Steve Davis

Resource management, or mismanagement, is an act of violence—one that works both ways. We take for granted in the Northwest our abundance of snow and water until they’re gone. All it requires is one long, hot dry spell, and our brown lawns and short showers remind us how we’re not so different than Arizona: at war with the hostile elements. Olympia photographer Steve Davis went on a series of Western states road trips, beginning two years ago, and his show "The Western Lands" documents terrain both damply familiar and dryly alien, from our Pacific Coast to the Salton Sea. These are landscapes not so obviously blighted by industry, but shaped by settlement and consumption: frost-coated highways to nowhere, chemical storage tanks arrayed like rolls of hay, the lunar mounds of a gravel pit, flooded Christmas tree farms, high-tech windmills churning far from the suburban cul de sacs they cool and illuminate. A faculty member at Evergreen State College, Davis has previously been known for portraiture among the developmentally disabled and youth locked up in jail. You could say his new show marks a passage from Diane Arbus to Edward Burtynsky, from the petty criminals, freaks, losers, and outcasts to the harsh environments that formed them. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., July 16, 6-8 p.m.; Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: July 16. Continues through Aug. 22, 2009

 
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