Then and Now: Photographs by Sebastião Salgado

An exhibition curated and designed by Lélia Wanick Salgado


"Then and Now" was the inaugural exhibition in the Brower Center's Hazel Wolf Gallery from May 2009 through January 2010.


This exhibition presented a selection of images spanning a career in documentary photography by renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.  His images tell the story of an era, tracing the human and environmental impacts of modern industrial civilization through the lives of workers, the rural poor and the displaced. These powerful photographs were selected from Salgado’s long term projects: Other Americas, Sahel, the End of the Road, Workers, Migrations and Africa.  Also on view were select images from his “work in progress,” Genesis, which began in 2004 and will be completed in 2011. These images reveal nature – landscapes, flora, fauna and human settlements – in its earliest state.


In his native country, Sebastião and his wife Lélia work together on an environmental restoration project called Instituto Terra in Brazil. The project's mission is to restore a portion of Brazil's Atlantic forest, raise environmental awareness, and work on small economic development projects benefiting the communities living in that high biodiversity area.


Sebastião Salgado's work – both as a photographer and as an activist – exemplifies art’s potential to inspire action.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Lake Project: Photographs By David Maisel

February 10 - May 21, 2010


In 2001, David Maisel photographed at Owens Lake, once a 200-square-mile lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in California. The resulting Lake Project offers stunning aerial images of a fertile valley transformed into an arid stretch of land.


Beginning in 1913, the Owens River was diverted to bring water to Los Angeles. By 1926, the depleted lake exposed vast mineral flats, and the lakebed soon became the highest source of particulate matter pollution in the U.S., emitting some 300,000 tons of carcinogens annually. Blooms of bacterial organisms emerged from the little water that remained, turning it a deep red. Viewed from the air, vestiges of the lake appear as a river of blood, a bisected vein, or a galaxy’s map.


As a stunning work of both art and advocacy, The Lake Project helped to contribute to public awareness and mitigation efforts over the last nine years.


Presented in partnership with Kala Art Institute 


Related Resources

Learn more about Owens Lake and the impact of our water management choices by connecting with any of the following organizations:


The Owens Vallery Committee (ovcweb.org)
Eastern Sierra Audubon (esaudubon.org)
Audubon California (ca.audubon.org)
The Nature Conservancy (nature.org)
The Mono Lake Committee (monolake.org)
Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (gbuapcd.org


Related reading:



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Water, Rivers and People / Agua, Ríos y Pueblos

Images of the Global Effort to Defend Rivers and Human Rights


Presented in partnership with International Rivers and the Madera Group 


June 10 – August 27, 2010


The result of an international collaboration, the David Brower Center’s current exhibition is an homage to those who fight to defend rivers and the people who depend on them. With striking imagery by celebrated photographers such as Robert Dawson, “Water, Rivers and People” shows inspiring examples of rivers that have been protected by citizen action, as well as community-led efforts to provide water for people in affordable, sustainable and effective ways.


Riverine communities around the world, from California to Cambodia, have faced similar damage to their natural resources and social cohesion, and have faced repression and disregard of their cultures and opinions. This exhibition is a testament to the vibrancy of the international movement to protect rivers and assert the rights of river-dependent communities.


The exhibit features case studies of rivers and dams, other destructive water projects and policies such as mines and privatization, as well as river protection and community water-supply success stories. All texts are available in English and Spanish.


Featured photographers include Rogelio Allepuz, Steve Benson, Francesca Casciarri and Eirik Linder, Robert Dawson, Frontera Images / Gonzolo Pérez, Conchita Guerra, Roberto Bear Guerra, Roberta Guimarães, Pierre Montavon, Luc Olivier, Karen Retief, Karen Robinson, James Rodriguez, J.F. Souchard, Brent Stirton / Getty Images, Luo Wen-Da.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Related Resources

Roberto (Bear) Guerra (bearguerra.com)
Robert Dawson Photography (robertdawson.com)
American Rivers (americanrivers.org)
International Rivers (internationalrivers.org)


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers

The second annual Art/Act Exhibition September 13, 2010 – January 7, 2011


In Chris Jordan’s series Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, begun in 2005, the artist represented the staggering statistics of American consumption. Two million bottles were depicted in a larger-than-human-scale digital photograph entitled Plastic Bottles, 2007, literally representing the number of plastic beverage bottles used in the United States every five minutes. In Oil Barrels, 2008, 28,000 barrels were presented in a mandala-like formation of concentric circles, recalling the volume of oil burned in the United States every two minutes.


From a distance, many of Jordan’s images appeared as reductive color fields, minimal landscapes or geometric patterns, while others coalesced into recognizable imagery such as a school of fish in Tuna, 2009, Hokusai’s famous woodcut image of a wave in Gyre, 2009 and a pair of sharks in Shark Teeth, 2008. Up close, however, it became clear that these images were enormous composites of thousands of individual objects. Jordan masterfully stitched together hundreds or thousands of photographs using digital technology to create each seamless composition. Accompanying captions reveal the disturbing statistics on which the images are based. With these aesthetically seductive, spectacularly large photographs, Jordan reminded us that our individual lifestyles contribute to a shockingly great cumulative impact on the planet. While the artist admits he himself is not outside the consumption habits of most Americans, he hopes “that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry” that is necessary for us to even consider what to do next.


About the Artist

Chris Jordan’s work has garnered an impressive amount of recognition in the time since he left the law profession by resigning from the bar to focus on making art in 2003. Since then, he has exhibited in museums and galleries in at least 20 states and eight countries. Perhaps more significant, though, is his exposure via the Internet. His website receives over 75,000 individual visitors per month, and through the viral popularity of his work he has been invited to appear on television shows such as Bill Moyers Journal, The Colbert Report and the Rachel Ray Show. Several books of Jordan’s photographs have been published, including Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster and Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Daniel McCormick - Methods and Materials: Ecological Art in Practice

January 27 - May 11, 2011


Daniel McCormick has practiced ecological art for 25 years, installing sculptural works in damaged natural environments to effect positive ecological change. His ephemeral artworks of organic materials are used as silt traps and erosion control weavings, and are intended to evolve and recede from view over time. In the rare solo exhibition at the Hazel Wolf Gallery in 2011, McCormick brought the methods and materials of his outdoor works inside. The show featured installations of restoration materials, sculptures made with techniques he used in the field, and preparatory drawings for various projects.


About the Exhibit

Daniel McCormick goes beyond witnessing and documenting environmental damage to create art that becomes a positive ecological intervention, giving aesthetic weight to ecological restoration. His sculptural installations, located primarily on public lands and in open spaces, work to restore the equilibrium of watersheds and other ecosystems adversely impacted by rural and urban communities. Using elements from the environments where he works, McCormick weaves natural materials into sculptural forms that serve as silt traps, erosion control implements, fish habitat enhancements and other ecological aids. Through succession into the land, these sculptures evolve to a more ephemeral state. When the restoration process is established the artist’s presence is no longer apparent.


This exhibition at the David Brower Center posed a unique opportunity for the artist to create new work specifically for an indoor gallery environment. The works revealed the methods and materials McCormick traditionally uses in the field. Drawings and sculptures represented the types of earthworks he creates, and documentary photographs showed the evolution of several of his ecological installations over time. Through these, viewers could begin to understand the significance of McCormick’s role at the intersection of art and ecology. His art practice reflects a deep concern for the environment and community, as well as his belief that an artist has a responsibility to do more than act as a witness.


About the Artist

Daniel McCormick is an interdisciplinary artist and design professional with integrated skills in the fields of sculptural installation, environmental design and ecological restoration. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Artist Grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, an Invitational Bridge Residency Award from the Headlands Center for the Arts, a creative development grant from the Blumenthal Foundation, a Creative Capital Award and an Urban Landscape Award from the Friends of the Urban Forest. McCormick’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the Oakland Museum of California, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Bolinas Art Museum, Headlands Center for the Arts, Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA and the McColl Center for Visual Art.


Related Resources:
From Gully to Gallery: Restoration Art in Berkeley, Bay Nature
Eco-Friendly Artists Breaks the Mold, Daily Californian


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

hello tomorrow: Bay Area Artists Envision the Future

Summer Exhibition at the Brower Center In the Hazel Wolf Gallery June 16, 2011 – September 2, 2011


The Brower Center asked Bay Area artists to respond to David Brower’s quote: “Have a good time saving the world. Otherwise, you’re just going to depress yourself.” With over 500 submissions, we were inspired by the sheer breadth of the work. From traditional painting to installation to the conceptual avant-garde, this show is a powerful indicator of how pervasive social, environmental, and political concerns are among artists and the community at large. We hope that these 22 works — imaginative, contemplative, and playful — will also inspire our visitors to consider how we will all live in the future.


Artists include: Mari Andrews · Timothy Armstrong · Claire Brandt · Noah Breuer · Mark Bryan · Hagit Cohen · Alicia Escott · Lisa Espenmiller · William Harsh · Ryan Hendon · Anthony Holdsworth · Grant Johnson · Michael Kerbow · Kimberlee Koym-Murteira · Alexis Laurent · Jeff Long · Viviana Paredes · Ruth Santee · Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang · Esther Traugot · Michelle Waters · Stephen Whisler


Jurors: Lucinda Barnes, Chief Curator and Director of Programs and Collections, Berkeley Art Museum; DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer; Amy Tobin, Executive Director, David Brower Center

One Cubic Foot: Miniature Surveys in Biodiversity, Photographs by David Liittschwager

The Third Annual Art/Act Exhibition September 15, 2011 – January 27, 2012




How much life grows or passes, on land or sea, through one cubic foot of space? To find out, and to record the concentrates of biodiversity that occupy such a space, the photographer David Liittschwager and a group of scientists have been recording whatever appeared in an open green metal frame over the course of a normal day. Since 2006, five habitats have been examined: a coral reef crest in Moorea, French Polynesia; a mountain Fynbos in South Africa; leaf litter in New York’s Central Park; a freshwater river bottom in the Duck River, Tennessee; and a cloud forest canopy of Monte Verde, Costa Rica.


The David Brower Center has commissioned Liittschwager to create and premiere his most recent biological survey: Under the Golden Gate Bridge. Liittschwager’s observations determined an astonishing 2.6 billion organisms entering and leaving the San Francisco Bay estuary through the space of one cubic foot over a 24-hour period. The images in the exhibit provide a sampler of the amazing creatures (a majority invisible to the naked eye) living in the Golden Gate.


Littschwager’s longtime passion is to document – in scrupulously accurate images that possess an almost otherworldly beauty – what will be lost in the ongoing extinction of natural habitats and the species that live there. The work inspires the question, what can we learn from one cubic foot? A freelance photographer, David Liittschwager grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Between 1983 and 1986, he worked as an assistant to Richard Avedon in New York City. After working in advertising, he turned his skills to portraiture with an emphasis on natural history subjects.


Now a contributing photographer to National Geographic and other magazines, Liittschwager is also a successful book author. In 2002 he produced the books Skulls and X-Ray Ichthyology: The Structure of Fishes for the California Academy of Sciences. Liittschwager’s other books, written in collaboration with Susan Middleton, include Archipelago, Remains of a Rainbow, Witness and Here Today.


A recipient of an Endangered Species Coalition Champion Award for Education and Outreach and a Bay & Paul Foundation Biodiversity Leadership Award, Liittschwager lectures and shows his work around the world in both fine art and natural history contexts. His photographs have been exhibited at many museums, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., the Honolulu Academy of Art in Hawai?I, and currently at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Liittschwager was honored by a 2008 World Press Photo Award for his article on Marine Microfauna in National Geographic magazine (November 2007).






One Cubic Foot Closing Night and Benefit


Thursday, January 26, 2012
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
In the Hazel Wolf Gallery


Please join us for a closing reception and opportunity to support the David Brower Center. Photographer David Liittschwager has generously offered to contribute his limited prints for a silent auction and drawing.


Click here to learn how you might take home one of his original works documenting the biodiversity of the San Francisco Bay.




Past public programs


turtleOpening Reception and Artist Talk


Thursday, September 15
6:30pm-8:00pm Opening Reception
8:00pm-9:00pm Artist Talk


David Liittschwager will share his experiences and process of documenting habitats around the world. Featuring short films and an opportunity for audience discussion.


Free Program!
RSVP by sending an email to contactATbrowercenter.org or by calling (510) 809-0900 ext. 116.




kelpOne Cubic Foot in a Tropical Climate:
Moorea Biocode Project


Wednesday, October 5
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm


What can we learn from what lives in a tropical ecosystem? David Liittschwager and Christopher Meyer, Smithsonian zoologist and Project Director of Moorea Biocode Project, will discuss the implications of creating the first comprehensive inventory of all non-microbial life in a complex tropical ecosystem. The database will be publicly available as a resource for ecologists and evolutionary biologists around the world.


Free Program!
RSVP by sending an email to contactATbrowercenter.org or by calling (510) 809-0900 ext. 116.




One Cubic Foot - What Lives Under the     Golden Gate Bridge


A conversation between David Liittschwager and Bill Keener


Wednesday, December 7
7:00 p.m.


What can the smallest and largest creatures - from transparent jellyfish to marine mammals - tell us about the health of our ecosystem? What thrives in the San Francisco Bay against all odds?


This is the final chance to hear David Liittschwager at the Goldman Theater. His stunning exhibition "One Cubic Foot: Miniature Surveys in Biodiversity" is in the Hazel Wolf Gallery through January 27th.


As the founder and Executive Director of Golden Gate Cetacean Research, Bill Keener has been studying the habits of dolphins and porpoises in the changing bay. Bill's experience includes work as a field observer for the harbor porpoise population study in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. He is an environmental lawyer and the former Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.


The program is free, but we recommend emailing an RSVP to contact@browercenter.org. 




Land, Use

Land, Use image

An Exhibition in the Hazel Wolf Gallery
Gallery Hours:  Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Exhibition Information Photos  

Communities around the world have been broken apart by land development, the disappearance of tradition, and stark differences in values around land use. From farming and seed libraries to the livelihood of nomadic shepherds … what does “preservation” mean when it comes to tradition, land, and knowledge?

For this exhibition, the David Brower Center has commissioned the first collaboration between Amy Franceschini (San Francisco, CA) and Fernando García-Dory (Madrid, Spain). The show will feature past works by the two artists, and we are thrilled to announce the premiere of García-Dory’s first solo show in the United States.

Thinking Like a River

Thinking Like a River exhibition graphic

Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Exhibition Information Exhibition Events Photos Press

Environmentalist, mountaineer and visionary David R. Brower changed the way our society thinks about natural places and, consequently, changed the world. In the year he would have been 100, we celebrate his legacy of activism with a special summer exhibition. The show features the exhibit format books pioneered by Brower, who believed that if people could experience natural places through powerful imagery, they would feel a greater sense of responsibility for protecting them.

With stunning nature photography from Bill Curtsinger, best known for capturing deep-sea life, and work by Joseph Holmes, celebrated landscape photographer, the exhibition magnifies the enduring power of art as a tool for advocacy.

Before California

Laura Cunningham: Before California

Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Learn more Exhibition Events Photos Press


What was California like centuries ago, before we entered the mix? Which ecological processes did our presence interrupt? What became of the wildlife that once roamed free? Artist, scientist and celebrated pioneer of historical ecology Laura Cunningham has spent a large part of her career attempting to answer these puzzling questions. The result is a striking array of illustrations, sketches, and murals that will be featured in Cunningham’s first solo exhibition at the David Brower Center.

Promise and Peril

The natural world is in a state of constant flux. It seems that more and more often, we hear about the decline of yet another precious animal or plant species and the subsequent efforts to protect it from extinction.  Our greatest opportunity to make conservation a priority is through widespread awareness and visual art is just such a channel through which to convey the message.
This winter, the Brower Center is proud to present the works of two brilliant artists in Promise and Peril: A Study in Biodiversity. Featured artists Isabella Kirkland and Jeffrey Long employ different techniques, but converge in their commitment to capturing elements of nature in order to shed light on the ecological challenges we face.  The result is a vivid and eye-opening exhibition opening this February in the Hazel Wolf Gallery.

Almost Together

We live in a digital age, in which video chatting with someone in another country is often easier than visiting a friend across town. At the same time, we rely on physical spaces to facilitate connection and meaning — whether through a game of basketball at the YMCA, a visit to a village market, or a movement such as Occupy. What role do face-to face relationships play in today’s society, and how can we become closer in a world that privileges communication at a distance? The Brower Center is pleased to present the works of 20 local artists investigating these questions in our second juried show.

Artists include:

Carlo Abruzzese • Donna Anderson Kam • Sholeh Asgary • Ashleigh Castro • Calcagno Cullen • Brian Donohue • Julie Garner • Sheila Ghidini • Annie Hallatt • Justin Hoover and Chris Treggiari • Carter Johnston • Lisa Levine • Jackson Patterson • Megan Reed • Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang • Dana Smith • Paul Taylor • Linda Trunzo • John Watson • Rhonda Weppler


René de Guzman, Senior Curator, Oakland Museum of California
Cheryl Haines, Director, Haines Gallery
Ann Hatch, Founder, The Workshop Residence
Amy Tobin, Founding Executive Director, David Brower Center

Petrochemical America

Every autumn, the Brower Center presents the Art/Act Exhibition, an award presented to an artist who has demonstrated extraordinary achievement at the convergence of art and activism. This year, we honor celebrated photographer Richard Misrach. Based on the book Petrochemical America (Aperture 2012), the exhibit highlights the unique collaboration between Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff/SCAPE. Presented in an open studio format, this project brings into focus the complex economic and ecological forces that have shaped the industrial landscapes of the Mississippi River’s “Cancer Alley,” mapping cycles of resource extraction and transformation from a local to a global scale.

This exhibition is toured by Aperture Foundation. 


Above: Norco Cumulus Cloud, Shell Oil Refinery, Norco, Louisiana, 1998

Norco, twenty-five miles upriver from New Orleans, is the site of a massive Shell Oil refinery. Throughout the day, natural-looking clouds, nicknamed “Norco cumulus,” hover over the site, created by the commingling of moisture and volatile hydrocarbons that originate in the process of refining gasoline, jet fuel, cooking oil, and other products. In 2009, the EPA ranked Louisiana as one of the top ten polluters of air and water in the United States.

© Richard Misrach, courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

The Lexicon of Sustainability

Can we meet our country's growing agricultural demands in a way that honors our earth? The David Brower Center explores the language of resilience in our winter 2014 exhibit, a multi-platform project featuring the work of Douglas Gayeton that uses photography, film, ethnography, and crowdsourcing techniques to uncover the terms and principles that characterize “sustainability,” a popular term with a sometimes slippery definition. At a time when our country’s commercial agriculture operation is causing major environmental degradation by polluting our waterways, contributing to deforestation, or poisoning wildlife with pesticides, a sustainable sea change in the industry is called for. This important exhibit sheds light on changemakers across the country who are reshaping our food culture and working to develop a healthier, safer, and more sustainable system nationwide.