History in layers: The work of Simon Kregar Jr.
While photographs are great for accurately capturing historical elements, sometimes they are out of focus or miss something that is just out of frame. Enter the artist. When a trained artist takes a hold of the same event we get something… special. We get less technical and more of how that moment felt, what its significance was. One artist, in particular, Simon Kregar Jr., has made it his life’s work to capture these moments in a manner that speaks to the public to maintain their fascination with space exploration.
SFI: Hi Simon, thanks for agreeing to talk with us.
Kregar Jr.: “No problem at all, it’s my pleasure.”
SFI: So, first off, what got you started in terms of space art?
Kregar Jr.: “I’ve always had an extreme interest in astronomy and space sciences. One of my earliest memories was watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bounce around on the Moon on our family black and white television.
“When I found myself as an adult with the time and ability to break away from my career in Hospitality management, I looked back at those artists and people that inspired me.”
SFI: Was there anything, in particular, that got you interested in being an artist?
Kregar Jr.: “I always have been involved in the Arts but never really took it serious[ly] until that point. I was very motivated to educate through my art and started painting scientific figures. This quickly evolved into painting my primary passion which was the space program and astronomy. As with many artists, I share the orbital perspective, which is that shift that happens when you truly understand Humanities place in the larger context of the universe.”
SFI: What has been some of the greatest challenges you have faced?
Kregar Jr.: “I was very fortunate, early in my career, to discover the International Association of Astronomical Artists. This is a nonprofit that was founded in roughly 1982 partially by the artists that worked with Carl Sagan on the original Cosmos, and other planetary scientists and artists. I can truly say I’ve never belong[ed] to a more supportive group of individuals working toward a common goal. If I face any challenges beyond that of just being an artist, I would have to say it would be being legitimized by the greater art world. Most of the art community views what we do as illustrative and not fine art.”
SFI: What are your hopes for the future?
Kregar Jr.: “My hopes for the future are that Humanity will grow beyond its shortsightedness and Petty arguments. Due to the Advent of commercial and personal spaceflight, more and more people will be given access to that transformative experience of seeing the Earth from space. I believe that, just like in the early 1900s when traveling Barnstormers took farmers up to see their fields for the first time from the air, these experiences will fundamentally change the way we view ourselves, our planet, and our destiny.”
SFI: Your work is beautiful and we can’t wait to see more of your future work.
Kregar Jr.: “Thanks so much.”
About the artist:
Simon Peter Kregar Jr. is an award-winning fine artist whose focus is promoting science and an awareness of our place in the Universe. He was nominated for the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award for three consecutive years, which recognizes excellence in artistic expression and outstanding contributions to the Arizona arts community.
Simon’s work is featured in the books “The Art of Space” and “Spaceships” which were produced by Ron Miller. His work can be found in the collections of John and Suzi Young, Jack Lousma, Jim Lovell, The World View Spaceport, and the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Simon is currently on the Board of Trustees and the Director of Exhibitions for the International Association of Astronomical Artists and is a co-founder of their Tucson-Chapter which works extensively in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) outreach.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.