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Sap In Their Veins

In the late 1980’s the Pacific Northwest was deeply divided in what was often referred to as the Spotted Owl Wars. Rural logging communities were fighting to protect their often multi-generational way of life. And urban environmentalists were fighting to stop logging of all old growth timber and the practice of clear cutting.

The divisions were deep, passionate and mostly unyielding.

Working with Dan Taylor, the curator of The Mendocino County Museum, our intent was to focus on the lunch bucket crew and leave out the politics of who decided how and how much to cut. Through personal portraiture and oral histories we hoped to help bridge some of the divide.

In 2004 I traveled through the same northern California regions again to make portraits, record stories and discover what had changed in that fifteen-year period. An exhibition of the older and new work was scheduled to be exhibited together at the California State History Museum. Due to major shifts at the museum the exhibit never happened until now.

This exhibit is relevant today because we are again living in a time of deep divisions, and I believe in the power of stories that reflect our shared humanity to help bridge those divides.

“These portraits of loggers are deeply human and the Falling Tree images are unique in the history of photography.” – Roy Flukinger, Historian, Harry Ransom Center, UT Austin

"David Paul Bayles photographs trees, forests, and loggers in a way that shows the entire ecosystem of modern forestry. In so doing, he complicates easy binaries of good vs. bad, us vs. them, and industry vs. environmentalism." – Christine Hult-Lewis, Assistant Curator, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

“Wow. What an incredible show. I have never felt empathy for a logger before. The description of sounds and sensation while felling a tree and then seeing the photographs... spectacular, amazing.” – J.M., Exhibition Visitor


David Paul Bayles focuses on landscapes where the needs of forests and human pursuits often collide, sometimes coexist and on occasion find harmony. Some of his projects utilize a documentary approach while others use a more contemporary art practice.

Bayles’ deep connection with trees was forged in the mid seventies when he left the suburbs of Los Angeles to work four years as a logger in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A month before leaving the woods for photography school David was chased down a steep hill by a large log. His instinctive, snap judgement, saved him from being crushed by the rolling log, punctuating the four year physical experience with a profoundly spiritual one. While attending photo school in Santa Barbara, Bayles became committed to environmentalism. His dual perspectives of logger and environmentalist adds an authentic and unique approach to his photographic projects.

He currently lives and photographs in the Coast range of western Oregon, where highly efficient industrialized working forests supplanted the massive old growth forests many decades ago.

His photographs have been published in numerous magazines including Orion, Nature, Audubon, Outside, The L.A. Times Sunday Magazine and others. Public collections include The Portland Art Museum, Santa Barbara Art Museum, The Harry Ransom Center, Wildling Museum and others. His book Urban Forest, Images of Trees in the Human Landscape was chosen by The Christian Science Monitor as one of their seven favorite books of 2003. The David Paul Bayles Photographic Archive was created in 2016 at The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley to archive his entire life’s work.

Learn more:

Panel Discussions by experts from local universities, on topics such as:

Oral Histories

  • The role of oral history in documentary photography — photography
  • Tools and Techniques for gathering oral histories past, present and future —ethnographic studies

Loss of the Wild

  • The role of art and photography in documenting and interpreting loss of wild — art history
  • Can technology be utilized to re-wild the future? — engineering
  • What would it take politically to create that technology? — political science

Labor Issues

  • In rural economies that often rely on natural resources, what effect does mechanization have on families and communities? — history
  • What happens when the ‘Paul Bunyan’ is gone from logging, and sitting in a machine with joysticks becomes just another job? — sociology / psychology
  • The logging industry has always claimed environmental issues destroy jobs, while statistics show it is mostly from mechanization. Do environmental concerns always have to be at odds with rural economies? — economics / history / sociology

Programming for children

  • Guide exploration and discussion of some of the 500+ products that rely on trees
  • Have children create objects in a maker space with tools and products that come from trees

Movie Night

  • Host a showing and discussion of the film Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)

Storytelling space within the gallery

  • Use a microphone and iPad with simple audio program to record exhibit visitors’ favorite tree and/or forest story.

Printing / Framing:  Pigment prints on Epson Hot Press Natural Rag paper with slight warm tone. Black wood frames with Rag over mats and OP 3 acrylic glazing

Falling Trees:

  • 13 — 25 x 20 / framed 31 x 26
  • 2 — 14 x 10 / framed 20 x 16


  • 30 — 18 x 12 / framed 24 x 18

Titles / Text: Wall labels and oral history text delivered electronically

Running Footage: 105 linear feet excluding wall space between images

Crates: Three crates, 350 lbs total weight

Additional: Flexibility regarding number of images used based on discussions with curatorial staff

Security: Medium

Fees: Eight-week rental fee of $4,000

Shipping/Insurance: One-way shipping, depending on tour schedule; wall-to-wall insurance

Availability: June 2020-Ongoing

Contact: Roger H.D. Rowley, | 208-885-3586

University of Idaho Prichard Art Gallery

Physical Address:

414 S. Main St., Moscow ID 83843
Corners of 5th and Main Street

Summer Hours:
Noon - 8 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Phone: 208-885-3586

Fax: 208-885-3622