible. The assignment meant he had to adhere to the strict quarantine procedures required of everyone having personal contact with the crew. The on-the-spot drawings produced by Calle vividly document these crucial moments before the launch.  Calle's Apollo 11 artworks were shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in November 1969, and later displayed in the National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian Institution subsequently circulated these drawings to many galleries and museums around the nation for several years.
 
Calle's illustrations have also been featured on 30 U.S. postal stamps depicting a variety of American historical figures and events. His work can be found in both corporate and private collections and in the collections of NASA, the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Department of the Interior. He lives in Connecticut.