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The Arts at the Aquarium

Claire A.'s avatar


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Like peanut butter and jelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or sharks and remoras, when art and science come together, both are enhanced. Many argue that most people are more comfortable with one of the two subjects, excelling at one in school while the other feels like a foreign language. It’s true—there are some of us whose brains are more compatible with images than numbers, or who process the written word better than listening to someone speak. With that in mind, the Aquarium looks for ways to incorporate different ways of communicating into its exhibits and events so that the scientific information we present is readily understood by all our visitors. But we also believe that science can inform art, and vice versa. For these reasons, the Aquarium has fostered many connections with the arts, including a partnership with the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Through the college’s Designmatters department, Aquarium experts meet with students to collaborate on projects to create educational tools and raise awareness about environmental issues.

The Aquarium also hosts visual and performing arts events throughout the year, including our own annual cultural festivals, which showcase musicians, dancers, storytellers, and other artists. We also have several arts-related happenings slated for this fall and winter, and into early 2012.

Right now, several impressionistic paintings by artist David Gallup are on display in the Great Hall at the Aquarium. If you haven’t seen them yet, this week is your last chance, as the exhibit closes this Friday. The paintings depict the Channel Islands and the animals found there. Gallup practices the tradition of painting en plein air, a French phrase meaning “in the open air.” This style has a rich history in documenting the natural beauty of coastal areas in California. This exhibit reminds Aquarium visitors of the environments our animals call home in the wild and the beauty of these natural places we hope to protect and preserve.

Next, an exhibit opening in October will highlight the importance of such efforts. Aerial photographs by Daniel Beltrá will be on display beginning October 13. The photos depict the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, showing the spread of the oil over the ocean’s surface, clean-up efforts, and the impact to wildlife. A joint lecture by Beltrá and Larry McKinney, executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, will literally bring art and science together—Beltrá will describe his efforts to document the event in photos, and McKinney will explain the environmental impacts to the Gulf from his point of view as a scientist.

Works of art will also be on view during the Aquarium’s Halloween-themed Night Dive event on October 28. How about the chance to make your own works of art at the Aquarium? This weekend, capture the shots you’ve always wanted to take of our animals and exhibits at Photographers Night. Ticket holders will pretty much have the run of the place, so they can set up shop and snap shots to their hearts’ content. Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Tuttle Cameras will be on hand so you can try out equipment. Several workshops will be offered as well, so shutterbugs can learn more about macro and underwater photography, among other topics.

We also have big plans for future performing arts events. Both the Long Beach Ballet and the Long Beach Opera will be performing at the Aquarium next year. On March 15 and 17 the Long Beach Ballet will present Dance of the Corals. The Long Beach Opera, known for their groundbreaking performances of new works in unusual venues, will be here in September 2012. We hope you’ll plan to visit the Aquarium soon and see some art!

The Arts at the Aquarium
Daniel Beltrá's aerial photographs of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and resulting oil spill will be on exhibit at the Aquarium beginning October 13. The exhibit is called SPILL: Images from the Gulf.  | Daniel Beltrá
The Arts at the Aquarium
David Gallup's paintings depict the Channel Islands and their natural beauty.  | David Gallup

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