2017 Lighthouse Lecture Series
Point Arena Lighthouse is pleased to present the fourth season of the popular Lighthouse Lecture Series. Each presentation takes place in the Fog Signal Building Museum and features a local naturalist, historian, volunteer or expert presenting on topics of public interest relevant to the Lighthouse or our area. Lectures in September through May will begin at 4 p.m.. lectures in June through August will begin at 5 p.m. All lectures last approximately one hour. This year’s lineup is as follows:
Sunday, March 19, 2017, 4 p.m. – Eric Wilder, grandson of Essie Parrish, on Yomta: Essie Parrish Through my Eyes – Presented
Sunday, April 16, 2017, 4 p.m. – Jeanne Jackson on Rare, Unusual and Beautiful Mendonoma Nature Sightings – Presented
Sunday, May 21, 2017, 4 p.m. – Steve Oliff on Lighthouse and Rollerville History
June 18, 2017, 5 p.m. – Lauren Sinnott on The Painted Portrait, Past and Present
Sunday, July 16, 2017, 5 p.m. – Tanya Smart on The History of the Point Cabrillo Light Station
Sunday, August 20, 2017, 5 p.m. – Lisa Giacomini on Running of The Red Abalone
Sunday, September 17, 2017, 4 p.m. – Judy Bryan Mello on The Silent Extinction
October – Eric Wilder and Family, topic TBD
Sunday, November 19, 2017, 4 p.m. – Nik Epanchin on Northern Elephant Seals
December – Glenn Funk, topic TBD
Admission to all lectures is $5 per person, with the proceeds benefiting the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. To make reservations or for more information on our lecture series and other special events, see our Calendar of Events or call the Lighthouse at 707-882-2809 extension 1.
Spotlight On Our Next Lecture
Sunday, May 21, 2017, 4 p.m. – Steve Oliff on Lighthouse and Rollerville History
Steve Oliff, cartoonist/author/historian, will share fascinating facts from his “Early Days of Point Arena” history” book. He will also draw from his new book, “Guide Dog for the Coastally Curious.” This beautifully hand-illustrated booklet introduces two quirky escorts that take visitors on an adventurous, yet, educational quest as they travel the amazing Mendocino Coast. It is filled with incredible artwork, intricately detailed maps and many points of interest (some obvious to the naked eye – some not). It showcases historical events, local folklore, and humorous stories of past and present. Steve plans to use these historical stories as a jumping off point, and then see what to listeners are interested in hearing.
Steve Oliff is a cartoonist and historian who co-authored “The Early Days of Point Arena” with Cheri Carlstedt in 2005. He recently published “Guide Dog for the Coastally Curious”, a collection of his Independent Coast Observer comic strips that provide visitors to the coast with a unique look at the area, plus a bit of history.
Future Lecture Series Details
On Sunday, June 18 Lauren Sinnott will present “The Painted Portrait, Past and Present.” This lecture will ask the question: “In the 1500s would you talk to a portrait?” The word for “portrait” in Italian is ritratto, which means “portrayal” but also “reproduction” or “copy” — a stand-in for the subject. Many Renaissance portraits were cherished portable objects, often with a special box or protective cover, and were brought out for appreciation and even communication with the sitter, if he or she were not present. So, yes, you might hold the picture in your hands and speak to it, rather than having it hang decoratively on your wall.
Lauren will educate the audience on how far portraiture goes back in history. As early as 7,000 BC during the Neolithic period, people living around Jericho in the West Bank reconstructed the faces of their dead with plaster applied to the actual skull of the deceased. These heads are very lifelike, with shell inlay for the eyes and painted details of hair, mustaches, and facial features. The skulls (and bodies) were buried under homes, so this is quite different from displayed portraits as we know them, but related to the Renaissance idea of “reproducing’ someone no longer with you.
Ancient Greece and then Rome were home to a rich portrait tradition in sculpture, and the Roman occupation of Egypt inspired an especially vibrant style of painted portrait, again associated with the dead. Mostly from the Faiyum Basin, these likenesses were painted on wooden panels attached to the cloth wrapping the face of a mummy. They are notable for their luminous, lifelike eyes, as if the person still breathed.
First in Italy and then northern Europe, the Renaissance (meaning rebirth) was inspired by Classical Antiquity and pulled art out from the church into secular life. Cherished household goods were painted along with the subject of a portrait to celebrate their world and life. This went hand in hand with painting techniques that achieved an amazing new realism! Think architectural perspective and oil paint that could reproduce light and shadow. Also, a rising middle class began to commission portraits; they became more widespread. The story of subsequent centuries is told in its portraits: who do they show? Why were they made and how were they used?
Finally, Lauren will answer if the painted portrait is dead. “Well, no, but something happened that really changed things, especially in the realm of normal people who are born neither to wealth nor title.” It began in the 1820s in France… and by now you can do it yourself with your phone. It is the advent of photography, which eclipsed the need to have a painter reproduce your image. So much more accurate, so much easier! But still, the painted portrait lives. She will talk about how, and why.
I am a painter, seamstress, graphic designer and art historian, whose residence in downtown Point Arena is home, studio and gallery all in one. My decorative scheme is the same as that of manors and palaces everywhere: put art in every available space.
I grew up in Wisconsin, then lived as an exchange student in beautiful Belgium, followed by many years at Rice University in Houston, Texas, achieving my BA as well as BFA in painting and MA in art history. I taught drawing briefly at Rice and Art History at the Museum of Fine Arts. After traveling cross-country with my kids in a converted school bus in 1999, I proudly call Mendocino County my home. Here, my other vocation was politics, being a long-time city council member and former Mayor of Point Arena.
I love painting, sewing, and designing, picking edible plants in my yard, and living close to nature. I love intellectual pursuits and being an informed citizen with paid subscriptions to many of our top news sources. I depend on the New Yorker magazine for enlivening my magical coffee hour, and believe that ignorance of history is like walking backwards into the future with your eyes shut. The periods that intrigue me are many, but especially the Italian Renaissance, ancient Minoan Crete and the Paleolithic era.
My most recent accomplishment was painting a 16 x 8 ft. mural for the Community Foundation in their main hall in Ukiah. It depicts the entirety of Mendocino County with geographical features, flora and fauna (including a mountain lion, black bear, gray whale, sea otter and Seabiscuit!) You can see photos on my Facebook page.
My next projects are a wolf/dolphin mural for my front door and beginning my historical novel called A Portrait of Two Men, set in Renaissance Venice. My business website is ArtGoddess.com.
On Sunday, July 16 Tanya Smart, President of the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association, will give an informative and fascination presentation on “The History of the Point Cabrillo Light Station.” This presentation will cover the history, technology and restoration of Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park.
Tanya began volunteering at Point Cabrillo in 1999 as the Education Program coordinator. She joined the Board of the North Coast Interpreter’s Association (precursor to PCLK) in 2000 and served as the Interim Executive Director for that organization from January through August of 2001. Tanya joined the Board of the PCLK in 2001 upon its incorporation. In addition to PCLK Board duties, Tanya assists with volunteer coordination and training, coordination of the annual Whale Festivals and overseeing the education program. She holds a BS in Biological Sciences and MA in Zoology from the University of California at Davis and teaches Environmental Science and Marine Mammal Biology for Mendocino College. Current volunteer activities in addition to working with the PCLK are with The Fort Bragg Operations Group of The Marine Mammal Center where she rescues stranded marine mammals and gives education programs.
On Sunday, August 20 Lisa Giacomini will present “Running of the Red Abalone.” This will be a varied presentation with both some fun stuff about the stunning sea snail and facts about the Red Abalone that we find here on the North Coast. How we find them, take them and prepare them for eating. Maybe a few diving stories thrown in for fun!
Lisa is a resident of Point Arena and lives with her husband Warren Giacomini on Windy Hollow Road. Lisa has been diving since 1992 and is also NAUI certified for SCUBA. Lisa’s other interests are entrepreneurial related where she invents, designs and manufactures lifesaving equipment for police, firefighters and military. Her hobbies include spearfishing, growing Mendocino Renegade Certified foods, cooking, forest foraging for mushrooms and hunting and generally everything “outdoors”. Lisa is the Head Cook and Bottle Washer for Baby Tomato. Lisa and her husband Warren also offer personalized Abalone diving lessons for those who would like to learn about our beautiful, blue pacific from May through October. Don’t be afraid!! Just DO IT!
On Sunday, September 17 Judy Bryan Mello will present “The Silent Extinction.” This unique lecture will address the dramatic drop in giraffe populations over the past 30 years that has seen the world’s tallest land mammal classified as vulnerable to extinction. What is happening with the giraffe?
Judy’s husband Frank is originally from California and met Judy in Mississippi through work. In 1998, Frank went to West Texas and fell in love with Sable antelope, so much so that he brought some back to Judy’s family ranch in Mississippi. That was the beginning of B Bryan Preserve (BBP). In 2004, Frank retired from corporate life and Judy had an opportunity to move out West with her work. They loaded up 11 animals and moved to their new home in Point Arena. BBP is one of the few private facilities that is certified as a related facility with the American Zoological Association and now houses over 65 animals – Endangered Grevy’s and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras, Sable, Roan and Kudu antelope and a bachelor herd of the endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe. In addition to her work at BBP, Judy still has her corporate job that requires weekly travel and serves on the board of the Point Arena Merchants Association (PAMA).