The summer of 2011 saw the passing of a distinguished Abstract Expressionist artist, according to a New York Times article from August 24, who was part of the circle of New York artists that in the 1950s and 1960s included Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline.
The article also referred to this artist as the father of the alien abduction movement, after what he described as his own UFO sighting, on Cape Cod in 1964 he began gathering the stories of people who said they had not only seen spaceships but had also been spirited away in them on involuntary and unpleasant journeys.
That abstract expressionist artist, and alien abduction researcher, was Budd Hopkins, who split his time between his New York City apartment and his Cape Cod home/studio as he pursued both fields of interest.
As an artist, he was a painter and sculptor whose works appear in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, to name just a handful.
Hopkins’ interest in extraterrestrial visitors began after an unusual episode in August 1964 while driving with his wife and a friend from Truro to Provincetown to attend a cocktail party.
Both accounts told a nearly identical tale of viewing an aluminum colored, featureless, soundless, elliptical object hovering in the sky above the dunes at Provincetown, seen as they traveled along Route 6 approaching the stretch of that highway that passes Pilgrim Lake to the right, and with Provincetown Harbor and the Pilgrim Monument to the left and off in the distance.
At first, Hopkins wrote, the trio thought the object was a balloon tethered to the ground as it remained stationary while puffs of clouds hurried by, from East to West, being pushed along by a breeze from off the ocean which did not appear to affect the balloon. At times, clouds partially obscured the object, though it could be seen ghosted like a ship in a fog bank, according to both accounts.
Hopkins eventually stopped the car and the 3 got out to watch as the mysterious craft, which they now realized was not a balloon, headed East against the wind toward the ocean. It then disappeared behind the clouds and was gone.
At first Hopkins felt the object, if not of this Earth, was an unmanned probe of some sort, dropped by an outside intelligence into our atmosphere to survey the area. It wasn’t until later that he seriously considered the notion that the extraterrestrial vehicle held extraterrestrial beings piloting the craft.
The sighting intrigued Hopkins. He began to read up on similar cases, and listened intently when others in his social circle spoke of similar experiences. Some of these took place in the vicinity of the Cape tip, including a number of cases of strange lights in the sky.
Throughout the later part of the 1960s, art remained his primary focus while UFO study became a hobby of sorts.
But during the 1970s, this balance would change.
Hopkins admitted that at first he considered the idea of alien abduction rubbish.
This notion was perhaps most famously illustrated by the 1961 case of Barney and Betty Hill while traveling through New Hampshire, revealed through hypnosis.
Over time, Hopkins’ stance softened.
In conducting his own research he discovered many striking similarities in abductees’ stories, including a passage of time for which they could not account. His article in The Village Voice put Hopkins on the map as an authority on the subject.
The field of alien abduction research began to overtake his work as an artist. The publication of his first book, Missing Time, in 1981, confirmed this shift in interest, and other books followed.
Over years of interviews, Hopkins came to the conclusion that aliens were experimenting with the sexual biology of their human subjects in an attempt to strengthen their own gene pool, which he believed had become depleted. He referred to abductees as victims because they were unwilling test subjects in these scary medical procedures and felt that nothing positive could come from these alien encounters.
Today, the notion of alien abduction resides somewhat off center of conventional thinking. Yet whether real or fanciful, UFOs and alien abduction theories are part of today’s social culture.
In large part, that’s due to the work of Budd Hopkins after his 1964 Cape Cod sighting.