Postcard by Ian Ruther

VALLEJO, Calif. September 18, 2018 – The USDA Forest Service is partnering with the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum to present an art exhibition, RiverBorne, featuring the work of California artist Ian Ruhter. His large-scale one-of-a-kind images are captured with his camera truck, which he built nine years ago with his life savings after giving up a successful commercial photography business in Los Angeles and moving back to his hometown, South Lake Tahoe.

Inspired by pioneering 19th century photographers such as Carleton Watkins, Ruhter has pushed the limits of photographic process to create up to 48″ X 60″ unique collodion wet plates and silver gelatin photographs, much larger than was previously thought possible. With his giant lens camera truck, he transforms the imagery of the American landscape into a scale Watkins would have found unimaginable, blending old and new technologies to create powerful and resonant artworks.
For his RiverBorne project, Ruhter and his assistant Will Eichelberger spent a week in July on Mare Island, home of the former Naval Shipyards on the Napa River in Vallejo, where they exposed images directly on to 40″ x 60″ sheets of light-sensitive paper. These silver gelatin unique photographs, along with a selection of Ruhter’s large images on glass and metal plates (ambrotypes and tintypes) comprise a stunning collection of work relating to the convergence of our waterways, and human events that have influenced their course.
The exhibition will also include historic photographs of Mare Island and the surrounding waterways from the Museum’s collection, selected by exhibition curator Kathryn Weller Renfrow. In addition, photograms created by students of Ruhter’s recent workshops at the Vallejo Summer Art Camp will be on display.
Concurrent RiverBorne exhibits of paintings about local and regional waterways, curated by Susan Schneider, will be on view in the Museum as well. The artists included are Warren Dreher, Deanna Forbes, and Linda Grebmeier. (Contact: Susan Schneider,, (707) 649-0470)
Visions of the Wild is an annual festival presented by the United States Forest Service, whose Pacific Southwest Regional Headquarters are located on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. The Festival will take place in downtown Vallejo, September 20 through 23, and the Festival Grand Opening will be held at the Naval and Historical Museum on September 20 from 6-9 p.m.
The Visions of the Wild Film and Arts Festival features films, speakers, river cruises, and field trips, as well as the art exhibitions, all designed around the festival theme. This year’s theme, Wild and Scenic, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers and Trails Act of Congress passed in 1968.