Visions Reaching for the Stars

NASA paintings envision suburban America taking to space for South Bay NUMU exhibit
Visions Reaching for the Stars
Featuring 11 amazing, optimistic painted visions (like this one pictured
here) about the potential for all, 'Rick Guidice: The NASA Painting' is on exhibit through February 14. Photos: courtesy New Museum of Los Gatos
Visions Reaching for the Stars

NUMU, the New Museum of Los Gatos, claims to be "locally connected" and "globally relevant." With its current exhibit, the lively little museum goes beyond global, reaching for the stars.

'Rick Guidice: The NASA Paintings,' on exhibit through February 14, features 11 amazing and optimistic visions about the potential for men and women—yes, and their pets too, along with chickens and cows—to live in outer space.

Although there are only a few paintings, they have quite an impact because of their strong imagery, level of detail, and size, which is 48 inches wide and 38.5 inches high.

The museum, at 106 E. Main Street, is open 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Entrance is $5, free for members and those under 18.

Guidice, a San Jose native who lives right in Los Gatos, created these paintings for NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View starting in the mid 1970s. NASA Ames, which owns the paintings, was partnering with Stanford University to figure out how space colonies could be created.

They brought in Guidice, a young artist who has since gone on to multiple creative careers—commercial and editorial design, fine artwork, home design, and building—to show what the colonies would look like.

These are not science fictional fun, says curator Marianne McGrath. "They're real," she says. "Well, they're not real. The goal was to illustrate studies conducted by NASA Ames and Stanford University about how to design and build living communities in outer space."

"This was after the Apollo landing," she says. "Men had landed on the Moon. People thought space colonies were a feasible next step."

"People were also becoming more aware of ecology in the early 1970s. They knew that Earth was in jeopardy because of pollution. Some people thought that perhaps we can forge our next frontier in outer space."

Not only did Guidice accurately portray what the scientists and engineers were dreaming up, he made it appealing. If mankind was ever, indeed, to inhabit the cold reaches of outer space, real life people would have to agree to move there.

And, McGrath says, U.S. Congress members would have to cough up funding.

These engineers were thinking big—vast orbiting cities "like the International Space Station, but much, much larger," she says. One orbiting colony would hold 500,000 people. The 'double cylinder' model would hold one million.

"[Guidice] made it kind of lush, depicting a suburban landscape," McGrath says, describing one such colony. "His agricultural landscapes show chickens and cows and farmers. These landscapes were intended for ordinary people, not just astronauts."

Still think this is science fiction? Maybe not quite.

"It's something that is still under consideration around the world," McGrath says, noting that NASA Ames is still solving problems that need to be solved "before we start living long term in outer space."

For more info on 'Rick Guidice: The NASA Paintings,' click here.