The Camerawork Gallery, established in 1970, is the oldest fine art photography gallery in the United States. It is an institutional gallery which has had 540 continuous shows through the end of 2012. Exhibitors hail from both the Pacific Northwest as well as nationally, Canada and Mexico.
The Camerawork Gallery has always been intimately associated with the "Interim Group", a photography critique group which has been continuously meeting since 1961. Its history dates back to the late 1950's when the "Group 15" was created by photographers who had grown dissatisfied with the Oregon Camera Club. Photographers as well as artists from the world of sculpture, music, poetry, architecture, and painting met regularly to share their work and foster inspiration for their continued artistic growth.
In 1959, in celebration of the Oregon Centennial, Minor White (5th from the left in image above), a nationally known and respected photographic artist and educator, was invited to come to Portland to give a workshop in creative photography. Several of the photographers from the "Group 15" participated. The workshop was highly successful and Minor returned every Summer though 1965. One final workshop was given in 1967 by Minor White at the University of Oregon along with world-class photographers Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, and W. Eugene Smith.
In 1961, the Interim Group was formed to foster the continuance of the work presented by Minor every Summer. The idea was that Minor would give assignments, the members would fulfill them, and the mounted photographs would be mailed along with a tape recorder to Minor White who was a professor of creative photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York. The images would be exhibited in the RIT student gallery and the students as well as Minor would critique the work on audio tape and mail everything back to Oregon to start yet another round of work. Interim Group meetings took place at the home of Dr. Arnold Rustin.
The Interim Group also put on several local workshops on various subjects and often with highly acclaimed photographers such as Ruth Bernhard, Judy Dater, Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Welpott, and Imogen Cunningham.
At the suggestion of Minor White, The Camerawork Gallery was formed in 1970 to further foster the sharing of fine art photography with artists in the Interim Group as well as the community at large. At that time, galleries displaying photography were virtually non-existent. The gallery has always been intimately associated with Good Samaritan Hospital and has resided in Peterson Hall, currently part of the Linfield College School of Nursing. Legacy Health System continues to support the Camerawork Gallery with infrastructure, announcement cards and mailing services. The artistic community is grateful to Legacy Health System for its generous support for this unique and historic photographic institution.
Minor White in Oregon, Oregon Historical Quartery, by Gerald Robinson 2000 (pdf)
Notes on Minor White by Larry Bullis, 2008 (pdf)
Special Minor White Issue of Calapooya: A Literary Review, Volume 24 (2004)(pdf)
Used and downloadable by permission from David Axelrod, Editor of Basalt: a literary magazine successor to Calapooya centered at the Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon. (www.basaltmagazine.com)
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