Lighthouse Lecture Series

A big Lighthouse Thank You to Kitty Wolfe for putting together the last several years of fantastic Lecture Series presenters and for stepping up again in 2022 now that we can resume this popular program!  We have a schedule of lectures for the remainder of 2022, and as always the Lecture Series will be presented on the 3rd Saturday of the month in the Fog Signal Building Museum.  Summer lectures begin at 5 p.m., lectures the remainder of the year begin at 4 p.m.  Admission is $5 per person.

2022 Lighthouse Lecture Series

Saturday, August 20 at 5 p.m. – Mark Hancock on 5 7 Years on the Light Station – PRESENTED
Saturday, September 17 at 4 p.m. – Katy Tahja on An Eclectic History of Mendocino County – CANCELLED
Saturday, October 15 at 4 p.m. – Sara Bogard on Beyond Safe Havens – PRESENTED
November 19 at 4 p.m.  – Scott Sewell on Point Arena and the Mendocino Coast: How to See and Shoot the Coastal Landscape
Saturday, December 17 – Scott and Tree Mercer on HOW DO WE DO IT. WHY DO WE DO IT: Our Whale Monitoring Program from the Point Arena Lighthouse Peninsula
Saturday, January 21, 2023 – Lauren Sinnott on A working artist’s life and how one magic intersection birthed a living-history mural painting full of portraits of people you know!
Saturday, February 18, 2023 – Katy Tahja on An Eclectic History of Mendocino County

Saturday, November 19 at 4 p.m.

Scott Sewell – Point Arena and the Mendocino Coast:  How to See and Shoot the Coastal Landscape

Winter’s Afterlight

Scott is an enthusiastic and talented photographer whose love of the land is woven throughout his work.  He will be sharing his approach to shooting the coastal landscape:

Introduction: a fantastic and unique landscape

Shooting conditions and tools: the weather, sun, tides, waves and apps to gauge them

Where to shoot, how to get there and what to expect

Your Eye: the keys to good landscape photography

The Finished Product: how to improve your shots after you’ve taken them

Scott Sewell is a photographer in love with the Pacific Coast, the High Sierra and Black and White photography. He is a fourth generation Californian whose grandfather was a forest ranger in the Central Sierra during the Great Depression. His mother, who grew up there, introduced him and his siblings to the natural beauty of the California mountains and coastline through years of family vacation travels. He has been hiking, riding and shooting both as an amateur and a professional for most of his life. His work is on sale at Point Arena Lighthouse and on the web at

Garcia River runs to the Sea

Misty Afternoon


Saturday, December 17 at 4 p.m.

Scott & Tree Mercer – HOW DO WE DO IT. WHY DO WE DO IT: Our Whale Monitoring Program from the Point Arena Lighthouse Peninsula

Scott and Tree Mercer are familiar landmarks on the Lighthouse peninsula outside the Light Station gates from around September through May each year.  In 2014 they founded the Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study to document the occurrence, diversity, and behavior of marine mammals along the coast from Northern Sonoma County to Southern Mendocino County.  They present their data and findings at many local and international conferences. In 2021, the Mercers were featured in an extensive article in the Los Angeles Times about the Unusual Mortality Event of gray whales.  In 2022 they were included in a documentary film about gray whale research created by the UC Berkeley Department of Graduate Journalism. In this presentation Scott and Tree will discuss their motivation and process for observing, documenting and reporting on the variety of marine mammals that inhabit, frequent or migrate past the Mendocino coast.

Scott began studying marine mammals in 1974 in Monterey Bay with an extended study of the feeding ecology of sea otters.  After relocating to his native New England, in 1978 Scott founded New England Whale Watch, Inc. as an opportunity to offer first hand ocean life education to the public, and for him to collect data on the whales being observed.  Scott was recently interviewed, for his role as a pioneer in Atlantic Coast whale watching,  by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of a history of the whale watching industry in New England.  Hi is also cofounder of the Brier Island Ocean Study, a research station in Nova Scotia, Canada.  He has led offshore and overnight excursions to the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf,  in the Caribbean, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada. In 1982 Scott coauthored The Great Whale Book, for 14 years he taught a marine mammal class for the University of New Hampshire’s Continuing Education, as well as science classes for the Southern Maine Community College.

Tree has a Masters Degree in Science Education, and taught Biology, Life Science, and Physics in Long Island, New York for 38 years, as well as coaching three varsity level sports for as many years. Tree coordinates and organizes the data she and Scott collect. She designs their power point lectures for in-person and ZOOM lectures, as well as their research presentations at conferences.

Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 4 p.m.

Lauren Sinnott – A working artist’s life and how one magic intersection birthed a living-history mural painting full of portraits of people you know!

Lauren is an artist, historian and former politician who loves western boots. It all started in Wisconsin’s dairyland, where she was raised by an artist mother and poet father. Her mom supported them on graphic design, and as a toddler she worked at a little table alongside her. Their house was filled with paintings and books. It was the Age of Aquarius and she knew she was supposed to be at Woodstock, but it was impossible. She was ten. Her senior year was spent as an AFS exchange student in Belgium, speaking only French and learning to take class notes in perfect outline form. She discovered the art of conversation, four-hundred year old homes and good coffee. At Rice University in wonderfully hot Houston, Lauren earned a BA in Art and French, a BFA in painting, and an MA in Art History. The subject of her thesis was a stroke of luck, a mysterious depiction of two men from Renaissance Venice, which is likely a double portrait of the famous artist Giovanni Bellini, together with his long-time assistant who painted the panel and may have been his lover.

In 1999, she and her young sons left Texas and headed west in a school bus outfitted with beds and a woodstove. They lived in their bus on the ridge for a year. When they moved into Point Arena, she paid the mortgage with jobs ranging from business signs to ornate murals, from tombstone design to painting a high school mascot on the basketball court floor. Lauren sewed a life-size torso with female reproductive parts for a doctor and created the Velvet Vulva line of purses for feminists, therapists and brides. She painted curbs and hemmed pants. The house was teeming with the boys and friends, and yes, it is full of paintings and books.

Her career crown jewel, the huge historical narrative mural on the north wall of the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, is the result of these threads interweaving. Lauren used all her fine art training, knowledge of narrative art through the centuries, and experience as Point Arena City Council member and Mayor. This is a public work for everyone and about everyone. It contains over two-hundred portraits, and tells many stories of people who live here now.

But how it came about has to do with a particular intersection and how life and art entwine. The presentation tells that story, beginning with a baby saying goodnight to the Capital before bed. It contains an edible portrait, a marriage proposal, and art as a way to get through loss, tell the truth, honor its subject, and keep memory alive.

See the whole project at

Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 4 p.m.

Katy Tahja – An Eclectic History of Mendocino County

Long time Mendocino county resident Katy Tahja will present “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County” based on her book of the same name. Admission to the lecture is $5 per person, payable in the Fog Signal Building where the lecture will be presented. The Lighthouse is located at 45500 Lighthouse Road in Point Arena.

“Historians are always gathering odd facts about subjects of interest and filing them away,” says Tahja. “I finally pulled them all out and with 100 photos made a 150 year history of the county from 1852 to 2002. My book includes the natural world, native populations, industry and agriculture, social life, hippies, sports, roadside attractions, you name it – it might be in the book! If you want to know what Winston Churchill was doing in the county in 1929, or where we had mud volcanos, or lady singing stagecoach drivers, or our own Miss America, or a spectacular plane crash, come to my lecture for some memorable facts about the county.”

Tahja is a retired librarian and an author of several books on north coast history. A Comptche resident for 47 years, her husband’s family has been on the coast since 1884. She docents at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino, and previously presented “Lady Lighthouse Keepers” as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series in 2018.