Man, we really miss Huell Howser here in the Weekly ivory tower.
Chapman University feels our pain and is doing something about it for fellow fans of the late, longtime KCET host by making permanent the exhibit "That's Amazing! Thirty Years of Huell Howser and California's Gold." (Who else heard Huell's voice and smiled when reading the words "That's amazing?")
Chapman, of course, before and after Howser's death in early 2013, was the recipient of his personal art collection, show memorabilia, notes and papers relating to his work, tapes of all of his more than 900 episodes of California's Gold and associated shows like California's Missions, California's Golden Parks, California's Golden Fairs and Road Trip.
The Automobile Club sponsored Road Trip, and it is sponsoring the permanent exhibit housed in the private Orange university's Leatherby Libraries. The public is invited to an open house launching the new exhibit from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.
On tap will be personal appearances by some of the favorite people showcased on Howser's shows, food vendors featured in memorable episodes and free tours of a replica of his office, a quote wall, career artifacts, pieces from his eclectic personal art collection and fan gifts from his travels throughout California. The Auto Club's new "California's Gold Guide Map," which marks many locations Howser visited for his shows, will be handed out free while supplies last.
Saturday also marks the world premiere of the new documentary A Golden State of Mind: The Storytelling Genius of Huell Howser. Created by Chapman film professor Jeff Swimmer, the film screens in Chapman's Memorial Hall at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 online in advance (at www.huellhowserarchives.com) and $15 at the door (or $10 if you are an Auto Club member). Proceeds from film ticket sales help support the Huell Howser Archives and Collection and the permanent exhibit.
Besides giving the university all that stuff, Howser endowed the California's Gold Scholarship that is presented to selected undergraduates who display a positive outlook and are actively pursuing ways to improve society. Howser also donated two houses to Chapman: his Twentynine Palms residence that is being sold per Howser's wishes to support his scholarship and archives; and the "Volcano House," an iconic Midcentury Modern domed structure atop an ancient volcano in the Mojave Desert that the university uses as a base for study trips, filmmaking, writers' retreats and more.
Chapman recently launched www.huellhowserarchives.com, where the public can view all of these episodes for free.