FROM SAUR TO SOAR: The synergy of art and science

IMAGE BY R. GARY RAHAM From Saur to Soar

By Gary Raham
North Forty News

Full disclosure: This article will surely be biased since it is about my own art exhibit. That noted, I still hope to entice you to visit the Loveland Museum/Gallery between August 4 and December 2 this year. The museum, an amazing treasure in the community of Loveland—known to describe itself as “a work of art”—sits at the corner of 5th Street and Lincoln. I think it’s fitting that Harold Marion Dunning, an author and mountain guide, founded the museum in 1919. He apparently shared my love of nature and the inspiration it ignites within artists.

People sometimes talk about two cultures when it comes to art and science, as if they were immiscible liquids, like water layered over oil. Not true! Art—in the form of creative fiction, for example—often inspires future scientists. Many Star Trek fans of the ’60s went on to engineer the Apollo program, taking humans to the moon. The dinosaur artwork of Charles R. Knight in the early 20th century jump-started the careers of many future paleontologists. In the other direction, Johannes Kepler, famous for figuring out the laws of planetary motion, wrote one of the first science fiction stories. Santiago Ramon y Cajal, a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist of the 19th century, was also famous for his amazing drawings of nerve networks. (I would have mentioned Leonardo da Vinci, but EVERYONE knows about him.)

The title of the exhibit, “From Saur to Soar,” derives from the name I gave to an illustration used on the cover of my first book, published in 1988, entitled Dinosaurs in the Garden: An Evolutionary Guide to Backyard Biology. The image served to symbolize the evolution of certain feathered dinosaurs into the lineages of modern birds—an idea proposed by paleontologist Robert Bakker—that was controversial at the time. But the artwork spans my forty-year career writing for both children and adults.

I’m proud to be exhibiting with another artist/scientist, Dennis Wilson, best known for his detailed reconstructions of dinosaurs and other exotic creatures from the deep past. Dennis will be exhibiting some of his sculptures, making our combined exhibit rich with dinosaurs—those prehistoric monsters kids love to be scared by. If you can make the opening reception on August 10 from 6 to 8 pm, your kids will enjoy searching for dinos in a paleontological “dig.” Adults can sip tea at this “Dinos at a Tea Party” family event.

PHOTO BY DENNIS WILSON Mononykus, a very bird-like dinosaur, as sculpted by Dennis Wilson

Science fiction helped inspire my love of science. And although I have written more science fact than science fiction, I will be celebrating (and autographing from 5-7 pm) my new science fiction novel, A Once-Dead Genius in the Kennel of Master Morticue Ambergrand. Kirkus Reviews compared me favorably with Kurt Vonnegut and Arthur C. Clarke. After that endorsement, as any SF fan can appreciate, I had to expand all my hatbands.

So, Loveland Museum, August 10, 5 to 8 pm: Come see FROM SAUR TO SOAR, The Synergy of Art and Science. Let’s make it a dinosaur date.

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