What does Oregon culture look like to Oregonians?

Captured in a photo, there’d be dancing and horses, lots of bridges, and a mouth-watering variety of fresh foods. This we learned. And more: Horticulture shows up again and again (we nodded to ourselves, realizing that culture comprises half of the word). Many photographs were taken at the coast or near a river; often water plays a starring role, whether sprayed from public fountains or falling from the sky. Frequently there’s music playing, coffee brewing, grapes ripening on the vine. We’re with family or friends. Celebrating, collaborating, commemorating, cultivating.

Our 2011 photo contest drew 1,187 entries from professional photographers and camera-phone-toting amateurs, alike — just as we’d hoped. From that extensive selection, judges selected 72 finalists…and they’re all collected in this video:

We can’t thank our entrants enough. For seven weeks, the energetic dialogue these photos spawned on Facebook kept us returning to our computers with alarming regularity. We’ve been thrilled and humbled in equal measure.

Congratulations to our winners: Owen Carey (Photographers Grand Prize), Gary Norman (Culture Star V.I.P.), Athena Delene (Oregon Oddball), Lisa Bolden (My Life, My Culture), and Nicholas Manusos (Food Culture).

Three lucky cultural nonprofits came away winners, too. Owen chose the Portland Actors Conservatory and Third Rail Repertory Theater as recipients of $500 Trust grants in his name. Gary directed his $1,000 prize to Theatre Vertigo.

And none of it would have been possible with the generous support of Whole Foods Market, Pro Photo Supply, the Pamplin Media Group, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and McMenamins.

Till next year…