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Events Calendar

Jay Belloli: Mars Astronomy and Culture

The planet Mars

The planet Mars

Date and Time

Thursday, September 13, 2018
2:00 p.m.


  • Haas Center for Performing Arts » 1121 - GVSU Art Gallery


Jay Belloli, an independent contemporary art curator, organized this museum exhibition to bring the remarkable drawings and beautiful photographs of Mars to an international public – and to help them understand the crucial role this planet has played in astronomy and culture. 

The planet Mars has fascinated humanity since early in our history. The Chinese observed it before 1,000 BCE and the Neo-Babylonian Empire by the 6th century BCE. It enthralls us even more now because it is the only planet in the solar system which could be made to support human life. With the amazing discoveries of the Mars Curiosity Rover and the Mars landers and orbiters from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; the European Space Agency; the Russian Roscosmos; and the Indian Space Research Organisation, people all over the world are riveted with the current exploration Mars. There have been astronomical drawings of Mars since the late 1600s, and photographs of the planet beginning in the early 20th century, including the amazing black and white and color photographs from numerous spacecraft, the first of which date to 1965. 

With Percival Lowell’s ultimately discredited theory that Mars was inhabited, the planet became a part of culture: H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast based on that book, a series of novels set on Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and famous writings by Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and others, as well as numerous speculative articles in the popular press. Beginning in the 1950s Mars became part of narrative cinema as well, most recently with Ridley Scott’s well-received film The Martian.

Join us after the curator's talk for the Fall Arts Celebration Exhibition Opening Reception starting at 5:00 p.m.

Mars: Astronomy and Culture is presented in partnership between the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery, the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and The Holland Museum in Holland, Michigan.

This exhibition was curated by Pasadena Arts Council for the Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. It is a project of the Pasadena Arts Council’s EMERGE Fiscal Sponsorship Program.

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