Blue Sky is a historic and valuable part of the arts scene in Portland and across Oregon. This nonprofit organization was originally founded in 1975 as the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts and has gone on to become a powerhouse in the world of photography – encouraging, highlighting, discovering and training photographers and their work.
The five founding photographers initially focused on growing local talent, but soon expanded their reach to a national level before going international. The core values of the center have always revolved around artistic excellence and integrity, as well as respect for fellow artists and for the medium of photography.
Providing Resources And Exposure
The team running Blue Sky works hard to give as many artists as possible exposure each year. They run between 20 and 25 exhibitions in one calendar year in order to cover as wide a selection of work as possible. They also have regular talks or training programs from artists and industry experts that are free to attend. These are ideal for both budding artists and amateur enthusiasts who want to learn more about the field of photography.
At the facility in the historic DeSoto building in Portland, Blue Sky also houses a large research library that is also open to the public. There are over 1000 books and other reading material housed in this library and everyone is related to photography. As it is a research library, the material cannot be checked out, but you can spend time reading the books whenever the center is open to the public.
In 2007, the center expanded their offering with the Pacific NW Drawers program. It is a public archive of current prints from over 60 photographers living and working in the region. The exhibition changes each year in April – Portland Photo Month – and is available for viewing in the center. You can also see past drawers online.
Adapting To COVID Times
The past year has been incredibly tough on those trying to earn a living in artistic fields and if you’d rather look for fun online, now is the time to find out more. Blue Sky has stayed committed to their mission of showcasing new talent in order to help them find an audience and a market. The center has just had to change things up a bit to keep things safe for artists and patrons.
They have moved their exhibitions into the windows of the center to allow people to view the work in person from outside. Alternatively, you can book an appointment to go inside between 12-4pm on Wednesdays through to Saturdays. Admission remains free, you just need to book in order to prevent overcrowding in the space. There is also a virtual option for viewing the exhibitions online if you do not want to leave your home.
Their free talks and information sessions have also moved into the online sphere, with many of them now taking place via Zoom. Visit website In order to attend one of them, you need to register via the link on their events calendar for each one.