Bolinas Wildlife Gallery


of an Exhibition

by Eric Siegel

Published on August 27, 2007, Modified on August 27, 2009

  • Description:

    We just spent a week in Bolinas, CA a sleepy little town that time forgot in West Marin, 30 miles from SF as the crow flies, 1.5 hour drive from the City, and about 40 years back from SF in subjective historical time. It is, to put it gently, stuck in the sixties, with hippies, surfers, tree huggers, food coop-ers, vegetarians, yoga practitioners, back to the land-ers, and burn-outs all living together peacefully. Bolinas as a whole is a bit of a museum, but I am writing about an amazing little gallery in the middle of “town.” An unassuming sign next to the Bolinas Museum leads you to the Wildlife Gallery. It is a small room, about 20′ × 20′ adjacent to a somehwat larger courtyard outfitted with a stone fountain, brick pavers, wood fence, and about 10 bird feeders. Whenever the gallery is open, Keith Hansen is there. A long-haired, salt-and-pepper bearded man of about 50, he is a leading birder and wildlife artist. We walked in one day, and he pointed with his tremendous spotting scope to one of the feeders, telling us that he had just seen the first calliope hummingbird ever seen in Marin. He was anxiously waiting for it to return, but in the mean time showed us the video of the first spotting, indicating the markings that were “diagnostic” of the species. Eventually the bird returned and we watched breathlessly as it darted and hovered among the more common hummingbirds. Keith then shared a portfolio of artwork that he was creating for a guide to the birds of the Sierras, which was exquisite and jewel-like. Like most birders, he keeps a “list.” He has very strict rules, that he has to be able to see the bird from the gallery or the front stoop. We bought some t-shirts and prints, and it wasn’t til we left that I realized that I had just had one of the best science museum experiences of my life. Incredible objects, cool technology (that was a monster spotting scope) deeply skillful artwork, a passionate expert, and good merchandise. What more could a museum offer? Had Keith not been there, the experience would not have anything like the impact we all felt. Once again, we saw the power of an expert and enthusiastic “explainer” in museum settings. Anyway, we recommend the town, the gallery, and above all, the beach.

Latest Comments (1)

Bolinas 2 Miles

by Jim Spadaccini - August 28, 2007

When I lived in Marin County I remember hearing stories about locals ripping down the road sign to Bolinas (without the sign it is easy to miss).

Sure enough there are some stories about this on the Internet. The group was called the “Bolinas Border Patrol” but have recently changed their name to “Bolinas Community.”

I found that link from another more general site about Bolinas…

I too recommend the town but was unaware of wildlife gallery. Thanks for this review.

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