Wendy Sparks knows that being a nature and wildlife advocate is a 24/7 vocation.

It wasn't unusual for Sparks, who had worked with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum's wildlife rehabilitation hospital, to keep baby squirrels that needed round-the-clock care and protection under her desk at work to ensure their survival.

"No one saw them because you want to keep them wild," said Sparks, a retired principal of Glorietta Elementary School in Orinda.

Through all the years she served as a school administrator, Sparks, a Pleasant Hill resident, had worked at the wildlife hospital since 1985. But after retiring in 2011, she started teaching science at the museum.

Another aspect of Sparks' love of the outdoors can be seen in the photographs of nature and wildlife which will be among the images and paintings by local artists at the"Mount Diablo: Visions and Vistas" exhibit at museum from April 25-Sept. 2.

Sparks' camera lens captured an acorn woodpecker and another photo shows a northern harrier soaring over Mount Diablo in the late afternoon light.

"They live in a community, find a dead oak tree and store acorns," she said. "You can see hundreds of holes in the tree."

An avid cyclist who is also interested in travel photography, Sparks said she and her husband, wildlife photographer Jeff Torquemada, "work as a team."


Advertisement

"What I love about the 'Visions and Visions' concept is not just the majestic mountain but the ecosystem," she said.

Focusing on Mount Diablo, Sparks said, raises awareness about the mountain.

"People will get to see what we need to protect," she said.

Rather than show landscapes, Penelope Adams, who helps raise funds for the Lindsay Museum, prefers to focus her camera lens on close-ups of flowers and insects and other "things you'll find when you go walking along the mountain and the Mitchell Canyon area."

"It's nice to see how people interpret the mountain in different ways," Adams said.

While Mount Diablo is seen by people daily from various vantage points, the exhibit gives the public a chance to see how local artists view the iconic local natural landmark, she said.

Walnut Creek native Brian Murphy, who grew up playing in the creeks, used to photograph race cars before turning to nature photography which was a lot "quieter and safer."

His image captures a "Tice Valley winter," as he stood waiting for the sun to rise from the top of Stanley Dollar Drive.

"But the rising sun did not light up the clouds on the north side of the mountain," said Murphy, an engineer with the city of Walnut Creek. "Looking north toward the bay, I noticed a fog bank in the distance slowly moving into the valley. I watched in fascination as fog slowly began to fill in the valley, almost making lower foothills look like islands. That was when I took the photo to capture that."

Marty Buxton, curator of natural history and exhibits at the museum, said she's impressed with the quality of the more than 30 pieces of artwork created by local artists.

"We had an open call for entries and got an incredible array of submissions in this juried exhibit," Buxton said.

if you go
WHAT: "Mount Diablo: Visions and Vistas"
WHEN: April 25-Sept. 2
WHERE: Lindsay Wildlife Museum, 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek
INFORMATION: Reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 26