CAC digs heels into prep work for blockbuster exhibit
Brandon Long, program director for the Community Arts Center, builds the setting for the Mars Rover exhibit. (Photo contributed / December 12, 2011)
If you build it …
Brandon Long, program director, spent months researching ways to take visitors into the depths of their own galactic imaginations. We all know about space — studied it in school, and have seen footage of planetary systems, rockets blasting into the outer regions and astronauts ethereally skipping on the moon. But creating an atmosphere in the arts center that can “take you to space and beyond …” isn’t an overnight task.
In the basement, Long works on painting large boards of wood. He meticulously outlines certain areas with different, ruddy-looking, textured paints to give a 3-D effect. This, Long says, is the planet Mars. The area will serve as the pseudo-surface of Mars on which visitors will try their hand at driving a Rover-type vehicle by using a remote control and a monitoring screen. Long is creating the activity to show visitors how technicians operate the Mars Rover from a station on earth.
“I think it will be interesting because it’s not as easy as it looks to drive it by just using the screen, and not by actually looking at what is physically in front of you,” Long says.
Long also built a theramin — an instrument used to make those wacky tunes used in older sci-fi movies. Visitors can create custom scary musical scores when wearing the headphones and use their hands to manipulate the waves near the theramin’s antenna.
Another activity includes three special weight scales Long has set to show the difference between what individuals would weigh on earth versus Mars and the moon.
One of the main draws will be the Discovery Dome, on loan from the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Children and adults will climb into the dome, while a program is played and projected onto the walls. Also, actors will help portray Galileo Galilei, referred to as “the father of science,” and entertain visitors inside a candle-lit room, where he will discuss his trials and tribulations during the Scientific Revolution.
“SPACE — Imagine That!” is sponsored by Danville Pediatrics and Women’s Care for the Commonwealth.
Business still proceeds as usual while set-making and Mars-crafting goes on at the Community Arts Center, and a recent Starry Night Studio may turn out to be an annual shindig for the staff at the Norton Center for the Arts.
“I suggested to our staff that we engage in a Starry Night Studio session as part of our holiday staff celebration,” Steve Hoffman, executive director of the Norton Center, said. He hoped it would be a way for the entire staff to share one activity that would be professionally led, “ … and we could take our own completed piece of artwork home with us as a reminder of the activity.”
Hoffman and his staff met for a 10 a.m. session. “As a team, we spent two hours together engaged yet never once talked about work,” Hoffman said.
He said several staff members want to make it an annual tradition.
“I was excited that we chose an activity that was meaningful, personal and that had a shared outcome — great team-building while also providing each of us with a mini-art lesson.”
Hoffman said arranging the SNS was one of the ways he incorporated a “buy local” mentality into the Norton Center staff’s holiday celebration.
to help CAC
The Community Arts Center has been registered with Goodsearch.com, a company that helps non-profits raise funds through everyday actions of its supporters. The company will donate a penny to the center every time a registered user (who selects Community Arts Center on the site to donate to) uses it as their search engine.
Along the same lines, goodshop.com and gooddining.com also will create donations to the Community Arts Center when used. It’s as easy as logging in and clicking the “Become a supporter” of the Community Arts Center.