55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Rainforest will be closed Sep. 9 & 10

December 28, 2011

Antarctic Item 007


Like the previously posted beer cans, this one was recovered from Antarctica’s Dry Valleys across the sound from McMurdo Station. It’s likely the oldest of the lot (note the steel lid,
pre-dating aluminum ends) and certainly the most weather-punished. Its rich textures and
varied colors demanded that both sides of the cylinder be photographed.

Traces of an indecipherable label design appear in the first view. If anyone recognizes its identity, please let me know.

Much thanks to Marble Point camp manager “Crunch” Noring for finding and donating these artifacts to the Long View Project.

Filed under: Items Reclaimed from the Ice — mbartalos @ 10:35 am

December 21, 2011

Antarctic Item 006


This Heineken can appears to have been laying on its side at the mercy of the Antarctic elements for some time, rendering one half quite rusty and the other half thoroughly so.

Oxidation aside, its advanced age is also revealed by a pair of lid piercings. It wasn’t till the early 1960s that discardable pull-rings were introduced, replacing churchkeys as standard can-opening mechanisms.

Filed under: Items Reclaimed from the Ice — mbartalos @ 10:35 am

December 14, 2011

Antarctic Item 005


Similar as this Bud can appears to the previous post, this one proves older on close inspection. In addition to having lost its red pigment, this one’s blue has faded too. Oxidation is more advanced here, particularly on the top and bottom. But the biggest clue is the fully-detachable pull-tab which was phased out in the 1970s. This can’s tab, regretfully, remains somewhere in Antarctica.

Filed under: Items Reclaimed from the Ice — mbartalos @ 10:34 am

December 7, 2011

Antarctic Item 004


I’m back to cataloging more discards that I retrieved from Antarctica to include in my artwork. This month’s featured finds are beer cans.

This Bud can appears to be relatively new, judging by its condition and stay-on-tab design. Still, it languished long enough for the weather to have stripped it of its familiar red markings (red being the most fugitive of printing ink colors).

Resembling a half-completed printing job, the blue-and-white motif appropriately suggests the icy landscape in which the can underwent its transformation.

Filed under: Items Reclaimed from the Ice — mbartalos @ 10:34 am

November 10, 2011

Long View Installation I / Age of Wonder


I’m pleased to be taking part in “Age of Wonder,” a group show around the theme of
art engaged with the natural world. My new sculpture, LV Installation I, marks my first exhibition of The Long View project, which has been in progress since 2009.


Featuring four custom-built shelf units to create a semi-enclosed space, the installation juxtaposes discarded material I collected from Antarctica with a recent series of mixed-media art panels whose diagrammatic graphics reinvent visual codes of scientific and design theory. I’ve combined these objects and elements to create a sculptural narrative describing Antarctic science, history, and environment with the larger goal of examining humankind’s relationship with the natural world over time.


Recycling is a central theme to the piece. I used wood to reference Ernest Shackleton’s repurposing of wooden crates to make Antarctic hut shelving and book covers a century
ago — an early instance of polar resourcefulness. In homage to Shackleton’s Aurora
, the book form appears on every scale of the installation, from the hinged
shelf pairs to the art panel ‘spreads,’ down to the small wooden faux-books between
and throughout.


The well-produced exhibition catalog is authored by Bay Area art writer, critic, and
curator DeWitt Cheng, who wrote of the show:

[The artists] link human survival with the reuniting of reason and emotion, intellect
with spirituality. These artists, so fascinated with the natural world, point the way
toward genuine human stewardship of the planet.

The passage accurately describes what I strove for with this installation and hope to
achieve to a greater degree as the Long View Project progresses.


Age of Wonder runs through December 31, 2011 at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding CA.

Participating artists are Michael Bartalos, Tiffany Bozic, Mark Brest Van Kempen, Isabella Kirkland, Judith Selby Lang & Richard Lang, Carrie Lederer, Aline Mare & Olivia E. Sears,
Susan Middleton, Rick Prelinger & Megan Prelinger, and Gary Brewer who curated the show.

Filed under: Long View Art — mbartalos @ 7:22 pm

October 19, 2011


My wall installation, RGB-123, is currently on view in “Keeping an Eye on Surveillance,” a group show at the Performance Art Institute in San Francisco. PAI describes the exhibition as ‘a comprehensive look at societal surveillance in the post-9/11 world. Over twenty artists, working in media ranging from painting and photography to new media, will explore the ever-growing encroachment of surveillance enabled by technological advances.’

My piece takes aerial surveillance technology for its subject. The artwork consists of a dense panoply of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) silhouettes arranged to float within a circular shape, as if observed through a viewfinder. This ‘lens’ functions both telescopically to view large satellites and microscopically to depict nano-drones.

RGB-123 grew out of my interest in Earth observation technology that helps scientists monitor environmental changes in Antarctica over time. Fittingly, the imagery includes satellites and super-pressure balloons whose remote sensing apparatus define the cutting edge of high altitude research.


My installation also addresses the intriguing field of micro aerial vehicles modeled after winged animals such as bats, hummingbirds and mosquitoes for monitoring human activity outside of Antarctica. My composition represents this wide array of instrumentation, inviting viewers to contemplate the various uses, motives, and consequences of surveillance.

The title RGB-123 makes reference to satellite naming conventions and video color. While the visible sides of my artwork are black, the back sides are red, green and blue, casting RGB shadows on the wall behind them. This ‘video glow’ serves to address the medium while enhancing the dimensionality of the silhouetted UAV collection.

My installation was created with plywood, acrylic paint, and hardware, and measures eight feet in diameter. It is visible from outside street level as well as from inside, and will remain up through October 26.

The Performance Art Institute is at 575 Sutter Street, San Francisco CA . Tel: (415) 501-0575. Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 12-6 PM. Free admission.

Participating artists: Rosa Maria Alfaro, Michael Bartalos, Guillermo Bert, Lisa Blatt, Jim Campbell, Enrique Chagoya, Antonio Cortez, Allan deSouza, Rodney Ewing, Roni Feldman, Sean Fletcher, Angus Forbes, Farley Gwazda, Taraneh Hemami, Brooke Holve, Justin Hoover, Sherry Karver, Scott Kildall, Barbara Kossy, Tony Labat, Mark Leibowitz, Charlie Levin, Jennifer Locke, Kara Maria, Andrew Mezvinsky, Daniel Newman, Nigel Poor, Isabel Reichert, Tim Roseborough, Roberto Rovira, Elizabeth Sher, and Michael Zheng. Curated by Hanna Regev.

Filed under: Long View Art — mbartalos @ 11:58 pm

September 2, 2011

Keeping an Eye on Surveillance

I’m currently working on a large wall installation for an upcoming group show titled “Keeping an Eye on Surveillance.” My piece, titled “RGB-123,” references airborne observation tech-nology as described in my Long View posts about remote sensing from outer space and McMurdo’s role in high-altitude scientific research.


This photo shows the art in progress on my studio floor. I’m creating and grouping sculptural elements to suggest an array of airborne surveillance instruments within a circular composi-tion measuring eight feet in diameter. The backs of the pieces will be painted red, green and blue, casting RGB (video) color shadows when installed to ‘float’ an inch or so off the surface of the gallery wall.

“Keeping an Eye on Surveillance” opens on Saturday, September 10, 6-9 PM at the Performance Art Institute, 575 Sutter Street in San Francisco. The exhibition runs through October 22 and I’ll be posting pictures of the completed installation here once the show is up.

Filed under: Long View Art — mbartalos @ 6:21 pm

August 10, 2011

Antarctic Item 011


Like many of the exquisitely oxidized artifacts in my Long View Waste Stream Reclamation collection, this can with ‘teeth’ was found and donated to the project by Marble Point camp manager Randall “Crunch” Noring.

No label remains but the can’s contents was presumably agreeable judging by the many jabs to its lid, as if to empty every drop. Which isn’t inconceivable given the desolate, sub-freezing environment it was consumed in. Indeed, every drop of nourishment — agreeable or otherwise — counted back in the days of less-developed survival support and gear.

This vessel is among several retrieved Antarctic items I’ll be including in “Age of Wonder,” an upcoming group show in Northern California. The exhibition will feature my Long View project in progress which takes the form of a free-standing installation where Antarctic art and artifact engage each other in dialog. Look for a post here on the installation’s completion in the weeks to come.

Filed under: Items Reclaimed from the Ice — mbartalos @ 1:10 pm

July 12, 2011

Long View Study No. 18 (The Invisible Universe I)


At the bottom of the Earth, the 10-meter South Pole Telescope (SPT) is mapping the
farthest edges of the visible Universe. In the process, cosmologists have come to real-
ize that what we can see makes up only 5% of the mass and energy of our Universe.
The invisible remainder consists of 23% dark matter, an exotic form of matter that has
never been directly detected, and 72% dark energy, a mysterious substance fueling an
accelerated expansion of space itself.

Researchers are attempting to understand these phenomena in order to unlock some
of the deepest mysteries in cosmology; namely, where we came from and where we
are headed. They hope to ‘see’ warped space and warped time by novel means such
as harnessing dimples in space-time (described by Einstein in his theory of General Rel-
ativity) as giant “cosmic lenses.” Combining gravitational lensing observations, cosmic
background radiation studies, and simulations using supercomputers may one day
explain this strange form of mass-energy and the big-bang singularity from which it,
and we, were born.

My latest artwork imagines a slice of the invisible Universe, referencing the telescopic
shape associated with light beams, ultrasound imaging, and radar sweeps. Visualizing
the ‘unknown’ and ‘unseen’ intrigues me and I’ll be exploring the theme further in up-
coming studies. This piece was created with found printed matter, cut paper and graphite.

Filed under: Studies — mbartalos @ 11:20 pm

June 30, 2011

Long View Study No. 17 (South Pole Greenhouse)


My latest piece takes the Food Growth Chamber at the Amundsen-Scott Station for its subject. I touched on this curious greenhouse in a South Pole blog post a while ago, and thought it worth elaborating on a bit more.

The Growth Chamber is a semi-automated, computer-controlled, self-contained environment in operation since 2004, growing a variety of edible plants for research base residents and providing the only source of fresh fruit and vegetables for the winter crews’ 8-month stretches of isolation. Crops that thrive in this bright, humid space include lettuces, Asian greens, kale, chard, spinach, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, strawberries, cantaloupes, and melon vines, among many others.

Built by the National Science Foundation and developed under a NASA grant, the 70-cubic-yard space grows plants hydroponically using nutrient-rich water without soil or natural daylight. The technology of hydroponics allows the tailoring of temperature, humidity, lighting, airflow and nutrient conditions to get the best productivity out of plants year round anywhere in the world. And in worlds beyond as well, as the system serves as a prototype for future plant growth systems — and oxygen generators — for human colonies in outer space.

The chamber can also be seen as a model for growing crops in vertical farms in densely populated cities. With an estimated world population increase of 3 billion people by 2050, of which 80% are projected to live in urban areas, scientists see many benefits to hydroponic vertical farming. Examples include the reduction of transport and carbon emissions with local food production; reduction of pesticide use through controlled growing environments; protection of crops from weather-related problems; increased crop production through year-round farming; and conservation of natural resources by reducing the need for new farmland.


The South Pole greenhouse is operated remotely by the University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. Manager Lane Patterson refers to the chamber as a ‘growbot’ — a robot that grow things. He accesses it via computer and camera, assisting an on-site operator electronically. According to Patterson, the growbot requires about 140 liters (37 gallons) of water, sequesters about one kilogram of carbon dioxide and uses about 281 kilowatt hours of energy (equivalent to eight gallons of gasoline) per day. In turn, it yields about half a kilogram of oxygen and six kilograms of biomass (raw plant matter) daily. That translates to a little more than a half-pound per person per week, providing fresh organic salads to ‘Polies’ on a regular basis.

My collage features tomatoes from a vintage produce label pasted on letterpress makeready with cut paper and graphite. Presiding over the hydroponic harvest is a likeness of Annapurna, Hindu goddess of plenty and nourishment. The wood frame alludes to planter boxes, produce crates, and of course plants themselves.

The assemblage appears in Scott Massey‘s RRR Project featuring art inspired by recycling, sustainability, and environment themes. The latest issue, RRR.003, is viewable in free downloadable ezine format here.

Filed under: Studies — mbartalos @ 11:50 pm
« Previous PageNext Page »

Academy Blogroll