A free photography exhibition is on display inside the vacant Brama Cafe building, 303 East Third Street, 3-6 p.m., Tuesday-Friday every week through May 28.
Friday’s grand opening featured a chance to meet a dozen or so of the photographers in attendance, live music from acoustic guitarist Benjamin Blakely, light refreshments and a People’s Choice contest where attendees voted for their favorite photo.
The winning artist, Vern Bartley, who hails from Newport, received a $500 prize for his photo, “Yaquina Head Nebula.” Bartley was also awarded second place in the Views of Oregon category during earlier judging.
The exhibition’s presence in The Dalles is due to a partnership between The Dalles-Wasco County Library, The Dalles Main Street, Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City and Eagle Media, the Brama building owner.
“Cascadia—Where Oregon Meets,” is a traveling exhibition of 48 juried photographs “which emphasize our similarities and diversity as a state, yet aspires to bridge the east and west — divided historically, geographically and politically by the lofty Cascade Range,” Crossroads stated in a press release.
The exhibit came about as a way to bridge differences between Oregon’s geographical areas, said Kristin Hauter, Crossroads’ community art director. “We’ve been a divided state, and we thought the best medium to bridge that was with photography,” she said.
The name came from the Cascade Mountain Range, Oregon’s “dividing line,” Hauter said. The artists were given two themes, “Oregonians at Work and Play” and “Views of Oregon” and Crossroads received 166 submissions. Of those, 48 different photos from 47 different artists were chosen for the
exhibition.“Crossroads is extremely pleased with the content imagery, range, quality and representation the final 48 photographs depict of our beautiful and unique state,” said Hauter. “I believe the exhibit will appeal to a wide audience with some familiar sights yet has more than a few surprising fresh ones to offer the viewer, I'm in awe of so many.”
This is not the first “pop-up” the library has helped facilitate — they hosted a one-night Halloween performance in the basement of the Mint Building that started off with dinner at Freebridge Brewing last year — and hopefully it will not be the last, as the library will potentially have another “pop-up” featuring a local artist from the Gorge in a few months.
The library and The Dalles Main Street sought to repeat the success they had in 2016, when they brought part of the Portland Biennial to downtown The Dalles and made international headlines, the library said in a press release.
Library Assistant Director Dylan McManus said the idea for the partnership came about after a conversation he had with Brian Vegter, director of the non-profit organization Libraries of Eastern Oregon, last March. Vegter was asking McManus about his vision for the library, he said, and it came up that both were artists.
The Dalles library was contacted by a curator in Baker City in 2017 about bringing an exhibition of Oregon photographers to The Dalles.
Around the same time, The Dalles Main Street expressed a desire to give locals and tourists more exposure to the city’s empty storefronts, and facilitated contact with Brama’s owner to open the space for a month.
After the exhibit leaves The Dalles at the end of May, it will rest for a month before finishing its tour at the Guistina Gallery on Oregon State University’s campus in Corvallis July 2 through Aug. 6.
Crossroads will be selling both softcover and hardcover versions of a book, “CASCADIA,” containing all the images alongside comments from the artists, judges and jurors at each venue while the exhibition is on display.
Hardcover books sell for $50 each and the softcover for $25. The exhibited photos are also on sale, and will be delivered to their buyers after the exhibit closes in August.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the Ford Family Foundation,” a Roseburg-based nonprofit that primarily benefits rural Oregon communities, Hauter said.