Dear Mr. Motl:
In its meeting of 19 October, the Commission of Fine Arts was pleased to hear an information presentation on the design of the convex obverse for the 2019 Apollo 11 Fiftieth Anniversary Commemorative Coin program. Noting that the design is being selected through a juried competition process, the Commission members provided comments for the U.S. Mint to convey to the jury at its meeting the next day and to consider in the development of the selected design.
In their discussion of the eighteen design submissions from artists previously selected by the jury, the Commission members supported the presented intention for the obverse to represent the combined efforts of many people in achieving the goals of the Apollo program, complementing the reverse depiction of the lunar landing itself. They noted that some of the artists chose to illustrate this theme by depicting one person as a representative of the group effort: one design featuring an unidentified astronaut (artist #341), and another design featuring a member of the public observing the Apollo 11 mission (artist #254). The Commission members commended the strength of these compositions, but they expressed concern that it is difficult to represent the very wide range of people involved in or affected by the space program with a single generic figure; they therefore discouraged the design approach of focusing on an individual. They expressed support for the concept by artist #328 to convey the group effort by depicting a ground-based mission control facility, with the spacecraft itself appearing in the background; however, they commented that this busy composition would be more successful if simplified to its essential elements. They encouraged the design approach of using technical elements to symbolize the achievements of the space program—such as the early Goddard rocket by artist #279, or the binary code for the peripheral text in the design by artist #254—while cautioning that such design elements should be understandable by the general public. They expressed concern that the motif of an astronaut’s footprint in the lunar soil, by artist #265, may seem overly familiar as a design feature. They expressed strong support for the composition of a rocket and equations set against the lunar surface in the design by artist #167, while they acknowledged that its artistic character relies on delicate line-work that would be illegible at the scale of the smaller coins in this program.
The Commission is pleased to participate in the design selection process for this commemorative coin program, as well as to have several representatives serve as part of the jury itself. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Acting Deputy Director
United States Mint
801 9th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20220