The Native American is looking up. A great blue heron wraps itself around the man’s right side; a bear cuddles up on his left side. His arms are outstretched.
But where the statue once held a peregrine in its hands, there’s been only emptiness since a vandal stole the falcon in the spring of 2009.
Needless to say, the defacement of the artwork has nettled those who work and volunteer at the Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay, where “Seasons Come, Seasons Go” has greeted visitors and schoolchildren since 2002, when Diane Blakeslee Brocato donated the 15-foot tall bronze statue to the museum. Created by Atascadero artist Mark Greenaway, its initial cost was $25,000.
The good news is that a new falcon should be coming home to its bronze aerie after the museum hosts a fundraiser Nov. 3 called Art for Art’s Sake.
Some 20 local restaurants and wineries are joining forces with more than two dozen area artists, who are all donating their food, wine and art to raise at least $8,000 to replace the falcon.
“The first thing our visitors see is the statue,” says Mary Golden, executive director of Central Coast Natural History Association. “It’s a tribute to our estuary connecting land, sea and sky with our human history. I am just amazed at our community coming together to restore it.”
Actually, it would be more amazing if the community didn’t rally around the museum.
Situated in Morro Bay State Park on a bayside rocky promontory that was once the site of the Morro Bay Golf Course’s clubhouse, the museum has been a touchstone for the area’s natural world since it was built almost 50 years ago.
Although the museum is open to the public every day of the year (with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day), perhaps its most enduring and far-reaching impact has been on generations of schoolkids who first discover Central Coast nature and the Morro Bay estuary through one of the museum’s numerous educational outreach programs.
Golden, who’s been the executive director of the Natural History Association for 3½ years after teaching at Colorado State University and running a nonprofit for breast cancer survivors, says the association sponsors 26 annual science and nature programs for middle schoolers. Half of those students come from area schools, the other half are under-served students who come from the San Joaquin Valley for a day of classes. About half of those students have never seen the ocean before.
“State parks are the second-biggest educator of children after schools,” says Golden, who adds that around 200 volunteer docents — some of whom have been at the museum for 30 years — will lead 4,500 students through science and nature programs this year, programs that don’t cost their schools a dime.
In fact, the museum, through the Natural History Association, is a terrific value: Only one paid state employee works at the museum; the rest of the operations and programs are carried out by docents and volunteers.
And that may help explain why so many fine restaurants, wineries and artists stepped up to the plate to help make whole “Seasons Come, Seasons Go.”
Artist Greenaway will remold the falcon from Peace Bronze, provided by Paul Ogren’s From War to Peace project. Ogren’s bronze is an alloy that uses copper wiring from now-defunct nuclear silos in the Upper Midwest — which certainly seems to fit with the statue’s hopeful and uplifting imagery and message.
Art for art’s sake
What: Artist reception, art auction and food and wine tasting.
Where: Museum of Natural History, 20 State Park Rd., Morro Bay State Park.
When: From 5 to 8 p.m, Thursday, Nov. 3.
Cost: $20; tickets can be bought at the door or by going to: ccnha.org/events/index.
Reach Bill Morem at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-7852.