An Element of
The Space Art of B.E.Johnson ~ Behind the Image
Air&Space & Glass Artist • Production Designer • Futurist

BJ's obvious love for human achievement and the unsurpassed beauty of the Cosmos, coupled with his training in graphic and industrial design, engineering, and astronomy/astrophysics, brings forth a unique level of sensitivity and accuracy in Astronomical and Astronautical Art. His enthusiasm for advanced technologies and ability to translate difficult concepts into exciting imagery is fueled by one underlying desire:

"Currently, this is the only way I can spend this much time in orbit!"

Following studies in mechanical engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology he worked as draftsman/designer in Professional Photofinishing Equipment Engineering at Eastman Kodak Co. Once established in his chosen field, his interests branched out - pursuing astrophysics, celestial mechanics, cosmology, computer programming, electronics, graphic design, photography, printing, and serigraphy.

His skills have taken him to Roger Penske Racing in Pennsylvania where he worked with driver/engineer Mark Donohue, and a highly talented team of professionals, in design, fabrication, and fielding of high speed racing vehicles.Turbocharged 917K Can-Am Porsche Innovations in suspension design and body aerodynamics were explored and a significant modification of the Porsche 917 racing powerplant was realized, substantially increasing its maximum output while adding to the stability of the vehicle. That year the team produced their first Indianapolis 500 victory and secured the Can-Am Series Championship - wrenching the long standing McLaren strangle hold. They repeated the Can-Am Championship the year following and placed first in the USAC Championship.

Strasenburgh PlanetariumAfter Mark Donohue's retirement, BJ joined the staff of the acclaimed Strasenburgh Planetarium designing intricate effects projection systems employing exotic light sources along with specialized art for use in these systems. He wrote and produced a series of television commercials and performed periodic calibration of the epitome of planetarium instruments, the Carl Zeiss Model VI. Experience with the Zeiss Carl Zeiss Planetarium Model VI resulted in the research and specification of an alternative high-efficiency arc light source - now used in Zeiss Planetarium installations throughout the world. It was at Strasenburgh, re-exposed to the universe, that he began exploring astronomic art.

Concept One, a graphic design studio, was founded in 1969. As the intervening experiences accumulated, the studio evolved into a specialization in technical and astronomic art, wildlife art, photography and production design. This flexible environment has become the focus of his varied interests - the junction of many disciplines.

During these years he has performed as Special46' Cold-molded Wood Racing Trimaran Effects Consultant to Eastman Kodak Company; as designer/supervising engineer on the construction of a 46 foot racing trimaran, two very successful endurance racing cars, large and small scale mechanical and optical effects for both still and motion pictures, the Space Science Applications Exhibit Wing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida; and has three murals to his credit, the largest measuring 82 feet. He served as production designer for the Einstein Planetarium at The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, producing a star show entitled "COMET QUEST", addressing the return of Comet Halley. One of BJ's paintings of Comet Halley has been placed into the Halley Time Capsule to be opened at the next apparition of this most famous of comets in the year 2061.

Workers Tending the QueenHe was assigned to the ground crew of the ninth Shuttle flight that carried Spacelab One into orbit with a return to Edwards Air Force Base in California. Two paintings documenting that flight reside in the NASA/Smithsonian collection and are on international tour, a third is on exhibit at John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The spring of 1985 marked his third and fourth Shuttle ground crew assignments, and he began work on a series of paintings of the Galileo project, a probe now orbiting the planet Jupiter, studying its moons and environment. The spacecraft carries his thumb print, as well as his signature engraved on a gold plaque afixed to its outer surface in recognition of the many individuals' contributions to the project.

Cover of James A. Michener's Novel SPACEHe was honored with the paperback cover of James A. Michener's novel "SPACE", along with the promotional poster for the Paramount/CBS 13 hour mini-series based on his novel; also the cover of the premier issue of "Ad Astra", a publication of the National Space Society.

An assignment for "Science 86" Magazine afforded access to the primary Voyager Imaging Room as the spacecraft passed through the Uranus system. There, and again at Neptune, working directly with the scientists in determining the most accurate translation of scientific data into informative imagery, his probing spurred the generation of new studies of the processes and environment of the worlds of our solar system. Wanting to know what it looks like as a vista asks questions that cold data cannot answer and provides data unexpected, on many levels. As a result, there has been increased inclusion of mission image targets that look out across the landscape rather than straight down.

Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission ArtHe worked as Mission Artist for the STARDUST Project, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Three major panoramic images tell the story of the spacecraft as it dives into a comet to bring samples back home. From this base, he produced a virtual reality animation that is available on the Web so that people may better understand the mission and follow the spacecraft into the strange environment that awaits it.

Spherical Magic is the natural outgrowth of these endeavours. It is a gallery, a playground,WATCH THIS SPACE a think tank, a laboratory, a library, a workshop and a classroom of the spirit that fires the intellect. The technologies of this day melded with accumulated expertise and pursuit of excellence has spawned a new approach to his work and a new place to share what has been discovered. He will not abandon the traditional for the avant-garde, but build one upon the other - adding the strengths of each; diminishing the weaknesses of both.

"Respect for the tools that one has to use and the teachers who have guided you to where you are today, is told within the work that you do tomorrow.
"Heritage plays a very important part in the creative process. I believe that poetry must come from the pencil. I may 'download' it into the computer for printing or further honing, but the original thought, for me, must flow through that instrument to be genuine. Likewise, the computer will be the source of many images. Some will begin their lives in the digital realm, forever to abide that expanse. Some will embark on their journey to canvas through that medium. Perhaps started as a simple pencil sketch, worked up in the machine to a high degree but only to be used as reference in committing the work in final form to canvas or board in paint; the computer used as a sketch tool to better visualize my thought. Others will never taste the electron, residing in the analogue domain forever.
"The power of these instruments can open one's eyes to what can be seen as much as it can open one's mind to what cannot be seen and allows us to glimpse, just a bit more clearly, the universe in which we live. That we may sit in the presence of this technology and do things impossible only a few short years ago, and share what we have accomplished with others around the globe in an instant is nothing short of magical."

Taking the unconventional approach has always been a hallmark of his career. What looked at first to be a diversion proved out to be the path.

"Being temporarily diverted from my boyhood fascination with the stars, and 'Taking the road less travelled by', has afforded a vantage point in our universe unobtainable by other means. An extensive knowledge of Shuttle systems, for instance, in concert with physics, design - both graphic and mechanical, first hand observations and unbelievable experiences allows a special insight when painting the spacecraft. I can get in there, feel it, know how it works - and why. It comes through in the paintings and the viewers can feel it too.Coke Zero-G
"My work's prime objective is aimed at being there. If I can instill even the slightest sense of wonder and appreciation for the Universe in the viewers of these works, and ignite a spark in just one kid, I feel I will have succeeded."

He has lived with the space program for many more hoursHimself in his Snoopy Cap and in many more ways than most would ever hope to dream for. Astronauts, scientists, naturalists, engineers, writers, composers, photographers and film makers share their experience. Actively participating in their respective fields, he gains their viewpoint - their vision.

"I feel their experience and visualize what it is like to be out among the stars in the vacuum of space, gliding silently at 17,500 mph, the orbiter floating nearby. Separated from Earth. Experiencing its awesome presence. Seeing it as the only rock we have to live on. Sensing the conflict, the tensions, the connections - the collective hope. Feeling compassion for all mankind, all wildlife... all life. Realizing that we are alone here. Realizing that we still have a chance. Then, through my work, desperately strive to communicate the precious beauty that is Earth."

Born in Rochester, New York, BJ makes his home on an island off the coast of Washington State. He is working as Co-writer/Production Designer/Futurist on a feature film with Actor/Producer Gary Lockwood, working on a Star Trek script, writing a book and, of course, continues with his art and his appreciation for life on planet Earth.


Antique music boxes and clocks, art glass, architecture, astronomy, music, ornithology, photography, poetry, 'good-science' fiction, sailboat racing, computers, soaring, single engine pilot.

Professional affiliations:

Board of Trustees Chair - International Association of Astronomical Artists, NASA Art Program, Planetary Society, Society of Illustrators.


Gold - Coca-Cola Corporation Cover and Poster - "First Taste in Space"
Gold - RCA Corporation Corporate Campaign, "Who Did What?"
Silver - Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake, "Encounter~The Final Trim"
Bronze - Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake, "The Origin of Meteorites"
Award of Excellence - Computer Consoles, Inc., Color Spread.
Award of Excellence - Sybron Corporation, Cover Illustration
Award of Excellence - "Twilight's First Gleaming" Litho Print
Mohawk Award - Hafner Associates, Inc., Stationery System
Simpson Award - YMCA Annual Report
Strathmore Award - Mammoth Productions, Inc., Stationery System


American Museum of Natural History, New York - One Man Show
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California - "Mars - Phobos/Deimos&uot;
California Academy of Science, San Francisco - "The Artists' Universe"
Carl Cherry Foundation, Carmel, California - "Dreaming Art"
Cleveland Museum of Natural History - "Visions of Other Worlds"
Florida Museum of Natural History - "The Artists' Universe"
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles - One Man Show
Houston Museum of Natural Science - "Science and Technology Art"
International Museum of Photography; George Eastman House
John F. Kennedy Space Center - "The Artist and the Space Shuttle"
Laguna Art Museum - "Reflections and Illusions"
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston - "The Artists' Universe"
Observatorio Astronomico Di Palermo - "The Artists' Universe"
Pendragon Gallery, Annapolis, Maryland
Planetfest '97 - "Exploring the Art of Space"
Planetfest '99 - Two Person Show
Rochester Institute of Technology Bevier Gallery
Rochester Memorial Art Gallery
Rutgers University Gallery - "The Artists' Universe"
Smithsonian Institution International Exhibit - "Visions of Flight"
Space Center Houston - "Digital Space Art"
Space Frontier Foundation '99 - "One Giant Leap"
Space Frontier Foundation '00 - "The Artists' Universe"
Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Sierra Nevada College - "The Artists' Universe"
United States National Pavilion, Tsukuba, Japan - "Tsukuba Expo 85"
University of Delaware Gallery - "One Small Step"
World Science Fiction Convention - 1998, 1999, 2000

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Images & Text Copyright © 1976-2024 B.E.Johnson, All Rights Reserved
Images ~ Paintings, Digital, Photography Station's Library Self Portraits ~ The Artist doing what he loves most. Main Station Hub