Artist Coalition presents Mars Kaleidosphere at Lowell Observatory

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“You’re going to love this,” said Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours at Sunday’s dedication ceremony and unveiling of an interactive public sculpture at Lowell Observatory.

According to Mike Frankel, executive director of the Artist Coalition of Flagstaff, the sculpture is an “anatomically correct” sphere-model of Mars. The pattern of the steel exterior is a painstakingly accurate recreation of the planet’s terrain.

“Just about a year ago, we went out and got the sphere, which is actually a decommissioned 150-pound propane tank built in 1946,” Frankel said.

The propane tank was donated to the project by John Graves of Graves Propane. Frankel said one of the primary challenges of the project was the process of safely repurposing the tank to fit their needs.

Inside the hollow sculpture is a creation by John Rodgers, a local designer and builder of industrial strength kaleidoscopes. An eyepiece allows for free viewing of kaleidoscopic Mars images through use of a hand wheel.

“It’s a perfect meld of science and art,” said Kevin Shindler, outreach manager at the observatory. “That really represents the Flagstaff community. We’re such a vibrant community in both science and art.”

“It’s all about leaving something behind that’s going to outlast my life and bring joy for people for years and years,” said Tom Williams, the third contributing artist in the new sculpture project.

“Tom, John and myself are all former best-in-show winners at the recycled art show, so we were the natural team to do this,” Frankel said. “It is dedicated to the second decade of the City of Flagstaff Recycled Arts Show by the Artist Coalition.”

The new sculpture is on display outside the visitor’s center at Lowell Observatory for free public viewing.



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