Fallen Stars

The following are members and friends of the International Association of  Astronomical Artists who have left us.

Arthur Gilbert
Roy Scarfo
Italo Rodomonti
Paul Hoffman
Chrisa Wawers-Breid
Frank Hettick
Paul Calle
Sean Brady
Robert T. McCall
Beth Avary
Frank Kelly Freas


2/20/2015 Sad news – Arthur Gilbert, long-time British member (and same age as me) died last Friday. He had been ill for a while. He attended several UK workshops and even the Crimea one, and took part in all our exhibitions. A lovely man and he will be missed.


– David A. Hardy, IAAA Trustee

“That is sad news. I only met Arthur once ( at an IAAA exhibition in Manchester I think ) and was immediately struck by his quiet, gentle demeanour and disarming modesty. His paintings were beautifully executed with a very high degree of finish — an ‘old school’ space artist if I may say so.”       – Garry L. Harwood FIAAA – Cornwall, England

“Very sad indeed, I always loved his style of art. I am sure I met him at Dave Hardy’s IAAA “Get Together” at Dave’s house many years ago.”       – Richard Bizley FIAAA – Lyme Regis, England

“There were already too few traditional-media space artists left ?? Yet I’m sad to that I’ve never seen any of Arthur’s original pieces in the flesh.”       – Malcolm Currie – Grove, England

“This is indeed very sad News, the passing of Arthur Gilbert. I’ve shared a few workshops with him and found him to be a wonderful artist and a quick wit. My condolences to his family and friends. I hope the UK membership would send our condolences to the loss of our artist-colleague.”       – Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“I really enjoyed Arthur’s company in Crimea. I am sorry we will not cross paths again. One night in Crimea, cleansing the lingering flavor of dinner from our palettes with vodka, Arthur related this story: He said that in his rural town in England he took his astronomical paintings to the town carpenter who would construct frames for him when he needed them for exhibitions. Eventually, after several visits and batches of frames, the carpenter asked Arthur what his paintings represented. Arthur was delighted that the man was interested in his work. Arthur explained that the paintings were depictions of planets and moons in the solar system… that he was trying to accurately show, for example, what Saturn would look like from the surface of it’s moon Iapetus. The carpenter looked at him for a few moments then said in his heavy rural accent, “You’re not going to tell me you actually believe in all that stuff are you?” I will raise a glass to Arthur tonight. He was a gentleman. He had a fine hand with his paints and a droll wit.”       – Joel Hagen FIAAA – Oakdale, California

“I’m so sorry to hear of Authur’s passing. We exchanged Christmas cards and brief catch ups for years but lost touch with each other in the last three or so years. Such a wonderful gentleman. I will miss him as well.”       – Pamela Lee FIAAA – Modesto, California

“Sad news indeed. Arthur and I were roommates in Soviet Russian “House of Creative Work” (a sort of Holiday Inn-like institution in Crimea, where “Union of Artists” had visitation rights in the days of the the IAAA-Russian adventures in 1990. Charming, wonderful, artistic man, a calming influence in all the crazy adventures in the our headquatters Crimean town of Gurzuf, and our trips to Yalta and Sebastapol. We’ve been exchanging Christmas cards all these years.”       – William K. Hartmann FIAAA – Tucson, Arizona

“I never personally knew Arthur Gilbert however, he was obviously a highly esteemed person based upon the tributes shared by others. The passing of any person is a solemn event and I offer my sincere condolences to everyone who was privileged to have known him. May he soar the Cosmos eternally.”       – Michael C. Turner – Murrayville, Georgia


12/8/2014 “I heard the news today, oh boy…” – The Beatles.  I received very sad news today of the passing of Roy Scarfo. I’ve attached Carol’s notice to me last night. Just to let you know Roy passed away tonight at 8:00 at the Coatesville VAMC Hospice Unit. Gunny and Sue and Steve were with me. We’ll send more details when we have them tomorrow. I’d appreciate it if you could contact the listserv with the information to let the members know. … I’ll give more details tomorrow.

 – Carol Scarfo
Posted by Kara Szathmáry FIAAA

“This is for all those like myself who aren’t acquainted with Roy Scarfo’s work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDcalR4BoGw       – Corinne Cowan – Grande Prarie, Alberta, Canada

“Sorry to hear of Roy’s passing. The first time I saw his art was in SPACE WORLD magazine back when I was a kid in 1961. He certainly gave us some amazing visuals and future space concepts to think about. I’m glad he was with us in IAAA.”       – Rick Sternbach FIAAA – Valley Village, California

“That is indeed sad! He was a great visualizer of future concepts. I have a copy of the book he did with Dandridge Cole and was only this weekend hoping to get it autographed.”       – Ron Miller FIAAA – South Boston, Virginia

“Very sorry to hear this sad news. I had the pleasure of serving on the Board with Roy for some time – it was always a pleasure working with him.”       – Dan Durda FIAAA – Boulder, Colorado

“I’m very sorry to hear this. I never met Roy (who was even older than me!), but we had a great deal in common. A sad loss to our community.”       – David A. Hardy FIAAA – Birmingham, England

“A sad loss of another of the pioneers of our genre. My condolences go out to Roy’s family and friends.”       – Robin Hart – Grass Valley, California

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of this great visionary space artist. Though I never met him in person, Roy was my friend. I recall the days when he took an active role in our listserve discussions. We also enjoyed a number of great private conversations about the future. A few years back, he sent me a copy of the classic book he did with Dandridge Cole, Beyond Tomorrow: The Next 50 Years in Space. He wrote in the book, “For Aldo, from one futurist to another, Roy”. I will always treasure this book. Fly high, my friend.”       – Aldo Spadoni FIAAA – Los Angeles, California

“I’m very sad to hear this. Roy’s art was a reflection of a time when we believed the future had no limits or boundaries. His optimistic visions gave us an encouraging sense of hope for what we could expect to accomplish in space, but it was all based upon the best science and engineering of the time. He was also just a really nice guy. Ad Astra Roy.”       – Pat Rawlings – Dripping Springs, Texas


11/5/2014 Former member Italo Rodomonti has passed away at 88. His sculptures were awesome.

 – Joy Alyssa Day FIAAA, IAAA Membership Secretary

“Yes, I saw this on Facebook. He used to send me photos of his amazing art. A sad loss.”       – David A. Hardy FIAAA – Birmingham, England

“Italo and I would converse, as much as we could—with me not knowing Italian and he not knowing much English—every so often. I am always in awe at the sheer scale of his larger works and the flowing beauty of the smaller pieces. We were very lucky to have included his work in the chapter I wrote on sculpture in the IAAA Beauty of Space book. it was in the writing of this that I came to know him more closely. It is said that if you want to know someone, observe and experience that which (s)he creates.”       – B.E.Johnson FIAAA – Carmel Valley, California


9/24/2012 It’s my sad duty to inform everyone that Paul Hoffman, Fellow, Board member, contributor to our book The Beauty of Space, and CFO for our organization passed away this morning. Paul was an avid space artist and long-time volunteer member and his wit and humor was always a highlight at the many workshops he attended. With the family’s permission, we will be sending a flower arrangement to his services when they occur. Sleep well friend, the cosmos is your canvas now…..

 – Jon Ramer, IAAA President

“I am very sorry to hear about the passing of Paul Hoffman – this has been a disasterous year for our family in terms of deaths. I was priveledged to meet Paul (and our own Mikey) ay a Mars Society Conference and talk to him personally about space art. He and Mike are two of three IAAA artists I have physically met. My condolances to his family.”       – Steven Hobbs – Queanbeyan, Australia

“Very sad news. I met Paul on a number of occasions at workshops, where he was always a great asset and a friendly and helpful participant. His art is top class, whether digital or hand-drawn, and at least this will live on long after his death. Goodbye Paul, it was good to know you.”       – David A. Hardy FIAAA – Birmingham, England

“I’m glad I got to meet Paul and spend some time with him during our Death Valley and Utah workshops. I well remember his sense of humor, as well as the marvelous western hats he wore out in the desert. You will be missed, my friend. Fly high!”       – Aldo Spadoni FIAAA – Los Angeles, California

“Joy and I learned of his passing this morning. He will be missed. We worked with him for many years on IAAA business matters. I met him in person years ago during a visit to the D.C. area; where a bunch of us early IAAAers had gathered for an exhibition. One evening, after the day’s functions were over, we talked at length over a couple of beers. A good time with a good person is always to be revered. God speed, Paul. New Zealand is but one stop on your journey.”       – B.E.Johnson FIAAA – Carmel Valley, California

“I only knew Paul through this listserve and the odd personal communication, but his kindness and humour shone through in all his writing. I often wished I had a chance to meet him at one or other workshop, but it wasn’t to be. He’ll be sorely missed.”       – Garry L. Harwood FIAAA – Cornwall, England

“This came as a shock to me. I never even knew Paul was ill. I met him once at the Stonehenge UK workshop. My heart goes out to his family and close friends.”       – Mark Garlick FIAAA – Hove, England

“Very sad news. Paul visited Colorado every year and I remember the last time I saw him last year on a fun trip with Mikey to meet up in Pueblo at the Air Museum there. I like Paul’s digital technique and watched him work at the Death Valley workshop in 2005, turning the day’s digital image of the Devil’s Golfcourse into a very nice new piece of art that evening…”       – Dan Durda FIAAA – Boulder, Colorado

“I, like everyone else who knew Paul, was very saddened to hear this. I worked with him over the last few years when I was on the Board. I met Paul at the Death Valley workshop in 2005. He met up with Dan and me at the Las Vegas airport and we drove to the workshop together. Paul was a very talented man, and I very much enjoyed learning from him. The IAAA and space art in general will miss his contributions. Godspeed, my friend.”       – Dirk Terrell FIAAA – Boulder, Colorado

“I am so sorry to hear this, and wish his family well in this sad time. He was a dedicated IAAA member and someone we will miss greatly. He’ll now take up his paintbrush in the great beyond. . .”       – Lynette R. Cook FIAAA – Daly City, California

“Very sad indeed. It is always a shock when you hear news of this nature. His art will continue to sing for years to come.”       – Richard Bizley FIAAA – Lyme Regis, England

“My condolences to Paul’s family. I didn’t know Paul personally and, from comments by other members, I am sure I would have been most fortunate to have known him better. I realize that all IAAA members have various beliefs regarding death although I personally know that death is not the end but actually the beginning of an existence that diminishes this reality in comparison. I feel that Paul is now truly a painter of the Cosmos . . .”       – Michael C. Turner – Murrayville, Georgia

“The news came in as I was just to leave last night, and it left me lost for words. It was a bolt from the blue. It was not long ago that Paul posted to this listserve. I was fortunate to enjoy Paul’s company, wit, and distinctive and poignant art at two workshops. Paul was multi-talented, a frequent contributor to this list offering many tips and insightful technical advice both analogue and digital, but sprinkled with witty responses too. He was a proponent of 3D modelling and animation, especially depicting spacecraft, yet his traditional pieces had a gentle touch to them. Paul also constructed novel panoramas too. Paul was one of the ‘doers’ in the IAAA. We’ll miss him. We do at least still have his artistic legacy to inspire.”       – Malcolm Currie – Grove, England

“I am deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Paul. He was an accomplished digital and fine artist, and there will be an empty place in this organization in his absence. I had the pleasure of attending several workshops with Paul and have served briefly with him on this new board term. I will always remember him and the beautiful tribute to the Apollo 1 astronauts he digitally painted on our Kennedy Space Center workshop in 1998. It was an inspiration for me to take up digital painting. Now he has gone to starlight.”       – Robin Hart – Grass Valley, California

“I’m sad to hear about Paul but I’m glad I got to meet him at the Utah workshop. He showed me his awesome painting kit and we sat for a while painting near each other in Bryce Canyon. When we were done he had produced a great landscape rendering, then he painted the sky black and turned it into space art. Fantastic. That was a good day. Rest in peace my friend.”       – John Kaufmann FIAAA – St. Charles, Missouri

Paint For Paul Day.  As we all know, Paul Hoffman passed away this week, thank you for your comments. The family has asked that we make a donation in Paul’s name to a charity of our choice and I have suggested we donate to The Planetary Society. It’s something that I think Paul would have liked to do. Also, I’d like to invite every member to make a special point of painting some space art this Sunday at 2:00 pm Eastern time, which is when Paul’s services will be. I think this would be a fitting send off for one of our own. If you can paint that day, please pop a note to the listserver so we can include our final sentiments in a package for Paul’s family.

 – Jon Ramer, IAAA President


6/22/2011 Space Artist Christa Wawers-Breid Passes at Age 66

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. It is with great sorrow that I report the passing of the wonderful Artist Member Christa Wawers-Breid. She was not part of the Listserve, so send any condolences to her email address listed in the Members Directory, so that Edgar may see them. I quite enjoyed her artwork. Very beautiful.

– Joy Alyssa Day FIAAA, IAAA Membership Secretary


1/6/2011 To all of Frank’s good friends at IAAA. Frank passed away this morning in his sleep. I know he was lookiing forward to seeing some of you at the upcoming Space fest in Tucson. He also loved the organization, and all his friends he has made.” – Shirley Hettick – Redmond, Oregon

“I just wanted to let everyone know that we will be sending a flower arrangement on behalf of all IAAA members to Frank’s service on Saturday. The card reads: Godspeed Frank – the Stars await….
Your Friends in the IAAA”       – Dirk Terrell FIAAA – IAAA President – Boulder, Colorado

“I’m so sorry to hear this painful news. What a shock; and, such a tremendous loss of a good man and marvelous space artist. All the best to you in your hours of grief, sorrow and tribulations. My deepest condolences to you and family. It was such a pleasure to have worked with Frank in the few workshops we shared. He will be terribly missed.”       – Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“Let me echo what Kara has said. I’m very sorry to hear of Frank’s passing; it was a pleasure seeing you both at the Death Valley workshop, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to publish some of Frank’s artwork in PULSAR. The whimsy of his winged 1950s rocketships certainly remind us of our origins.”       – Rick Sternbach FIAAA – Valley Village, California

“I sent a private email to Shirley, but I want to echo here in public how sad a loss this is. Frank was always such a fun addition to Spacefests and IAAA workshops. I fondly remember his proud presentation of Little Frankie Hettick’s original acrylics paint set from when he was a young lad, a set he still had and painted from when were all together. We’ll miss you, Frank…”       – Dan Durda FIAAA – Boulder, Colorado

“What terrible news! I’m very sorry to hear this! Frank was one of the few people I could look up to as a mentor, and a friend. May he rest in peace, and memories of him be cherished!”       – Fahad Sulehria – Angelholm, Skane, Sweden

“This is Ross Jones responding for Julie, who sends her deepest regrets and sympathy from Mexico. Frank was a great artist and good friend. He will be deeply missed.”       – Julie Jones – Sparks, Nevada

“Frank was always generous to me with his time and unwavering support for my artwork. He encouraged me and was always available to give me input about my work and just a great friend to talk with. Frank and I would talk about anything from space art to politics and he never wanted anything more than to be recognized by his peers. I feel Frank’s work will continue to inspire new generations to come as he inspired me to become a better artist. Frank will dearly be missed by me and by anyone that had the pleasure of meeting him. He was a true gentleman, a wonderful artist and a true friend. It is said that you can count your true friends on less then two hands and I know that Frank was one of those persons for me.Rest in piece, and God bless you Frank.”       – David Robinson – Suffolk, Virginia

“This is sad and sobering news indeed. Shirley I am so sorry. I’m glad that I had a chance to meet you guys and spend some time with you at the Death Valley workshop and other space related events. I always enjoyed talking to Frank. When he had stuff on display, it was fun to watch him fuss over his cool prints, adding little hand painted details to each one. You will be missed, my friend.”       – Aldo Spadoni FIAAA – Los Angeles, California

“That’s terrible news, and a shock. Frank was, of course, just around my age; it was a great pleasure to meet him and Shirley at the Death Valley Workshop a few years ago, and I need hardly say that he was a very fine artist. I’m so sorry to learn of this. The only good thing is that ‘in your sleep’ is a good way to go. . . My sincere condolences to Shirley and his family.”       – David A. Hardy FIAAA – Birmingham, England

“I am so sorry to hear this very sad news. Although I had not met Frank in person, I felt I knew him through his wonderful art and from corresponding within the IAAA.”       – Richard Bizley FIAAA – Lyme Regis, England

“This is terrible news and I’m very shocked. I met Frank, and his wife Shirley, at the Death Valley Workshop – two of the loveliest and warmest people that I had ever met. A wonderful couple. I had hoped to meet Frank again sometime. I will miss him.”       – Jackie Burns FIAAA – Stanford-le-Hope, England

“I’m very sorry to hear of Frank’s passing. You have all of my condolences and sympathy.”       – Ron Miller FIAAA – South Boston, Virginia

“I’m so very sorry. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Frank as well as I would have liked, however I just traded e-mails with him a few days ago where he graciously and jovially helped me with a question I had. What a terrible loss.”       – Walt Myers – Skokie, Illinois

“That’s very sad news. Poor Shirley. I never had the pleasure of meeting Frank, but I felt I knew something of him via his communications both on and off list. A good, gentle, person and a fine artist. He will be missed.”       – Garry L. Harwood FIAAA – Cornwall, England

“Like many others, I only knew Frank through his communications on the list, but his humor and kindness, as well as his talent, came through just fine. He will indeed be missed!”       – Lynn Perkins – Downers Grove, Illinois

“My condolences as well. Frank and his work have been an inspiration to me. I’m sure all of us and I will continue to enjoy it at Sky High Gallery”       – Lonny Buinis – Parsippany, New Jersey

“I sent Shirley a personal note as well. Frank’s enthusiasm for astronomy and space art especially struck me as being special. He will be missed.”       – Lynette R. Cook FIAAA – Daly City, California

“I’m so sorry to hear this news. It was a pleasure to know him through the list, and I was really looking forward to meeting Frank at Spacefest this year.”       – John Kaufmann FIAAA – St. Charles, Missouri

“I am very shocked and sorry to hear about the Loss of Frank – he has done some very unique, visionary artwork.”       – Steven Hobbs – Queanbeyan, Australia


1/4/2011 Paul Calle, a commercial artist whose most famous work was no bigger than a postage stamp, died on Thursday in Stamford, Conn. Mr. Calle, one of the most highly regarded stamp designers in the nation, was 82. He was best known for the 10-cent stamp, commissioned by NASA and issued in 1969, commemorating the Apollo 11 moon landing that year. BIO

 – Laura Freas
Our members have recalled their personal experiences upon hearing this sad news:

“It is with a heavy heart to hear of two great artists of our genre passing away so close to each other. They will be sorely missed but remembered by the works and inspiration they left for the rest of us to follow. My hat’s off to Paul Calle and Frank Hettick. With sincere condolences to each of their families.”       – Walter A. Barrows – Orlando, Florida

“Bob McCall and now Paul Calle-the original NASA Fine art guys are going. I met him at an exhibition in the Bruce Museum in Greenwich and he was a great guy. I’ve always loved his pencil work -thus his book The Pencil-and his paintings were exquisite as well. He will be missed.”       – Pat Rawlings – Dripping Springs, Texas

“I attended the opening of that exhibition, too, and took a picture of Paul standing beside one of his works.”       – Paul Hoffman – Ewing, New Jersey

“Here’s to a great man, and great work! One of his stamps is certainly worth a whole lot more than the current going rate of 44 cents!”       – Lonny Buinis – Parsippany, New Jersey

“The universe must work in some mysterious ways; the funeral home is the same one that handled my dad’s arrangements in 2003 (our family was also from Stamford and I had met Calle at his studio before Apollo 11); my dad’s name was also Paul. I suspect that it has something to do with string theory or some other quantum thing.”       – Rick Sternbach FIAAA – Valley Village, California


7/25/2010 Space Artist Sean Brady Passes at Age 68

Loch Lomond, Balloch, Weat Dunbartonshire, Scotland Sadly, we have to report the passing of IAAA Artist Sean Brady after a long battle with cancer. He had been remarkably cheerful after receiving the news of the onset of his illness—much to his own surprise—but, in February, his condition began to decline. Concern among his IAAA friends began to mount as no replies to their e-mails were received. Telephone enquiry resulted in the news of the funeral having been held to-day, Friday 31st July, 2010, following his death on Sunday, 25th July while concerned IAAA Members were trying to establish contact with him.

– Ed Buckley

Our members have recalled their personal experiences upon learning of Sean’s passing:

“My own contact with him stemmed from purchase of one of his paintings at a Glasgow SF Convention, in 1979, which has hung on the wall directly over my worktable and has proved an inspiration to me ever since. We drifted apart for many years after that, only re-establishing contact at the 1995 WorldCon, also in Glasgow. He introduced me to the world of the Internet, generously giving me a laptop computer from those being discarded by his local Education Department through damage, so letting me get initial experience with a computer. Sometimes slow to answer his e-mails, Sean and I drifted apart again as a result, with the announcement of his condition then causing reluctance to “intrude” into what must have been a trying time for him and his family. It was only worries from fellow U.K. Members that prompted me to re-establish contact—just too late! His cheerfulness, enthusiasm, and generosity will be sadly missed by all who knew him. John Kaufmann composed a beautiful tribute to Sean and sent it to YouTube. The music is hauntingly apt and that final pic of a lone astronaut watching a lift-off to the heavens was truly poignant — …and then those few words added…”       – Ed Buckley – Glasgow, Scotland

“Sean was a wonderful man and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to have spent a good length of time getting to know him during the 2008 Utah-Escalante workshop. Sean wanted to go to Kitt Peak in the Fall of 2009 but had to cancel after his physical exam found cancer. Sean was a joyful fellow and certainly an enthusiastic supporter of space art especially during the rise of inSANe. I will miss his friendship.”       – Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“I never met him, but it was always nice to see what he was up to when he submitted images for the Critiques page. There’s one still there now if anyone wants to take a peek.”       – Joe Bergeron FIAAA – Binghampton, New York

“It was great meeting Sean at the Utah workshop and I’m very glad I got to know him before he passed. He once said he was fine with his impending doom, but was heartbroken that all his loved ones were so upset. He was truly a selfless person. RIP buddy.”       – John Kaufmann FIAAA – St. Charles, Missouri

“Jackie Burns and I met Sean at the IAAA exhibition at the IAC in Glasgow in 2008, where Sean was of great help in erecting and manning our stand, and we were delighted to meet his charming wife Anna at a meal one evening. I am glad and proud to have known Sean, if only briefly.”       – David A. Hardy FIAAA – Birmingham, England

“For me, Sean was and will remain a highlight in the membership of the International Association of Astronomical Artists. A passionate space artist who worked with enthusiasm and commitment. Sean was a joy to work with on the couple of projects where we came together. Sean really was an inspiration as a person. He had such a positive view on life and other people. Terry and I thoroughly enjoyed his company whilst we were up in Scotland in 2008 setting up and helping to run the IAAA exhibition at the IAC conference in Glasgow. We will both miss him dearly.”       – Jackie Burns FIAAA – Vange, Basildon, Essex, England

“I am very pleased and proud to say that Sean Brady was my friend. My one and only face to face contact with Sean was the 2008 Utah Workshop. This serves to show the importance of IAAA Workshops on the human level, and I strongly encourage all members to try and attend one. The Universe goes on and we space artists, just like everyone else, fleetingly move through it. Sean and I became fast friends right at the start of the workshop. That wasn’t very hard to do. His cheerful and enthusiastic attitude is infectious. He’s the kinda guy who doesn’t have anything bad to say about anyone and always finds something positive to say in any situation. He was so excited about seeing the wonders of Utah as member of our group, he was like a kid. He and I had both recently purchased new cameras for the Workshop and we compared notes. I’ve got the classic photo of Sean taking a picture of me taking a picture of Sean taking a picture of me. Sean was also excited about trying his hand at shooting and editing some video. I like Dan Durda’s idea of posting some photos of Sean, and I do have a few good ones to contribute. A few times during our various hikes through the Utah spectacle, I found myself walking alone with Sean. He told me about the things he loved; Scotland, his wife, his work. He invited me several times to come out to Scotland for a visit and I am so sad that I didn’t do that. After the workshop, Sean and I stayed in touch as best we could and exchanged messages on several occasions. I was pleased to see that Sean joined Facebook late last year, as I felt that would make it a bit easier to stay in touch. I don’t recall Sean ever mentioning his illness to me. He may have done so in passing, but if so, he acted as if it wasn’t a big deal. And in his mind, it clearly wasn’t! He certainly didn’t let it get in the way of his enjoying and contributing to the shared Utah adventure. Sean, I hope your travels are taking you to exotic places. Godspeed, buddy.”       – Aldo Spadoni FIAAA – Los Angeles, California


2/27/2010 Noted Space Artist Robert T. McCall Passes at Age 90
An inspiration to many IAAA artists over the years, and indeed for some the person who started them in their art careers by way of example, and also to the many men and women who make the exploration and education of of the realm of space possible every day, has become one with the Cosmos. He was a Fellow of the IAAA and among the six recipients of the IAAA’s most prestigious honor first bestowed in 2000, the Lucien Rudaux Memorial Award; named for French astronomer Lucien Rudaux (1874-1947), who wrote and illustrated his own books with paintings that resemble the Apollo photography long before we had any real hope of capability to travel off the planet. Our members have recalled their personal experiences upon learning of Bob’s passing:

“In 1979, I was working at Johnson Space Center as a technical illustrator on a Space Shuttle systems manual. Bob was working on the “Opening the Space Frontier-The Next Giant Step” mural outside the Johnson Space Center’s main auditorium. At that time, I was just beginning to consider the possibility of becoming a space artist. Every few days I would go over and watch him paint and exchange a few pleasantries. Eventually, I met with Bob in Building 45 to discuss his work and he drew me a pretty elaborate sketch in a space art book featuring his work. His enthusiasm was contagious and after that meeting I decided to focus on a career in space art. Over the years, when I have run into Bob at art shows or conferences, he has always been a perfect gentleman and inquired as to what I was working on and what techniques I employed. He and Louise were very welcoming to an artist that was just beginning to get his “brushes” wet. The field has lost one of its founding fathers. Bob, now you are getting a close-up view of the heavens that your paintings so beautifully opened to the world.”       – Pat Rawlings FIAAA – Dripping Springs, Texas

“I visited Bob in his studio in Paradise Valley, Arizona while I was working on commissions for NASA Headquarters. I had long since decided that I wanted to be a space artist and a pilgrimage to this nexus was inevitable, if not just a bit scary for someone like myself—comparatively new to the field at the time. Both he and Louise were welcoming and gracious as the large Spanish doors to their courtyard swung open, then showing me all around their home and eventually into Bob’s spacious separate studio, where we spent quite an amount of time talking about his career and experiences and my aspirations and accomplishments to-date. I was nervous being there and shouldn’t have been I suppose. Always wanted to return one day, as it would then be more relaxing. Never got the opportunity but I was in his ‘presence’ many times. It is said that if you want to know a writer, read what (s)he writes. The same holds true for an artist. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you get to know an artist even better by viewing what (s)he paints.  While working at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on a show for the Einstein Planetarium, I would enter the building through the only door open to staff prior to the museum’s opening to the public for the day. The door placed you right along the A Cosmic View mural as you entered. The building at those hours possesses a magical quality that the public never gets to experience. Alone with the art and the artifacts in the silence, one can feel the individuals connected with them all around and through you. It is a surreal and somewhat unnerving experience, but one I came to look forward to every day. I thought that perhaps one day I would paint a mural in that building, and that opportunity did present itself, but didn’t come to pass… at least not yet. Whether it does or not, I’ll always remember Bob and his influence upon me. I hope that I may pay it forward and be the same to another artist.”       – B.E.Johnson FIAAA – Carmel Valley, California

“A very sad loss. I still have the envelope in which he replied to my letter informing him of his Rudaux Award in 2000. In the corner he has drawn a typical little McCall space scene!”       – David A. Hardy FIAAA – Birminham, England

“It is with sadness to hear of Bob’s passing. He will be truly missed. Though I’d never met him, I do remember just after “2001: A Space Odessey” came out and the original paintings for the posters were on display at the Smithsonian. I stood, jaw open, in front of the one showing the PanAM Orion leaving the station that came to symbolize that movie, in awe at the amount of detail, color, and finesse he has acheived. From that moment on, it was an inspiration to try and acheive the same in my own work. Had it not been for those two paintings, I may have gone in another direction with my works.”       – Walt Barrows – Orlando, Florida

“Bob stopped over to SpaceFest in Aug 2007 where Dan, Mikey, Bill, Don Davis, myself and several other IAAAers were working on some pieces at the Artist’s table. He was very gracious and commented on several of the art works underway at the table and also hanging. He probably spent several hours there and seemed to just enjoy the chatting and fellowship. He was a great artist – and a great person! He will be missed!”       – Frank Hettick – Redmond, Oregon

“When the IAAA had our exhibition at the Air & Space Museum in Washington, Bob was there to greet us, our Cosmic Group associates and his support for our charge. He’s always been a fan of our art.”       – Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“Bob McCall was one of the first space artists I became aware of, when I was in college and working at Griffith Observatory in the 1970’s. His visionary murals, artwork and posters were inspirational to me as a young space artist and helped spur me along to create a large body of space themed work by my senior year at USC. He was one of the pioneers of the genre and will be sorely missed.”       – Robin Hart – Grass Valley, California

“With great pleasure I recall how my wife Gayle and I, along with other IAAA members, met the premier Russian space artist, Andrei Sokolov, at function sponsored with wonderful hospitality by Bob and Louise at their lovely house overlooking the Scottsdale area. Picking up on Russian black humor, we tried to convince Andrei (who was in on the joke) that the beautiful home as typical of all starving artists in America. Years later, Andrei hosted me in his own studio and nearby apartment in Moscow. Thanks Louise!”       – Dr. William K. Hartmann FIAAA – Tucson, Arizona

“I became aware of Bob McCall’s artwork in early 1968, when I saw his “2001: A Space Odyssey” posters reproduced in “Parade” magazine. His incredibly dynamic rendering of the space station knocked my socks off. I spent many hours studying it. Later, of course, I discovered the rest of his huge body of work. Along with Bonestell, Pesek, and Hardy, he became one of my heroes.  In 1986, I was approached by a would-be movie producer who had optioned a Ben Bova story. Isaac Asimov had been signed as science advisor and Bob McCall as art director. I was to do promotional art to help sell the project. I was thrilled by the possibility of working with such luminaries, but the script was truly awful and I couldn’t imagine the project actually ever selling, so I phoned Bob for his advice. He agreed that it looked like many doomed movie projects he’d seen over the years and advised me to draft a contract with a very explicit delivery and payment schedule so I’d be protected if the whole thing fizzled. We got through the first two stages of deliveries, with me FedEx-ing sketches to Bob for review. His critiques were dead-on and helped make me a better artist. The project eventually petered out but, thanks to Bob’s sage counsel, I’d gotten enough money up front to help pay for a European honeymoon.
He was a great artist and a kind man. If the dreams he portrayed are ever realized, it will be at least partly due to his inspiring vision. His legacy will endure.”       – Don Dixon FIAAA – Long Beach, California

Our entire membership, in one way or another, has been influenced and impacted by Bob and his work. We all mourn the passing of our colleague, friend and mentor. The IAAA Membership has contributed a $500 donation to the Challenger Space Center Arizona Robert McCall Memorial Fund. IAAA President Dirk Terrell received a gracious letter of appreciation from the Executive Director, Kari Sliva, that sums up all of our feelings.      

– B.E.Johnson FIAAA – IAAA Board of Trustees


5/7/2008 It is with utter shock and disbelief to hear the passing of our dear friend, and former CFO Treasurer, Beth Avary. This terrible news arrived this morning when I received Pam Lee’s e-mail to learn the passing of her best friend and our colleague! While we conduct our workshop in southwest Utah, I do pledge that we will give honor to our esteemed artist colleague with a group prayer. This will include two minutes of silence as we look upon the landscape that she so loved and painted with us through out the US, Iceland and the former USSR. We shall reminisce, and give thanks to Beth for our long year’s of camaraderie in space art. In addition, we’ll include our deepest gratitude and thanks to her 20 years of volunteer service in various offices with the IAAA, first as our Director of Exhibitions at which she organized the Art of the Cosmos World Touring exhibition that ultimately arrived and spent one year at the Smithsonian’s NASM; member of the Board and then 15 years as our CFO Treasurer. Dear Beth, you will be sorrily missed.      

– Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“I am so sorry to hear of the sudden passing of Beth Avery. My sympathies go out to her family and those in this group who were close to her. Beth’s long term service and participation in the IAAA embodies the best of what this organization is all about. I’d like to submit a suggestion to the board that a memorial award be established in her name, or perhaps some type of scholarship be created in Beth’s honor for young aspiring space artists.”       – Robin Hart – Grass Valley, California

“Great Idea! I didn’t know Beth, but from seeing years of her excellent service on items in the listserv that should be at least one of the things we do for her memory.”       – Pat Rawlings FIAAA – Dripping Springs, Texas

“Her passing was totally unexpected. At the time of her retirement letter, she was planning a major exhibition of her recent art. Beth, I believe, was asymptomatic with her illness. Entering the hospital April 14, then being diagnosed a week later–THAT had got to have been a _horrific_ realization. Still in shock, grief and the blues for my friend.”       – Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“Thank you, Kara, for that little bit of information. I’m sure we were all wondering how this came about so suddenly. I’m of course saddened greatly at such a loss – what a talented artist! How thankful we can be for the many years of faithful service she gave our organization. I had been wondering if her retirement from the Treasurer position had been due to health reasons, but I guess not. I find it eerily providential to have stepped into her shoes so shortly before her passing.”       – Paul Hoffman – Ewing, New Jersey

“Tomorrow there will be a delivery of our memorial flowers to Beth’s home address. The selection chosen was to find the palette of colors she often used in her floral arrangements within her paintings. The Celebration of Life Standing Spray bears the Message:

“On behalf the International Association of Astronomical Artists: In Loving memory of our dear colleague and friend – IAAA Board of Trustees”

In “Today’s Top Artists” January 2008: The impressive beauty of artist Beth Avary’s paintings has a way of transcending viewers from the struggles of daily life to a place of peace and tranquility. Avary’s passion for beauty and acknowledging the good in the world are reflected in her work and in her philosophy on art.
On one of many website belonging to Beth Avary, I found one of her beloved poems: TAKE TIME

Take time to work
It is the price of success
Take time to think
It is the source of power
Take time to play
It is the secret of perpetual youth
Take time to read
It is the fountain of wisdom
Take time to be friendly
It is the road to happiness
Take time to love and be loved
It is nourishment for the soul
Take time to share
It is too short a life to be selfish
Take time to laugh
It is the music of the heart
Take time to dream
It is hitching your wagon to a star.
~Anonymous In memory, and with deepest respect.       – Kara Szathmáry FIAAA – Panama City, Florida

“Yes Beth’s very sudden and unexpected passing away comes as a shock. I didn’t know Beth personally. To me she was a name and an artist. A name that was ever present since I joined the IAAA many years ago. She was invisible and yet the name Beth Avery echoed all over the IAAA foundations. She was discreet and yet ever so present. The invisible glue that helped hold the IAAA together. My thoughts are with her family and children as I know by personal experience what the sudden and brutal loss of a very creative loved-one means. All my condolences go to them.”       – Erik Viktor – Costa Rica


1/2/2005 This morning at 4:45am pst, Frank Kelly Freas passed away in his sleep. I got the word from Laura yesterday that things were not looking well for him. So, keep him and Laura and his family in your thoughts, all. Kelly was like my “dad” in science fiction and both Laura and Kelly are extended family to me.”

– Bob Eggleton – Providence, Rhode Island

“I first knew of Kelly’s art in the pages of MAD, in issues discovered in my dad’s office when I was just a kid. I then saw his science fiction and fantasy art, and shortly after embarking on that kind of art myself, met the man and learned much from him. I still need to work on his most important lesson, “people are nothing more than soft machines.” Faces and figures seemed to come to him so easily, whether they be comical mischief-makers in MAD or hard-bitten spacehounds. Kelly was a remarkable man and has left us an equally remarkable body of work to remember him by.”       – Rick Sternbach FIAAA – Valley Village, California

“Oh my. This morning I find myself at something of a loss for words. Our sympathies go out to Laura and her family that they may find peace and comfort in this difficult time. Kelly is a giant who will be missed by a great many but he will never really leave us. He lives in our memories and hearts and through his art. Would that we all could do in our lives a tenth of that which he has accomplished.”       – B.E.Johnson FIAAA – Carmel Valley, California