The Call of Nature, Power of Man

Fresh off the plane from New York, actor Ted Danson joined Joan Irvine Smith at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art on Tuesday for the grand opening of the exhibit "A Silent Testament: Nature and Humankind in the Balance."

The exhibit, at the Santa Ana museum through April 19, uses oil landscape paintings, murals, maps and preserved animals and birds to illustrate the course of Orange County's natural history, from prehistoric times to the present.

Danson, president of the American Oceans Campaign, praised the exhibit, saying it would help raise public consciousness about the need for environmental preservation.

"There was a lot that happened before us and, hopefully, a lot that will happen after us, so it's not about us--it's about our stewardship [of the environment] during the time we're here," he said.

Smith hopes the exhibit "will make people think" about the delicate balance between land and development. "There's no question, if we're going to protect our quality of life, we have to protect our environment," she said.

The key, she added, was for the "environmental community to understand that they need a strong economic base to support the preserves. And, by the same token, developers must have environmentally sound projects."

Joining Danson and Smith as they mingled with guests during the champagne reception was Steve McCormick, director of the Nature Conservancy of California.

"This exhibit is a terrific opportunity to display the unique and natural features that are characteristic of this area," McCormick said. "It will help people appreciate what's almost literally in their backyard but probably take for granted."

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