Artful event will benefit bird, museum

Until 2009, an American Indian reaching skyward holding a peregrine falcon would welcome visitors to the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History.

But Mark Greenaway’s sculpture “Seasons Come, Seasons Go” donated by Diane Blakeslee Brocato was pilfered.

“In many native cultures, birds flying up symbolize prayer,” said Mary Golden, executive director of the Central Coast State Parks Association. “Our prayer is missing.”

Area artists decided the falcon needed to be replaced.

They started planning a fundraising event to replace the falcon and, by extension, support the Morro Bay museum’s endangered programs. They hope to attract 300 guests Thursday for their Arts4Art’s Sake event that starts at 5 p.m.

“We already have more than 35 high-quality pieces of art for auction. Judy Sullivan has gathered the art,” Golden said. “We have oils, watercolors, acrylics, a beautifully detailed owl wood carving and fabric art.

“I had an artist call from Nevada who wanted to donate her garden mural. She drove all the way here to give it to us. It is beautiful.

“There will be a silent and live auction. Dotty Hawthorne, Douglas Simms Stenhouse, Mark Greenaway, Sheree Brekke and Susan Wood are just a few who have donated, and 100 percent will stay with the museum and fund the restoration of the sculpture at our entrance,” Golden said.

Two State Parks Experience packages will be auctioned: a behind-the-scenes tour of Hearst Castle guided by Director Hoyt Fields, and a dinner prepared by Hearst Castle’s historian, Victoria Kastner, using original ranch recipes.

Local donations support the evening.

Ten restaurants, including Big Sky Cafe, Frankie & Lola’s and the Inn at Morro Bay; eight wineries, including Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery and Halter Ranch; and two microbreweries are taking part. Music will be provided.

Tickets are $10 for Central Coast Natural History Association members and $20 for nonmembers. They can be purchased at http://ccnha.org or by calling 772-2694, ext. 102.

The fundraiser is sponsored by Rabobank.

The Morro Bay facility is the only natural history museum in the State Parks system and as such relies on funding from the state. As funding declines, closure threats are regular.

“When we demonstrate community support and create ways to become our own funding source, we have a better chance to survive,” Golden said. “We are looking for long-term financial partners to invest in the museum.”

The Hind Foundation and Libbie Agran and Guy Fitzwater recently invested.

“The museum is a visitor magnet,” Golden explained. “We have 55,000 visitors and 4,500 coastal and Central Valley school groups visit annually.

“How do we teach our kids to conserve and protect our ocean resources if they don’t know what the ocean is?” she said.

Reach Judy Salamacha at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.