JSC Workshop, 1987: “Paint Stupid”
- Pat Rawlings (workshop organizer)
- Kim Poor, IAAA president
- William K. Hartmann
- Marilynn Flynn
- April Faires
- Judy Asbury
- Michael Bonecutter
- B.E. Johnson
- Joel Hagen
- Pamela Lee
- Brian Sullivan
- Dennis Davidson
- Kara Szathmary
- Joel Hagen
- Doug McLeod
DISCLAIMER: This manuscript is a personal evaluation, and should not be construed as an official IAAA synopsis (whatever that is).
The Johnson Space Center workshop concluded in August 1987, Houston, TX. As per standard workshop formulae established long ago, this group of old and new friends exchanged techniques, inspiration and information, controversy, insight and general wackiness. Traditions from past workshop held true. The overall feeling was that it was one of the most productive workshops so far. This was the first “Hardware Workshop”, contrasted to the landscape type held in prior years.This was also one of the largest workshops ever put together. Originally conceived as a regional gathering, it grew to about 14 people, which was actually a little larger than planned. The larger group made it a little awkward to get into some of the facilities we were wanting to see. Much of the productivity was due to the sheer volume of information which was thrust at us. Unlike more leisurely landscape workshops, we had to be somewhere bright and early nearly every day and had a full schedule until dinnertime. We would also get together after dinner for gatherings by the pool or a slide show/critique in someone’s motel room. These would break up about midnight, with sub-groups staying up later for further discussion. A workshop definitely is not the place to get some rest, it’s traditional. The venue was the Nassau Bay Resort Hotel at the entrance to JSC. The hotel was cheap, had nice rooms, and was of course, air conditioned. The pool was large, but somewhat green. Joel Hagen remarked that the pool looked “ripe”, but we swam anyway, another workshop tradition. Houston weather, which is saun-esque at this time of the year was generally mild & breezy. I only recall a few group sweat marathons.Workshop attendees bring to mind collegiate days, with underclassmen, based on number of workshops attended, Houston saw a good mix: Freshmen Judy Asbury, B.E.Johnson & April Faires, sophomores Dennis Davidson, Brian Sullivan, Michael Bonecutter, and Kara Szathmary, seniors Pam Lee, Myself, Joel Hagen, Marilynn Flynn, and seasoned graduate student BIll Hartmann.
The first order of business on Sunday was to assemble whatever contingent had arrived by 2PM at Eagle Engineering, for a session with Houston’s Channel 13 News. Eagle is where Pat Rawlings works and it was home for a lot of workshop functions. I flew in from Albuquerque, picked up B.E.Johnson in midtown, and made it to Eagle just in time. Most of the others met us there. The TV spot was run on the 6:00 news that night, and they gave the IAAA a nice plug. Arrivals went fairly smoothly, although people were arriving at different airports on different days, so as to facilitate maximum confusion (another workshop tradition). Senior Joel Hagen, whose workshop persona mimics Nitrous Oxide, was waiting for us in the hotel lobby wearing a pair of costume ape feet, and in doing so, set the limit for seriousness at the workshop. We also met up with PBS documentary producers at this point. they had arranged to film the workshop and were the center of controversy for most of the workshop. We all met for dinner at the Shrimp Hut, a seafood restaurant near Galveston Bay. Pat was our guide for the area’s restaurants, and he had decided on the shrimp hut because he had never heard of anyone “getting sick there”. Dinner became a major affair throughout the workshop, with 14 people sitting together, on separate checks, drinking and talking loudly about strange things like chroma, terminators, roche limits, and nodes. Seafood seemed to be the fare of choice for the artists, and we probably would have had the smelly stuff every night had not someone (usually me) fought for land-based food. As a survivor of the Fish Rebellion at the first Hawaii workshop, I felt it my duty.After dinner we gathered by the hotel pool and handed out the freebies. There were t-shirts and calendars from Eagle, aprons from Texas Art Supply, a half-inch thick compendium of hardware blueprints from NASA and Eagle, and a three-pound packet chock full of photos, NASA information and charts. This package, along with most of breakneck scheduling, was courtesy of Eagle’s Pat Rawlings, who saw the workshop through despite a new baby, a new house, and being in the middle of a big job for NASA. Pat was formerly the exhibits designer at JSC, and pulled all his strings in order to get us the maximum information out of the workshop. After distributing the booty, a general discussion of the IAAA goals ensued, with a briefing on the upcoming days’ schedule and some background on the personalities we’d be meeting. At 9:30 P.M. Joel and I left for a discussion with the PBS crew. We tried to lay down some ground rules. In particular I was concerned with the crew getting in the way. It might sound weird to some of you who know that the IAAA needs this kind of exposure, but my reasoning was that the workshop was to benefit the artists, not the IAAA directly. A camera destroys spontainaiety, and candidness of discussions. The crew, unfortunately, wanted to film everything that we wished to remain low-key, such as hardware mockups, critique sessions, and astronaut interviews. They promised to remain unobtrusive.Michael Bonecutter (call him “Bones”) who came up from the city of mildew, Corpus Christi, had recently purchased a camcorder, and brought it along. It seemed to be running all the time, and was often set up and left running in the corner of the room. The PBS crew knew that Bones would capture much more candid action than they could tape, so they quickly made a deal with Bones for the use of his tapes. More on that later.
8:00 – Badging
9:00 – Barney Roberts, advanced programs
10:45 – Dr. Wendell Mendell, Lunar bases
12:00 – Lunch, JSC cafeteria
1:00 – JSC technical library
2:00 – Computer Graphics Lab
3:30 – Hotel, swim, showers
We set off early for our NASA badges, which distinguished us from other loud tourists, and allowed us entry into special places. the morning began with a slide presentation by Barney Roberts with the Advanced Programs office, giving us plans for Moon and Mars bases, space stations,. propulsion, etc. Dr. Wendell Mendell (yes, it rhymes, with the accent on the -dell) talked about lunar bases in detail, with systems, architecture, support, scientific stations and the like. Wendell preened our feathers when he announced that we may not realize it, but space art has a profound influence on scientists and the purse strings of government. Our slides are used in meany professional presentations, And they would be at a loss without us. this was encouraging to hear. Sometimes it seems as though we’re ignored by the scientific community. After the morning lectures, we strolled on over to the JSC cafeteria for lunch. Following that, we went to the technical library and received instruction for operating the catalog system, how to access the databases on computer, and use the microfiche. We then took a brief jaunt to the computer graphics lab, where they had prepared a 3D color video for us, an unreleased clip from an upcoming mission to Mars simulation, and some various wire frame graphics. The highlight was the Manned Maneuvering Unit simulator, which was simply an office chair rigged up with hand controllers from the MMU., in front of large RGB monitor with the shuttle, SPAS and Solar Max satellites to fly around (or into). Each of us spent about five minutes in the chair with various degrees of skill. If you like terminal vertigo spins, then my session was a big success.Back at the hotel, Pat brought an Apollo spacesuit we were given for modeling purposes. Several of us tried it on, in the hot Houston sun, and went through a series of unorthodox poses for the cameras, including one in Joel’s ape feet in place of the moon boots. I got that arabesque shot I’ve always wanted. The clicking of shutters was so furious that many of us ran out of film. A couple of cameras went down altogether.
Dinner was the usual Last Supper-like affair. This time it was Joel and Pam who started a pro-seafood rebellion and insisted on having dinner at a restaurant which was actually STANDING IN THE WATER, fishing boats moored around it. It was called Pier 6 and they won’t forget the Night of the Space Artists for awhile. Joel ordered a slice of key lime pie with six forks. That night the PBS crew said they would stick to us “like glue” for the next few days, as they began their filming.
8:00 – Full fuselage Trainer Tour
9:00 – Space Station Modules Mockup
10:00 – Crew Systems
12:00 – Lunch
2:00 – Orbital Photography Lecture
7:00 – Dinner At Dula’s
8:00 – Acrophobia at Dula’s Office
A guard is posted at the JSC gate seven days a week. As we drove up at 7:30 AM, we flashed our temporary NASA badges. Not impressed, the guard asked who we were and what we wanted. After four workshops I have learned to answer this question smartly: “Why we’re SPACE ARTISTS!” The guard relaxed, “Oh, just artists…” he mumbled, put the bazooka away and waved us on. The PBS crew was on a separate, though parallel track at JSC. Their protocol person was different than ours, so we had no real control over their actions. They simply made sure they were delivered wherever we happened to be. What made it more difficult to swallow is the media’s lack of hassles at JSC, compared to ours. The day started off with an intense encounter in Building 9A. This building holds the FFT, the Full Fuselage Trainer, a full shuttle complete with cargo bay, tail, but no wings. It also holds the 1-G trainer, a fully functional crew cabin which tilts, and the RMS simulator, an Earth-stressed manipulator arm for training . Our group was a little large , and made more so by the PBS gang of four. We were broken up into groups of six or so, and received a complete tour of the shuttle middeck and flight deck of a fully outfitted trainer. The PBS people had their crew in the trainer at all times, making it impossible for some of us to get in. After re-taking our exit from the building for PBS a couple of times, we left 9A and went over to the space station mockup in Building 15, on the opposite end of the JSC campus. The station mockup was very spacious, even comfortable in one G. John Trebes, our host, lifted up the floor panels and wall units to show us the modularity of the station electronics. The shower and bathroom were interesting. there were mirrors to help you check if your fanny is making a good seal on the commode. this is stressed in astronaut toilet training. PBS also arrived shortly after we did, and shot numerous walk-throughs, and staged a few scenes using Pam and Joel. The PBS crew got ahead of us however, at Crew Systems, and actually kept our hosts our of their own rooms for camera set-up and retakes. Crew systems is EVA stuff: suits, Manned Maneuvering Units, tools and such. We were allowed to put on the gloves and helmets and model the use of tools. Of course, we also got to photograph those hard-to-predict reflections in the gold visors. There was a spacesuit mounted to a stand which you could completely disassemble, and a full-sizes spacesuited figure standing in an MMU. During the lecture, some artists sketched some of the hardware on the table in front of us. Brian Sullivan and Dennis Davidson are superb sketchers, but PBS was merciless and dogged them repeatedly every time they moved a pencil. A few scratchings on a piece of paper summoned the video cyclops within five inches of your face, and a huge, mega-phallic microphone along with it. Lame sketchers such as myself didn’t dare move a muscle, lest we were exposed as talentless slime on national TV.
We also shot many “life drawing” poses of the mounted spacesuit in working positions, resting positions, and compromising positions. Ed Whitsett, the Crew Systems chief, stood aback, alarmed at the crazed bunch of space artists who were tugging and twisting a million-dollar spacesuit. “We have a difficult time painting emotion in a space-suited figure”. I explained aside to Ed, “It’s helpful to get every nuance of body language”. As I glanced back, the spaceman was holding his groin. We took several group photos around the assembled spacesuit. One shot was of the group reflected in the visor. Artsy. We couldn’t get enough of the suit and MMU, partly because PBS stopped the lecture on several occasions for retakes, and made us do a 15-second laugh track to a comment about the spacesuit waste system. We then took a long lunch and then went across campus to a slide presentation by Chuck Wood, who works with the astronauts on their Earth photography. An unexpected guest at the lecture was astronaut Karl Henize, who flew on a Spacelab mission. This was to be a preview of our encounters with other astronauts, and Henize’s elaboration and insight were most helpful. I had worried about the group might not have any substantive questions when faced with a captive astronaut. this fear turned out to be a non-problem at this workshop. Dinner was interesting. We went to the Victorian-style home of attorney Art Dula, the colorful Cosmic Counselor, who is also a collector of space art. Art specializes in cases of space law, and is the American agent for Glavkosmos, the Soviet space launch business. Art is the top partner in his own law firm, which sits atop the tallest building in Houston, The Texas Commerce Tower. We went to his office after dinner for champagne and vertigo. Most space artists are predictably fearless of heights, but yours truly and April Faires, acrophobiacs, stayed away from the windows, thank you. Others pressed up close to the tall viewing gallery windows and would have probably gone outside if they opened. In Dula’s office, I needed to make a call to Alan Bean, our guest the next day, but the phone was right near the window. Whimpering, I approached the phone on hands and knees, and made the call. Alan would bring one of his originals to the critique session the next day. Unfortunately, the champagne was flat, probably due to the altitude. We made our way back to the hotel for a swim and some of our own booze. I believe that this was the night that the distinguished Dr. Hartmann shinnied up the post to his second-story room. No stuffy planetary scientists at this workshop!
8:30–Lunar and Planetary Institute tour
10:00–Jon McBride Q&A (pilot on STS 41-G)
12:00–Brown Bag Seminar, JSC auditorium
1:30–Lunch with Alan Bean at Frenchy’s
2:30–Q&A and critique with Alan BeanThis was to be a red-letter day for all of us. First was the LPI tour, which I missed because I was up all night putting the finishing touches on the presentation I was to give at the Brown Bag luncheon. We had two astronaut interviews scheduled this day, and after whetting everyone’s appetite with the Karl Henize session, there were a lot of questions for the astronauts. After assembling the last of my slide show, I quietly creeped into the darkened room for the Jon McBride session. As he was showing some of his own slides (Jon shot much of the footage for the IMAX film The Dream is Alive), the artists began what became referred to as a “feeding frenzy”: A McBride slide of the shuttle, half in sunlight, half in Earthlight brought a deluge of color comparison and camera vs. eye comparisons in which the artists were frantically asking and answering their own questions, leaving the bewildered space traveller completely out of the loop, vainly trying to sneak in a comment. This didn’t occur too frequently, however, but it did happen in each astronaut interview. In all, though, the astronauts were delighted to answer our unusual questions, which came from our point of view, rather than the more school/press train of thought. They seemed to find this most refreshing. The “Brown Bag” presentation came after the McBride session. The Brown Bag seminar is usually an in-house JSC lecture with lots of view graphs and cerebral gymnastics. This was to be a special Brown Bag, and was held in the JSC auditorium open to the public. Dr. Hartmann spoke briefly, making the connection between art and hard science, and then I gave my standard IAAA slide show consisting of shots of various past workshops interspersed with works derived from them. I then showed slides of works from the artists in attendance, trying to give an insight to the personalities and motivations thereof. Throughout, I tried to pitch the IAAA, and a number of interested folks took brochures at the end of the talk.Alan Bean (Apollo 12, Skylab 2) was present at the Brown Bag, wearing a shirt reminiscent of a Rothko canvas, and suggested we meet for lunch at Frenchy’s, an old Apollo hangout famous for Italian food. Al is a legendary fan of Italian cuisine, and if you visit his home, he’ll point proudly to a shine of freeze dried spaghetti and Apollo water gun and proclaim in a mild Texas drawl, “Y’ know, I’z the first guy t’eat spaghetti on the Mune!”Alan is a great painter, an eternal student, and one of those artists who THRIVES on critique. I had warned him that our critique sessions were “brutal”, but this only made him even more interested. We assembled after lunch at Eagle Engineering’s conference room, and each artist loaded three slides of their choice in the carousel. The lights went off and the show began. Critiques can take a number of directions, according to IAAA legacy. You can show a stinker you hate, and ask the participants what went wrong. You can put in a slide of the perfect painting, and dare anyone to find fault with it, or you can just ask for general comments. Either way it is an enriching experience for the artist. The PBS crew arrived in the middle of the critique, and groped in the darkness for about fifteen minutes. Eagle wasn’t NASA, so they had to play nice to get anything on our turf. About the time Alan went on, they pleaded to turn “a small light on” so they could get some video. Alan winced as the “small” 400 watt light flooded the room, blinding out the nuances of color in his works that he is known for. However, the rest of the critique went well, with no annoying re-takes, and the PBS crew obliged by turning off the light for short periods when asked. They even stayed after and took group shots with Alan with everyone’s cameras. In all Alan spent about five hours with us, and remarked that he was excited with all the input, and getting to meet all of us. He was fascinated with all the unique approaches and philosophies we all had.Dinner was a four-pizza affair at Pat’s new house in El Lago, Joel, the fish-ape man, ate the one with the anchovies (Hey, Vern, whut’re these dead minners doin’ on yer pizza?) After dinner, another impromptu critique session occurred at the hotel. The next day the hectic schedule even got to the enduring Joel Hagen. He awoke groggy, gathered a few scraps of the cleanest clothing remaining, turned slowly toward roommate B.E. Johnson, and growled.
9:00 – Joe Allen
11:30 – James Oberg
1:00 – Lunch
7:00 – Dinner at Franco’s, PBS’ treat
We arrived a little late the next morning at Eagle for our interview with Joe Allen who flew STS-5 and STS-51A, rescuing the Palapa and Westar satellites. Joe was NASA’s fair-haired boy, and was capcom and backup for the Apollo moon landings. He has since left NASA and works for Space Industries, just across the hall from Eagle. We crammed into the Space Industries tiny conference room. The PBS crew got there early, and had a different cameraman who was extremely clumsy, and seemed to stumble each time weightlessness was mentioned. Joe Allen came in and began talking, and seemed genuinely thrilled to be with us (thanks to Pat’s advance work in talking up the IAAA). After being stopped in mid-sentence by PBS, and asked to re-take his entrance, he nervously began again and fired up his slide show.Joe claims not to be an artist, but he obviously has a gift for composition, light and timing. He is also probably the finest photographer ever to go into space, and has published a photo-book called Entering Space. He showed his collection of slides , which seemed to be chosen for color and unusual perspective. Joe handled all our questions deftly; even a possible feeding frenzy was nipped in the bud. Joe’s brilliant photography contrasted with the klutzy PBS cameraman, who actually positioned himself between the projector and the screen, “NO STEP” projected on his forehead. Someone finally asked him to move, and he stumbled aside. Joe talked to us longer than he had planned, two hours, and several artist brought along copies of his photo book to sign. Pam shyly opened up her copy and set it in front of him. “Who shall I sign it to?” he asked “Pam Lee” she squeaked. “YOU’RE Pam Lee?” he said excitedly. Pam seems to be totally unaware of her popularity in our field. She was a favorite all around the NASA area. It was here that B.E. Johnson (BJ) uttered the phrase that would become the workshop motto. Alan Bean asked the group of us how he could do better in painting kapton; the reflective foil insulation shielding covering various sections of spacecraft. He said that he has struggled with this ever since beginning his career as an artist and it has always eluded him.
Explaining how he paints reflections like these, BJ said:”Don’t think too much… paint stupid. If you try to think into a chaotic reflection, whether it be kapton or the surface of water, you’ll mess it up—because you can’t think that far. It’s too unexpected, too convoluted and serendipitous to be able to plan ahead of time and make it look a certain way. You spend more time and brain cycles trying to force it than actually doing it. Even trying to copy doesn’t work. Just forget everything you know and ‘Paint Stupid’. After a little while, you’ll get in to a zone and it’ll come. A little while after that, you won’t be able to stop. Same thing happens with clouds. ”
The quote stuck and the motto was born. Our next speaker, Jim Oberg, came in and Joe offered him the use of the conference room, so we could get started. Jim is an expert in the Soviet space program, among other things. He and his wife Alcestis turn out a lot of articles for popular magazines and several books of their own. Jim showed slides of clumsy Soviet airbrushing of groups of astronaut photos, removing those astronauts killed or washed-out. He told of the secret rocket explosions, and the UFO reports from the Soviet Union. We continued the discussion at lunch, where we stationed Pam beside him. Pam had recently made a trip to the USSR with the Young Astronauts, and has one of her finest works hanging in Star City. This pair gave interesting lunchtime conversation. This marked the end of the strict scheduling for the workshop, and we had purposely left the rest of the days open for free-lancing; that is, following up on whatever we found interesting at JSC. Our badges expired this day, and we had to go back individually and get re-badged to visit the buildings we wanted to see. The PBS crew was buying dinner that night at Franco’s, another French-named Italian hangout. Franco’s was close by the hotel, and Joel had discovered it–no doubt attracted to the flashing stobelights on the madonna statues in the steeple outside. Inside, it was like some baroque museum. Dioramas of Sicilian life, suits of armor, flags, a gazebo, a wishing well… all sorts of odd things on the walls and ceiling. There was also a back room called the Grotto, which had a suspicious waterfall which gushed every time the toilets flushed in the nearby bathrooms. Lots of low, colored lights, and a cavern-like motif textured like Spitwads from Hell. This night the famous Grotto was reserved for the IAAA.We spent a good portion of the night re-arranging tables so everyone could sit face-to-face. Too many people and too much wine made this impossible. Another workshop tradition says that every workshop must fall on someone’s birthday. We celebrated Pam Lee’s and April Faires’ with Neapolitan ice cream with a candle in each. The PBS people were finished shooting. They would stop by in the morning and pick up Bones’ 15 video tapes in the morning before leaving for LA. That night we held a critique session, held again at the Presidential suite, focusing on some originals Bill Hartmann brought along. Bones was in the corner scratching his head over a contract for the use of his tapes by PBS. Pam Lee, Ms. Contract, contributed her expertise. Gradually, the room turned away from the critique to a full-blown discussion about the Bones Chronicles. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that there were things on those tapes that shouldn’t be put on the air. We finally decided to release only a few of the astronaut interviews, and keep the rest for IAAA eyes only. PBS wanted to have all the tapes, ape feet and all, to use however they wanted. This was the first such discussion about the IAAA image. Past workshops weren’t a problem; a bunch of loony artists out in the middle of nowhere where they couldn’t hurt anyone. The JSC workshop was concerned more with interaction with important people, and it suddenly becomes imperative to put our best face forward.
This was “every man for himself” day, and we broke up into smaller groups and followed up on some things we missed or new leads of special interest. PBS was gone, and there was no danger of lost time. Breaking up into smaller groups proved to be an easier way to follow our own special interests. The full IAAA group did assemble at the Crew Systems room (suits, MMU et. al.) and again in the afternoon at the space station mockup. Some artists went to the media building to get some photos and scan through rolls of Hasselblad images. Some went to see the real MMU, and a new robotic “dexterous hand” in development. Some went to the Water Excursion Training Facility (WET-F) others to the medical lab to see a zero-g surgical table in the works for the space station. Joel and Pam had a special interest in the “virtual space” simulator which was mentioned in passing at the computer graphics lab a few days earlier. It’s a helmet with two Sony Watchmans mounted over each eye. The software gave a realistic 3-D view of the space station in real size-real time. Any way you turned your head, the scene was exactly what you would see.It was one of the hottest days of the workshop, and we assembled at Madame Butterfly, a Chinese joint across from the hotel. We snacked on various appetizers, sipped icy blue drinks, and discussed the day’s events. We had another critique session, which lasted until Midnight. We all became very hungry, and went on a wild goose chase for, yes, seafood at 1 AM. We were forced to settle for burgers at Denny’s.
This last day, we spent collecting souvenirs, and a small group went back to JSC where IAAA member Doug McLeod worked with an Amiga computer in the medical lab. Joel has an Amiga, and is most adept. He has written an article for Amiga World about doing space art with a computer. He brought along a few disks, and put Doug’s computer through its paces. The painting program is amazing, giving much more freedom than any actual medium. The final dinner was a dandy. The vendue was Merida, a Mexican restaurant like a big open barn, specializing in Yucatan food. Joel had consumed several Lone Stars back at the hotel, vainly lobbying for more fish, and his speech was picking up at about 10 decibels per hour.We loudly arrived at the restaurant, sat down at a huge table and ordered. Everyone in the joint, per tradition, was painfully aware of our presence. A duo of mariachis moved about the room. Joel was about one Tecate and lime away from dancing on our table, and hooted loudly at every chorus sung by the mariachis. Brian Sullivan and I looked at each other nervously, hoping the musicians would skip our table. Hagen followed every move of the mariachis like a stalking tiger, obviously concocting some sort of diabolical song request. Lady of Spain? Melancholy Baby? Joel turned to Marilyn and whispered La Bamba! not the rock version, but the traditional Mexican folk song. If the didn’t know it, Joel would sing it to them. The mariachis finished at the next table, and approached ours, FARTHEST from Joel. Soon the restaurant’s owner appeared, along with several waiters and busboys. Were we about to be thrown out? 86’ed? Before Joel could mouth his request, the guitar player began a familiar intro. The owner produced a pair of leather maracas, and the assembled Mariachis Grandes launched into the long traditional version of La Bamba, replete with splendid harmonies and impeccable guitar solo. the rest of the patrons had stopped eating to listen, and all, especially Joel applauded heartily when they finished. The mariachis took a well-deserved break. We left a huge tip and made our exit. Our last night was spent doing another critique, with Houstonian Doug McLeod sitting in for this one, showing his stuff. At the end of the session, one last tradition was carried out, the singing of a specially composed workshop song. In Hawaii, the song was an appreciative Dr. Hartmann sung to the tune of Mr. Sandman. Since Pat Rawlings had assembled this fine workshop, the ode went to him, to the tune of Davy Crockett:
The eye-triple-a went to hardware heaven,
We drank all night and worked all day,
There’s just one thing that we’d like to say:
Pat, big Pat Rawlings,
hardware workshop king!
We heard of Houston and decided to go,
So the eye-triple-a was all aglow,
There were oysters on stilts at three bucks a throw,
And hardware detail that we needed to know. (CHORUS)
He squeezed us all into JSC,
We were badged in One there was grub in Three,
The space station mockup was something to see,
And building 9-A had the FFT. (CHORUS)
Well PBS led a merry chase
They tracked us down on and off the base
They shoved a camera in Joe Allen’s face!
We hope they take a shuttle and get lost in space (CHORUS)
The tours were great and we learned a lot,
We had a feeding frenzy on the astronauts,
We’re overjoyed at the things we’ve seen,
We even sucked spaghetti up with Alan Bean! (CHORUS)
Well PBS almost drove us mad,
But if we win an Emmy it ain’t so bad,
We showed those guys that we aren’t a fad,
It’s the best hardware workshop that we’ve ever had . (FINAL CHORUS)
Lyrics by Marilynn Flynn.
Sunday was departure day. It was sad as one by one, car trips removed our friends until next time. We began calling one another about a week later, following what is normally called “decompression”. Although these workshops are fun, it is an intense fun, and you wind up needing some REAL R&R afterward, but there is no doubt that you come out of these things a better artist. I’d like to clarify a few things to members who have never attended a workshop and may feel fear at associating with such crazies. Although several references were made to the drinking, there is certainly room for teetotalers (I’m one), if only to drive the drunken brood home. I have also been merciless on the PBS people. This is meant to be a criticism of style, not substance, and I have no doubts that the crew was professional (they have impressive credentials) I’m certain they will produce a fine program. I just didn’t like their intrusive nature, and was concerned with damaging future relations and contacts with the VIPs. You may think that I wrote more about the social aspect than the actual gleanings from the workshop. I consider the social interaction to be the most productive part of the ones I have attended. The group bonding, sharing and critique are an important foundation for improved art.
Kim Poor, August 1987