Palm Springs Desert Museum

Palm Springs, CA



In Search of Eldorado: Salton Sea Photographs by Christopher Landis


An exhibition featuring digital photographs of the Salton Sea opens at the Palm Springs Desert Museum on February 12, 2000 and runs through July 16, 2000.

In Search of Eldorado: Salton Sea Photographs by Christopher Landis is a collection of 35 photographs that document the sublime beauty of the Salton Sea region and the damage done to past and present environments by decades of rising salinity, heavy nutrient loading and recurring floods. "Chris Landis' photographs show the Salton Sea as a troubled environment since its very beginnings," said James R. Cornett, PSDM's Curator of Natural Science. (left: Salton bay Yacht Club, 1990, photograph (Iris print), 20 x 20 inches)

Christopher Landis, a noted photographer and historian, began taking pictures of the Salton Sea in 1990. What has emerged is a poetic representation of the Sea and its surrounding landscape. The photographs are striking visual images of a talented artist seen through the prism of their historical significance.

The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when an irrigation project intended to bring water to the Imperial Valley, backfired allowing the Colorado River to flow into the dry Salton Basin unabated for two years. It was heralded as "California's New Mediterranean" in the 1950s and 60s by developers who envisioned the area as a recreational Mecca for tourists. But, the ever-increasing salinity, floods and other environmental problems eventually deterred dreams of commercial success.

Landis notes that, "As an artist, I come to the Sea a desert native who remains spellbound by the beauty of this fantastic landscape. As a historian, I believe the Sea's story is an epic Western tale...note the colorful mythic West of cowboys and gunslingers, but the real one of aridity and irrigation, real estate ventures, boom towns, Native American land, military test sites and recreational use. Since its accidental birth until now, the Sea seems to epitomize the complex problems involved in the use and management of Western lands."

The exhibition is accompanied by a 48-page publication as well as a Natural Science Symposium that will be held at the Museum on February 26, 2000. The symposium will feature six leading experts on the natural history of the Salton Sea who will discuss such topics as the Sea's geological history, bird life, and native aquatic life.

This exhibition is organized by the Palm Springs Desert Museum and is funded in part by the Museum's Natural Science Council.

Read more about the Palm Springs Desert Museum in Resource Library Magazine.


rev. 12/8/10

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