About the Book
It all began in 1962 when a 15 year old artist who was fascinated by the Space Race, created an ambitious oil painting depicting various aspects of Astronaut John Glenn’s orbital flight in Friendship 7 and succeeded in presenting it to him personally. Ten years later, Chief Warrant Officer Chet Jezierski was an Army helicopter pilot and a veteran of the Vietnam war with two Purple Hearts. He became aware of the NASA Art Program during the exciting period of time when the manned missions to the moon were being conducted. In 1972, after submitting samples of his work for evaluation, Chet was invited to join a select few artists given the opportunity to be present, witness and to document America’s leap into space first hand, under the guidance and jurisdiction of the agency. It would turn into a 16 year relationship. Repeated access to astronauts and launch pads was made possible by clearances only granted to official NASA Artists, and he compiled a large volume of works interpreting his up-close observations. Many of his contributions were self-motivated and not as a result of documenting any specific mission. His first assignment from Program Director James Dean put him on a team scheduled to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch of Apollo 16. To this day, he feels lucky to have watched and felt one of the giant Saturn V rockets come to life and thunder skyward. That was followed by the important job of solo artist aboard the Recovery Carrier Ticonderoga awaiting the Pacific splashdown of Apollo 17’s Command Module. As the Space Shuttle era progressed during the 1980’s, new Program Director Bob Schulman asked him to document three launches, including the first at night. An added honor was being assigned to cover the crew of STS-4 as they suited up on the morning of take-off. The body of work he accomplished is comprised of on-site sketches, finished drawings and paintings created in his studio. A number of these have been included in exhibitions at the National Air & Space Museum, the Permanent Art Gallery at the Kennedy Space Center and on Art Train’s two year “Artistry of Space” tour. For this portfolio the artist selected favorite pieces he feels best portray what he has experienced, accompanied by photos showing him at work on location during actual assignments.