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John Bluck, artist. Livermore, California

John G. Bluck, oil painter specializing in space art, was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1948. He learned the craft of photography from his father who started the first color photographic laboratory in Chicago.

"I learned composition by making many black and white enlargements even before I was a teenager. My dad used to be very critical of composition, contrast and quality. I think that criticism served me well so that the skill of making powerful photographs became automatic to me," Bluck said. Knowledge of the golden mean and other compositional techniques enabled him to compose well while shooting.

In college, at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, he earned a BS in Communications, 1970, and an MSc in Radio and Television in 1971.

"The first time I picked up a professional motion picture camera, I was surprised how easily I was able to follow action and compose on the fly. I think that that was due to my dad's teaching in the darkroom." He shot antiwar demonstrations, sports and other events including a civil rights march in Cairo, Illinois, for public television news. Later, he was a teaching assistant in the Department of Radio and Television, and he was in charge of two regular student public television shows on WILL-TV, Champaign-Urbana.

Bluck was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War, but he stayed in the States at Ft. Lewis, Washington, where he was an Army journalist and broadcaster. He wrote articles and shot pictures for the post newspaper, "The Ranger."

He also announced an Army radio program that was on five radio stations in the Seattle-Tacoma area. He shot film of numerous Army helicopter rescues of injured civilians in the Northwest. Many of these news clips were used on local television news. Later, he worked briefly for KIRO-TV (CBS affiliate), Seattle. After he finished his Army service, he worked in Miami at WCKT-TV (NBC affiliate) as a cinematographer covering crime, politics and other events for local news.

In 1974, he moved to Washington, DC to work for WMAL-TV (now known as WJLA-TV)(ABC affiliate) where he shot film and tape for several years, covering politics, sports and crime. In 1976 he was runner-up to Cameraman of the Year, Northeast Region, National Press Photographers' Association. He was also a member of the White House News Photographers' Association.

He was one of five or six people in the television pool who filmed the delivery of the letter of resignation of President Nixon following Watergate.

"Filming sports was my favorite job, though," Bluck said. "I covered baseball, racing, polo, tennis, football, you name it," he said.

"I also worked on the crew which filmed an interview with pop artist Peter Max, and he gave me a quick sketch he had made on the set. I think that is one of the events which made me take more notice of art."

Bluck also went to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, quite a bit after he filmed it for TV. "I filmed it when it first opened, and I liked the modern art more than I expected I would."

"I also filmed the Air and Space Museum when it first opened in DC. That's when I really became interested in space."

He also worked at WMAL, an ABC network-owned radio station in Washington, DC. There, he was a broadcast engineer who played records on the radio as well as engineered commercials and public affairs programs. "I engineered a public affairs radio show about the Voyager spacecraft. It carried a record for extraterrestrials who might find the craft in space someday. The record contains sights and sounds of earth. Jim Slade, now the ABC science correspondent produced a show from the sounds included on the record. The program peaked my interest about space even more."

Much later, Bluck was executive producer of a television show featuring a number of science fiction and space artists.

"Astronaut Alan Bean, who had walked on the moon, was interviewed, and I really liked his art. Years later, in 1992, after I decided to paint, I was surprised how easy it was for me to paint space art too. That is now my favorite subject, although I would also like to begin doing more documentary art. I would like to portray historical events because I saw a lot of them in person during my news career when I filmed them."

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