July 13: Robert Dawson Lecture “Empire of Thirst” in San Francisco; one of three exhibitions on view at SFPL

Three exhibitions are on view at the San Francisco Public Library:

EMPIRE OF THIRST: Robert Dawson’s Photographs of Water in the West

CALIFORNIA DELTA: Rural Charms and Natural Beauty by Rich Turner  (opens July 10)


HAND BOOKBINDERS of CALIFORNIA: 38th Anniversary Exhibition

In conjunction with his solo exhibition “Empire of Thirst: Robert Dawson’s Photographs of Water in the West” which continues through August 1st in the Jewett Gallery at the the San Francisco Public Library, Robert Dawson will give an Artist’s Talk. Details as follows:

TUESDAY, July 13th, 6:30 p.m.  at the Koret Auditorium; 100 Larkin Street at Grove

From the Library’s webpage for this exhibition:

“In numerous projects over the past 30 years documenting the west, photographer Robert Dawson has found inspiration in water. He sees water as the most compelling metaphor and prescient symbol for the attitudes that have shaped the landscape of the American West. The San Francisco Public Library is hosting a special exhibition this summer that combines images from several of Dawson’s photography projects in Empire of Thirst – Robert Dawson’s Photographs of Water in the West, in the Jewett Gallery, Main Library, on view June 26 through Aug. 1.

The full range of our nation’s regard for the natural world has manifested itself in western water history. Dawson’s photography examines these cultural values and attitudes—from loving stewardship and respect to outrageous abuse and plunder—that have brought us to this critical point with the natural world. While the water crisis is global, Dawson has chosen to focus on the American West. It is here that the impact of rapid development of arid lands is immediately visible for all to see.

“Growing up in California I was always aware of the importance of water. I can still remember the panic of my parents in 1956 when California’s intricate levee system almost broke after an enormous rain and threatened to flood all of Sacramento. The urgency of our six-year drought in the 1980s focused my thinking about water in the West,” explains Dawson.

Included in the exhibition are both color and black and white photographs that address the issue of water. Some of Dawson’s work looks at our culture’s desire to possess, control and shape the land and water to our needs, other photographs document the misuse of water and still others examine a complex, evolving relationship to water that Dawson hopes to influence with his work.

The exhibition draws from five separate photographic projects including The Great Central Valley Project which examines California’s agricultural heartland and the reshaping of that intensively farmed valley. The Water in the West Project looks at attitudes toward agriculture, mining, resource development, recreation, Native Americans, growth and environmental controversy. The Truckee River-Pyramid Lake Project explores one western water system and the conflict over its water by the Paiute Indians, the ranchers of western Nevada and the city of Reno. The Farewell, Promised Land Project examines California’s environment and its history. The fifth project is the result of his recent work as the first Photographer-in-Residence for the City of San Jose’s Cultural Affairs Office and its Environmental Services Department. He has been photographing the city’s wastewater treatment facility, examining how our culture deals with wastewater.

As Dawson explains, “…photography has taken me through several projects on various subjects. But I always seem to find water wherever my work takes me. Throughout this journey I have always tried to stay close to the essential nature of water. Water is life and for me a never-ending source of inspiration.”

A related exhibit, California Delta: Rural Charms and Natural Beauty – Photos by Rich Turner, will be on view July 10 through October 7, in the Wallace Stegner Environmental Center at the Main Library. Turner’s photographs, in both color and black and white, memorialize the diversity of the Delta region in all its breathtaking beauty.

Related exhibition opening July 10th:

“California Delta: Rural Charms and Natural Beauty”  Photographs by Rich Turner, on view in the Wallace Stegner Environmental Center, Main Library, 5th Floor

And last but not least:

HAND BOOKBINDERS of CALIFORNIA: 38th Anniversary Exhibition

“The Hand Bookbinders of California celebrate their 38th Annual Members’ Exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library. The exhibition features the work of professional bookbinders, amateurs and students of the art and craft of hand bookbinding. Examples range from finely gold-tooled leather bindings to avant-garde artists’ books, and innovative designs from the traditional to contemporary.

The Art of Hand Bookbinding: special tours by members of the Hand Bookbinders of California on the following Thursday mornings at 11a.m., July 8 and 22, and August 12. In the Skylight Gallery.”

All programs at the Library are free and open to the public; call 415-557-4277 for more information.

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