Plane Crazy about Robert McCall

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By AL­LI­SON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

MO­JAVE — Artists who spe­cial­ize in cap­tur­ing the al­lure of air­planes and space­craft in flight face a unique chal­lenge — cre­at­ing art that is tech­ni­cally ac­cu­rate and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing.

Such art is of­ten used to doc­u­ment im­por­tant events in aero­space his­tory, re-cre­at­ing with a high de­gree of ac­cu­racy events that oc­curred in the past, as well as imag­in­ing what may hap­pen in the fu­ture.

Robert McCall is one such artist, whose work has de­tailed many aero­space mile­stones and fu­tur­is­tic de­signs. His six-story “The Space Mu­ral, A Cos­mic View” has greeted vis­i­tors at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Air and Space

Mu­seum since the its open­ing in 1976.

Closer to home, the late artist has mul­ti­ple large-scale pieces dis­played at NASA’s Arm­strong Flight Re­search Cen­ter at Ed­wards Air Force Base.

McCall, who died in 2010, and his work, will be the sub­ject of a talk Satur­day at the Mo­jave Air and Space Port by Cam Martin, a former NASA commu

nica­tions di­rec­tor and con­gres­sional li­ai­son.

The pre­sen­ta­tion will begin at 11 a.m. in the Board Room lo­cated in the Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing at the end of Air­port Boule­vard.

McCall’s art con­veys not only the avi­a­tion that has oc­curred, but en­vi­sions what may be pos­si­ble in the fu­ture, chron­i­cling the space pro­gram and imag­in­ing where it may go.

“This ca­reer was started so many years ago, when I rec­og­nized, as a lit­tle boy in the first grade, that I liked to draw,” McCall said dur­ing a visit to the cen­ter in 2006. “I can­not re­mem­ber when I didn’t want to be an artist.”

His in­ter­est in art co­in­cided with a fas­ci­na­tion for sci­ence and the worlds he could wit­ness through mi­cro­scopes and tele­scopes.

“These were things that ab­so­lutely blew my mind,” McCall said. “I was en­tranced with the uni­verse and ev­ery­thing about it. The uni­verse is so filled with won­drous things, most of which we know noth­ing about.”

From the start, McCall was drawn to paint­ing man-made ob­jects, mil­i­tary equip­ment, “but above all, I loved air­planes.”

He joined the Army Air Corps in the early 1940s “be­cause I wanted to be near these air­planes,” with the in­ten­tion of be­com­ing a pi­lot.

How­ever, the Army clas­si­fied the now-fa­mous artist as color blind and he was trained as a bom­bardier, in­stead.

The job suited McCall, fly­ing B-17s and B-29s state­side, as World War II ended be­fore he could be sent over­seas.

“It gave me the time to look around and see,” he said of his po­si­tion in the bom­bardier’s seat. “I was out there in front of the pi­lot and I was en­joy­ing the view.”

Although he be­gan paint­ing air­craft, the dawn of the space pro­gram pro­vided an ex­cit­ing new phase for McCall’s ca­reer.

“I wanted to paint these in­cred­i­ble ob­jects,” he said. “We were so in­trigued with the fu­ture, which was com­ing up fast. I was so en­grossed with the whole project. The mir­a­cle of that first (moon) land­ing that was so suc­cess­ful, as­ton­ished us all. That was an ac­com­plish­ment be­yond most of our wildest dreams.”

The McCall pre­sen­ta­tion kicks off the 11th year of Plane Crazy Satur­day, a monthly gath­er­ing of avi­a­tion en­thu­si­asts pre­sented by the Mo­jave Trans­porta­tion Mu­seum Foun­da­tion.

The free, fam­ily-friendly ed­u­ca­tional event fea­tures a flight line filled with air­craft of var­ied types and vin­tages, avail­able for vis­i­tors to see up-close.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ad­mis­sion to the flight line with its dis­plays is through the Voy­ager restau­rant, in the Ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing. The restau­rant opens for break­fast at 8 a.m.

Dogs and other an­i­mals, other than ser­vice an­i­mals, are not per­mit­ted on the flight line.

Avi­a­tion and space art, hats, shirts, books and col­lectibles will be avail­able for sale.

Seat­ing is lim­ited and reser­va­tions are re­quested at www.mo­jave­mu­seum.org

VAL­LEY PRESS FILES

Avi­a­tion artist Robert McCall shows off his 100 years of flight mu­ral on dis­play at NASA Arm­strong Flight Re­search Cen­ter at Ed­wards Air Force Base dur­ing a 2006 visit. The artist, who died in 2010, has sev­eral mu­rals fea­tured at the cen­ter and will be the sub­ject of a talk at the Mo­jave Air and Space Port, Satur­day.

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