Oregon offers beautiful views and areas in which people can work and play, from east to west on both sides of the Cascades. It stands to reason that the state's natural beauty also inspires artists.

Those were the themes that the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City wanted to showcase in its fine art photography exhibit, "Cascadia: Where Oregon Meets." The exhibit opens Monday, July 2 in the Murdock Wing of the Giustina Gallery at Oregon State University's LaSells Stewart Center.

The display features 48 Oregon photographs "which emphasize our similarities and diversity as a state, yet aspire to bridge the east and west, urban and rural —divided historically, geographically and politically by the lofty Cascade Range," Crossroads says on an exhibit poster.

An opening reception is scheduled for July 11, which will coincide with the reception for 13th Annual Community Art Exhibit on view in the Giustina Gallery. Visitors to the event can vote for a People's Choice Award among the photos in "Cascadia," with the winner receiving $500.

"Cascadia," which has been more than two years in the making, first opened in Baker City in April, says Kristin Hauter, community art director of Crossroads Carnegie Art Center.

It moved to The Brama Pop-Up Gallery in The Dalles in May. Giustina Gallery will be its final stop.

The exhibition was made possible by a grant from The Ford Family Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation located in Roseburg.

Photographers were given two main themes for direction: "Oregonians at Work and Play," and "Views of Oregon."

"We had 166 images submitted that we had two jurors whittle down to 48 images," Hauter said.

Those final 48 photographs were judged for awards by three fine art photographers. Crossroads offered $4,000 in cash prizes to 11 of the 47 photographers, who were awarded prizes ranging from $500 for Best of Show to $100 for Honorable Mention. A People's Choice Award was given at each gallery.

One of the three judges was Corvallis photographer Rich Bergeman, who will help install the exhibit in the Murdock Wing.

Bergeman is also the author of "Cascadia," a 104-page book which is available for purchase. It highlights all 48 images and includes comments by judges and jurors, and narratives from the artists regarding their photographs.

Most of the participating photographers are from Western and Central Oregon. Eastern Oregon was represented by 14 artists, Hauter said.

Three mid-valley photographers have pictures featured in the exhibit. They are Dave McIntire and Mark Meyer of Corvallis and Phillip Coleman of Philomath.

Hauter said Crossroads received more photos of beautiful, lush landscapes than anything else. Photos of "Oregonians at Work and Play" included images of rodeos, fairs, search and rescue efforts, and others.

Organizers hoped that the submissions wouldn't be too heavily weighted toward iconic Oregon sites such as Mount Hood, Crater Lake and Multnomah Falls, Hauter said.

"We've seen those images more than once," she said. "We wanted to showcase the lesser-known areas of Oregon."

One photo that fit the bill was "The Magic of Christmas Morn" by Lori Rowland of Baker City. It was awarded Best in Show and the People's Choice Award at the opening exhibition.

The photographer captured a moon-lit scene from the foothills of Baker City, with the Elkhorn Mountains in the background.

"The whole city is covered in fog. That was a pretty amazing image," she said.

Another photo Hauter singled out is of a sunset at "Thor's Well," a hole in the rocks along the ocean of the Oregon Coast a few miles outside of Yachats. It was taken by Hillsboro photographer Sean Haselden.

Hauter, who has attended the two previous exhibits and receptions, said viewers seem to enjoy seeing photos of places and events in Oregon that they didn't know about.

"I think a lot of people appreciated that aspect of learning about our special areas' geography and geology in the state," she said.

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