E. Lee Wilson, Jr. was accepted to exhibit his Cosmos artwork at Spacefest IX in Tucson, Arizona, in July of 2018. This was his first time showing his work at this event, and it was very exciting! To be in the same show with some of the best space artists on the planet, as well as being able to meet notable astronauts and space experts of various kinds was certainly a dream come true for him. Lee even got to meet moonwalkers for the first time! It was truly stellar!
Lee brought a combination of small originals and Artography Impressions™ framed prints. People seemed to gravitate to the original work. Two were sold to a collector from Switzerland, and one when to the daughter of a moonwalker. The last one was later purchased by a Shuttle and ISS astronaut.
As Lee later realized, you never know who you're going to meet at Spacefest. Tim Dodd, The Everyday Astronaut, a famous Youtuber, came by to look at his work. It was a magical moment!
A bittersweet moment came near the end of Spacefest, when Lee got to meet the daughter of Apollo astronaut and fourth man to walk on the moon, Alan Bean. As Lee recalls:
"Alan had been a hero of mine, because in addition to being an astronaut, he was also an amazing artist, who painted about his time in the Apollo space program. I had received his coffee table book Painting Apollo just a few weeks before (on my birthday in May)."
"Alan was supposed to come to Spacefest and exhibit his work, as he had done several times before, but tragically, he died just a few weeks before – on my birthday! I was heartbroken! I was really looking forward to meeting him, and showing him my work. Alan had a reputation at Spacefest for spending time with the other artists, critiquing their work, and encouraging them. I never got to do that."
"When I found out Alan had died, a few days after my birthday I decided to create a new Cosmos painting, in honor of him. I selected am image from his book and used elements from it as inspiration. I painted a moonscape with an Earthrise, barely peeking over the horizon. My painting style is a little like his, so I exaggerated that for this piece, then placed a small meteorite fragment in the lunar surface of the artwork. It was my therapy art."
"When I met Alan's daughter, Amy Sue Bean, I told her the story, and then decided to give her the painting. It was my way to connect with Alan, through her. It warms my heart to know that now she shares that connection with my art."
There were other connections made during that first exhibition at Spacefest. One of those was meeting Dustin Dickins, with Top Meteorite. Dustin loved Lee's work and they decided to start trading art for meteorite material. This has allowed Lee to obtain much more rare and expensive samples, like Lunar and Martian meteorite specimens. Some of them are now embedded in the newest works that Lee has created.
Spacefest is now a goal for Lee to attend and exhibit in every year!