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Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the...

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FOTO Celebrates Space Art Pioneer with “Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future” November 25 at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California

The screening will take place in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater where a panel discussion will follow with the award-winning filmmaker, the film's co-producer and Griffith Observatory's renowned space artist Don Dixon. Griffith Observatory will also share its own rare collection of original Bonestell paintings.

Los Angeles, CA, November 20, 2019 --( The iconic and legendary Griffith Observatory shares a special relationship with a space artist born in the 19th century named Chesley Bonestell (pronounced Bon-eh-stell). In 1904, Griffith Jenkins Griffith, an industrialist and philanthropist who would eventually donate money and land to build the Observatory, looked through a telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory for the very first time. Griffith’s perspective on life changed in the twinkling of an eye; "If all mankind could look through that telescope,” said Griffith, “it would change the world." Only a year later, 17-year-old Chesley Knight Bonestell would take his first look through a telescope at the Lick Observatory in San Jose, CA. “Most impressive and beautiful was Saturn,” Bonestell would recall. “As soon as I got home I painted a picture of Saturn.” It was his first step on a journey to becoming “The Father of Space Art” whose prescient paintings changed the world by helping to inspire the start of America’s Space Program.

“Chesley Bonestell is the artist who took us to the Moon, Mars and beyond, not with technology but with a paintbrush,” says filmmaker Douglass M. Stewart, Jr.. Stewart’s award-winning documentary, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future, will be featured at a Griffith Observatory event hosted by Friends of the Observatory (FOTO) on November 25. “Bonestell created hundreds of astronomical paintings but his 1944 Saturn as Seen from Titan remained his favorite. In 1959, he expanded that view for the Griffith Observatory with a twenty-foot long panorama of Titan’s frozen surface with Saturn seated low on the horizon. We’re so honored to screen this first film ever about Bonestell’s life and works 60 years after those panoramas were created and in the very place where they reside.”

Like Bonestell’s space art, Griffith Observatory has inspired filmmakers and writers over the years. Famed author Ray Bradbury often gave talks there. Bradbury shares his respect and admiration in Stewart’s film saying “There isn’t an artist that’s painting today in the science fiction fantasy field who didn’t start with Chesley Bonestell.”

Griffith Observatory’s Art Director and space artist Don Dixon is especially pleased that this may be the first time Bonestell’s panoramas are displayed fully reassembled in the last 60 years. Dixon appreciates how his own career was influenced by Bonestell’s art: “I was just a kid when I saw his illustrations of other worlds in science fiction magazines. I remember thinking ‘how did they take these pictures?’ When I realized that somebody had created a painting that could fool you into thinking it was a photograph, I knew I had to learn to paint like Bonestell.”

Beyond Bonestell’s artistic reach into the Universe, his architectural visions literally reached new heights here on Earth when he helped design New York City’s tallest skyscraper of 1930 - the iconic Chrysler Building. Seven years later, he turned complicated blueprints into beautiful renderings that led to building San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. It remained the longest bridge until 1981 and tallest until 1993. Bonestell was living just a few miles from the Griffith Observatory in Hollywood when his architectural background served him well as a visual effects matte painter. He created movie magic for many film classics including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Citizen Kane, Destination Moon and The War of the Worlds.

Event Details: A special edition of Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future along with a bonus feature titled “Days of Future Passed,” will screen at Griffith Observatory’s Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA on November 25th at 7:30pm. A reception on the Sunset Terrace begins at 6:00pm. The Observatory’s own collection of rare, original Bonestell art can be viewed all evening. Following the film, a panel discussion hosted by Don Dixon will include the film’s Producer/Writer/Director Douglass M. Stewart, Jr. and one of the film's co-producers and author of A Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology, Melvin Schuetz. For additional information about the event, please visit

More about the Film: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future was named Best Documentary at Comic-Con 2018 and the 2019 Boston Science Fiction Film Festival. It also received a prestigious “Audience Award” at the 2018 Newport Beach International Film Festival. For more information about the film and to view the film’s trailer, please visit
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Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future
Christopher Darryn

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