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The Vernacular Bestiary


The Premier Exhibition of “The Vernacular Bestiary,”

Was held at the Museum of Ventura County's Agriculture Museum

with Ventura County’s Poet Laureate Mary Kay Rummel


       From March 1 through June 15, 2014, the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula, CA, presented the first exhibition of “The Vernacular Bestiary: Animal Snapshots from A to Z.” This collection of anonymous amateur photographs has been collected by photographer and gallerist John Nichols over the past two decades and has never been publicly exhibited. The abecedarian display of creatures is comprised of photographs taken over the past 120 years. An adjacent kids’ reading and exhibit area will encourage children and their families to read and write poems, as well as draw and display their own responses to the animal-themed exhibition. Animal poems by published poets will also be shared, in binders that can be carried around the exhibition area.  

There were a number of events to accompany the exhibition. On Thursday, March 13 at 2:00 p.m., John Nichols  gave a Gallery Talk entitled, “What’s Special About Vernacular Photography?” 

A free opening reception for “The Vernacular Bestiary” was held on Saturday, March 22, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Called  “Beans and Beasts,” this reception also honored a second new exhibition that opened at the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum: “Growing Up, Growing Beans: Remembering Ventura County Limas.”  At 3:15, Ralph W. “Bill” Borchard Jr., Seed Production Manager, PanAmerican Seed, shared “Lima Bean Lessons,” wisdom he acquired on his family’s Oxnard Plains ranch.  At 4:00, photographer John Nichols talked about collecting The Vernacular Bestiary.  

Vernacular Bestiary

“An Afternoon of Animal Verse” was held at the Agriculture Museum on Sunday, April 13, at 3:00 p.m. Ventura County’s Poet Laureate, Mary Kay Rummel, read a new poem responding to one of the exhibition photos to start off the reading. After the other new poems were read by their writers and by Jackson Wheeler, all attendees were invited to read a favorite animal poem written by someone else. 

The Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue, Santa Paula, CA 93060. (805) 525-3100.   Information about the museum can be found at: www.venturamuseum.org     Museum hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 – 4.    For more information about the exhibition and the call for poetry, contact John Nichols at sespenichols@gmail.com or at (805) 501-7011. 

Since 1984. By Appointment and by Chance  1 805-501-7011
Gallery located on the 2nd floor of the Santa Paula Art Museum at 117 North 10th Street, Santa Paula, California.