KSC Workshop


STS stackWell, it’s all over and done with now.  The KSC Workshop is now part of the “legend and lore” of the IAAA.  All in all, a good time was had by all, despite the event starting with the announcement that the Shuttle launch had been delayed and we would not get to see it go.

The adventures began (or ‘misadventures’ depending upon your view point) on Saturday with the arrival and meeting of Betsy Smith, Jon Ramer, Paul Hoffman, Jackie Burns & husband Terry.  We had some minor fun getting to and into the condo on the beach, but everything worked out okay, even getting Joe Tucciarone to drop Malcolm Currie at the condo.

On Sunday the crew drove over to the Radisson Hotel in Orlando to visit the OASIS science fiction convention and meet up with Bob Eggleton and Walt Barrows.  Walt got called away for work before anyone arrived, and didn’t show. Bob was a card and a half as usual.  The workshop folks got to sit in on some panel discussions with Bob and Vincent DiFate about science fiction movies and astronomical art.  The most interesting comment on art was the talk about JPL’s recent copyright maneuverings.  Vincent said someone needs to say “to heck” with JPL, paint whatever they want, and draw a lawsuit intentionally just to test the case.  Now, I’m not saying who might be willing to give it a go, but I will say that a maniacal grin crossed Bob’s face when Vince said this!  Things that make you go, hmmmm….

The discussion rolled around to how NASA treats artists (not good) and where the genre of astronomical art is heading (are we fine artists or illustrators?) before we ran out of time.  We zipped over to the convention art show for a quick peek, then on to the airport to meet Dave Hardy and Robin Hart.  After driving back to Jon’s house, we met up with Kara Szathmary, then piled everyone into two vehicles to head over to the condo for a group dinner.

Joe Tucciarone, being the local guy, volunteered to lead us to a restaurant and proceeded to give the group a wonderful tour of the parking lots of Cocoa Beach.  Most notably, the Wendy’s on A1A, which we drove around no less than three times! (Thanks Joe!)  At dinner at a seafood place in the Port Canaveral harbor, Jon broke out the orange food (cheeze poofs!) and officially welcomed everyone to the workshop.

F-5 Nozzle
One of the gigantic F-5 engines of the Saturn 5 booster. The nozzle is 12 foot in diameter. Photo Jon Ramer.

Monday began bright and early with a mad dash up the highway to Spaceport USA, the tourist side at KSC.  We met up with Bob and his wife Mary at the Delaware North building, then the PAO folks gave us free passes and IMAX tickets and drove us out to the Apollo Saturn Center.  We set up six tables directly beneath the massive first stage.  No sooner had we arrived though, than we get a phone call saying that another

Under the booster
The group gathers under the massive Saturn 5 booster to paint and greet guests. Photo Dave Hardy.

artist had shown up – the elusive Walt Barrows.  He got a ride over and joined up with everyone just before the first crowd came in.  Which was good, because Walt’s artwork turned out to be the biggest hit with both the crowds and the workshop attendees!  He uses 3-D glasses and regular paint to make some amazing effects.  Jon showed off his “military ingenuity” by bringing along blue-tack sticky stuff and using it to set up the displays – to the surprise of everyone (except him) it actually worked!


A photo of one of the modules mock-ups of the ISS. Photo Jon Ramer.

The crowds at KSC were very responsive, with many folks stopping by to chat and ask questions.  A reporter from the Florida Today newspaper also came by and interviewed everyone for an article that was printed in the Wednesday issue.  Workshoppers switched out, with folks getting to go around and see the sights (like the ISS mock-up below) and movies while others painted and sketched . Bob and Mary had to catch a flight home so they took off with well wishes from everyone.  Just as we were about to break down for the day, another phone call came in about another artist showing up – Gordon Reilling.  He got a ride over just in time to help pack up and leave.  Which also worked out great because on the way out we were treated to a rare sight.  An external tank and full solid rocket boosters stacked inside the VAB had to be moved outside to make room for repairing the hail damage on Discovery Our PA escort drove us right up next to it so we could take pictures (see cover photo).  I’d image that not many folks have photos of an ET and SRBs without an orbiter attached!  Dinner was raucous fun back at the harbor in a restaurant where the serving girls wore skimpy tight clothing, to which Jackie loudly proclaimed that the guys should be wearing tight shorts too!  (And just why did she give our male waiter such a big tip???)

V2 Engine
An actual engine from a captured German V-2 rocket, displayed at the Air Force museum. Photo Paul Hoffman.

Tuesday started off with a bang – literally!  The “troops” lined up and gave Jon a “21-paint brush salute” (ATTEN-HUT!) to everyone’s enjoyment.  Tuesday at the Cape was pretty much a repeat of Monday, except the we also had Gordon there regaling everyone with stories of how the NASA PAO folks had promised him all sorts of support, only to find out they had changed their minds at the last minute. No one was surprised to learn that the person giving Gordon the run around was the same person that gave Jon the run around.  We ended the day with a group visit to the IMAX Theater and a walk through the NASA Art Galley.  On display were a couple of Bob McCalls, one Bill Hartmann, and work from several other artists, but overall, not very many pieces.  Kind of makes you wonder where all the artwork is.  We wrapped the day with dinner at a great pizza place near the condo.  Kara, like every other evening, walked in, ordered a beer, then picked up the menu to see what was for dinner!  (What else Kara? More beer!)

The original Mercury Redstone gantry used to launch the first US manned mission. Photo Paul Hoffman.
Group shot
The group in front of a Houndog missile at the Air Force Museum.


Paul works more of his digital magic. Here Robin gets her shot of the Cape lighthouse. Photo Paul Hoffman.
The blockhouse for Gemini launches, a mere 1/4 mile from the pad! Photo – Jon Ramer.

Wednesday was a treat and a half and considered by most to be the highlight of the work-shop.  After leisurely rising and breakfasting, the group drove over to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and got a super deluxe tour of the Air Force Space Museum, with loads of rockets and missile and old gantries in the area. The block-house next to the Mercury Redstone launch pad was filled with the original equipment, lots of film was shot there.  We moved on to tours of the active and derelict launch pads, getting to walk up the ramp to where John Glenn took his first ride.  We also got to hike around an old out of service gantry and made a very poignant stop at Complex 34 where the three Apollo 1 astronauts died.  The last stop on the tour was the famous Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, which was brilliantly sunlight with gorgeous clouds behind.  I know some great photos were shot this day – Robin said so!  Rumor has it she’s doing an image launching the lighthouse into orbit!  The afternoon was free for beach lounging, painting, and relaxing.

Thursday didn’t start with the bang we hoped it would (a Shuttle launch), so we spent the morning just relaxing and being artistic.  After a nice lunch at the excellent deli mere yards from the condo, we headed over to the Astronaut Hall of Fame and Space Camp, where we were greeted quite joyously.  Again we set up to paint and talk with visitors.  We also got tours of the Space Camp areas where we got to see kids having a ball.  The Hall displays were quite interesting too, as were the hands-on experiments for folks to try out.  Dave gave the Shuttle landing simulator a whirl and proceeded to drill a new hole in the Florida landscape!  (Pull up! Pull up! You’re not supposed to land nose first sideways in the parking lot!)  Of course our pilot Betsy had to give it a try too – can you spell “great-big-crash-pile-on-the-runway”?  Paul wrapped the day with some great group digital photos of the awesome Alan Bean mural in the Hall of Fame entrance way.  Dinner was at TACO CITY where everyone except Malcolm had a great meal (according to Malcolm, “That stuff is too spicy!”  And your point is?….)

A view of the ill-fated Apollo 1 launch pad, LC-34. Photo Dave Hardy.

Friday was a day everyone had been eagerly waiting for – we had tickets to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace! Unfortunately, Kara and Walt had to bug out first, so everyone said their farewells, then hyperjumped to the movie theater! Overall, everyone agreed it was a fun movie with great special effects, but the story line was a bit thin.  Of course you should expect that when you know what’s going to happen, but still, it was a good movie.  Dave described it as, “Zip! Pow! Ping! Boom!”  After the movie, we all headed over to Jon’s house for a nice group picnic with Joe and family joining in.  We had a great time chatting about art and showing works.  Paul even passed around his laptop to show everyone what digital works he had done during the workshop.

As the evening wore down, everyone made plans for the weekend.  The next morning, everyone said goodbye to new-found friends, piled into the van for drop off at hotels, theme parks, and the airport.  Despite NASA trying it’s best to rain on our parade, the IAAA rose above them and had a thoroughly successful workshop.

So, who’s up for arranging the next one? 🙂


“Phoenix” By Paul Hoffman

One of Paul’s digital pieces inspired by the workshop.  A truly moving work of the Pad 34 Apollo 1 complex.  According to Paul, “I thought that it was a great opportunity for me to use the “2×2 Stitching” mode built into my digital camera, to get a great “wide-angle” view.  The idea of “the past into the future” (the shuttle blasting off into the nebulae) came pretty soon as I was working on the image.  I also knew I wanted to work the “Abandon In Place” lettering in somewhere.  I didn’t come up with the idea for the images of Grissom, White and Chaffee and the mission patch until after I had completed everything else and realized that the image did not stand on its own – it needed too much explanation.”