Art and astronomy at the Bolinas Museum


The Bolinas Museum invites you to the opening of three remarkable exhibitions this Saturday, Sept. 22 that explore astronomy through history, contemporary art and historical Lick Observatory archival treasures. Then, filmmaker Joel Coen brings us into small and intimate observations. Humans have always sought to interpret the night sky through diagrams, illustrations, navigational charts and photographs, from 17,000-year-old paintings of stars on cave walls in Lascaux, France to the staggering revelations of 21st century space travel. In this spirit, museum director Jennifer Gately brought together nationally known and local artists for the exhibition “Cosmic Wonders: The Moon, The Stars, and the Space Between.” Their mediums vary from a ballpoint pen and historic heliogravures to sophisticated and experimental photography to re-mastered historic NASA images. Included are Russell Crotty, Linda Connor, Michael Light, Amelia Konow, Charles Lindsay, Bolinas-Stinson science teacher Don Jolley and Point Reyes Station photographer Marty Knapp, who will speak at the opening. 

The Lick Observatory, established on Mount Hamilton in 1888, is the world’s oldest permanently occupied mountain-top observatory, and its scientists continue to work on the pioneering edge of astrophysics. “Treasures from the Archive: Photographs and Logbooks from Lick Observatory” is curated by Tony Misch, the observatory’s director of collections. This exhibition includes historic artifacts from a seminal time in astronomy and objects of intrinsic beauty and interest. Misch will be among the luminaries participating in a Great Minds panel discussion on Nov. 10, one of several exciting related events that also include “A Walk to Pluto” with Don Jolley on Oct. 6. 

Finally, “Joel Coen: Peek: Optical Haiku,” a new exhibition curated by Wayne Campbell, brings us into the private world of master filmmaker Joel Coen. The artist takes quiet pleasure in handcrafting three-dimensional optical viewers—similar to 19th century stereopticons—that combine objects and images into a visual poem. Each viewer can only be looked into by an individual, so Coen invites an intimate communion between the artist and an audience of one. 

Preview talks start at 2 p.m. and a reception follows from 3 to 5 p.m. Entry to the museum is always free.

Elia Haworth is the curator of coastal Marin art and history for the Bolinas Museum.