My family and I were absolutely thrilled to be part of such a special event, and we are extremely grateful for all who contributed to making the night so magical.
Also in attendance were John Muir’s great grandson Bill Hanna, his great-great grandson Robert Hanna, and his great-great-great granddaughter Sierra.
"My family and I were absolutely thrilled to be part of such a special event, and we are extremely grateful for all who contributed to making the night so magical," Robert Hanna said. "What a feeling to stand and observe the community's togetherness."
The preview party, which also drew a number of Shell Martinez Refinery employees, was very much a community event, with participation in planning from members of the John Muir Historical Site in Martinez, the Martinez Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Martinez, the Martinez Unified School District and the Environmental Studies Academy.
Martinez residents pored over photos of plant specimens collected by Muir, the famous naturalist who founded the Sierra Club, while enjoying Chardonnay from the Muir-Hanna Winery, owned by Bill Hanna. Haute Stuff, a longtime Martinez restaurant, catered the party.
A silent auction of a planned John Muir mural raised money for the mural project, as did a raffle for some 20 items, including DVDs and books from Ken Burns’ documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” and John Muir commemorative quarters.
Cathy Ivers, the volunteer coordinator at the Shell Martinez Refinery, spearheaded the preview party, working closely with Carrie Lederer, the Bedford Gallery’s curator of exhibitions and programs.
"This event exceeded my expectations in every way," Ivers said. "The hard-working and talented organizing committee was so much fun to work with; the crowd that attended was without peer; the food and drink were superb; and the subject matter obviously resonates with folks in the 21st century."
Leanne Peterson, executive director of Main Street Martinez, said, "It was an honor for Main Street Martinez to be part of such a well-run event." She noted that many downtown Martinez businesses are giving discounts to customers who bring in their tickets to the exhibit, which runs through March 27.
John Muir lived in Martinez from 1890 until his death in 1914. His house is preserved as a National Historic Site, and park rangers were also at the preview party to answer questions from guests.
The exhibit at the Bedford Gallery features images of specimens of plants that Muir collected and preserved on his travels throughout North America. The specimens were scanned and digitally enhanced by Stephen Joseph, a Pleasant Hill photographer. The exhibit was curated by Bonnie J. Gisel, an environmental historian and the curator at the Sierra Club's LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park.
JoAnne Dunec of the John Muir Association board of directors called the exhibit "stunningly photographed."
"The John Muir Association is proud to be part of the exhibition and to loan a portion of the William and Maymie Kimes Collection, including an actual letter penned by Muir in 1909," Dunec said. "Sharing such glimpses into Muir's life and botanical passion inspires all of us to 'keep close to nature's heart.'"
After finishing its display at the Bedford Gallery, the exhibit will travel to museums, botanical gardens and parks throughout North America.