Capital City Arts Initiative [CCAI]

Exhibition at the CCAI Courthouse Gallery

885 E Musser Street

Carson City, Nevada 89701

contact: Sharon Rosse


Selected Works: Maya of Guatemala and Western Landscapes

Exhibition at CCAI Courthouse Gallery

 Carson City, Nevada — The Capital City Arts Initiative’s exhibition, Selected Works: Maya of Guatemala and Western Landscapes, presents Michael Plyler’s photographs that document his years working in Guatemala and celebrating landscapes of the Intermountain West.


The exhibition runs at the Courthouse Gallery from February 2 – May 24, 2023. CCAI will host a reception for the artist on Wednesday, February 15, 5:00 – 6:30pm with the artist introduction at 5:30pm. The Courthouse is located at 885 E Musser Street, Carson City; the gallery is open Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm.

Plyler describes his mission saying, “I never made a conscious decision to become a portrait photographer. That seems to have happened by default. As the viewer can readily discern my orientation in portraiture is not rooted in glamour or enhanced studio interpretations, but something more organic. For me, the wonderful photographer Paul Strand expressed it best: ‘I mean a portrait in the sense that a person completely unknown to the world at large . . . has a living quality . . . . In short there is no necessity to be acquainted with the subject in order to have from the portrait complete esthetic and human satisfaction.’ I hope I have come close to Strand’s dictate.”

The “Western Landscapes” work, whether a straight landscape photograph, or a landscape photograph that includes within it some aspect of the built environment, focuses on the infinite spaces one encounters in the West. His photographs reinforce the notion that intimacy is still able to be found within this vastness.

Plyler has five bodies of portrait work spanning four decades. Two of these portfolios have been published in book form: Pioneer Voices of Zion Canyon published by Zion Natural History Association, and Southern Paiute: A Portrait with Logan Hebner published by Utah State University Press. He has photographed the highland Maya of Guatemala since 1982, making sixteen trips there between 1982 and 2018 totaling almost two years in the country. Fifty-six pieces of this body of work were placed into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2013. He said, “The cultural erosion I have seen over those 36 years has been considerable and painful to witness.”

He has also photographed extensively in Spain and Italy. Plyler’s work is held in numerous collections including the Heard Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, The Museum of the American Indian, the Museo Ixchel in Guatemala City, and the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamerica in Antigua, Guatemala. In 1993, he received a Visual Artist Fellowship from the Utah Arts Council. He lives in Carson City with his wife.

Logan Hebner wrote the exhibition essay — available online and in the gallery. He is Director of Zion Canyon Mesa in Springdale, Utah. He moved to southwest Utah in 1981, opening an award-winning restaurant and working as a river guide. He met his wife Angie on a peace walk from Leningrad to Moscow in 1987, and together they founded International Legislative Exchange, working with new parliaments emerging from ex-Soviet republics. Hebner has published his writing in High Country News, Best of Writers at Work, and Northern Lights.

Carlos Ramirez, a Western Nevada College Latino Leadership Academy student, provided a Spanish language translation of the show’s wall text.

CCAI is an artist-centered not-for-profit organization committed to community engagement in contemporary visual arts through exhibitions, illustrated talks, arts education programs, artist residencies, and online activities.

The Initiative is funded by the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust, Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, John and Grace Nauman Foundation, Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Carson City Cultural Commission, U.S. Bank Foundation, Kaplan Family Charitable Fund, Southwest Gas Corporation Foundation, Steele & Associates LLC, and CCAI sponsors and members.


For additional information, please visit CCAI’s website at