The Past of the Future of Space

“Elevator to the Moon: Retro-Future Visions of Space” is a petite, uneven show hiding in a back hallway at the massive, quirky bar-and-art venue Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia. The exhibit offers 15 artists the chance to “create work that celebrates beautifully flawed ideas” from the 20th century about what the 21st would be like.

The quality of the work varies tremendously. Dana Ellyn’s acrylic-on-canvas depiction of jetpack-equipped astronauts zooming toward a glowing Space Jesus in Rapture Rocketeers, for example, is a crime against kitsch. 

But intrepid artonauts will be rewarded by Steve Strawn’s three Space Invaders–inspired photo prints, where familiar bitmap Atari aliens become sinister shadows glimpsed through a haze of battle smoke and rain. Other highlights include a travel poster in which a friendly robot cruise ship captain bids “Aloha” from Mare Tranquillitatis, the moon’s waterless Sea of Tranquility. —Katherine Mangu-Ward 

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