Nature's Beloved Son:
Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy
by Bonnie J. Gisel with images by Stephen J. Joseph
Foreword by David Rains
Heyday Books, November,
Hardbound, ISBN: 978-1-59714-106-2,
286 pages (9 x 12), with over 150 images
From the Foreword:
“What is more basic to the living world than plants? When I first
read Muir over three decades ago, it was his evocations of trees and wildflowers
that most excited me…. This book
brings the excitement back.”
—David Rains Wallace, author of Neptune’s
Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas
John Muir's inordinate fondness for plants...
As a young boy growing up in Wisconsin, John Muir faithfully recorded in his
journal that the pasque-flower was a "hopeful multitude of large, hairy, silky
buds about as thick as one's thumb," and that the lady's slipper orchid in
nearby meadows "caught the eye of all the European settlers and made them
gaze and wonder like children."
Muir was blessed early on with a love and aptitude for botany, a field of
study that helped him become one of the most influential environmentalists
in the world. One realizes, in reading Nature's Beloved Son, how
much Muir's successes as an adventurer, writer, and environmental advocate
were driven by his belief in "nature's irresistible, divine beauty." Surprisingly,
little has been written about John Muir the botanist.
Environmental historian Bonnie J. Gisel takes us through Muir's evolving relationship
with the natural world, touching on his childhood in Scotland and Wisconsin,
his sojourn in Canada, his thousand-mile walk from Louisville, Kentucky, to
the Gulf of Mexico, his ecstatic travels in California's Sierra Nevada, and
his thrilling exploration of Alaska. Photographer Stephen J. Joseph's breathtaking
prints of Muir's botanical specimens d related correspondence are artfully
presented in this book and provide the backdrop for the story of Muir's great
passion for the natural world.
Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy
Some highlights from this exquisite book are now a traveling exhibit traveling
around the United States for the next year or two. The exhibit will allow you
to view large scale vivid images of the plants that preservationist
John Muir held in his hands, carried in his pockets, and preserved for all
time, along with other items from Muir's life, and a wonderful tribute video
documentary available only at these traveling exhibit locations.
The upcoming/current location is:
John Muirâ€™s Birthplace and Dunbar Town House Museum & Gallery
Saturday, 28 June 2014 to Tuesday, 30 September 2014
This exhibition celebrates the fascinating structures, patterns and anatomies of the plant world through the eyes and words of John Muir. High-resolution images of Muirâ€™s very own plant specimens, drawings and journal notes are presented with both living and preserved real plant specimens. It includes hands-on activities for visitors and details of local John Muir Award projects. Spanning both venues, this is a unique opportunity to see Muirâ€™s American botanical collection displayed for the first time in Dunbar, the town that inspired his later life.
The exhibition is delivered in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and is a travelling exhibition from Exhibit Envoy curated by Bonnie J. Gisel and photography by Stephen J. Joseph.
Recent Exhibit Locations
Riverside Metropolitan Museum
Riverside Meropolitan Museum
3580 Mission Inn Avenue
Riverside, CA 92501
Exhibit Open December 2, 2012 - January 19, 2014
"John Muir and the Personal Experience of Natureâ€ exhibit at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum focuses on Muir's contributions as a scientist â€” mainly as a botanist â€” but also examines natureâ€™s role in individualsâ€™ lives and the history of the United States, reminding visitors that nature is everywhere.
The exhibition is comprised of the traveling exhibition, â€œNatureâ€™s Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muirâ€™s Botanical Legacyâ€ by Exhibit Envoy; objects and specimens from Riverside Metropolitanâ€™s collection and Smithsonianâ€™s National Herbarium; and images and resources from the Holt-Atherton Special Collections (University of the Pacific); the Local History collection of the Riverside Public Library; the UC Riverside Department of Biology; and California Museum of Photography
Atlanta History Center
Atlanta History Center
October 1, 2011 â€“ December 4, 2011
Pacific Hotel Gallery
Pacif Hotel Gallery
1650 Senter Road
San José, CA 95112
April 28 through September 25, 2011
Tuesday - Sunday -
11 am - 5 pm
This first of the traveling exhibits was open January 8, 2011 through March
27, 2011 at Bedford
Gallery, Walnut Creek, California.
About the Author and Photographer:
Bonnie J. Gisel is an environmental historian and the curator at the Sierra
Club's Le Conte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park. She is the editor
of Kindred and Related Spirits:
The Letters of John Muir and Jeanne C. Carr (University of Utah Press,
2001) and Nature Journaling
with John Muir (Poetic Matrix Press, 2006) and she has lectured extensively
and published articles on John Muir as well as issues of environmental literacy.
Stephen J. Joseph has been a photographer for more than forty years. His work
has been exhibited at the Oakland Museum, the San Francisco Legion of Honor,
the Ansel Adams Gallery, and elsewhere, and he has been the Centennial Photographer
for the Muir Woods National Monument and an artist in residence for Yosemite's
LeConte Memorial Lodge.
Source: Heyday Books Fall & Winter 2008 Catalog.
For more information, see:
Muir's Botany website by Stephen J. Joseph
John Muir's Botanical Legacy Scientific American Slideshow (October
for Joy Photo Essay in Audubon Magazine by Stephen Joseph (November-December,
Beloved Son - Author & Photographer
Interviews by Robert A. Schaefer, Jr. in doublexposure.com
Captures Muir's Passion for Botany by Tom Sellars in Sacramento
Bee (December 11, 2008)
Muir's botanical pursuits brought to life:
Nature's Beloved Son' examines
the conservationist's fascination with plants and features stunning images
of the specimens he collected by Bettijane Levine Los Angeles Times (February
Muir's Botanical Travels - Radio Interview of Bonnie Gisel and Dean Taylor
by Tom Ashbrok, On
Point Radio (Boston NPR affiliate wbur.og)
Bonnie Gisel Interview on
Sierra Club Radio (mp3) (October 17, 2009) ) (15 MB)
Naturalist: Pleasant Hill Photographer Stephen Joseph uses cutting edge
technology to restore Muir's work, Diablo Magazine January
2011 (off-site link)
Exhibition of images from the book opens January 9, 2011 through
March 27, 2011 at Bedford
Gallery, Walnut Creek, California.
Seeds of Change: The John Muir Exhibit At the Ontario Museum Offers Us a Way Forward by Char Miller (1-8-14) (off-site link)
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