Celebrating Yosemite

Two exhibitions in Merced are focusing on our National Park and the Merced River

The photography exhibit One River, Two Perspectives is running at the Merced College Gallery through March 21. Photo: Steve Newvine

The photography exhibit One River, Two Perspectives is running at the Merced College Gallery through March 21. Photo: Steve Newvine

It’s not every day one gets an opportunity to see a free photography exhibit in the community. But this month is extraordinary. There are two exhibits running in March.

Both are free.

Both celebrate Yosemite and the Merced River. One River- two Perspectives features the work of local photographers Jay Sousa and Roger Wyan.

The pair has worked together in their separate photography businesses for many years. So coming together to jointly present this representation of the Merced River came naturally.

“My contribution to the exhibit features some of my favorite photographs from the Merced River and Yosemite,”

Jay Sousa told me on the KYOS Community Conversations program when I filled in for host Roger Wood.

“The region is beautiful for a photographer.”

The Opening Reception of One River, Two Perspectives brought dozens of local community residents to the Merced College campus on March 1. Photo: Steve Newvine

The Opening Reception of One River, Two Perspectives brought dozens of local community residents to the Merced College campus on March 1. Photo: Steve Newvine

While Roger Wyan agrees that the River and the Park are a natural fit for a nature photographer, his contribution to the Merced College exhibit was inspired by the great impressionist artists of France.

“I visited Paris recently, and was awestruck by the work of these wonderful impressionist artists,” he said.

“That inspired me to show a different perspective of the Merced River.”

Both photographers were pleased to share the exhibit space that generally features the work of just one artist.

Sharing was a challenge of sorts to appropriately showcase both photographers. Roger sums it up with just a few words.

“I think our work plays off one another well.”

Poster showing some of the original art work included in the newest exhibit at the Courthouse Museum.

Poster showing some of the original art work included in the newest exhibit at the Courthouse Museum.

Just as local photographers Jay and Ryan are showcasing their original work, there’s an exhibit of mostly original photographs, art work, and artifacts at the Courthouse Museum in Merced.

The Originals of Yosemite features original photographs and memorabilia all tied to the National Park.

The local photographers who offered originals for this exhibition include UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and Museum volunteer Donna Lee Hartman.

“We pulled a lot of stuff from our archives,” Donna Lee says.

“And several of our Historical Society Members loaned the cherished items for the exhibit.”

Steve Newvine views a large framed photograph from Yosemite at the Courthouse Museum Exhibit The Originals of Yosemite. Photo: Donna Lee Hartman.

Steve Newvine views a large framed photograph from Yosemite at the Courthouse Museum Exhibit The Originals of Yosemite. Photo: Donna Lee Hartman.

Beyond the photographs, there’s art work from local artists including a covered bridge painting by Vivian Knepel from 1980. Vivian turned 100 in January.

There’s a place setting from the dining room at the Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as The Majestic Yosemite Hotel), a scout outfit on the Museum’s mascot bear cub, and even some of Ansel Adams earlier works from before he became famous.

Most of the items are originals.

All of it well cared for by the Museum volunteers and staff.

entrepreneur Frank Gallison started air service from Merced to Yosemite back in the 1920s. These pieces of memorabilia are on display at the Courthouse Museum

entrepreneur Frank Gallison started air service from Merced to Yosemite back in the 1920s. These pieces of memorabilia are on display at the Courthouse Museum

Without realizing it, both the Merced College Art Gallery and the Merced County Courthouse Museum have turned this month into a salute to our two natural wonders: the Merced River and Yosemite National Park.

A visitor can see them both in one day. Both are free.

This covered bridge painting that is part of the Originals of Yosemite exhibition is from Vivian Knepel. She was well-known for paintings of a variety of scenes from Yosemite.

This covered bridge painting that is part of the Originals of Yosemite exhibition is from Vivian Knepel. She was well-known for paintings of a variety of scenes from Yosemite.

While the One River – Two Perspectives photographer exhibit at Merced College ends on March 21, the Originals of Yosemite will go on until early June.

It’s not every day one can experience so much local history, art work, and memorabilia.

Take advantage of it all. After seeing the photographs, art, and artifacts from these exhibitions, consider making plans to take in Yosemite National Park this year.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His new book is Stand By Camera One, a look back on his first year working as a television reporter four decades ago. It is available at Lulu.com

Research Week at UC Merced

Some amazing research going on at UC Merced is being celebrated with the whole community.

This symposium was one of many events tied to Research Week at UC Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

This symposium was one of many events tied to Research Week at UC Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

If I remember my fifth grade instruction at Port Leyden Elementary School correctly, the scientific method begins with an observation, and ends with drawing a conclusion.

That’s sort of what UC Merced has in mind for this year’s Research Week. Simply put, if the University can showcase the kind of research going on to the broader community, it can hope to foster stronger links with everyone.

The first week of March is traditionally Research Week on campus. The activity is an effort to bring the public in to the campus and to take a part of the campus to the community.

Interested UC Merced students took part in many of the programs lined up for Research Week on campus. Photo: Steve Newvine

Interested UC Merced students took part in many of the programs lined up for Research Week on campus. Photo: Steve Newvine

“We’re really excited about this,” David Gravano, Ph.D. told me on the Community Conversation’s radio program in early March. “Science is not confined to just our campus, or to just one group of people.”

Some of the activities during Research Week are eye-catching. There is a study into reusing organic wastes to improve ecosystems going on right now at the UC.

At the beginning of Research Week, interested community members had the opportunity to listen to an assessment of the future of safe drinking water in the Central Valley.

A campus Assistant Professor helped explain to the audience of students that safe drinking water is being threatened all over the world, including here in California.

Middle school students from all over Merced County are getting a chance to showcase their work and take tours of the University’s laboratories.

This is not the first time UC Merced has done a Research Week event, but this year was special because it included more venues throughout the greater community. The Sierra Nevada Research Institute presented findings on a number of projects at a luncheon on campus.

This presentation on drinking water helped connect curiosity with science during Research Week at UC Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

This presentation on drinking water helped connect curiosity with science during Research Week at UC Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

The schedule for the week included a core facilities lab tour on campus followed a community forum on nicotine and cannabis policy at the Downtown Campus Center, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fair, and an event called the Community Engaged Research Reception at City Hall.

Research Week wrapped with an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Center Scholar Panel where students can get feedback on their work.

“This is all about giving the public the opportunity to see the many innovative projects underway,” UC Merced’s Stephanie Butticci explained to me during the KYOS Community Conversations program.

“We’re welcoming the public to the campus, but being sure some of the activities take place in the community.”

UC Merced’s Stephanie Butticci and David Gravano joined me for a segment of Community Conversations on KYOS radio.

UC Merced’s Stephanie Butticci and David Gravano joined me for a segment of Community Conversations on KYOS radio.

The complete scientific method follows the observation step with research. After research, a hypothesis is drawn and tested. This leads to the conclusion.

Anyone with a passing interest in the research going on at UC Merced are likely impressed with the depth of study, the engagement of students in the process, and the outreach to the larger community.

The hypothesis has been tested, and the conclusion is clear: Research Week at UC Merced helps bring the best the university has to offer to the community.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His book Stand By Camera One is available now on Lulu.com

Returning to Radio

My active afternoon interviewing community leaders for a local public affairs show.

Martha Hermosillo, Executive Director of First 5 Merced County with guest host Steve Newvine at radio station KYOS.

Martha Hermosillo, Executive Director of First 5 Merced County with guest host Steve Newvine at radio station KYOS.

I got a head start on my bucket list recently when radio host Roger Wood asked me to fill in for him for his weekly public affairs show on KYOS in Merced.

The first job in broadcasting for me was in radio. I transitioned to television news where I worked as a reporter, anchor, producer, executive producer, and news director for five stations over fifteen years.

So my guest hosting stint on Community Conversations was a return to my radio roots.

KYOS, Merced’s oldest radio station, is the home of the weekly Community Conversations broadcast.

KYOS, Merced’s oldest radio station, is the home of the weekly Community Conversations broadcast.

And it was a real hoot. Roger sets up the interviews alongside his co-producers Mike Conway (Public Information Officer, City of Merced), Nathan Quavado (Merced County Office of Education), and Mark North (County of Merced).

Casey Stead from KYOS makes sure all the technical details are taken care of in his role as the engineer for the program.

Every two weeks, interview guests are brought in for individual eight-minute segments.

After four hours, two weeks of programs are recorded. The broadcasts air on Saturday mornings on AM 1480, and on the web at www.1480kyos.com

KYOS Program Engineer with guest Casey Stead with Martha Hermosillo, First 5 Merced County

KYOS Program Engineer with guest Casey Stead with Martha Hermosillo, First 5 Merced County

The first two interviews were with non-profit agencies with topics as diverse as cannabis and suicide prevention.

Next up was the new artistic director for Playhouse Merced who brought along two actors for the upcoming play Driving Miss Daisy.
Those interviews were followed by a conversation with two local photographers who are doing a joint exhibit at Merced College.

UC Merced’s Stephanie Butticci and David Gravano were guests with Steve Newvine on KYOS Community Conversations.

UC Merced’s Stephanie Butticci and David Gravano were guests with Steve Newvine on KYOS Community Conversations.

As the afternoon progressed, I spoke with a community leader pushing a workplace literacy initiative, two UC Merced staffers promoting Research Week activities on campus, and a volunteer from the Courthouse Museum who talked about a new exhibit called The Originals of Yosemite.

Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin came into the station for an interview on what’s new in the department. What’s new is an ap that allows citizens to file crime reports from their computer.

With extra time to spare, I asked the Chief what has been the biggest change in law enforcement in his twenty-three years serving Merced; first as an officer and now as Chief. “Cameras,” was his answer. “They’re everywhere now. You see them at many of our intersections, on the bodies of our officers, and with members of the public as well.”

Fire Captain Josh Wilson from the Merced Fire Department was interviewed about a recent study of hazardous wastes that pass through our community from trains and trucks. “The study showed us the unique characteristic of the City’s main transportation thoroughfares,” Captain Wilson told me. “With two railroads and highway 99 all running parallel, this study helps us prepare for a potential incident that might include hazardous wastes.”

All of the interviews brought some new information to the table. As a columnist who has been writing about the community for several years, I learned a lot of new things. I also met some interesting people along the way.

Like Dave Gossman, a teacher at Atwater High School who spoke about the Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter at the School.

Dave was one of three teachers in Ag when he started with the district sixteen years ago. Today, he’s one of nine teachers in that field. Even more impressive is the growth in numbers of students in the FFA at Atwater High.

Sixteen years ago, there were about 250 students in the program. Today, there are more than eleven-hundred students in the Atwater FFA. That, according to Dave Gossman, makes the Atwater FFA the largest single high school Ag program in the nation.

It was all pretty impressive. So much going on in our community and I had the privilege of hearing it first hand by making a brief, but memorable, return to radio.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His new book Stand-By, Camera One is about his first year working in broadcasting.

Steve’s Community Conversation segments air February 23 and March 2 on KYOS, 1480 and online at http://www.1480kyos.com/

The program airs at 7:05 AM every Saturday morning.

Merced Through the Eyes of a Visitor

The online photo album of a French bicyclist who spent some time in Merced last summer

Francois Hennebert spent a day in Merced to get his bicycle fixed one-day last summer. Photo: http://velo.hennebert.fr/

Francois Hennebert spent a day in Merced to get his bicycle fixed one-day last summer. Photo: http://velo.hennebert.fr/

When Francois Hennebert brought his broken bicycle to a Merced bike shop for repair one-day last summer, no one knew what kind of impression he would have of the area.

Francois crossed into Merced County as part of a twenty-five hundred-mile bike trip from Mexico to Canada.

He’s from France and spends several months each year traveling around the world. He took a plane to Mexico and saw three countries on his incredible bicycle trip.

My photo of Francois from that day in 2018 when he had his bike fixed at Kevin’s Bikes. Photo- Steve Newvine

My photo of Francois from that day in 2018 when he had his bike fixed at Kevin’s Bikes. Photo- Steve Newvine

You may remember my column on Francois from last summer.

Francois’ hearty bicycle had a breakdown shortly after his visit to Yosemite National Park.

He made his way to Kevin’s Bikes on Olive Avenue and G Street in Merced.

That’s where I caught up with him.

This photo of the tow truck that brought Francois to Merced was taken by Francois Hennebert and is featured on his website: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0] . The bike is between the car on the flatbed and the truck cab.

This photo of the tow truck that brought Francois to Merced was taken by Francois Hennebert and is featured on his website: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0] . The bike is between the car on the flatbed and the truck cab.

During our visit, where neither of us spoke the other’s native language, Francois told me about his worldwide adventures on his bicycle.

He had been on bike trips to China, South America, and New Zealand to name a few places. He gave me his web address and encouraged me to look up his journeys.

This family extended hospitality to Francois during his time in Yosemite. The caption from his website reads “on peut randonner à tout âge.” Translated, the phrase means “you can hike at any age.” Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

This family extended hospitality to Francois during his time in Yosemite. The caption from his website reads “on peut randonner à tout âge.” Translated, the phrase means “you can hike at any age.” Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Our community must have made an impression on Francois.

He posted several photographs from his visit here. I recently checked his website and found pictures from his time in the Central Valley.

Francois’ bike trip happened to fall in the midst of the primary season.

He found signs from the primary election campaigns going on in neighboring Stanislaus County.

Francois used this caption for his photograph of a fence covered with campaign signs: des élections locales auront lieu le 5 juin en Californie . In English, this reads: local elections will be held June 5 in California.

Francois used this caption for his photograph of a fence covered with campaign signs: des élections locales auront lieu le 5 juin en Californie . In English, this reads: local elections will be held June 5 in California.

He seemed impressed by the Castle Air Museum in Atwater. He posted two photos of vintage aircraft from his vantage point of Santa Fe Drive.

The photos have the French caption: l'avion furtif, je pense, et une forteresse volante de la deuxième guerre.

This phrase translates to “the stealthy plane, I think, and a flying fortress from the second war.”

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois referenced two planes on display at Castle Air Museum in his photo postings on his website. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Prior to his unplanned visit to Merced, Francois had just completed the leg of his journey that took him to the Sonora Pass in Yosemite.

My bicycling friends tell me the Sonora Pass is one of the most difficult biking trips a cyclist can take.

I’m a runner, so I take their word for that assertion.

Just an ordinary bicyclist taking in the vistas throughout California. Francois Hennebert at the Sonora Pass in Yosemite. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Just an ordinary bicyclist taking in the vistas throughout California. Francois Hennebert at the Sonora Pass in Yosemite. Photo: [http://velo.hennebert.fr/][0]

Francois’ journey from Mexico to Canada was a success. He took in the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Silver Falls Park in Oregon, and the Space Needle in Seattle.

He also enjoyed a large section of California.

His unscheduled stop in Merced County showed him a few things he may not have expected like warplanes and political yard signs.

Based on his gratitude expressed on-line for the team at Kevin’s Bikes who got his bike back in sound working condition, and the people who helped transport his bike to Merced, he was impressed by the folks he met here.

His photo caption from the Yosemite portion of his trip perhaps best describes why he would leave his native France for a bicycling adventure that started in Mexico and ended in Canada. It also suggests his overall impression of the area.

His post reads: celui va rester dans ma mémoire .

Translation: that will stay in my memory.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

He is indebted to the language translator feature on Google.com. You can read of his adventures traveling by car throughout the Golden State in California Back Roads, available at LuLu.com

The Grandpa Bucket List

This photo is not a bird in the sky. It’s an inexpensive kite purchased with the intent of showing my grandson how to make it fly.

It’s not a bird, not a plane, and certainly not Superman. Photo: Steve Newvine

It’s not a bird, not a plane, and certainly not Superman. Photo: Steve Newvine

As you can see, I was successful. The kite flew proudly over one of the City of Merced’s public parks shortly after the beginning of the new year.

But the safe launch, flight, and return of the kite were more than an achievement to start 2019.

It was also about crossing out something from what I call my grandpa bucket list.

My grandson and me, moments before our kite went in the air. Photo: Steve Newvine

My grandson and me, moments before our kite went in the air. Photo: Steve Newvine

From the time when I was a dad raising two daughters, kite flying was one of many activities we would do as a family.

At the time, we lived in upstate New York in a small community that had a large open park. The park had playground equipment, a small hill for winter sledding, an open air pavilion, and a giant oak tree.
In the summer, we’d go there to use the playground. In the winter, we’d go to use the hill for sledding. But in the spring and fall, we’d go there to fly a kite.

So it was no surprise to anyone when I declared after my grandson was born four years ago that someday, I would show him how to fly a kite.

Two kids, with about 55 years separating us, enjoying a day kite-flying. Photo: Steve Newvine

Two kids, with about 55 years separating us, enjoying a day kite-flying. Photo: Steve Newvine

The beauty of those cheap kites is just how easy it is to get it airborne.

We made it happen within minutes and enjoyed about twenty minutes of flight time. Kite flying was one thing I wanted to experience with my grandson.

But it got me thinking about other things I’d like to do with him.

Here is my grandpa bucket list.

  • Hold him as a newborn
  • Fly a kite
  • Take him to church with me
  • Watch him perform in a school play
  • Enjoy an adventure that ends with the two of us at a real diner (my grandfather did this with me and I never forgot it)
  • Visit a cemetery on Memorial Day
  • Tell him why I feel Johnny Carson was the best ever on TV
  • Attend his high school graduation
  • Attend his college graduation
  • Play some Sinatra and Elvis and explain to him why these artists were so important to me
  • Have a cup of coffee with him paid for from his paycheck at a job he enjoys
  • Attend his wedding
  • Take his phone call he makes just to say hello and see how I’m doing
  • Be nearby when his first child is born

So far, the first two items have been checked off the list. I’m sure I could add a few more if I wanted to.

The important thing for me is that I cherish every opportunity I have to share my time with my grandson.

That’s my grandpa bucket list.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

He has published Stand-By, Camera One-Love, Friendship, & TV News in 1980. All his books are available at Lulu.com