Thursday, October 20, 2005

Alien Nation - Exhibit Out To Show Truth About UFOs

Jesse Marcel & Debris
Leonard Martinez
El Paso Times

     It's all there in black and white -- at least for those who believe in such things.

     In the summer of 1947, a UFO allegedly crashed near Roswell.

     For those who believe in UFOs, it was the undeniable proof of the existence of Unidentified Flying Objects, which was subsequently covered up by the government.

     And for those who don't believe, it was all an elaborate misunderstanding.

     El Pasoans can judge for themselves by visiting the Roswell Exhibit, on display through Oct. 31 at the Art Junction, 500 W. Paisano.

     "A lot of people ask me 'Do you believe?' and I tell them to look at the faces of the people involved and read their testimony and to make up their own minds," said Albert Acosta of the El Paso Natural History Museum who worked with the UFO museum in Roswell to create the traveling exhibit.

     The exhibit features large canvas photographs, sculptures and replica artifacts.

     The exhibit shows different items that document when the crash was called a UFO crash by the government to subsequent claims by the government that it was not a UFO but debris from a weather balloon.

     Also included in the exhibit are a cast of the alien prop used in the Showtime movie "Roswell," as well as toys inspired by the UFO phenomenon.

     "I think of it as American mythology," said Marty Martin, who is co-director of the El Paso Natural History Museum with Acosta. "It is a popular subject, like paleontology."

     The exhibit has drawn inquiries elsewhere in the country after record-breaking attendance at the Southwest Florida Museum of History in Fort Myers, Fla., where it was previously displayed.

     "As a result of the show in Florida, we've been contacted with inquiries about the exhibit possibly being displayed at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and the Strategic Air and Space Museum for the 60th anniversary of the Roswell crash in 2007," Martin said.

     Michael Alford, president of the El Paso Art Association, which is hosting the exhibition, said his organization is happy to have an exhibit that fascinates so many people.

     "Either you are sold and believe in UFOs or you don't," Alford said. "There is no gray area. It's unique for us to host it because as artists, we use our imaginations every day. With this exhibit, we ask people to open their minds."

     Alford said that with Halloween coming up, it allows the imagination of people to run wild, making visiting the exhibit more fun and exciting.

     One portion of the exhibit shows how UFOs are neither a recent nor strictly American phenomenon.

     "Here in this painting of the Virgin Mary with child, there is a shepherd and a dog in the background drawing your attention to what the artist really wanted you to see," Martin said, pointing to the oval-shaped flying disc in the sky blown up to a larger size next to the complete replica painting from the Middle Ages.

     Liz Gaidry recently visited the exhibit.

     "I thought it was very, very interesting, from the newspaper clippings to the radio broadcast," Gaidry said. "Whether there are UFOs or not, it's a great mystery. Some days I think this is probably true. Then when my logical mind takes over, I think it isn't true. It depends on which day you ask me."

     Though Acosta doesn't outright say he believes in UFOs, he said he understands why it might be necessary for those in power to not want us to know that UFOs and aliens exist.

     "Can you imagine what would happen to the economy? What would happen to our religious beliefs? What would happen if each of us realized we are a progeny of something else? What would that do to the world?" Acosta asked.

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