Advanced Search

John Kiewit: Gone to Sanctuary

About John S. Kiewit

Shadow on a dirt road

John Kiewit's shadow on a road in Hollister Ranch, California.

John S. Kiewit was born on July 5, 1948 in Los Angeles, California and grew up on the beaches of Malibu, where his father was an avid surfer. During his childhood, Kiewit accompanied his parents, Ralph and Oralee Kiewit, on numerous trips to Europe and the South Pacific, which instilled in him a lifelong love of travel. He also developed an interest in photography, and at the age of 16 he began to document his forays into the less-traveled areas of the western United States.

In school, Kiewit found inspiration in the works of photographers such as Edward Weston and Walker Evans, and decided to major in photography at Santa Monica College. He then intended to enroll at the famous Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, but changed his mind when he encountered conservative attitudes at the school. Instead, he chose a program in "visual anthropology" at San Francisco State, which led to a quarter-century of wandering the back roads of the American West with his camera.

Kiewit's wanderlust impelled him to work a number of odd jobs to support his photographic expeditions, and in 1975, he was working as a lifeguard in Malibu when he met up with his childhood sweetheart, former next-door-neighbor Linda Linnick. They were married in 1980 and opened an antique store, located first in Malibu and then in Carmel. In 1989, they settled on a ranch along the rugged Gaviota coast.

In 1997, John Kiewit's book Gone to Sanctuary: From the Sins of Confusion, featuring 120 of his photographs, was published by Santa Barbara's Capra Press. The book was well-received, and led to some gallery exhibitions of his work.

Linda Linnick Kiewit died in 1999 and John S. Kiewit died the following year, January 12, 2000.

The John S. Kiewit Collection contains more than 10,000 color and black/white prints, color slides, and black/white negatives, taken from about 1968 to 2000. Color slides constitute the bulk of the collection.

The images reflect what Kiewit saw on his travels throughout California and the West, as well as trips to other parts of the U.S. and the world. Prominent places and themes include Baja, barns and farms, Big Sur, buildings and building elements (doors and windows), Carmel [CA], Central Coast [CA], Channel Islands, Death Valley, fences, ghost towns, Hawaii, Hollister Ranch [CA], landscapes, Malibu [CA], Marin County [CA], New England, New Mexico, ocean views, Oregon, Oxnard [CA], rock formations, signs, surfing, trees, Utah, wildflowers, Wyoming, and Yosemite. Other countries represented in the collection include Cook Island, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, France, Guatemala, Marques and Tahiti Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, and New Zealand. Most of the images were taken from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Copies of John S. Kiewit's Gone to Sanctuary: From the Sins of Confusion (Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1997) have been cataloged separately and are available in Special Collections (Printers Collection Z478.86.C36 K53) and the Main Library (TR660.5.K54 1997). Additional copies are in box 1 of the collection.