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The Kim Project delivers a knockout performance at the 7th Annual Music at the Maritime. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, October 3, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard—The 7th Annual Music at the Maritime was a joyous event that brought the community together to celebrate art, model ships and the many programs offered at the venue.


Attendees enjoyed a delicious meal, drinks, fellowship, and music from the special guests, "The Kim Project," a jazz band that delivered a rock-solid performance that everyone loved.


The group also held a live auction and left with prizes like a Tiki Hut CI Cruise for 6, donated by Arlene and Keith Beckwith, a Night at the Museum for 25 guests, courtesy of the Museum, and an original Sergio Aragones drawing, given by the artist.


Much of the value at the Museum is due to Gloria Mason who said the gala fundraiser keeps the doors open and supports the many programs offered.


"We look forward to having the people here and give them a special night," she said. "Sponsorships do it, and they are pretty high, but they are important because we need the money to stay open and be here for the public."


The venue features incredible artwork and ship models, and some of them are over 300 years old and all originals.


"Plus, we have different shows throughout the year, and we have the ASMA artists showing their work upstairs," she said. 


"The music and entertainment will be fantastic," she added. "I've got my paddle for the auction.  Our fund and need for tonight is going to be coming up to date with technology. We're working on getting augmented reality brought into the Museum. It's going to be exciting if we can come up to the 21st century."


The backbone of the Museum remains its volunteers, she said, and everyone working at the gala volunteered their services to make the night a big success.


"I have over 10,000 hours volunteering here," she said. "I was the volunteer of the year one time (2004), but we have volunteers that can be the volunteer of the year every year." 


Joyce Nelson's foundation, "The Nelson Maritime Arts Foundation" donated most of the art in the Museum and most of the items at the venue came from her collection that she started with her husband, Harry.


"My husband Harry passed away 15 years ago, but I carry on," she said. "Some of this belongs to us, but the most expensive and good stuff belongs to the foundation. We have it on a 20-year loan, and we renew it every 20 years."


Daughter Anne Nelson is proud of her mother and father for bringing the art together and letting people enjoy the work at the Museum.


"I'm going to have some fun and make some money for the museum," she said. "This is a wonderful spot for people to come. Attendance is growing, and the art is beautiful, and the collection is amazing. It adds to the harbor."


Docent in training, Amy Hall, said she got involved by accident and it is a blessing in disguise.


"I walked in here and said ‘Do you ever need any volunteers?’ about four weeks ago," she said. "They said they had their new class coming up, and we can train you about all the cool stuff in the Museum, from the oil paintings to the model boats they build. Each week, we specialize in one area of the Museum and focus on that."


She called it a fun and rewarding experience.


"I've met wonderful people, including Joyce Nelson, whose family donated the main collection here," she said. "That's how the Maritime Museum got started."


Oxnard Harbor Commissioner Jason Hodge for the Port of Hueneme thinks art, history, and culture in the county must be supported.


"They do a great job of recruiting volunteers for their events," he said. "The thing they need the most is the public's support, and the people who can provide the gifts to keep this afloat."


Once you arrive at the Museum, he said the first thing you see are smiling and vibrant faces of the many volunteers and the passion they have.


"This is the type of communal effort we need more of in Ventura County," he said. "I've been here for 44 years, and this (the harbor) has always been an under-utilized asset for the county. It's going to take a strong vision between the county, the City of Oxnard, and the community to make it the success that it can be. There is no reason why this can't be a world-class destination."


Kimberly Ford from "The Kim Project" said she was thrilled to play the gala for the first time. The band relaxed and enjoyed dinner before the show.


"This was important to me," she said. "It is based on an album I put out a few years ago called "Songs in the Key of Sea," and it's all ocean-themed jazz standards. They discovered me and the music."


The album was important to her, and she worked in underwater film making for a while.


"It seemed like a good fit," she said. "I give some of the proceeds from the album to the National Marine Sanctuary. The album also has a DVD and a public service announcement for the National Marine Sanctuary. I am excited to do it in an environment that is receptive like this."


Seeing the art in the Museum, she said is affirming and restoring.


"It's beautiful that someone is restoring and keeping the maritime tradition alive," she said. 


After a show, each member does something different to come down from their performance high.


"We have a performance buzz going, and we get a lot back from the audience," she said. "It circulates between the audience and the performer, so it lifts you higher. A lot of us go home and play some more. I listen to music I feel inspired by."

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