Carson City gallery puts art photos of drought on display

Shown is I-80 Fernley Sink Wetlands near Fernley, a photo taken in November by Nolan Preece.

Shown is I-80 Fernley Sink Wetlands near Fernley, a photo taken in November by Nolan Preece.

The Capital City Arts Initiative is hosting The Driest State: Nevada Watersheds, a photo exhibition by Nolan Preece, through May 28 at the CCAI Courthouse Gallery, 885 E. Musser St.

The exhibit includes 29 of Preece’s photographs, many taken from an aerial perspective, that feature desert land forms and show the lack of water and the range of water needs and uses.

Preece took these images over the past five years to document the rapidly changing environment.

“As the population grows throughout the world and the West, fresh water may become one of our most precious resources,” he said. “I continue to feel an urgency to add to this body of work concerning the environment with watersheds being the most important and crucial aspect of this work.”

A native of Utah, Preece has devoted his career to photography, print making, and more recently, digital photography.

Early in his career, he turned his focus to the environment through work for Bio Resources Company in Logan, Utah, that needed photo documentation for its Environmental Impact Statements and data collection efforts about the oil shale tracts of eastern Utah. Preece saw a need to document the tracts of land before mining changed the landscape. In 1981, the firm commissioned him to produce a portfolio of prints; 24 of which are now in the permanent collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.

Preece’s photographs are in other collections, including the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan, Utah; the Snell and Wilmer Photography Collection, Phoenix, Ariz.; and most recently the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

In 1980, Preece, a retired photography professor and gallery director emeritus with Truckee Meadows Community College, received his master’s in fine arts from Utah State University. He lives with his wife in Reno.

Writer Mary Webb wrote the exhibition essay for Preece’s exhibit. She earned a master’s degree in English in 1984 at Northern Arizona University and has since taught English at University of Nevada, Reno, specializing in writing courses and literary nonfiction.

Webb writes about arid landscapes, climate, and drought in the West. Her collaborative book, “A Doubtful River,” produced with photographers Robert Dawson and Peter Goin, was awarded the Wilbur Shepperson Prize for Western Literature. It examines cultural perceptions of water use in the Nevada desert in the context of a prolonged drought during the 1980s.

The Capital City Arts Initiative supports artists and culture in Carson City and the surrounding region. It hosts art projects and exhibitions, live events, arts education programs, artist residencies and online projects.

The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to


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