Kitt Peak

Kitt Peak Workshop – October 2009


  • John Clark (AZ)
  • April Faires (WA)
  • Bill Hartmann (AZ)
  • Tim Malles (FL)
  • Jon Ramer (CA)
  • Michelle Rouch (AZ)
  • Betsy Smith (NH)
  • Kara Szathmary (FL)


  1. The Genesis
  2. Arrivals to Tucson, AZ
    First Wave – Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
    Second Wave – Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009
  3. Day ONE – Orientation – Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009
  4. Day TWO – Scouting Art Sites on Kitt Peak – Monday, Oct. 19, 2009
  5. Day THREE – The Day Trip to Topawa, AZ – Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009
  6. Day FOUR – Painting atop I’itols Garden – Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009
  7. Day FIVE – Final Full Day on Kitt Peak – Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009
  8. Day SIX – Exhibition at the Kuiper Atrium – Friday, Oct. 23, 2009

The Genesis

 As part of the IAAA’s commitment to the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) a number of projects were explored by the IAAA Ad Hoc IYA2009 Steering Committee consisting of Jackie Burns, Lynette Cook, Dave Hardy, Bill Hartmann, Bettina Forget, Ron Miller, Roy Scarfo and Kara Szathmary Project Manager & Single-Point-of-Contact (SPoC) between the IAAA and the IAU’s IYA2009.

Prior to the publication of the Artists’ Universe on November 11, 2008, on the IYA-USA website, a number of inquires began to be explored that further involved the IAAA in other special projects with the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO). Beginning in October 2008 Doug Isbell, USA-SPoC to IYA2009 and NOAO Public Relations representative, sent an e-mail inviting the IAAA to brain storm for activities during IYA2009. Volleys of ideas lead him to ask whether art exhibitions at observatories would potentially attract attention as a possible educational outreach to the public. Previous experience by a few of our members, including Lynette Cook, hadn’t produced desirable effects concerning individual artists. Yet Bill Hartmann recalled that an exhibit at an observatory during the 1996 IAAA workshop at the Tenerife in the Canary Islands went very well. The IAAA already experienced a workshop in 1993 at the Mount Wilson Observatory, but that event didn’t include an exhibit.

Doug Isbell sent his exploratory report and the IAAA’s commitment to explore further IYA2009 USA projects to Elizabeth Alverez, NOAO and Kitt Peak National Observatory 50th Anniversary Steering Committee Chair. Elizabeth forwarded the series of e-mail exchanges to Pat Elaison, National Solar Observatory and Culture & Arts project lead for KPNO/NOAO 50th. Pat subsequently contacted Bill Hartmann at the Planetary Science Institute and invited him to join her subcommittee as a known Tucson space artist. Bill responded with a suggestion to have the NOAO consider hosting a workshop coupled with an exhibition at Kitt Peak to celebrate the 50th anniversary. His proposal was enthusiastically welcomed. The feasibility of such a venture needed to be explored and ultimately negotiated for technical efficiency. Kara began negotiations in earnest outlining past duties, responsibilities and obligations by workshop coordinators. The NOAO/KPNO committee organizers were directed to our website,, to review our mission statement, manifesto, history, and previous workshops which included Hawaii, continental USA, Iceland, Russia (former USSR), Tenerife Canary Islands Spain, England and Nicaragua. Bill was requested to represent the IAAA during any formal and/or informal meetings with Pat Elaison’s Cultural & Art Sub Committee in Tucson and report back any progress and/or questions to Kara.

Within a short time, another opportunity unfolded. David Valls-Gabaud, on behalf of the IYA2009 Scientific Committee sent an invitation to the IAAA-SPoC for IAAA participation in the International Astronomical Union Symposium 260: “The Role of Astronomy in Society and Culture.” The invitation also included an opportunity for an exhibition at the UNESCO Center in Paris, France, during the symposium event scheduled for the third week of January, 2009. The symposium was focused on the relationship between the Arts and Astronomy, featuring artistic works inspired by cosmic phenomena. With Lionel Bret’s recruitment as our IAAA representative, the genre of space art was presented in Paris followed by an exhibition of IAAA art works at the center.

Several months passed with only tentative inklings of a possible time frame for a workshop either in the spring or the fall of 2009. A survey was conducted on the IAAA listserve for potential artists’ interest and/or commitment to attend the Kitt Peak workshop. Choices of dates were bounced around by a couple of dozen artists with differing priorities and time tables to attend the workshop.

By early summer, Bill reported that not much progress had been taking place with the Culture & Arts subcommittee, and it was apparent that the needed preparation time was passing if a 2009 workshop could be coordinated. Another enquiry was sent to Pat Elaison requesting whether a decision to host an IAAA workshop at Kitt Peak had been rendered. By mid August good news finally arrived. The workshop was approved and scheduled for late October. Further negotiations now escalated and began to review the terms and conditions of agreements between the IAAA and KPNO/NOAO.

In addition to e-mail exchanges, weekly video teleconferencing was requested so that a broader scope of mutual interests and intentions could be explored in a timely fashion. The issues at stake included the limitation of a dozen artists staying on the mountain in six dormitory rooms, the number of periodic rotations of the remaining artists in Tucson off the mountain if any, locations of exhibition venues and extra accesses to mountain locations, telescopic sites and astronomical facilities outside the visiting general public tours during the week.

The final roster of IAAA artists-in-residence was settled with eight attendees: John Clark (AZ), April Faires (WA), Tim Malles (FL), Bill Hartmann (AZ), John Ramer (CA), Michelle Rouch (AZ), Betsy Smith (NH) and Kara Szathmáry (FL). Video conferencing continued daily at the end of September, with the planning phase of the itinerary for the artists that included an outreach trip to the Tohono O’odham Reservation and a partnership day with visiting Tohono O’odham artists on the mountain during the week. Meanwhile, Michelle Rouch of Tucson was selected as the on site voice of the IAAA to assist Elizabeth Alverez, Aletha Kalish NOAO and Mary Guerrieri, Academic Affairs for the Department of Planetary Sciences and the Lunar Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, where the summative exhibition venue would be hosted at the Planetary Sciences Kuiper Atrium.

Julie Jones, Assistant to the IAAA Director of Exhibitions, was commissioned to design a horizontal IAAA exhibition banner 3 feet by 8 feet in span with our name, logo and title “Visions of the Cosmos” by way of a generous donation by Pamela Lee FIAAA. Bill Hartmann and Michelle Rouch kindly provided cover art for the announcement of the exhibition at the LPL Kuiper Atrium in collaboration with Mary Guerrieri LPL. Matched funding by the IAAA and KPNO/NOAO provided the means for the opening preview (vernissage) of the exhibition.

Day ONE: Orientation – Sunday, October 18th, 2009

We left Tucson at 8:15 AM in a convoy heading west along Ajo Parkway (state highway #86) with Bill in the lead car followed by the IAAA van, Michelle and John in their respective cars. The planned objective that morning was to paint and draw the view of the nest of telescopes up on Kitt Peak from the base of the mountain along highway #86 within the Sonoran Desert. Less than an hour west of Tucson, while coasting down the state highway past Ryan Airfield and Three Points and well before Kitt Peak and the Baboquivari Mountains, small rolling hills began to rise with cholla, cane cacti, saguaro and mesquite which dotted the landscape near Coyote’s Souvenir and Convenience Store within the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.

The Tohono O’odham Nation, which leases the terrain of Kitt Peak to the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) for scientific and educational purposes since 1960, is located in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. The history of this desert extends back 40 million years to when intense volcanic and tectonic activity produced the region’s characteristic basin and range topography. The Sonoran covers approximately 120,000 square miles in southern Arizona and California, as well as most of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. About 70 miles of the Nation’s southern border is part of the International Boundary between the US and Mexico. The Tohono O’odham Nation is 2.8 million acres large, and is comparable in size to Connecticut.

As we reached Junction 386, the route to the summit at Kitt Peak just before 10 AM, despite the cactus this is clearly rangeland. We drove passed the entrance way a couple of miles in order to get a better view of the northwestern ledge where multiple telescopes were visible high up on the peaks of the mountain range above the desert floor. The landscape itself was primarily grass and rangeland and dotted with a mixture of cholla, cane, saguaro, prickly pear cacti, and with mesquite and ironwood trees. Where we did stop, we were careful to evade the barbed wire fences as we set up our chairs and easels next to the fields. We could see several telescopes lined up along the mountain plateau. Other than Bill and Michelle, the rest of us had no idea what telescopes we were looking at. Very shortly we would soon find out. By noon most artists had more or less finished their first projects and were ready to ascend the mountain, a 16-mile trip up the northwest slope to the peak at 6,875 feet onto some 200+ acre facility.

At the Visitor’s Center atop Kitt Peak we radioed for Elizabeth Alverez, the KPNO/NOAO Steering Committee chair of the 50th anniversary of Kitt Peak, who was awaiting our arrival. At long last the face to face meeting with Elizabeth rather than the Skype webcam telephone became a reality. After formally introducing the artists we were invited to lunch and escorted to the building housing the cafeteria. During the walk we talked about the drive up and the awesome beauty of the vista of the climb. We asked about the chard remains halfway up. During lunch she told us about a fire that had broken out last year that had threatened the mountain. Fortunately the fire departments from Tucson and Sells, AZ, on the Tohono O’odham Reservation were able to put it out.

After lunch Elizabeth escorted the artists into a special room adjacent to the cafeteria which the Kitt Peak personal referred to as the RBSE room. Very shortly after our orientation, we would transform this “real basic studio environment” into our Mountain ART Studio, where we planned to spend our evenings finalizing our work during the day that required some finishing touches from our daily outings within the facility.

Elizabeth gave us our dormitory room assignments, keys to our rooms, assigned radios to two volunteers, Tim and Betsy, in order to keep in contact with artist’s whereabouts on the mountain. The focus then shifted to a review of the central tenets agreed to between the IAAA and KPNO / NOAO. A location agreement was signed which authorized permission for artists to record telescopes by means of still photography, sketches and other artwork for research, scientific and/or educational purposes only as required by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc (AURA). The agreement also included opportunities for various special behind the scenes access by invitation only from the observing crews at the various telescopes; and, these potential sites were requested from interested artists so that a Kitt Peak employee could accompany small groups of artists to these various telescopic facilities.

With the orientation process completed Elizabeth offered a tour for the artists on the 200-acre facility. The first visit was at the 2.1-meter Observatory with the Cloud Feed Telescope (CFT) inside the bowels of the building up to the telescope itself and the 360° cat walk outside the observatory dome. From there the tour continued up to the WIYN (Wisconsin, Yale, Indiana, and NOAO) 3.5 meter observatory the newest and second largest telescope on Kitt Peak. Completed in 1994, the WYIN telescope was a shiny addition to the landscape of telescopes hovering on the western edge of the peak.

It is a great demonstration of the advances in telescope technology over the two decades since the Mayall 4-meter Telescope first went into service in 1970. The WYIN instrument is compact, is designed to deliver sharper images and is reputed to take substantially less maintenance that the 4-m telescope. Its outside view however is a contrast to other white cylindrical domes in its angular, metallic enclosure, which includes pipes to carry warm air away from the instrument.

The option to visit the Mayall 4-meter telescope was postponed to another day as the walk over would take about 30 minutes. Instead, we returned to the cafeteria for supper which is scheduled between 4:30 and 5:45 PM daily after which observers return to their instruments to calibrate their telescopes for the evening observation run.

After supper, the focus shifted to setting up the RBSE room to transform it into a studio. Additional tables were requested so that their placements in the center of the room would provide a large working area with seats ringing the perimeter of the room where the paintings brought from our home studios could be show cased.

With the Mountain ART Studio set up, the artists-in-residence were briefed as to the itinerary for the balance of the week. The following day the first creative working day on the mountain would begin after breakfast by scouting out spots and locations for the first drawing and/or painting sessions.

Day TWO: Scouting Art Sites on Kitt Peak – Monday, October 19th, 2009

Tim awoke quietly at 6:30 AM, dressed, picked up his Kitt Peak radio from the charger stand and the key from the top of the dresser where Kara had placed it the night before, then proceeded across the street and up the hill to unlock the Mountain ART Studio next to the cafeteria. Others would soon sporadically follow for breakfast and a brief initial survey of the landscape around the studio before regrouping for a tour of the Mayall 4-meter Telescope as arranged by Elizabeth later that morning.

While Betsy, April, Michelle, and Tim were scouting out sites, Bill had slept in. John and Kara meanwhile were preparing their art materials within the studio when three additional tables along with a spare metal easel and exacto blades were delivered by Michael Hawes, Kitt Peak Facility Supervisor, as requested yesterday by Kara, our workshop facilitator. In order to provide adequate surface area within the studio for all artists-in-residence including Jon Ramer who would be arriving the following evening, Kara re-configured the tables in the center of the room. Setting up of a work place such as a studio is absolutely essential for evening work and unexpected weather.

Around 10 A.M. all the artists but Bill had returned to the studio. Bill had other plans for his morning en plein air session. We radioed Elizabeth that we were heading out to meet her on the way over to the eighteen story Mayall 4-meter telescope located just below the summit of Kitt Peak. We met near the visitor’s center and made the 20 minute walk in constant conversation.

During our tour, Bill had arrived to the studio having slept in and set up the painting area of tables with newsprint that he retrieved from a recycling bin on the porch. In the quiet studio, he resumed work on a painting he didn’t quite finish last May. He decided to add some finishing touches of fall colors to the foliage around the rocks directly below the 2.1-meter telescope. After words he decided to try his hand at some views of the strange looking McMath-Pierce Solar Observatory. Bill took a couple of under painted boards and some chalk over to the solar telescope several hundred yards from the studio and made some compositional sketches which he planned later to paint in the late afternoon light.

Back at the 4-m telescope, Elizabeth guided us into the bowels of the observatory taking us past the engineering workshop and then to the observer’s elevator for a ride to the observation deck. With the public elevators under repair, having malfunctioned a week earlier, the observatory was off-limits to the general public. Today’s visit was a special behind the scene treat while the technicians, which included Elizabeth’s husband Bill Alverez, were swapping out a camera with a Cassegrain spectrograph for the next two week observation run. The tour included an excursion through the control room as well as the instrument storage area and concluded with a visit to the outer perimeter glass enclosed 360° view observation deck. The view up there of the 200 acre facility, including Baboquivari Peak and mountains to the southwest, was exquisite as were the views of the distant desert floor surrounding Kitt Peak.

Back inside the observatory the artists-in-residence were offered the opportunity to paint a scene inside next to the telescope. Betsy and Kara accepted the invitation to try their hand capturing the inner domain of the observatory during the hour and a half interval to change the instrument to the 4m telescope. The rest of the artists left with Elizabeth to other locations on the mountain for their en plein air site. Elizabeth in the meantime was leaving the mountain to return to her NOAO office headquarters in Tucson. Kara and Michelle however would remain in contact with her in the evenings throughout the week as to further the planning phases of the exhibition at the end of the week.

Within an hour the instrument installation was completed and we were told that the remaining half hour would involve moving the telescope about in order to calibrate the balance weights and drive system of the telescope. During that time Betsy and Kara finished their pieces and left the observatory with the technical crew in their ride, the NOAO truck, to the cafeteria for lunch.

The Mountain ART Studio was relatively quiet for most of the morning. With the exception of John who had set up his easel and oils on the porch adjacent to the studio after returning from the 4 meter tour to paint a view of the 2.1-meter telescope Observatory, the rest of the artists were busy elsewhere.

April had gone about a walking tour of the facility sketching and photographing the details of every note worthy inspiration including picturesque views from the mountain. Michelle on the other hand returned to a spot where she did a pen and ink drawing from a previous trip to the mountain to complete a watercolor rendition.

Tim took his easel and oil paint set up to the base of the 2.1-meter telescope for a view of the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope at the southern end of the hillside plateau. After lunch Betsy trundled up to the 2.1-meter telescope as well, past the sign that says “watch for snakes”, and set up her easel next to Tim who had found a great spot out of the wind and sun at the base of the telescope building. It was indeed the perfect vantage point to do a painting of the solar telescope not far away. They greeted visitors as they passed them by periodically on their way inside to an observation area. Tim and Betsy were also the subject of great interest by a Mexican blue-jay who kept perching on the railing a few feet from them in hopes that their colorful palettes included bird snacks. After Betsy more or less had finished her painting, she shifted her easel over a bit and started another painting of the 4 meter telescope hillside, but had to pack up for dinner before finishing.

Meanwhile, Kara returned to the outside parking lot of the 4-meter telescope and choose to draw in color the panoramic view looking south towards the rain water cistern collector, the solar telescope, and the collections of telescopes that lined the main entrance road into the facility.

By 4:45 P.M. most artists had returned to the studio with their completed and/or partially completed artworks. The first full day of en plein air painting was now behind them and left them exhausted, but optimistically charged that more of the same opportunities awaited them in the coming week. For now supper became their main focus, where they shared their experiences, insights, visions and intentions about their creations in expanded conversations with their colleagues and facility observers who asked individual artists about their progress during the meal. One of the surprises during our supper was Jim Scotti, an IAAA member and Space Watch observer, who approached our table and introduced himself. He was here on his latest observation run for the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and was invited to sit with us for the duration of our meal. He had heard that we were here and was very quick to offer an opportunity to take us on a tour of the two telescope facilities he uses on the mountain. We accepted and made plans to meet with him on Wednesday during the calibration period of the telescopes for the evening and before supper. In doing so, we invited Jim as well as other research astronomers, observational assistants and staff continually to drop by the Mountain ART Studio periodically to see their daily progress throughout the week.

The notable exception missing supper with the artists-in-residence was Bill, who had dined earlier according to his signature in the registry at the cafeteria entrance way. Apparently Bill had left lugging his Russian tripod paint-box and chair heading over to the solar telescope before any artists had returned to the studio. Bill’s intention for his prepared colored panels was to capture the late afternoon light that shone an almost surrealistic view of the gold-glowing light on the enormous diagonal tube of the solar telescope looming up behind some scrubby foreground trees. He painted until it was almost too dark to see, then, headed back to the studio where he joined the few remaining artists still hanging around in the studio after supper. The anxiousness of the day, the energy output of painting all day and the energetic atmosphere during supper had exhausted most of the artists, some so much so that they left for their barracks to rest for the evening.

The few remaining artists that stayed up had the opportunity to prepare the art materials and hardboard canvases for the following day’s outing to the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Topawa, AZ, southwest from Kitt Peak and on the south side of Baboquivari Peak. While Kara was working out the final details of our invitation and travel to the Cultural Community Center and Museum with Elizabeth in Tucson by telephone, Michelle was organizing the procedure for the set up of the end of week exhibition of art work created during the week. Her planning included a vernissage during the opening at the Kuiper Atrium of the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona.

Day THREE: The Day Trip to Topawa, AZ – Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Morning fog greeted everyone on their early rise. At breakfast we’d heard that the observers had packed it in a couple of hours before dawn. The weather however was expected to improve throughout the day. As for the artists-in-residence, our itinerary would take us off the mountain and onto Topawa, AZ. As part of our Outreach and Participation Day agreement we accepted the invitation to visit the Community Cultural Center and Museum of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Our visit had been approved, purified and blessed by a tribal shaman to receive our creative energy to draw and paint the desert and mountainous landscape of their homeland.

After breakfast the artists scurried about gathering their art supplies, canvases, chairs and cameras for departure by 7:45AM. Since Bill would be returning to Tucson for the night after our trip to Topawa, he was packed to leave before the rest of the delegation was ready. He was sent ahead to rendezvous with Elizabeth who was waiting for us at the base of the mountain on the desert floor entrance to Kitt Peak on Arizona highway #86. Once the rented IAAA van was packed, we departed and carefully descended the twelve mile route off the mountain. Upon meeting Bill and Elizabeth, the convoy of vehicles turned west and headed to Sells, AZ, ten miles away.

The route either side of the highway was covered with mesquites and other densely scattered vegetation. Not even a few small billboards disturbed the desert’s beauty. Ten miles later a rise in the highway brought the outskirts of Sells into view. It is the capital seat of the Tohono O’odham Nation, a community of about 3,500 habitants.

As we entered the town, Elizabeth turned south off highway #86 and followed a sign indicating the business route. A detour sign directed the traffic to the right onto a dusty pothole filled dirt road. The general view of the back streets littered with plastic bags, used cars and abandoned broken furniture reminded some of us of Nicaragua. After about five blocks, there was a sign for Topawa as we merged onto Indian highway #19. The road ran through a forest of saguaro, ocotillo and prickly pear cacti. Between couples of rocky cliffs we’d see glimpses of the majestic Baboquivari Peak appearing larger off in the distance as we neared.

Ten miles or so south of Sells we turned left off the main highway onto a heavily potted road that shook the vehicles and passengers mercilessly as we headed east. Within a quarter mile we arrived at a complex of modern looking buildings. In the parking lot next to the American and the O’odham national flags a sign read Himdag Ki: Hekihu, Hemu, Im B I-Ha’apâ – Cultural House: Past, Present and into the Future. It is also known as the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Cultural Community Center and Museum (CC&M).

Allison Francisco, an artist who is developing a registry of the Tohono O’odham artists, welcomed the IAAA artists to draw and paint at the new center; but first, we were invited to visit the facility. She directed the IAAA artists to one of the two buildings that contained the museum. The exhibit traces the history of the tribe and nation with topics that include Tohono O’odham politics, language, youth councils and agricultural occupations as well as the military service of tribal-member veterans. There was also a contemporary art gallery, gift shop, conference rooms, a library and a special collection archive.

From there we were escorted over to the other major structure on the site, the cultural and education center which houses artists’ studios, classrooms and an outreach tribal family gallery and common room. This building provides space for tribal members who are known to guard their privacy. The outside area includes a large porch and patio, an amphitheatre and story telling circle.

While we waited inside the cultural and education center for other community guests and personal to arrive, Allison assured the artists that Veronica Harvey, Chairwoman for the Baboquivari District, had confirmed our request to collaborate with the staff and other members of the nation to create new works of art. Later, she graciously accepted our request to leave a gift collaborative group effort, on behalf of the nation, with the CC&M out of respect to commemorate our visit and valuable shared experiences. Very shortly Mr. Keith Norris and thirty of his art students arrived from nearby Baboquivari High School, who participates in the CC&M Outreach program, to observe our demonstration. Our proposal, after consultations, was accepted to create a painting of the panoramic mountainous range to the southeast that included Baboquivari Peak, all the way to the story telling circle directly in front of the common room of the CC&M center. The collaborative piece would be a strip painting with each and every IAAA artist painting a single vertical panel section of the entire view in their individual style.

Allison Francisco, our CC&M host called the assembly to order and invited Elizabeth as the Kitt Peak NOAO representative to introduce the IAAA artists. After a brief statement about the 50th anniversary of Kitt Peak Observatories, she introduced Kara as the IAAA workshop coordinator who requested Bill to speak about the founding of the IAAA as the torch bearers of the space art genre. Kara resumed speaking about the IAAA’s novel approach to our workshops where artists seek out geological sites around the globe that are analogues of planets and moons within the solar system. The opportunity to participate in a workshop celebrating the 50th anniversary of Kitt Peak, a gateway to the canopy of stars in the heavens from the astronomy capital of the world, was a unique way to promote the educational merit and value of the research being conducted on the mountain.

Kara informed the audience that the other cast of artist members would be introduced later outside during their strip painting demonstration. The assembly then moved to the art studios where Kara began to prepare a hardboard canvas with gesso on both sides which the art students watched with curiosity. Once completed the table and canvas was wheeled out into an open shelter roofed with mesquite branches to provide shade, then repositioned to the front porch of the CC&M at the edge of the story telling circle and amphitheatre. The design within the circle contains an O’odham symbol, The Man in the Maze, which appears frequently in tribal art and basketry. The maze represents the winding journey that I’itols, the Elder Brother, takes through the land of the Tohono O’odham to his central cave home on Baboquivari Peak. The symbol also represents a tribal family’s or an individual’s journey through life.

As Bill drafted the preliminary sketch of the mountainous desert landscape, he began his section, the third vertical panel from the left. John joined him and selected the first panel. With the students looking on, John took the opportunity to give a personal introduction and to talk about his aspirations and interest in space art. As he and Bill finished their respective sections other IAAA artists followed with their introductions. The students periodically asked questions about the artist’s preferred choice of media, why, how long they’ve painted, what sorts of things they liked to paint and how their interest in space art developed.

While the IAAA artists took turns painting their panels, the others had set up at other locations to capture another perspective of interest. April, Betsy and Michelle selected a more narrow focus of the panoramic view. Kara was intrigued with the Ramada shelter that sat next to the courtyard adjacent to the artist studio. Tribal members would congregate there for cook outs during various festivals honoring their community, celebrating their common spirit and history of their desert dwelling people.

Tim gave a demonstration inside the studio to share some space art techniques with students and teachers. He did a 5 by 7 square inches oil on wood panel painting of their sacred mountain as a night scene with stars and the Milky Way using knives and toothpicks. Although the stark poverty of the reservation area in our drive over to the center was somewhat depressing to see, for Tim he found that the light of spirit in each young person’s eyes was up lifting.

After Bill finished his strip vertical panel he set up to paint a view of Baboquivari Peak. One of the students set up his easel next to him on the museum porch. Bill was interested in how the younger people viewed Baboquivari Peak, the home of I’itol the elder brother god figure. He told the student that the people of Tucson were always told that it was a sacred peak as viewed by the O’odham and so Bill asked him about what he thought. The student paused reflectively, and then said, matter-of-factly, “Well, we take care of it and it takes care of us.” Bill liked the concept so much that he used it as the title of his painting.

Meanwhile a student drifted over to see what Kara was doing at the Ramada shelter. Kara explained that his approach to space art was more of telling a story about the human condition. In his painting he wanted to use the habitat opening to depict how the desert dwelling people gained access to the heavens by way of the four steps, as the four corners of the world, from the Ramada leading to the curved path of the sidewalk that guides the people to their sacred mountain, the gateway to the star people ancestry in the sky. During festivals stellar ancestors could descend in spirit to join the community through I’itol’s pathways and celebrate with the living descendents of the nation. The student smiled and said he’d love to see it once it was completed. These experiences with the art students left their indelible marks on the IAAA artists.

Once the strip painting was finished and left to dry, the artists were invited by Allison to a site within the panoramic view, a campfire next to an old mesquite tree within the forest on the other side of the story telling circle. It was a special ceremonial spot used by the tribal elders to say a prayer of contrition to request a blessing for a New Beginning. They would bring a rock found on their journey there and place it with other rocks left as a symbol of their commitment. The site had been blessed and cleansed by the district shaman for all such visitations. We were asked to place a rock we brought with us from Kitt Peak, known to the O’odham as I’itol’s Garden, to give thanks through a prayer and then request a blessing for our own New Beginning.

By 2:30PM the general preparations began for a clean up to bring closure to the day’s field trip and events at the CC&M center. Once the students returned to their high school with the teachers, we asked Allison for permission to take the finished strip painting to Tucson for an exhibition at the University of Arizona. The university was launching its own 50th anniversary of the Lunar Planetary Laboratory of the Department of Planetary Sciences. We promised that the work would be returned to the Tohono O’odham within two weeks. By 3PM the Kitt Peak artists-in-residence left to return to their Mountain ART Studio before the 4PM closing of the mountain to public traffic. Bill headed on to Tucson and his studio where he planned to spend the night.

The drive back to Kitt Peak was filled with constant chatter about our individual experiences. The consensus was overwhelmingly positive. After dropping off our art supplies at the Mountain ART Studio all but Kara headed to the dormitory to rest up before supper, change and ready for the evening. We were invited to attend a special Public OutReach Program to observe the Orionids meteor shower later that night. The festivities would begin at 10 P.M. and last into the wee hours of the morning until 3 A.M.

Kara went to the computer room to see whether Jon Ramer had left a message about his arrival time to the mountain. After calling security about the artists’ return from Topawa, Kara informed them that he could be reached by radio should one of our remaining IAAA artists call for security clearance to drive up the mountain before 5 P.M A brief message was also sent to Elizabeth informing her that Jon hadn’t yet arrived and that a further follow up would be made after supper.

Kara arrived at the dining room and joined his colleagues who were engaged in a robust conversation with Jim Scotti and a few other observers about our trip to the CC&M in Topawa. In addition, questions were asked whether the observers’ reports about the sky condition were favorable to the Orionids. Good conditions, for seeing, was expected during the moonless night with a cooling breeze dropping temperatures throughout the morning hours. Jim invited the artists to join him for a tour the following afternoon of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory SpaceWatch 0.9 and 1.8-meter telescopes. He would meet us at the cut off road just before the 2.3-meter Bok Reflector on the way to the 4-meter Mayall telescope.

Around 5:30 P.M. security called the kitchen to ask the cook to fetch Kara in the adjacent computer room. Jon Ramer called to say he was stuck in Phoenix traffic and could not make it until well past 7:30. Kara gave the phone message to Elizabeth and asked Jon to stop in Tucson for his orientation of the mountain protocol and procedures.

After arriving to Tucson and receiving his instructions directly from Elizabeth, Jon was requested to join the Public OutReach group that would gather at the picnic grounds near the base of the mountain for 9 P.M. Once assembled there, security would go and get the group and lead them up the mountain to the Visitors Center. Kara waited in the Mountain ART Studio, while the others were busy getting ready for their evening meteor shower outing. Tim returned to the studio around 7:30 with two amateur astronomers from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association who had set up a couple of telescopes for the late evening observing on the patio of the Visitors Center. Tim wanted to treat them to the art we’ve created for his opportunity to observe through the 12 and 14 inch telescopes.

By 9 P.M. all the artists-in-residence were gathered and prepared in the studio. We received word that the security was escorting the star party up from the picnic area. The twelve mile route up in the thick darkness would take considerably longer than the day time drive at 40 mph and slowed to 20 mph around hair pin turns with twists around gullies and drop offs. Security radioed the studio that our colleague artist had arrived. That was our signal to move out and head up to the Visitors Center around 10 P.M. with blankets, gloves, and hats for a potential stay up into the night.

Jon Ramer was waiting inside the Visitors Center. His long trip beginning early that morning from Los Angeles was now celebrated with introductions to the rest of the artist delegation. Kara welcomed Jon with handshake and a hug then called over Betsy and April who have also shared previous workshops with Jon. Tim, John and Michelle were then formally introduced for the first time leaving only Bill who would return the next day from Tucson to complete the artist-in-residence roster.

While waiting for the evening presentation to begin, we all had the opportunity to examine the exhibits at the VC including a section that was dedicated to the Tohono O’odham culture, including examples of poetry and prose of I’itol’s Journey through Life and The Man in the Maze.

As stories and jokes were traded, Bob Martino, the Kitt Peak Visitors Center OutrReach, took the stage to begin his evening presentationMeteor Mania about meteors, meteorites, bolides (fireballs), comets and when best to see the meteor shower. Bob’s power point presentation was followed by a concluding demonstration of how to make a comet – a ball of dirt, printer’s ink graphite, dry ice and snow (refrigerator). The audience was then invited to view his creation with other samples of meteorites that made up the Kitt Peak collection.

Then the audience was invited to shift to the outside court yard patio. Several telescopes had been set up by the observatory OutReach personal as well as the Tucson Amateur Astronomers Association for observing various celestial objects in the sky including Jupiter and its moons, nebulae, double stars and globular clusters until 12:30 A.M. when the focus shifted to the meteor watch of the Orionids. This annual meteor shower is created when the Earth passes through trails of comet debris left in space long ago by Hailey’s Comet. The “shooting stars” develop when bits no longer than a pea, and mostly sand-grain-sized, vaporize in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

By 1 A.M. after seeing 3 bright meteor trails, the artists decided to return to their dormitories as fatigue finally began to take its toll after painting in the hot sun all day.

Day FOUR: Painting atop I’itol’s Garden- Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Tim got up early, ate, and then headed over to a perch behind the 2.1 meter telescope to position his easel in the shade of one of the instrument towers. From this vantage point he found everything he was seeking to paint for his very next oil painting–a precipitous angle, colorful rocks, and an observatory sitting at the very top of a rock knoll with a view to rows of distant mountain ranges, the Comobabi and Santa Rosa Mountains. Since the morning itinerary called for more art production atop Kitt Peak’s facility, Tim was ready, having skipped the Orionids meteor shower the night before. The balance of the afternoon however was designed as free time.

By the time Kara arrived to the Mountain Art Studio, he found Jon Ramer and John Clark painting on the patio. John was working on an oil painting of the 2.1 meter telescope while Jon had set out his huge canvas and was working on a pointillist view of Jupiter. After breakfast Kara went about the mountain art studio gathering his art supplies, chair and canvas to depart to explore the area in the back of the 2.1 meter telescope, looking west, to do a color drawing of the WIYN 0.9-meter and 3.5-meter telescope Observatories, this time to incorporate the night sky above the daytime landscape.

As he was about to leave Betsy arrived with her art bag packed up and was ready to head out to paint somewhere when Claude Plymate, an engineer physicist from the solar telescope came pedaling up on his bike. He said that they were having maintenance issues and couldn’t do their regular work, so he would have the time to give a tour to anyone interested. Although this opportunity sounded great, Kara’s intention drew him elsewhere, and John wanted to finish his oil painting before the light changed too much. Jon and Betsy agreed to the tour and headed off to the solar telescope with Claude. When the group entered the control room, they saw the visitor’s book containing the signatures of ALL of the Apollo astronauts from Apollo 8 to 15 on ONE PAGE, including Neil Armstrong – absolutely amazing! When they approached the base of the long angled section of the solar telescope with its endless flight of stairs, Betsy was glad to see a little three-seat open tram that they were able to ride, followed by a climb up a short enclosed ladder through the hatch and up to the roof. The view was spectacular and they remembered Claude’s comment that the railings were fifty years old and may not be totally dependable.

Towards the mid morning John’s color study painting was nearing completion. Often many artists capture the essence of their subject then take it back to their home studio to enhance the final product with finishing touches. It is always a fascinating process to allow oneself the motive to pursue an inspiration that evolves profoundly once away from the plein air experience; first, the finished composition and then, its offspring, a much larger painting.

John’s landscape “Cosmic View” depicts the 2.1-meter telescope in I’itol’s Garden as if it were situated on a pinpoint of the surface of planet the Earth, with the majesty of the solar system portrayed in the lower area of the composition. Jupiter is positioned directly below our feet with some of its moons bathed in the same light as is shown on Earth.

Bill returned to Kitt Peak just before lunch and arrived to any empty mountain art studio. He brought with him some art supplies that he picked up for some of the IAAA artists, including some antifreeze for John’s car which had a coolant problem Sunday on our way up the mountain. Bill also had several art books he brought from his home studio, Bill’s next challenge for the afternoon and Thursday was to finish about 3-4 paintings that were underway. This was rather unusual for him as he normally finishes one painting at a time. His collection now included two of the solar telescope, 16×20 & 11×14, a little 9×12 of Baboquivari from the Topawa cultural center, and a view of a KP dome through the autumn-colored foliage. So he spent the balance of the afternoon in the studio working on the existing paintings.

On Tuesday night, Bill did a little airbrushing on his 16×20 painting, “High Temples” in his Tucson studio. Though he started it on Sunday at the base of the mountain, he wanted to give the sky some brightening effects toward the top because we were looking into the sun and surmised there was high volcanic ash that made a diffuse brightening in the region around the sun.

Michelle and April got up rather late in that morning after a late evening of stargazing; they took their time getting ready for the day. Eventually they made it to the cafeteria for brunch. After downing several cups of coffee and oatmeal, they strolled over to the mountain art studio. Jon was at the end of the table performing Pointillism harmoniously on his Jupiter painting while Bill was working with the light scheme on his Solar Observatory.

April got busy putting the finishing touches on her “The King of the Hill” acrylic painting of the 2.1-meter telescope shown here on the right. Michelle resumed work finishing touches on her water color painting, “The Four Amigos” that she started earlier in the week. Later, Michelle moved on to start a panoramic pen and ink sketch of Kitt Peak.

Periodically astronomers and staff dropped by to see the progress being made. Some asked whether the paintings were for sale. For now, everything produced was being readied for an exhibition at the Kuiper Atrium in Tucson scheduled for the end of the week.

During the lunch period, the artists-in-residence converged in the cafeteria at different intervals coming from various corners of the facility where their inspiration had taken them to paint in the morning. The afternoon was designated as free time, but we were all reminded on the chalk board in the mountain art studio of our 3 PM invitation. Jim Scottie would be waiting for us to give a tour of the 0.9 and 1.8-meter Spacewatch telescopes of the University of Arizona.

After lunch April and Michelle decided to trek out in the afternoon to the 4-meter Observatory to absorb the majestic view of the valley. Tim chose to hang out at the mountain art studio to look through some of the art books that Bill brought to share with us. In addition he gave and received informed feedback on his workshop paintings from fellow painters, John and Bill. Later Tim decided to enjoy some free time at the Visitor’s Center to explore and learn more about the amazing history of Kitt Peak and to pick up a few souvenirs for his family. Jon chose to walkabout the mountain terrain, down the closed streets and little used paths with his trustee camera. He took some interesting photos of the local geology and different views of some of the telescopes and landscapes. The ledge pictured is the north face of the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope from the parking lot in the valley and south of the 4-meter Mayall telescope.

The southwest panoramic view below shows the valley floor in the western edge of the Sonoran desert and the southwestern bound chain of the Baboquivari Mountains. Jon eventually made his way to the large 4-meter telescope where he met the astronomer who was running the observations for the coming week. After introductions he got a quick tour of the telescope plus an invitation to bring everyone back up the following night to the main floor for the opening of the louvers at sunset.

Kara wanted to find a unique vantage point from a higher level looking towards the 4-meter Mayall Observatory. He found himself above the main road atop a slight cliff near the 0.6-meter Burrell Schmidt telescope next the 0.4-meter Visitor Center telescope. The valley directly below contained the original road up to Kitt Peak which was closed as it was too steep to climb from the desert floor. The view was spectacular and offered a curious angle view of the 4-meter Mayall Observatory, the 2.3-meter Bok Reflector and the two Space Watch observatories, the 0.9-meter and 1.8-meter telescopes. After completing his color drawing, shown at the right, Kara headed back to the studio.

After lunch Betsy did some general sketching, worked in the art room and strolled through the visitor center gift shop. She also took photos of the beautiful mosaic on the side of building as well as the large stone disk painted by the Tohono O’odham artist. Later she stopped to visit as Michelle painted the 4-meter from the road near the visitor center.

While waiting for other artists to return from their afternoon free time outings, Kara began to sketch out a second strip painting of the Kitt Peak plateau based on an inspirational work Bill had painted in the mid 1990s and brought back to the mountain art studio from Tucson. The preparation of the strip painting needed to be divided into eight sections, with each section to be painted by individual artists-in-residence in their style and mannerism. Since Michelle would be leaving Thursday around lunch, she was asked to tackle the first panel of her choice. The rest of the artists would follow across the remaining days on the mountain to complete the remaining sections.

Around 3 P.M. all but Michelle returned to the studio. Kara radioed ahead to Jim Scottie that we were on our way and would meet him at the driveway to the Spacewatch telescopes for the afternoon tour. Bill decided that he was going to stay at the studio to finish up some of his paintings. It was important for him in the evening to eat dinner at the very early starting hour of 4:30 (!) and then gather up art stuff and revisit the solar telescope to see the effect of sunset light turning the white structure into a glowing gold color and watch the shadows climb up the tubing. Anything less would be a missed opportunity as time was of the essence.

As we headed passed the Visitor’s Center we found Michelle along the side of the main road finishing up her watercolor of the 4-meter telescope. She packed up her paint box, easel and placed the art equipment into her car and joined the rest of us to rendezvous with Jim.

Jim Scottie met us as we neared the service road and led us up to the Steward Observatory 0.9-meter telescope, the oldest on Kitt Peak. Providing a little history, Jim pointed out that the telescope was initially installed in 1921 on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. The telescope was later moved to Kitt Peak in 1962. In 1969 it was used to discover the first optical pulsar. By the year 1982, the Director of the Steward Observatory granted the Spacewatch Project exclusive access to the telescope. Since 1984, Spacewatch technicians developed an electronic imaging detector system that incorporated the scanning of the sky with a charge-coupled device (CCD) to survey for asteroids and comets. In October 2002, the conversion to a mosaic of CCDs was completed and a new primary mirror was installed. Jim took us down and across the access road to the newer observatory that houses the 1.8-meter telescope where astrometric observations began extended observing runs in September 2001. The two Spacewatch telescopes are fully integrated and monitored from the single control room within the 1.8-meter telescope observatory. Multiple computer screens showed the status of scheduled current observation runs and collaborative connections to other continental and international observatories. As we viewed the telescope and added attachments inside the dome, we learned that a high priority is placed on objects fainter than V=20.5 magnitude because they are less likely to be observed by other stations. Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), virtual impactors (VIs), near earth objects (NEO), fast-moving objects (FMOs), and objects originally discovered by Spacewatch receive priority for recovery and follow up with the Spacewatch 1.8-meter telescope. The routine scheduling of twenty nights per month that initiated operation of the telescope by solo observers has achieved about 52,456 detections of asteroids, where three observations of position usually equals one detection. Astrometry with the 1.8-m has yielded 1,939 object designations along with 958 positional measurements of 181 NEOs, including 14 NEOs discovered with the 1.8-m telescope. With the evening approaching, calibration of instruments, selection of observational candidates and correspondences with other observatories still needed to be corroborated. The tour completed, and Jim gave us a very special and comprehensively one of the best tour highlights of the week, including some very interesting history of the telescopes and Spacewatch. Some of the artists-in-residence returned to the mountain art studio, others to the dormitory to rest up before supper. Kara resumed work on designing the second strip painting. April and John went to their scheduled tour of the McMath-Pierce solar telescope with Eric Galayda. He took them up to the top of the telescope riding up the observatory’s central tube on tram, followed by a short climb up two ladders to reach the roof where they saw the various mirrors. The view from up there was fabulous; however, with April being acrophobic, the experience of getting up there was both a personal triumph, and a hair-raising one. They then rode the tram back down the tunnel to the labs below where they saw some of the instruments and activity in the consol area. From there they left for the cafeteria to have supper.

By now, news of our presence on the mountain had spread far and wide among the community. We were greeted and asked about our day’s activities during supper time by various groups of astronomers and observing assistants as they came and went by our tables. Jim too had joined us for supper after he finished his calibrations of the telescopes for the night’s run.

After supper Kara went off to the computer room to leave a brief comment on the IAAA listserve as to day’s progress of the workshop and to Elizabeth Alverez regarding latest developments of other possible alternate exhibition sites after Friday’s event at the University of Arizona. The other artists-in-residence settled into the mountain art studio and continued to review the events of the day, art work generated during the day and/or resumption of work on unfinished art pieces. Once Michelle had finished her section of the strip painting, she passed it on to April. The rest of us would get our timely opportunity to paint our sections the next day, the final day on the mountain. Michelle gathered her things together in order to be ready to leave later in the morning. She needed to get back to Tucson to purchase the items on her list and begin preparations for the vernissage at the Kupier Atrium for Friday. By 8 PM, only Jon and Kara remained in the mountain art studio. The two stayed up until 11 PM adjusting paintings, photographs, and journaling the day’s events.

Day FIVE: Final Full Day on Kitt Peak – Thursday, October 22, 2009

The final full day of creativity swung into full gear beginning with breakfast and then onto the mountain art studio. Kara, after quick check for e-messages from Elizabeth in Tucson, joined Betsy, April, Jon and Michelle in the cafeteria just as they were finishing. Michelle left and returned to the dormitory to finish packing her car, move it over to the studio and then spend the balance of the morning finishing up her line drawing. April, Betsy and Jon returned and prepared for one final excursion on the plateau to paint and/or photograph.

Tim, John, and Bill were already setting up their area of work in the studio. As Tim busied himself both inside and outside on the patio, Betsy, April and Bill discussed and critiqued their finished paintings while Bill framed some of his for delivery to the exhibit. Tim spent some of his time happily reviewing the forthcoming IAAA art book that Jon Ramer made available for anyone to preview. Once finished, Tim moved on to review some of the techniques of Russian Impressionists using the art books Bill brought to share from his Tucson studio. As John was flipping through one particular book, Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne, it caught Kara’s eye when he returned from breakfast. The book would have to wait until later. For now, Kara grabbed his D-100 digital camera and headed out for a reconnaissance of the south end from the dormitory area to the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope and to the ledge to view the panorama of the mountain range south and west rising from the Sonoran desert floor. He was looking for a spot that would become his final color drawing. Bill chose to spend most of the time around the studio space, working on unfinished paintings puttong finishing touches on and varnishing them. Once completed, he photographed them. April decided to organize her 300+ pictures in her digital camera.

Betsy also chose to produce one final water color and headed out along the path up to the 2.1-meter Kitt Peak telescope where a sign read “Watch for Snakes”. The warning alerts the general public to be cautious on their visits as rattlesnakes are easy to encounter as the sun warms this area fairly well. She finally found a view behind the observatory, set up her easel on an embankment along the road to the WIYN telescope and began Memory of Kitt Peak

Meanwhile, Jon Ramer continued his walk up to the area of other telescopes on the west side of the acreage. With his camera, Jon’s exploration was focused on finding unique formations in the countless number of boulders, odd rock formations, and/or creatures that habitat this area.

Kara returned to the studio, picked up his art supplies and headed out to the back of the 3.5-m WIYN observatory. His view looked over the valley north in the direction of the Spacewatch observatories, the 4-m Mayall telescope and cluster of other observatories where he finished a color drawing the day before. Walking around at night, you are dark adapted, allowing you to see the city lights of Casa Grande to the north and Tucson to the east. Superimposing the night sky into this composite captures the essence of the nightly activity on Kitt Peak, while security monitors the main road leading up to the plateau on the left side.

Tim also decided to take a last wander around the plateau. There were still plenty sites and perspectives to visit to learn something new and soak up the senses with just being there at Kitt Peak. During his walk this nostalgic sentiment only grew stronger, which was strongly felt by everyone. He tried to capture this emotion in his last en plein air oil painting, Souvenir of Kitt Peak. The small majestic panorama of rock and multiple domes he later gave to his wife.

By the time Kara returned to the studio, Michelle had left for Tucson in order to purchase snacks and make preparations for the vernissage at the Kuiper Atrium for Friday. Bill was still working on his painting while others were away at lunch. Kara took the opportunity to look through Bill’s art book, Composition of Outdoor Painting.

After lunch Betsy, April and Jon joined Bill and Kara for their final push to finish their latest compositions including their sections of the strip painting. With all the inspiration happening in the studio, Jon decided to start a final acrylic painting, called Monument. He left his large pointillist “Great Red Spot” painting for later as it would require over 100,000 dots on the painting by the time he’d be finished. A short time later, Tim and John returned from their excursions and joined that creative afternoon frenzy. After April finished her strip painting, John launched into his; then Tim, followed by Bill and Betsy. One by one the artists took turns completing the strip painting sections. By 4:30 the crew was ready for supper.

After the evening meal, six of us left to go on the 4-meter tour that Jon had arranged for us. Bill decided to remain in the mountain studio to continue on various projects in addition to varnishing some of his finished paintings. Our rendezvous at the 4-meter telescope was scheduled for sundown, when the shutters to the dome would be opened. We were greeted at the back door and led to the elevators up to the observation consol room and telescope. While a pair of graduate student assistants set up the observation run, our host astronomer guided us through the staging area and gave a mini a lecture on his research. Once everything was ready for the night of observing, we left. When we were walking back the sunset was an incredible event. We were looking for the green flash which Jon said he saw several times in LA near the Pacific beach; but only Betsy managed to see one at Kitt Peak. By the time we reached the main road back to the Visitor’s Center we had to use our red cellophane wrapped flash lights to guide us. On our way back to the studio, John accompanied one of the graduate students on her way to another telescope.

Returning from the 4-m tour Kara went onto to the computer room to check his E-mail to see whether Michelle arrived safely back to Tucson and that she had secured all the purchases. She sent her greetings back to the artists as she was busy cutting up cheese as finger food for the snack table during the exhibit. Kara also confirmed the expected rendezvous time the next day for the artists-in-residence at Elizabeth’s NOAO office near the University of Arizona’s Kuiper Atrium.

Kara returned to join the rest of artists-in-residence working and finishing up in the studio. Since John was finished with his paintings, he hung out in the TV room and watched the premier introduction of conductor Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra playing Mahler’s Symphony No.1 on PBS’ Great Performances show. As the artists finished their remaining pieces and tidied up their work area, they headed off to their dormitory rooms, leaving Kara and Jon to finish up their section of the strip painting. Once the two completed their sections, they too headed for sleep.

Day SIX: Exhibition at the Kuiper Atrium – Friday, October 23, 2009

The morning calm and peacefulness was in stark contrast to the pace the artists-in-residence found themselves. Packing up their rooms and art supplies in the Mountain ART Studio was now a mandate if not completed the night before. The studio, which was adjacent to the cafeteria, was reconfigured back into its initial format as the RBSE room.

After breakfast the vehicles were packed, keys and radio equipment returned to the administrative office and the crew was ready for the 10 AM departure. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and asked one of the caretakers to take our group photo at the side of the building where the telescopes were placed during the meteor shower.

Once John’s car was topped off at the correct level with antifreeze, to prevent engine boiling problems as happened on the way up a week earlier, the convoy headed out. With Bill in the lead, John followed accompanied by Betsy, then Kara with April and Tim and Jon in the rear. On the way down the mountain, John kept shifting into a lower gear to save on the breaks throughout the twelve mile descent along a route of windy and twisting series of switchbacks and sweepers of decreasing radial turns. The decision may have put too much strain on the engine as black smoke came out his exhaust as we neared the bottom of Hwy 386. Four miles later at the entrance onto Ajo Parkway (state Hwy 86) we stopped to check with John who agreed to push on toward to Coyote’s Souvenir and Convenience Store 16 miles away east towards Tucson. After a brief stop there at the convenience store, the antifreeze level was checked again and was fine. It also provided one last opportunity to purchase some additional souvenirs, Tohono t-shirts, postcards and a photograph with a giant saguaro cactus. During the drive back to the motel near the Tucson airport, great conversations, stories and reflections about our experiences were shared with the hope that the exhibition will be the crowning achievement to a successful week of creativity. As a group, we brought 60 paintings including 32 new pieces for the exhibit. After registering at the Country Suites & Inn and dropping off our luggage in our rooms, we headed to the University of Arizona to rendezvous with Elizabeth Alverez at the NOAO headquarters at noon near the Kuiper Space Science building.

Elizabeth arranged parking permits to be issued for the cars of the artists on campus during the setup and through the takedown of the exhibit. Michelle arrived with her car stuffed with finger food snacks, soda and lemon drinks for the venue. She also brought her art and the set up plans she had drafted and arranged with Mary Guerrieri, the manager of Academic Affairs at the Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona. Aletha Kalish, who assists in the KPNO Director’s and Kitt Peak Support Office when temporary help is needed, joined our group at the back delivery entrance to the LPL. The cars were unpacked; the artworks and easels fitted onto loading carts and rolled onto a service elevator up to the second floor and into the Kuiper Atrium. Michelle took out the floor plans and directed the artists to select a table that would fit midway beneath a vertical eight foot long panel for hanging the art work. The tables could also hold small table easels once their surface was draped with black table cloth. Artists hung their names and art works on their panels, and placed business cards and artist’s statements on their tables as they wished. The IAAA banner which the public would see entering the atrium, was hung above the snack bar area on the second floor railing, announcing the exhibition theme.

During the week prior to the exhibition venue, an all media blitz press release was issued by NOAO and UA. Arizona Illustrated, southern Arizona’s television magazine hosted by Tony Paniagua interviewed Dr Steven Pompea, NOAO Education and Outreach Manager and IYA2009 Project Director. While discussing the 50th anniversary of the National Observatory, Pompea described the weeklong IAAA workshop and announced the art exhibition at the University of Arizona. An invitation was extended to all art enthusiasts and the general public to join the viewing from 3 P.M. to 6 P.M.

The opening of the IAAA Art Show Visions of the Cosmos at 3 P.M. marked the commencement celebration of the 50th Anniversary of NOAO/KPNO and the 50th Anniversary of the UA’s LPL. During the exhibit artists answered questions from the enquiring public. Jon Ramer gave demonstrations of his pointillist technique as he continued work on his large painting of Jupiter’s Red Spot.

At the front entrance into the atrium a guest book was available for the public to sign. Michael Palmer, an undergraduate student who works with NOAO Education and Public Outreach program gave demonstrations of a Galileoscope as this activity was also in the spirit of the International Year of Astronomy.

Exhibiting Artists
  • William K Hartmann, FIAAA Tucson, Arizona
  • Kara Szathmary, FIAAA Panama City, Florida / Dunham, Quebec, Canada
  • Jon Ramer Los Angeles, California
  • Tim Malles, Gainesville, Florida
  • Elizabeth C. Smith, Peterborough, New Hampshire
  • Michelle Rouch, Tucson, Arizona
  • April Faires, Puyallup, Washington
  • John Clark, Surprise, Arizona
At the close of the exhibit, the artists approached Elizabeth Alverez to thank her for coordinating her KPNO staff to assure that the IAAA workshop was conducted smoothly and efficiently and orchestrated across cultures on a tight budget. She was presented with an original painting executed during the week on the mountain. The artists-in-residence selected Betsy Smith’s watercolor, At the Cassegrain, painted Monday morning at the Mayall Observatory as Elizabeth’s husband, Bill, swapped out instrumentation to the 4-meter telescope.

Before the takedown of the exhibit and general clean up, the artists invited Elizabeth Alverez, Mary Guerrier, Aletha Kalisk, Jim Scotti, and Michael Palmer to join the artists-in-residence for a group photograph around the IAAA banner above the Kuiper Atrium exhibition area.

Once the cleanup was completed, the party agreed to meet at the Old Pueblo Grille off of Alverson Way for 8 P.M. for supper and a grand finale celebration of the conclusion of one of the most successful and creative of the IAAA’s legendary workshops.

FOOTNOTE: Departure from Tucson

I boarded the plane, and found my seat; the flight back to Panama City FL was scheduled to depart the gate at 7:20 A.M. The morning sun hung in the east. It was partially cloudy; yet, from my seat my eyes scanned across the observatories on Kitt Peak, some sixty miles distant to the west. As the plane lifted from the runway, the 4-meter Mayall Observatory and the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope were the clear and obvious visual landmarks on the mountain home of the twenty-six telescopes of NOAO. Baboquivari Peak was also visible, majestically sitting south of the observatories up on I’itol’s Garden. Farewell Tucson and thank you for the marvelous success and the hosting of our IYA2009 mission to celebrate the launch of the 50th anniversary of Kitt Peak National Observatory and the Lunar Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona.