As the weather cools, arts, culture and the sciences are coming to life in and around Death Valley. From paleontological past landscapes to contemporary art shows, from the biology of local plant life to the “Face on the Barroom Floor,” from being scared to death by a spooky film to saving lives by bargain hunting at a local flea market, there is something for almost everyone on the October calendar of events.
In the arts
■ Through the End of October: A new show by artists Lara Murray and Mary Burke King is up at the Tecopa Basin Art Gallery through Oct. 31. Big colorful canvases contrast with smaller, more introspective pieces for a stunning short-term show. Admission is free, gallery has limited hours so call before you go, 760-852-4420. The site is in the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort in Tecopa.
■ Friday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.: The Shoshone Museum in Shoshone is hosting a Spooky Movie Night, featuring the horror film “Crossover,” filmed almost entirely on location at the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel and Death Valley Junction. Filmmaker James Horton of Pahrump will be on hand for the screening. Admission is free, moviegoers are encouraged to come in costume. For more information, call 760-852-4524.
■ Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: The Southern Inyo Fire Protection District is hosting its annual fundraising flea market to benefit this volunteer emergency fire and medical response organization. Raffle tickets will be on sale all day and prizes include a handmade quilt, gift certificates to local businesses, signed books and more. A raffle drawing is planned for 4 p.m. The event takes place at the Hurlbutt Rook Community Center in Tecopa. For more information, call 760-852-4130.
■ Oct. 19, 7 p.m.: The Amargosa Opera house opens its 52nd season with “The Face on the Barroom Floor.” This unique production by the Vegas City Opera is “An immersive presentation highlighting a jazz and country music influenced opera score.”
The Amargosa Café is offering a special ranch-style steak dinner before the performance and cake and champagne will be served in the lobby of the hotel afterward.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for children, dinner is a separate cost. Advance purchase and dinner reservations are highly recommended.
The Amargosa Opera House is in Death Valley Junction. More information is available at www.amargosaoperahouse.org 760-852-4441.
■ Oct. 25, 7 p.m: The Sierra Sweethearts play Western and Bluegrass music at the Amargosa Opera House. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. For more information, call 760-852-4441.
■ Oct. 26, 2 p.m.: Master Mystery Productions returns to the Amargosa Opera House with “Lenore Nevermore,” an original mystery play inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”
“In true Poe fashion,” writes author Daniel Stallings about the play, “as his madness and hallucinations deepen, our mysterious protagonist has to face dark omens, vengeful rivals, statues coming to life, and secrets scuttling out from the shadows.”
Tickets for this one time only show are $20 for adults and $10 for children, advance purchase is recommended. For more, call 760-852-4441.
■ Oct. 31, 7 p.m.: the Tecopa Shoshone Writers Group is hosting an open mic Ghost Story Night on Halloween at the Shoshone Museum. Authors will read their original short ghost stories set in the Death Valley region. Costumes are encouraged. Admission is free, there will be treats. Call 760-852-4524 for more information.
The last weekend in October is packed with opportunities to learn about the natural desert environment and the organizations working to study and protect it.
■ Oct. 25 through Oct. 27: Meet the Amargosa, a “place-based symposium and festival,” is organized by the Amargosa Conservancy, whose mission is “standing up for the wilds, waters, and communities of the scenic Amargosa Basin and Eastern Mojave.”
To that end, Director Tanya Henderson said, they began organizing this event three years ago to connect people to this place and to other people who share their interest in it.
Three days of camaraderie and adventure begin under a big white tent behind the Hurlbutt Rook Community Center in Tecopa, and branch out to other locations including Shoshone and Death Valley.
Offerings include lectures, field trips, meals and even a living history presentation of the old prospector Shorty Harris.
The bulk of the presentations occur on Saturday, Oct. 26 which begins with an 8 a.m. talk on the early geology of Death Valley, continues with a choice of a geology driving tour, visiting a vole habitat or hiking China Ranch Date Farm.
An afternoon session includes presentations on hydrology, geology and seismology of the desert.
A $60 base fee is in place to register for the event but the Saturday afternoon lecture is free to the public,
Check www.amargosaconservancy.org/mta2019/#registration for more details.
Death Valley celebration
■ Oct. 26 through Nov. 2: On Oct. 8, 1994, the California Desert Protection Act essentially turned Death Valley Monument into Death Valley National Park. To commemorate its 25th anniversary, the National Park Service is celebrating with a week-long schedule of educational events including ranger hikes, lectures, and hands-on activities for kids.
■ Learn more about the recent Dingell Act, which recently added land to Death Valley National Park and aims to balance conservation and recreation in the California desert
■ Explore the dark night sky with an astronomer at Harmony Borax Works
■ Take a sunrise hike with a park ranger at Zabriskie Point
■ Run a 5K with park superintendent Mike Reynolds
■ Learn from geologist Marli Miller what shaped the land formations of Death Valley
■ Learn Astrophotography with Ranger Patrick Taylor
■ Learn from a wildlife biologist about the desert tortoise
■ Learning opportunities are available every day during the celebration. The festivities culminate on Nov. 2 with free cupcakes and expo booths at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center.
All activities are free.
For more information, check www.nps.gov/deva/learn/news/25th-anniversary.htm
Robin Flinchum is a freelance writer and editor living in Tecopa, California.