The Solo Exhibition Award

2014 Solo Exhibition Winner Cheryle St. Onge at Blue Sky Gallery – Image by Amanda Clem

Each year, we offer a Solo Exhibition Award as part of Critical Mass. The exhibitions have been hosted variously by Blue Sky Gallery, the Griffin Museum of Photography, and the Center for Fine Art Photography. One photographer is selected from the 200 Critical Mass finalists by the curators at the hosting institution. This means that all of the photographers who make it through the first, pre-screening round of Critical Mass are considered for this prestigious award. Previous award winners include Cheryl St. Onge, Patricia Galagan, Jamey Stillings, Brandon Thibodeaux, Tamas Deszo, Heidi Kirkpatrick, Nigel Dickenson, and Mitch Dobrowner.

“[Winning the Solo Exhibition Award was] like a booster rocket. Prior to winning, I’d had only one solo show recently, of a different body of work. Winning was evidence that the portraits resonated, and coming to Portland for the opening and to give a talk about the work confirmed that. It is one thing to make photographs in a room alone with your computer and printer and quite another to see it on the walls of a respected gallery where people are engaging with the work and telling you what they see.”

-Patricia Galagan (previous Solo Exhibition Award winner)

Blue Sky Gallery – Image by Ferit Kuyas

This year, the photographer selected for the Solo Exhibition Award will show their work at Blue Sky Gallery in April 2016 (Portland Photo Month). Founded in 1975, Blue Sky Gallery mounts twenty to thirty exhibitions annually in their stunning Portland gallery space. A vital hub for the Portland arts community, Blue Sky also presents artist’s lectures, maintains a photography research library, and showcases regional artists’ work in a rotating annual archive.

Winning the Solo Exhibition Award is a significant résumé-building milestone. Most photographers start their careers by exhibiting single images in juried group shows and progress to two-person and solo exhibitions as their talents and skills develop. By many measures, solo exhibitions form the backbone of a successful career in the arts. Exhibiting in a widely-respected gallery can open new doors to artists, so we are thrilled to partner with Blue Sky on the Solo Exhibition Award again this year. The award winner will be announced towards the end of this year, when Critical Mass 2015 jurying is complete.

“My relationship with Photolucida has been invaluable as an emerging photographer. Between Critical Mass and the portfolio review I’ve managed to get my work in front of key people, make enduring personal relationships, and become a part of what I feel like is a large family. It’s the support of that family that has encouraged and steered me as I navigate my career.”

-Brandon Thibodeaux (previous Solo Exhibition Award winner)

A quick reminder: There is still time to enter Critical Mass this year. There are many wonderful reasons to participate. The jury is composed of 200+ seasoned gallerists, museum curators, photo book and magazine publishers, photo editors, collectors, festival directors, and media producers – the best and brightest in the photo world. Additional awards include a four-week artist’s residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s gorgeous Captiva Island estate (need a little sun and surf with your creative process?), a Monograph Award, and a group exhibition of the photographers selected for the Critical Mass Top 50.

The deadline is July 28th at noon Pacific Time. That’s soon! Don’t miss it!

Blue Sky Gallery – Image by Jenny Olsen