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October 27, 2008

Gallery spotlights Sacramento Valley through eyes of Swiss photographer

Many people consider the Sacramento Valley kind of a no-place. Not photographer Lukas Felzmann, who is fascinated by the very thing that some would find boring, flat and disconsolate.

His exhibition, Ghostpile, will be featured Nov. 4 through Dec. 14 at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery. The gallery will hold an opening reception from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 6 and a closing reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 6.

"I was curious about this terrain, so often bypassed by travelers who speed to some other destination along the dissecting freeways," he said in an artist's statement. "But over the many years of roaming by crisscrossing the grid of small roads, I have found a varied landscape. The wooded uplands of the parameters give way to grasslands and brush, and as one descends into the swampy basins the vast sky is mirrored by sloughs, ponds and canals."

The journey became an exploration of time as well as space for Felzmann: "Slowly, the valley opened itself like a book to me. As I read and reread, the place became a refuge, a sort of home on the road. Situated only 100 miles north of San Francisco, the valley's wide horizons are a welcome relief from the hectic verticality of the city. And once you enter the vast plain, time slows down. I think that this exquisite slowness has to do with the growing of plants and crops. Growth becomes the measure of time."

Felzmann's intention was not to produce an inclusive documentation but to construct an empirical archive and, as he stated, "to weave a story out of fragments; a sort of poetry of ruins."

Born in Zürich in 1959, Felzmann earned his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has taught photography at the California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute and Stanford University since 1993.

His work has been shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the Cantor Arts Center, Kunsthaus Zürich and the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, among other venues. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in photography.

His second monograph, Waters In Between, published last month, contains work from this exhibition.

The Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The gallery will be closed Nov. 25-28. Admission is free. The gallery is located near the top of the Oval at 419 Lasuen Mall. Parking is free after 4 p.m. and all day on weekends. For more information, call 723-2842 or go to

Editor Note:

Digital images available from Rachel Isip: (650) 725-3107,



Cynthia Haven, News Service: (650) 724-6184,

Rachel R. Isip, Department of Art and Art History: (650) 725-3107,

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