Landscape photographer Geoff Fricker has selected images from his book, Sacrament: Homage to a River, to exhibit as large format, black and white prints. The book documents the natural and cultural forces influencing the Sacramento River region. Fricker's images capture the river’s powerful and often ephemeral nature and explore the watershed’s importance in California’s economy and environment. The images reveal how all Californians, from farmers and ecologists to fishermen and household consumers, have a vested interest in the watershed’s future.
Growing up on the bluffs of the American River, Geoff Fricker developed a fascination for human presence in the land and the stories surrounding the river. He now lives in Chico and uses photography as a way to further understand the voices behind narratives on the Sacramento River watershed. Being naturally curious about his community, he has used photography as a vehicle for investigating stories and celebrating their beauty. The images in this exhibit are essentially about the often slow but always certain voice of the river to press its natural meander against our history to control it. For him, these photographs are a way to slow the pace and contemplate water — to reflect on our connection to the land and the contradictions of our condition with it.
Geoff Fricker’s photographs are housed in the permanent collections of a diverse set of museums across the United States, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, the Crocker Art Museum, the Library of Congress, and other cultural institutions in California, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. He has received numerous awards and grants to document watersheds. He holds an M.F.A. in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. Geoff lives with his wife, Sandee, on the banks of Butte Creek, a major salmon tributary of the Sacramento River.
The book, Sacrament: Homage to a River, with photographs by Geoff Fricker, text by Rebecca Lawton, and a foreword by Stacy Cepello, is published by Heyday Books. “To fall in love with a wild river is to be changed forever, heart and soul. To fall for a river in California is to live with the scars and ghosts of loss.” In Sacrament: Homage to a River, Geoff Fricker’s atmospheric photographs reveal the geology, salmon runs, fluvial morphology, and human impact of the Sacramento River. In dreamlike black and white, the river takes on mythic proportions, in both its wild ecosystems and its human-made influences. Interwoven with Fricker’s images are Rebecca Lawton’s eloquent descriptions of the beauty of the river and the issues that currently surround it. Each page an expression of the authors’ fascination with and care for “the Sac,” Sacrament is both an emotive exhibition of the wonder of California’s largest waterway and a cautionary tale of its continued degradation.
Geoff Fricker: Submerged pump House with levee and surviving
fossil tree stand in the background near Colusa, 1997
Geoff Fricker: Speed checked by Radar, Ord Bend, 1997
Geoff Fricker: Labor Day on the Sacramento River, 1999
Geoff Fricker: Two Cultures in Stone (Native American mortar holes
and cable grooves from mining operations), 2002