Art in the Library : The natural abstracts of Chris Sauer | Arts & Theatre



In this month’s exhibit at the Napa Library, Chris Sauer shares the beauty he has found in the natural world with photos he refers to as “natural abstracts” that beckon the viewer to see his subjects as they’ve never seen them before.

Rocks jutting from water appear to be in the clouds. Humble grasses and tumbleweeds are ennobled. Flowers and trees can look like watercolor paintings.

Retired from a professional career in the field of environmental restoration, Sauer’s photographic focus frequently centers on landscapes.

An outdoorsman, he hikes trails here and abroad seeking what fascinates him and often waiting for the perfect moment when the lighting is best.

“That photo on metal is Iguazu Falls in Argentina,” Sauer said, pointing to a dramatic waterfall during an interview at the library last week. “It is one of the 10 natural wonders of the world.”

Sauer has traveled to many countries. Three weeks after he and his wife Bonnie were married, they were sent to live in Saanopu, Western Samoa by the Peace Corps. They lived in a thatched hut for two and a half years while teaching English to teenage students.

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Even though Sauer had a “nice Nikon camera as a wedding present,” there are no photos in this exhibit from their Peace Corps days.

“You had to send film to New Zealand and it took months to get the images back and I hadn’t developed my technical photo skills yet,” he explained.

Returning to the US Sauer got a job teaching English but felt “stifled teaching in a classroom,” so he started a landscape business, which led to a 30-year career as Bay Area manager for the California Conservation Corps.

Sauer’s work involved teaching others about plants and nursery management as well as leading teams in planting in areas where there was a need such as places burned by fires.

The couple moved to Napa in 1978 and raised their son and daughter here.

Along with former Napa Valley Unified School District Superintendent John Glaser and his wife Carol, Sauer and his wife were co-owners of Napa Sunrise Montessori.

“We had children in the school,” Sauer said. “Bonnie was certified for Montessori and was a head teacher. We had a whole staff working.”

Sauer is a member of Napa Photographic Society. This is his third photo exhibit in the library. Each year 12 applicants are selected during an annual art call to exhibit their work for one month. In previous exhibits Sauer focused on water and architecture in its “many evolutionary states.”

“I’ll point my camera and click the shutter at anything that moves or doesn’t move, as long as it captures a bit of my imagination,” Sauer said. “I like to examine the world around me.”

The opening reception for Sauer’s photographic exhibit at the Napa County Library is Friday, April 8, from 6:15 to 7:30. Registration is required to attend. Register at

Wearing masks is not required but recommended. The library is at 580 Coombs St., Napa.


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