Alabama Original: Earthrise

The painting inspired Huntsville-based singer Lana White to write her song "Earthrise."

Posted: Jun 4, 2021 3:23 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2021 6:17 PM

A song, a painting, space and sawdust. What do all these things have in common? Huntsville! Through a story that is interconnected. It's a unique one with lots of moving parts.

The seeds one Florida Sycamore tree started as have made quite the journey. "Those seeds went to the moon, then came back from the moon," said artist Chris Calle.

The sawdust-filled painting by Chris Calle that inspired Lana White to sing

They were brought there by the crew of Apollo 14, 50 years ago.

After returning to Earth, the seeds were planted at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The tree grew quite large until a hurricane knocked it down in 2017. "All this dust...all this sawdust was created and it was almost like a lightbulb," said Calle.

That sawdust now lives on. In Calle's painting.

Artist Chris Calle has his artwork on display at Huntsville's Space and Rocket Center.

He says the inspiration for his sawdust-filled painting comes from astronaut turned artist Alan Bean, who also has artwork on display at the Space and Rocket Center.

"Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean, who became an artist, would incorporate it into all of his paintings. He took some of the fabric from his space suit and cut it up into little pieces and incorporate that," said Calle.

And that sawdust painting isn't the only story to tell.

"The song was great," said Calle.

Lana White - who's from Huntsville - wrote the song "Earthrise." 

That song is the story of Calle's painting.

"It just sprouted, like, 'nothing's wasted.' The photograph spurred the idea of the painting, you know, the seeds, you know the dust from the seeds."

"To tie the song, the painting, the history all together in a really unique way, I think," said Calle.

Apollo 14's mission now lives on. And Huntsville plays a big role in that.

Calle says he has some sawdust left. He'll add it to more paintings in the future.

The painting is at Calle's home in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He says he's going to keep it there as part of his personal collection.

For all of our 'Alabama Originals," click HERE.

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