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The Center For The Arts Presents Misha Rauchwerger Photography Exhibit

  • Opening: July 20 |  2 PM – 4 PM
  • Exhibition: July 17 – August 24
  • Artist Talk: August 14 | 7 PM
Hours: Tuesday - Friday | 12 PM - 5 PM The Plaza Gallery

Join us at 7PM on August 14th, in The Plaza Gallery to hear Misha talk about his work! 


 When we think about patterns in nature, one immediately conjures up images of a nautilus, spirals, and Fibonacci sequences, cracking soil and turtle shells, fractal tree branching, and meandering streams, yet these are but the tip of the iceberg of nature’s patterns.  When I set out to choose images that spoke to “the designed environment” I immediately began thinking about Theodore Schwenk’s book, “Sensitive Chaos.” It is no coincidence that the forms that water takes, in all its phases, are the foundations of the forms we see in living organisms.  A jellyfish that was created in an aqueous environment, propels itself in water by injecting a pulse of water behind it, and thus becomes a mirror of that same Overbeck jet form. It’s body literally looks like the flow of water that moves it. When we see a form in a tree that resembles other organisms, or organs, it is due to the same flow patters in water that created both seemingly very different things.  Many of the images I have chosen for this show are examples of this phenomenon. They are a celebration of the complex forms that are created out of the collision of flowing substances; like a beat frequency, they are examples of a third wave created out of the combination of two or more other waves.

The ice jelly image taken on the Middle fork of the Stanislaus River one wintery day, was created as a pulse of water that formed slowly through freezing cycles in much the same way that jellyfish formed out of the aqueous environment in which they were created.  No form is exactly the same as any other, like the uniqueness of snowflakes, as they are each a product of the forces particular to that individual crystal formation. I love how the shape of the ice was formed by the rocks around it, just as the rocks were shaped by the water around them.

The tree-like and star-like ice forms I photographed on another winter day in the Yosemite Valley (Ice Trees and Stars, Merced River), remind us of a night sky, with a backdrop of the blue sky reflected in the Merced River.  Similar to the Ice Jelly, the dendritic forms raying out from seed crystals, are not unlike the same process that created the raying forms of the coniferous trees needles, both found in the same ecotone.  

Why does nature “choose” catenary arches?  We know that they are incredibly strong and stable, using a minimum amount of material to create an astronomically strong structure.  Gaudi chose this form in many of his buildings for this exact reason, having observed nature, and noticed that these forms needed no other structure. Other arches, as had been used in the great cathedrals, required flying buttresses, and other structures, to keep the arch structurally able to support the stone above them.  We see in the Sequoia Arches and Redwood Fire Arches these catenary forms, finding themselves in the way we would see a chain that hangs, but also the same form flipped 180°. Why does fire create these shapes? What are the processes that select this form from other arched shapes that seem like they should be equally possible?  Sequoia arches is also a hologram of the past. The crotch on the left with a fire scar is a memory of a log that fell and was caught between the two anastamosed trees, later burned, but today is long gone.

Some of the most obvious examples of human and animal forms are found in rocks due to erosion from water, or scouring from other rocks, over the millennia. Once The phallic form seen in the rock in the image Yuba Phallus, is due to an incredibly slow erosion process, and thus we come back to that pulse of water— the same form that creates the penis in the embryo.  It is that same form that creates a mushroom shape, and it is the same form that the ejaculation of fluid from the phallis itself makes in the air as it encounters the resistance of the air. The female and vaginal forms are no exception, and we see them in the crotches of trees, as in Root woman and Sequoia Yoni, places where rocks cracked, and molten rock was injected into the crack under high pressure and temperature. Life is a metaphor of the physics principles that it is based on.  

Some forms are holographic in nature.  The whole is contained in the part, and memories of the past phenomenon are frozen in time. The Erratic has a memory of the melting of the last ice age:  the giant stone that is out of place, carried by the moving amorphous ice flow that also scoured the rock below it, before retreating, disappearing, and leaving behind a polished reminder of the glacier that no longer exists.  


There is a resonance within our deepest self when we encounter faces and other archetypal forms that we react and respond to. Root Woman and Sequoia Yoni conjure up forms that don’t really exist in the tree, but yet we can’t help but respond.  The mind desperately tries to make sense of the world around it.


When two flows encounter each other, as in warm moist air and cold dry air, sand and ocean, fire and tree (yes, a tree is a flow), glacier and rock, or even root and soil, a dynamic form is created.  Thus, any living being, unfolding into it’s surrounding as it grows, will create a boundary condition in which new forms are generated. Note how bark, skin, or hair, is a unique form created at the boundary of wood and air or body and air.  Different boundary conditions might create fire scars, dread locks, or a callous. The Root Womanis a perfect example. Add a third component, like flowing water, rocks, or burrowing animals, and the forms can become rather complex. Regardless, bark and dreadlocks resemble each other.


Misha has been fascinated with photography since the day his Dad gave him an all manual Czech viewfinder camera as a child, and was able to use a dark room at summer camp.  This quickly blossomed into a full-on hobby, making his own 4×5 pinhole camera, and setting up his own dark room in a closet. He met his hero, Ansel Adams, in person when only 13, and was strongly influenced by Ansel’s teachings and techniques.

From that time onward, Misha delved into professional photography doing weddings and bar mitzvahs, but mostly focused on nature and travel photography.  Other influences include Galen Rowell, Brett Weston, and Earnest Haas. In college, Misha was lucky to work with Life photographer Mark Kauffman.

Today, while still enjoying nature and landscape photography, Misha has been moving into a more abstract direction, going back to his roots when he would go on photographic expeditions on his bicycle with his friend in junior high school.  This includes a lot of work with reflections, which are an amazing opportunity to juxtapose two elements, what is in the window, for example, and what is surrounding the storefront. These images from Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, combine a wonderful scene from a storefront window full of a jumble of old musical instruments, with the cobblestone streets and old buildings outside.

Misha currently shoots with a Nikon, D750, and most of his images are shot at 16mm.  “I love how an ultra-wide lens allows me to get very close to foreground elements, while juxtaposing them against backdrops that would ordinarily take center stage.  This perspective brings the viewer close to the little things we often fail to see because we are so in awe with the grandeur that we miss the fantastic in the small stuff.”  


  • Currently showing at 125 Gallery, 421 Broad Street, Nevada City
  • Numerous showings:  Osborn Woods Gallery, Nevada City, CA 2018-2019
  • Yuba Watershed Institute Art Show, Juried Art show, North San Juan, CA 2016
  • Standing with the Watershed, Juried Art show, Sherwood Gallery, San Francisco, CA 2013
  • In Focus, Juried Photography show, Sonora, CA 2013
  • One Man Photo Show, Studio B, Sonora, CA 2013
  • Ventana Gallery, Sonora, CA 2013
  • “Eyes of the World: Images of California” self published book
  • Photographs in “The Art of Natural Building”
  • Lasting Image Photography, Wedding and Special Event Photography, 1990-1994
  • Images used in:  “the Art of Natural Building”, Chelsea Green Publishing


  • Misha Rauchwerger
  • P.O. Box 102
  • Rough and Ready, CA 95975
  • Misha1.618@gmail.com
  • misharauchwerger.com



  • Brynn Farwell
  • Visual & Youth Arts Programming Manager
  • gallery@thecenterforthearts.org
  • 530.274.8384 ext. 208

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