Curator’s Choice {CENTER’s Choice Award Winner}

Solo exhibition at Central Lakes College Art Gallery, Brainerd, Minnesota, USA, 2017. Exhibition details here.

I’m honored and humbled to have been chosen as the recipient of CENTER’s Curator’s Choice Award (First Place) juried by Corey Keller, Curator of Photography, SF Museum of Modern Art for my fine-art project, The Unchosen Ones. I’d like to first thank the juror, Corey Kelly, and the Executive Director of CENTER, Laura Pressley, and the staff at CENTER for their support of the arts. Over 500 artists submitted work for consideration, many of which “didn’t win,” but deserve equal acknowledgement.

Corey Kelly’s juror statement reads (full text here):

I chose R.J. Kern as the first place winner, a series of posed portraits of children and their non-prize-winning goats. The question of what it means to be a victor certainly had new resonance this year, but for me the issues of winning or losing were far less pressing than the sensitivity of the portraits, both of the children and of the animals (two subjects notoriously difficult to photograph) and most essentially of their relationship to one another. The simple conceit of a uniform backdrop called attention to the act of photographing and also highlighted the differences in scale, attitude, and pose among the sitters, both human and hircine. I found the project beautifully seen and surprisingly tender.

Wow! Wowza!! Yipee!!!!


For perspective, I was never the kid that had to win. If I ran a race, I tried my best. If I didn’t cross the line first, I’d still be grinning, ear to ear. In the end, the long game always wins. In life, no different.

For people who know me, however, there is one person I am the most competitive with: myself.

When it comes to achieving goals, I am ambitious, wanting to improve, strive for more, and do my personal best in all arenas. One of those arenas has been photography. My goal is simple: make better art. Year after year, I push myself to stay on top of my game so I can do the best work I can for clients and myself. I approach weddings and portraits with the same zest and zeal as my personal fine-art. And feel fortunate to have a loving family that supports (and endures) my enthusiasm!



I’d like to thank the Minnesota State Arts Board for funding this project as part of my Artist Initiative Grant awarded in 2016. Without their support, this project wouldn’t have happened. Also, I would like to send out a warm hug to Central Lakes College for agreeing to exhibit the work in their gallery sight unseen.

Thank you to Laurie and Mary at Gallery 360 for allowing me to share the work in my neighborhood in Minneapolis. The exhibition is displayed now until May 28, 2017.

Most of all, I wish to thank the 4-H county fair participants and their families (and their four-legged friends) that trusted me in this project. Their relationship to the land, these animals, and the community that sustains their efforts continues to inspire me. Hope to see you again in a pasture soon!

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One Response to “Curator’s Choice {CENTER’s Choice Award Winner}”

  1. alan — December 21, 2017 @ 9:02 pm (#)

    Congratulations! What great images. Reminiscent of pictorial people photos of long ago.

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