Colorado River Basin in Crisis, Oil on Mi-Teintes, 42 x 64 inches, 2015

Water Scarcity and the American West

Traveling Art Exhibition

Launched at the Global Environmental Markets and Finance Summit (GEMFS) in Denver, CO, July 2023. Sponsored by Walton Family Foundation, Earth Recovery Partners, Mighty Arrow Family Foundtion, and JT&A.

Doomsday Glacier, Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes, 20 x 12 inches, 2022

Artist David Brewster presents a suite of large-scale contemporary oil paintings designed to provoke the imagination and awareness of viewers around the topic of Water Scarcity, particularly as it relates to the current situation in the American West. This traveling exhibit will launch at the Global Environmental Markets and Finance Summit in Denver on July 19, 2023 at the newly constructed Hydro Building at the Colorado State University Spur. It will also be coordinated with the unveiling of the solutions selected as part of the Colorado River Water Scarcity Challenge led by Quantified Ventures and Earth Recovery Partners and funded by the Walton Foundation, Mighty Arrow Family Foundation, JT&A, inc. and others.

The Colorado River-the source of water and power for over 40 million people, 7 states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico, is at risk of being depleted due to climate change, human intervention and inefficient uses. Currently, 56% of the river is used to grow food for livestock, 24% for other crop irrigation, 12% for residential use, 5% for commercial use and 4% for thermoelectric power. Agricultural use dominates water consumption but now must be balanced with new and increasing demand from growing cities.

Prior to the wet winter in 2023, Lake Mead and Lake Powell were at their lowest levels since the inception of both dams due to the reduction in flow and volume from the river. The water levels in the reservoirs were so low that there is concern that water may no longer flow downstream from the dams to power hydroelectric facilities or to serve those communities downstream. Despite the wet water year in 2023, it cannot erase the drying trend over the last 20 years, the anticipated dryer conditions in the future nor the increased population using the water.

It is with that backdrop, that the states of California, Nevada and Arizona recently agreed with the Bureau of Reclamation in May of 2023 to conserve 3 million acre-feet of water over the next three years with the federal government paying $1.2 billion for the conservation of 2 million acre-feet. This is a precursor to the Colorado River Compact amendment that must be in place before 2027, where seven states and 30 tribes will need to agree on how to further reduce water use on the river for the foreseeable future.

With recognition of the urgency of the need for education and solutions, the launch of the traveling “Water Scarcity” art exhibit is intended to engage distinguished artist, David Brewster, to tell the story in a different dimension. We all have read about the issues or have seen photos, but we need to contextualize the issues in a more meaningful way. We need to understand the history, the current crisis and to aspire for yet-undreamt-of solutions. In this thought-provoking exhibit, David provides his own narrative of the story that hopefully will also serve as a call to action to all of us.

by George Kelly, CEO, Earth Recovery Partners

To find out how you can support this exhibition through GEMFS, click here.

Water Scarcity exhibit at the Hydro Building at the Colorado State University Spur, July-August 2023

Thirsty: Cupped Hands I (detail), Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes, 32 x 47 inches, 2023

David Brewster in the California desert

“As viewers, and as Americans with a cultural heritage wrapped up in the beauty of land rich with natural resources, I want to make work that offers us an opportunity to think about our compromised and strange new contemporary environment in a more conscious way. Will we consider our long history of compromising the landscape when we make policy decisions? How will we reconcile our modern needs for technology and economy with our approach to the land and the escalation of climate change. And can we find the time in our busy lives inundated by social media and cell phone usage to pause and appreciate what the natural world has to offer us? Art is one of the few places in society where we can join together in a communal, emotional, intellectual way and reflect upon our common human experience and our place in the world.

Humans want to live in the desert with green lawns, non-native plants, swimming pools, and air conditioning, consuming resource-intensive beef and creating large amounts of waste water. The desire to remain oblivious to the irrevocable results is strong, but the population now has no choice but to reckon with the consequences of past actions and the present shortage of natural resources. Tempering rapacious human industry and consumption has become a clear global issue, and the present Western U.S. water crisis is a pressing example of this.”

David Brewster, 2022

Curvilinear Hoover Dam, Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes, 32 x 47 inches, 2023

Drip Irrigation, Gravity Fed
Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes
47 x 32 inches

Water Droplet: Shrinking Lake Meade
Wood construction, oil, spray paint and mixed media

Colectores de Agua Las Vegas
Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes
48 x 32 inches

Big Gulp
Oil on Mi-Teintes
47 x 32 inches

“Dead Pool” Hoover Dam Spillway
Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes
66 x 47 inches

Hoover Dam Intake Towers During Drought
Oil on Wood Construction
30 x 12 inches

Echo Hotel, Lake Meade
Wood, oil, spraypaint and mixed media

World War II Craft Revealed, Lake Meade, Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes, 32 x 47 inches, 2023

Nocturnal Tide, Oil, spray paint and mixed media on Mi-Teintes, 15.5 x 21 inches, 2022

Additional Paintings

Additional Constructions