See his design come to life on Open Signal’s building on MLK Blvd.
Every day thousands of people pass by Open Signal’s building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at Graham Street. Pass by the building today, and you’ll get to see work-in-progress on the latest temporary mural being created by Jose Ruiz Valentine, a 20-year old Portland artist who graduated from Rosemary Anderson High School in 2019. The mural design reflects his Chicano history and culture. The large, colorful mural depicting a serpent and catholic imagery is titled Venerated Mother.
In a partnership between the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Open Signal called Fresh Paint, artists are selected for this professional development opportunity. The initiative provides emerging artists of color with a paid opportunity to paint a public mural for the first time in Portland.
With a focus on graffiti and various forms of illustrative art, Valentine has been involved with local youth and artistic groups including the Red Stone Collective and Morpheus Youth Project for years. He uses art as a way to seek restorative justice in his life and works to help youth make positive changes in their own lives.
“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share this iconography on a large public mural,” Valentine explains in his artist statement. “I want to make this type of artwork and cultural iconography accessible for everyone to see. I’m especially excited to share it with those whose roots relate with this work. These images represent an ancient culture with a beautiful and powerful history. I am still trying to understand these images as well, in the context of the current life that I live. I’m hoping doing this work will deepen my understanding of them.”
The Fresh Paint partnership is designed to support artists like Valentine, who don’t have experience with publicly funded commissions. “We want to get up-and-coming artists like Jose the support and resources they need to develop a new skill set and build their portfolio,” explains Salvador Mayoral, who facilitates RACC’s Public Art Murals Program. “For many of the selected artists, the mural projects have led to other public commissions or funding opportunities,” he adds.
See more artwork from Jose Ruiz Valentine.
Artist Statement – Venerated Mother
“The Virgin Guadalupe is a Cultural icon to (Mexican) people. To some, it has spiritual value as a symbol of Catholicism. To others, it is a visual symbol that exists in and represents our homes. My brother who died recently used to wear a necklace of the virgin around his neck. To me, it represents my brother. His name was Kingo.
Serpent imagery is a part of Mexika (Aztec) cultural and spiritual/religious symbolism. It is part of a more ancient belief system of Mesoamerica. The two-headed serpent Goddess is also referred to as Tonantzin Coatlicue. She is the birth of the Sun, moon, and stars. She represents fertility, life, and death. I named my daughter Tonantzin so she will remember our culture, and preserve it with her presence. For me, the serpent imagery represents my daughter.”
To qualify for the Fresh Paint opportunity, artists must live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, defined as Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington. RACC runs the selection process, relying on past Fresh Paint muralists to review submissions and recommend which new artists should be selected.
Selected artists receive a stipend for their participation and are offered the opportunity to engage with Open Signal’s resources and programming. Since the Fresh Paint partnership between RACC and Open Signal kicked off in 2017, 10 artists have been selected. Each mural is hosted for at least four months and then painted over in preparation for the next artist.
About Open Signal
Open Signal is an equity-driven media arts center located in Northeast Portland, Oregon. The largest community media space in the Pacific Northwest, we offer production studios and equipment, workshops, artist fellowships, a cable and online broadcast platform, and a professional media production team. We focus on telling stories underrepresented in the mainstream media.
Learn more at opensignalpdx.org.
About the Regional Arts & Culture Council
An independent nonprofit organization, we support greater Portland’s creative economy by providing equitable funding and services to artists and art organizations; managing and growing our diverse, nationally acclaimed public art program; and developing long-lasting public and private partnerships.
For more information visit racc.org.