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A.P. Henry’s art out of this world

Local artist Andrew Patrick Henry’s work has always been avante-gard, cutting edge. So is his look, a sort of down home Salvador Dali vibe. Now, as part of an art in space plan he dreamed up with two friends, one of his pieces has soared to great heights. Henry, a accomplished muralist who is in high demand, had an idea for murals in space. He approached Nathan McGarity and Taylor Lamm, the principal partners in Oconee Brewing in Greensboro, Ga. who agreed to partner in the ambitious project. Henry met McGarity and Lamm when he painted a mural on the side of their brewery in Greensboro. They agreed to send the first craft beer into space along with Henry’s first art in space. The trio acquired a high-altitude weather balloon though they won’t specifically discuss exactly how they did so. ‘We have our contacts,’ Henry said cagily. The trio met on a hilltop near Greensboro early on the morning of Nov 3. A box like container was attached to the ballon which was inflated. Rods extended from the container. Affixed to them were a can of Oconee Brewing’s Round Here Beer and Henry’s hip rendition of an astronaut walking on another planet. The beer had to be de-carbonated and heat sealed to survive the trip. Also in the container was a bag of galaxy hops. The folks from Clayviation Drone Productions got involved. The rudimentary spacecraft was equipped with two GoPro cameras, heat emitters to keep the cameras at operating temperatures, two GPS trackers of which one failed and two business cards. ’We sent two cards in case one of them failed,’ Henry quipped. The beer/art space rig was launched from a clearing with video and still cameras trained on it and drones circling to film the ascent. The balloon rose to 120,432 feet until pressure burst the balloon after it had grown to nearly 23 feet in diameter – nearly three times its size at launch. The balloon crash landed in a plowed field near Wrens, Ga. about 60 miles from the launch site by road. The contents remained relatively unscathed after free-falling over 120,00 feet. The balloon and container are on display at the brewery. And Henry’s mural, the first in space? ‘It is under lock and key and guarded 24 hours a day,’ he reports. The Clayviation video of the event is a masterpiece in its own right and has become an online sensation. Last week it was the subject of a feature on CNN. So, where does this fledgling space program go from here? ’We started with the balloon. We will try a rocket next. Who knows. Onward and upward, I say. To infinity and even further. Remember, its about the light,’ Henry concluded. (Editor’s note: Henry’s art is prevalent around town. He did the murals for the recent lensing of ‘˜Sharp Objects’ here by HBO. He is currently doing a mural in the pedestrian tunnel under College Drive on the Gordon State College campus.)

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