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Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 09:52 am

Vertical Hold

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Vertical Hold

Former IT photographer Linda Smogor recently received a $12,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation, a major supporter of the arts in Alaska, where she has lived mostly since she left Springfield in 1986. She received one of six Independent Artists Fellowships given by the foundation.

The Rasmuson award honors “the merit and significance of a life dedicated to serious artistic exploration and growth” and is designed for mid-career or mature artists.

Smogor, as she was affectionately known during her tenure in Springfield, used part of the grant to purchase her first computer, a Mac laptop, and will soon have her first e-mail account.

She has lived in northern California and Eugene, Ore., during the last two decades before returning to Homer, Alaska, in 2004. The grant has also enabled her to ship a portion of her work done in Oregon to Alaska. “The grant is a big honor,” she said recently from her new cell phone, while skating on a spruce-lined lake near Homer as the sun set.

In addition, one of Smogor’s photos, “Deva and Her Beach Towel,” was recently chosen Best of Show in “Rarefied Light 2008,” a photo exhibit of work by Alaskan photographers. The juror of the show chose 61 photos from 350 entries statewide. The exhibit was displayed at the Fairbanks Arts Association in September, and will travel to the Anchorage Museum for a run Nov. 14-Dec. 28, then on to Kenai Peninsula College and the Cordova Historical Museum.

Smogor was staff photographer at IT from 1981 to 1986. She is known for her insightful portraiture and artistic eye. “I loved working for Illinois Times,” she said last week while skating. “It was a great combination of people at the IT, and it was a very creative period for me.

Her column was “Vertical Hold,” a photo page, which appeared every other week. “I could do one photo or 20. It doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. “Every day was something different — an organic farmer, the Clinton power plant, a banker. What an education!”

Smogor continues to make portraits and do wedding photography in her adopted state. When not photographing, she engages in commercial salmon fishing. Smogor still uses film and her second-hand Olympus camera with 28mm lens, which her brother-in-law gave her in 1979. She can be contacted at P.O. Box 225, Homer, Alaska 99603.

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