Fellow Space Artist Robert T. McCall Passes at Age 90

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   Posted by: BJ Johnson in colleagues

An inspiration to many space 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 the realm of space possible every day, has become one with the Cosmos. He was a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists; of which I am also a Fellow, inducted the same year, and Chair of the Board of Trustees. Bob was 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.

"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. Would that I might attain one tenth the notoriety in my life's work. 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 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.

A Cosmic View"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. Having already completed a 58 foot mural of my own (and, since, a 26 foot on canvas for Chabot Space & Science Center with my partner Joy Alyssa 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."

Our entire membership and space enthusiasts the world over, in one way or another, have been influenced and impacted by Bob and his work. We all mourn the passing of our colleague, friend and mentor.


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