Photographer Richard Salas gets up close and personal with underwater creatures.  (Courtesy Richard Salas)

The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature will host its 17th Annual Spring BBQ Fundraiser and joint celebration of the Wildling Museum’s 20th anniversary, 3-6 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at Firestone Vineyard, 5017 Zaca Station Road, Los Olivos.

The event, sponsored by Northern Trust, offers a barbeque dinner complemented by wines of Firestone Winery. There will be live music by Rebecca Troon, as well as silent and live auctions.

Highlighting the event will be the presentation of the Wildling Museum’s 2020 Wilderness Spirit Award, an annual recognition of a person or group that strives to bring awareness to wilderness protection and preservation.

This year’s honor will go to renowned underwater photographer and author Richard Salas, whose work embodies the Wildling Museum’s mission of bringing art and nature together as a means of preserving wild spaces.

“While I realize that as an individual, I have never been more than a drop of water in the face of the vastness of the ocean, I have also seen that as a species, our collective weight is having a profound and harmful impact on our seas,” Salas said.

“With my lights and lots of patience, I create dimensionality in my photographs of these beings so that they may leap off the page to meet and greet the viewer,” he said. “Through my images, I hope to convey the profound sense of oneness with the underwater world that I feel when I am diving.

“I am committed to using my art to spark in others both a reverence and a sense of responsibility for all ocean life.”

Event sponsors and their guests will be invited to a VIP reception at 2 p.m. to meet the museum’s honoree, and enjoy a toast before the main event. The Wilding Museum is seeking additional sponsors and silent auction donations.

To buy tickets or to be a sponsor, visit, call 805-686-8315, or stop by the Wildling Museum. Advance ticket registration is required and space is limited. VIP admission is $250, which includes early entry; general admission is $150.

Special thanks to gold sponsor Northern Trust and table sponsors Kevin and Terrie Patterson and George and Denise Rose.

Salas is a California native and graduate from Brooks Institute of Photography, where he was mentored by Ernest Brooks II and first introduced to diving and underwater photography. He has worked professionally in digital media for 24 years.

Salas’ distinct approach to bringing out the texture and depth of his underwater subjects is informed by years of experience in lighting products and people.

He has authored three books of photography: “S’ea of Light: Underwater Photography of California’s Channel Islands,” “Blue Visions: Underwater Photography from the Mexican Border to the Equator” and “Luminous Sea: Underwater Photography from Washington to Alaska.”

Salas’ mission is to take viewers through a marine biosphere where humanity’s impact is an undeniable force. While many new endemic species are discovered every year, others have disappeared. Salas’ images illuminate the unique vitality of every organism he encounters.

Salas teaches underwater photography in Alaska, Canada, California and Mexico and is an advocate for the sea and its inhabitants.

For more about the Wildling Museum, visit