Global warming urban landscapes too real for U.S. officials


Artist Anthony Holdsworth’s pessimistic climate change urban landscapes upset federal officials. Photo by Justin Beck.

RADIO DOCUMENTARY/SLIDESHOW: Artist Anthony Holdsworth, who painted a series of urban landscapes that depicted a future San Francisco flooded by rising seas, was invited to show his work last year inside the new “green” San Francisco Federal Building at Seventh and Mission streets.

But before the opening reception, the show was ordered taken down. He said the image in one of his paintings, of oil burning on a flooded sidewalk in front of the building was too similar to the news footage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for federal authorities to bear.

Undeterred, Holdsworth is mounting a new art show — and he’s doubling down on the climate change theme. He is painting pictures of buildings that would be familiar to anyone who has walked the streets of San Francisco and Oakland, and imagining what those streetscapes would look like after sea levels rise and the cities are abandoned.

Listen to Anthony tell us his story while he paints this very picture and as he is interrupted by all manner of friendly folks on the street:


In this radio documentary, “The Censored Climate Change Streetscapes of Anthony Holdsworth,” first aired on KPFA Radio in Berkeley, Eric Klein spent a morning with Holdsworth as he worked on one big oil painting, on the sidewalk in downtown San Francisco, as well as a in his studios in West Oakland.

Pictures by Justin Beck.

Holdsworth first paints the street scene, then paints in imagined future decay. Photo by Justin Beck.
Holdsworth on location. Photo by Justin Beck.
Holdsworth in his Oakland studio. Photo by Justin Beck.

We Need You

Your financial support makes our work possible. Support independent local journalism by making a donation to become a member of the San Francisco Public Press.

Become a member today!

 Holdsworth’s Climate Change Urban Landscapes is on display now at SFMOMA’s Caffe Museo through July 13. More info at