Armstrong & Aldrin placing the flag and fulfilling a president's visionAlan Bean Original Painting: "John F. Kennedy's Vision" Portraying Armstrong and Aldrin Planting the U.S. Flag on the Moon. A 36" x 24" painting from 2004 in textured acrylic with moon dust on aircraft plywood, signed lower right. This was created by Bean to pay his personal respects to President John F. Kennedy's vision, announced in a May 1961 speech, of sending an American to the moon and back safely before the 1960s were over. Of course, Bean was part of the fulfillment of that dream when he landed on the moon as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 12 on November 19, 1969, and became the fourth human to walk there. Captain Bean describes the painting's history this way:
"At the beginning of John F. Kennedy's presidency the people of the United States of America were in crisis. Were our basic beliefs, our way of life the best, or was communism the wave of the future? After all, the Soviet Union surprised the world with their technical skills when it rocketed a satellite into Earth orbit. We could do little but watch in amazement. When the communists sent Yuri Gagarin, the first human into space, again we could only look on with awe and concern. Were democracy and freedom no longer competitive in today's world? Our president, John F. Kennedy, could feel the discouragement. As leader of the free world he knew our country needed a bold stroke. In 1961 he proclaimed before Congress that America would reach the Moon 'before the decade is out.'
"On September 12, 1962, at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas, John F. Kennedy gave America an historical challenge. He said, 'The United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward.' And later, 'we set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.'
"Less than seven years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin realized John Kennedy's vision when they placed the stars and stripes on the surface of the Moon. Americans could feel confident again."
Alan Bean was not just an astronaut. He was an artist who had, for several years before his NASA career, been practicing and perfecting his craft. Since retiring from NASA in 1981, Bean has been expressing his experiences in space artistically. After all, he had seen sights that no other artist ever had. To make his original art even more appealing and historic, Captain Bean presses into the canvas surfaces authentic lunar boot moonprints, along with impressions from a core tube-bit used to collect soil samples, and marks from a hammer used to drive the staff of the American flag into the lunar surface. Moon dust from his lunar surface-worn patches is also incorporated into the paint and texturing compound.
This painting was acquired directly from Bean and, very fittingly, had been on loan to Rice University until Heritage recently took possession. Rice was not only the location where Kennedy made his 1962 speech but they were the donors of the land where the (now) Johnson Space Center was built.
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