Sherrill Miller Spotlight

My sister’s aunt was one of the first people to have her wedding celebration at Marin Art and Garden Center. She arranged it with Caroline Livermore herself. 

One of the most extraordinary aspects of Marin Art and Garden Center is the way it simultaneously honors the past, embraces the present, and envisions the future. People who visit today often have special memories from long ago in addition to eternal hope that they will return for many years to come. A beautiful example of this is a story Baywood Artists’ cofounder Sherrill Miller shares.   

“My sister’s aunt was one of the first people to have her wedding celebration at Marin Art and Garden Center,” she says. “She arranged it with Caroline Livermore herself.”  

In 1945, Caroline Livermore and a group of conservation-minded women came together to preserve land and create the Marin Art and Garden Center. Their mission was to ensure that it remained a community space to celebrate the arts and nature for future generations. Caroline was also instrumental in creating other nonprofits and conserving regional land, like Angel Island State Park, the Marin Audubon Society, the Point Reyes National Seashore Foundation, Marin Conservation League, and more. By all accounts, she was an extraordinary person who touched the hearts and lives of many.  

“In 1947, my sister’s aunt, Shirley Beine, was planning her wedding,” Sherrill says. “She lived on Laurel Grove and thought of the lovely nearby garden of Caroline Livermore. She approached Caroline and asked if she could have her reception there. ‘What a good idea!’ Caroline exclaimed.” 

Little did Shirley know that her humble request would spark a decades-long tradition of love and thousands of future celebrations of all kinds, including weddings.  

On her birthday in September of 1947, Shirley married Robert A. McDonald at the First Presbyterian Church in San Rafael,” Sherrill continues. “The celebration at Marin Art and Garden Center followed. It was near the Sir Francis Drake entrance, and the arch was gorgeously covered with gardenias. Champagne, cake and coffee were served to the 185 guests.” 

The event was memorable in many ways. Incredible peace and beauty surrounded the party, but there were funny moments, as well. “Someone let the air out of Shirley’s parents’ car thinking it was going to be the getaway car. The newlyweds had prearranged a different getaway car and foiled the caper, though. Shirley also made the comment that the police and fire department were happy to have an event to oversee.”

In the philanthropic spirit that motivated Caroline Livermore to lead efforts to found Marin Art and Garden Center, and the generosity that continues to embody garden donors today, Caroline did not want any payment for Shirley and Robert’s reception. Their happiness and the opportunity to offer the couple’s guests an event to remember forever was enough. The family did, however, make a $25 donation to the garden.  

Shirley is now 101 years old and lives in Santa Rosa. She vividly remembers her spectacular wedding at Marin Art and Garden Center and often recounts it to friends and family, like her niece and Sherrill. The stories, in turn, inspire Sherrill to show the garden’s history and beauty through her art. As an oil painter and the Cofounder of BayWood Artists, she contributes works and raises both awareness and funds for environmental and conservation organizations through the sale of paintings at annual art shows. Since the organization’s founding in 1997, the BayWood Artists have painted for Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin Open Space, Save The Bay, Bay Area Ridge Trail, Russian River Keepers, and other organizations.

In 2019, Sherrill and the BayWood Artists took their passion for conservation and respect for Caroline Livermore to a new level when they had an exhibition in The Studio called Visions for Marin: The Legacy of Caroline Sealy Livermore. 

More to explore

IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center