Salt Dreams: Reflections of a Downstream West

Based on the critically acclaimed book of the same title, Salt Dreams: Reflections of the Downstream West looks at the troubled history of the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California. Comprised of photoraphs by Joan Myers, the exhibition provides viewers with a fresh perspective on the history of water issues in the American West.

The Salton Sea, located in southwestern California, is a well-known desert basin that accidentally became a sea when a canal leading to the Colorado River broke and flooded in 1905. The river altered its course and emptied into the sink creating the Salton Sea. Beginning in 1986, Myers, along with author William deBuys, made repeated trips to photograph images of the area including drained gardens, mud volcanoes, an abandoned yacht club, and ghost town motels.

The photographs in the exhibition address themes related to water issues, the border, Native rights, development projects, and environmental issues. Myers’s black-and-white photographs are hauntingly beautiful and are lightly colored with watercolor paint. Together, they tell the eerie story of how humans have shaped this unique desert landscape.

Myers maintains a residence and studio near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and teaches photography at schools and workshops throughout the country.

Joan Myers, “Flooded Sign” n.d. Platinum palladium print with watercolor. Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art.