Warhol Foundation grant goes to Institute of the Arts and Sciences project

Russell Crotty in the Lick Observatory Archive discussing the history of astronomy at Lick with Tony Misch, director and curator of the Lick Archive Collection and a co-curator of the planned IAS exhibition at the San Jose ICA.
A Russell Crotty exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Los Angeles, 2000.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded a $30,000 grant to support an innovative artist residency and exhibition developed by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS) at UC Santa Cruz and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in San Jose--in collaboration with the UC Lick Observatory.

The residency brings artist Russell Crotty, a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, to the observatory to use Lick telescopes for direct observations and photographs that will serve as the basis for new, astronomy-based artworks.

Crotty is a nationally recognized artist and an advanced amateur astronomer who has created drawings and sculpture about astronomical subjects for nearly two decades.

The collaboration will result in an exhibition at the San Jose ICA in 2016, combining Crotty’s new work with objects and images from Lick’s rich historical archive.

This year, only seven organizations west of the Rockies received a Warhol Foundation grant. “Warhol grants are a real stamp of approval from a respected, national funder,” noted Cathy Kimball, executive director of the ICA in San Jose. “We are all delighted to have this recognition and support.”

“This is truly a unique collaboration, and the Warhol Foundation recognized that,” added John Weber, director of the IAS at UC Santa Cruz. “We are working with a distinguished artist, bringing him together with the ICA, Lick Observatory, and scientists, artists, and students at UC Santa Cruz.”

According to UCSC Arts Dean David Yager, “This is something that a museum or art space can’t do alone, and it involves scientific research and resources that artists rarely get access to. It’s a great example of the unique potential of the IAS project as a whole.”

Crotty will be at Lick for at least five visits, making sketches, working with the staff to take photos, and then bringing those materials back to his studio in Ventura, California, to inspire new work.  Along with unique access to Lick telescopes and scientific facilities on Mount Hamilton, Crotty’s residency includes research time with the trove of historical photographs, astronomical instruments, and observation log books in the Lick Archive. 

During daylight hours, he will also be working with Lick archive curator Tony Misch to survey astronomers’ drawings and notes from the 19th century, both to inform his own work, and for possible inclusion in the ICA show. The show will include historic photographs and objects from the Lick instrument collection.

On recent visits to the UC Santa Cruz campus, Crotty has been meeting with faculty and students from the TASC group (Theoretical Astrophysics Santa Cruz) as well as Lick staff, absorbing new developments in astrophysics and astronomy.

To reach students and the community, his residency will include a stargazing night on campus in the Great Meadow, co-organized by astronomy students. A special, two-day student seminar at Lick Observatory will also bring Crotty together with students and faculty in the visual arts and astronomy to consider the nature of “seeing” and “knowing” in their respective disciplines.

“The outcome of Crotty's time on Mount Hamilton and at UC Santa Cruz will be an exciting hybrid exhibition of art, cosmological history, and science, opening at the ICA in November 2016,” said Weber. “At the time of the exhibition, events at the ICA will introduce the project to Silicon Valley audiences, casting a spotlight on Lick’s history and the strong track record of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz."

Along with Warhol funding, the Russell Crotty residency is also being supported by a grant from the UC Santa Cruz Foundation’s Board Opportunity Fund, the UC Santa Cruz Arts Division, and by the Alumni Fund for Visiting Artists, recently established by pioneer alumnus Jock Reynolds.

The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz supports excellence across the university through increased private investment in the people and ideas shaping the future. It is bringing critical new resources to each academic division, the library, and to signature initiatives in the student experience, genomics, coastal sustainability, data science, and at the intersection of the arts and sciences.