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Summer 2002
CUNY Biologists Cultivate New Medicines
Remarkable June Grads Break the Mold
Major CUNY Response to Nursing Shortage
Harlem Hospital Leader a Role Model for Salk Scholars
"Votes Rebuild New York" Campaign Launched
Goldstein “Closeup” On Honors College Governors Island, High Schools
CUNY ANNOUNCES 9/11 Memorial Competition
CCNY Engineer Honored by the Nation

Seminar-in-a-Book Ponders 9/11

From "Ground Zero" Rapper to City Council Candidate
Turning Anger into Literature
Model City Council Planned in the Fall
Highlights of 2002-2003 State Adopted Budget
Two New CUNY Trustees Appointed
Biomedical Engineer Wins Guggenheim
City University Leading Producer of Hispanic Graduates
The Challenge of AIDS in Africa
Bilingual: College French, Scientist's Latin
Presidential Appointments for Queens and York Colleges

Queens College Artist Adds New Passion to His Palette

El Diario-La Prensa Editor Honored at Model Senate

Intel Chief Plunges into Memory

Dual Citizen of the Pen

"Opticals" for Woody Allen, Illustrations for Mother Nature
CUNY Faculty Experts on Post-9/11 Response Listed on Web Site
 
 

“Opticals” for Woody Allen, Illustrations for Mother Nature

For about four decades, Dick Rauh commuted in from Westport, Connecticut, to a firm on 45th Street in Manhattan called The Optical House, where he was a principal and for many years its art director. He and his colleagues specialized in creating the “opticals”—the dissolves, titles, and special effects—for major films and countless 30- and 60-second commercials.

bougainvillea plantThe Optical House had a famed “optical bench” and the expertise to capture special effects on film—“Of course, everything’s now in digital form,” Rauh says from his present home in Norwalk—and served top-of-the-line clients. He supervised the main titles for all of Woody Allen’s movies and also worked for Mike Nichols, Alan Pakula, and the noted film producer and purveyor of salad dressings, Paul Newman. And his commercials helped sell everything from Dove soap to Bulova watches.

Then Rauh retired…and the plant world hasn’t been safe since. All his life he had painted while traveling or on vacation, and he decided to take botanical illustration up more seriously in classes at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Rauh’s skills eventually brought him into collaboration with botanical scholars, notably those at Lehman College like Dr. Dominick Basile.

crocus plantEventually, Rauh’s ignorance of the flora he was capturing—preferably on vellum, the medium of the great 18th-century illustrators—began to weigh on him. “I didn’t know anything!” he recalls. Soon he was a serious student of botany, and by 1997 a Master’s in plant sciences from Lehman College was his.

Finding his studies satisfying and encouraged by Prof. Basile, Rauh decided to cultivate an even higher degree. He received his CUNY Ph.D. in biological sciences last year with a dissertation on Streptocarpus prolixus, a species that puts all its eggs, so to speak, in one basket: its entire vegetative structure is one big leaf (it’s a unifoliate, in botanists’ parlance). And he is continuing morphogenetic research on the plant, focusing on how certain hormones affect its growth.

Meanwhile, Rauh’s reputation has been spreading like wildflowers, for reasons made obvious on this page. He is now a teacher in the Botanical Garden’s Illustration Program, his prints and paintings hang in many private collections, and he has had several one-man shows. He has also created illustrations for the Parks Department, Lehman College, and for a Yale University Press Guide to Winter Wildflowers.

ontogeny plantA past president of the International Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Rauh is currently focusing his energies on a heart’s desire that involves his profession and his alma mater. “Lehman’s presence in computer graphics is very strong,” Rauh says, and he is working to see that a certificate program in science illustration is established that would bring the College’s computer graphics, art, and science faculties into collaboration.

Rauh proudly recalls working on the opticals for one of the Star Wars movies. That he can’t quite recall which of the several Star Wars installments it was says a lot. His thoughts are elsewhere. Clearly, he has moved on from the intergalactic special effects of George Lucas to the even more breathtaking special effects of Mother Nature—all those bravura stigmas, sepals and stamens, and extravagant petals, pistils and perianths.

fruits At center is a bougainvillea, the orange part of the plant not being a flower but a leaf-like structure. At top, a crocus. Above, a Liriodendron tulipfera, or tulip tree, which Rauh uses in his class to teach various stages of ontogeny, or growth. At left, a watercolor of the fruit of the rose family, which Rauh uses as a teaching aid for his illustration class at the Botanical Garden; clockwise from upper left are the rose hip, pome, drupe, drupecetum, and achenecetum.