Shmuel Thaler - Santa Cruz County 2016 Artist of the Year


Nominations for Artist of the Year

People seeking more information or who wish to nominate someone for Artist of the Year, please click HERE, or call Santa Cruz County Department of Parks at (831) 454-7901 to request a form by mail or fax. Nominated artists will be contacted by Parks staff regarding application details. The Artist of the Year program is sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission and the County of Santa Cruz Department Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services.

Shmuel Thaler has been named the 2016 Artist of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission.

A wonderful time was had by all at the Museum of Art and History on May 27, where a crowd of over 250 joined Shmuel for his Profile Performance. In conversation with Wallace Baine, Shmuel talked about his "Photo of the Day" project while previous Photo of the Day images were projected. If you didn't have the chance to attend, here are some photos and a couple of short videos from the event.

Shmuel’s photographs will be on exhibition at the MAH  through Dec. 31, and at the County Government Center through August 5.  

A locally beloved and internationally-recognized photographer, Thaler is the County’s 30th artist to be so honored. The high level of artistic production in Santa Cruz County is acknowledged through the Artist of the Year Award. Recipients must live in Santa Cruz County and have a national and/or international reputation, as well as having contributed to the cultural enrichment of the local community. 

Shmuel Thaler has been a staff photographer at the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 1987. His photographs have been published in every leading newspaper in the United States, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor, as well as in numerous magazines including Time, Forbes and Business Week, and viewed on the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News.

He has had solo exhibitions at the Michaelangelo Gallery, the Pacific Grove Arts Center, the Jewish Institute of Religion Museum at Hebrew Union College, and at New York University's Bobst Library. He has also exhibited in group shows at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, the Pajaro Valley Arts Council, the Monterey Museum of Art, and numerous smaller venues throughout Santa Cruz County.  "The Creatives Among Us," featuring Shmuel's portraits of all 149 Gail Rich Award recipients, was published in 2015; the images were on exhibition at the Cabrillo College Gallery in early 2016. 

Shmuel has been honored three times with awards in the prestigious National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism contest, most recently in 2015, and he has garnered either a first or second place award in the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association, the California Newspaper Publishers Association or the Associated Press News Executive Council contests in each of the past 15 years.

Shmuel has co-authored 5 children’s books and his photographs illustrate numerous books, including his collaboration with the late Santa Cruz author George Levenson on ‘Bread Comes to Life’ and the classic ‘Pumpkin Circle’, which has more than 120,000 copies in print and is held by every major library system in the country.

Shmuel has been the volunteer photographer for eight Mount Madonna School Values in World Thought learning journeys to India and South Africa including documenting conversations with Nobel Laureates His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Shmuel has also volunteered as a staff photographer for the Santa Cruz Shakespeare (Shakespeare Santa Cruz) festival every year since 1984 as well as for many non-profits and NGOs.

Check out the recent Santa Cruz Sentinel article about Shmuel, by Wallace Baine:


Santa Cruz County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services
979 17th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
General Information (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Phone: (831) 454-7901 •