“It’s About Enduring”: Intisar Abioto Discusses the Lasting Impact of In—Between

Article by Bruce Poinsette (update March 30, 2021)

Images by Intisar Abioto

For many, it might feel as if an eternity has passed since the announcement and installation of the In—Between project. RACC’s press release for the collaboration between Intisar Abioto and Hank Willis Thomas was published on Dec. 16, 2019. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the US and much of the world and Black Lives Matter protests have gained new life, exploding in size and frequency throughout the globe. The protests in particular have created a phenomenon where many now look at works of Black art and wonder, “What does this mean post George Floyd? Post Breonna Taylor?” For Abioto, the names might change, but the situation is, and has long been, the same.

“We’re always pre and post Black death while living it,” she says. “It’s not pre and post for us. It’s about enduring.”

In many respects, In—Between was emblematic of this mission. The installation itself, ten 10-foot-tall banners featuring Abioto and Thomas’s words and images, represents a conversation between not just the two artists, but also legendary photographer Ernest Withers and his photos from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike. Inspired by the iconic “I Am a Man” signs, In—Between connects the artists’ different voices and geographies, as well as struggles, to form a celebration of Black existence.

This is especially important for Memphis native Abioto, who, along with many of her peers, has experienced an increased demand for Black art about Black people, but only in the context of educating white audiences. As opposed to showing off “pretty pictures,” Abioto wants to make art that serves the Black community.

It’s not about us doing something new,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Say something brilliant. Do something brilliant.’ Even in regard to Black artists, it’s like, ‘Say and do brilliant things.’ Yet we’re saying and doing brilliant things whether or not it’s engaging with the history of white supremacy.

In regards to In—Between, the composition and location of the project were key to helping Abioto and Thomas reach a Black Portland audience that is far too often an afterthought in public arts planning. The banners combined the words from Brooklyn-based Thomas’s project that plays with different orientations of “I Am a Man” (A Man I Am, I Be a Man, I Am Many, I Am The Man, etc.) and Abioto’s portraits of Black people in Portland, Pendleton, Berlin, Chicago, New Orleans, Florence, Memphis, Johannesburg and New York.

RACC began the planning process in 2017 by bringing a wide range of stakeholders to the table, including artists and advocates from the Northeast Portland community and representatives from landscape design firm Mayer/Reed, Inc., the Portland Art Museum, and Prosper Portland.

“We tend not to do what I affectionately call ‘plunk art,’” says Teresa Chenney, a senior design associate at Mayer/Reed who was heavily involved in the planning process. “Just (placing) an object for the sake of having an object. (Instead) there’s thought behind it. For the In—Between project, our first committee meeting was the end of 2017. And it just went in this last December (2019).”

Chenney notes that a recurring comment during the planning meetings was, “Who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going?”

For Abioto, the artistic process naturally took her back to her Memphis roots. She looked through Withers and others’ photos from the ‘68 Sanitation Workers’ Strike and decided to track down the man who printed the I AM A MAN signs, Rev. Malcolm Blackburn. The search was ultimately unsuccessful, but led her down a research rabbit hole that included speaking with a representative from the Allied Printing Union over the phone.

Abioto, however, successfully connected with Andrew Withers, Ernest Withers’ son, to discuss their experience during the protests. Andrew, who was 12 at the time, told her about how the arrival of the police turned the event violent and how he and his father ran to their studio on Beale Street to process the photos. 

While speaking with Andrew, Abioto was particularly struck by a photo of a beaten Withers from another protest. It was a reminder of the threats Abioto feels to her own safety as a photographer documenting this current moment in time. 

Specifically, the generational, shared trauma emphasized the need to create art that not just circulates joy, but creates shared memories around it.

“Some of these people will pass. Some have passed. I too will pass,” says Abioto. “Having a shared memory of life is powerful.

The spirit of collaboration was very much a key element in the In—Between planning process. Most notably, participants were excited to facilitate a collaboration between Thomas, an established artist on the national scene, and Abioto, whose work is steadily gaining recognition throughout the country.

“Promoting local artists in a way that allows them to do what they do in a public way and support them in their voice and expression, I think has tremendous value, not only as representation for local people, but as representation of our local community,” says Chenney. “We’re not in a silo. We’re on the West Coast. We have a lot of influence from everywhere, being in the West, versus say, middle America. I think it’s really healthy having that voice that takes you beyond your boundaries but also highlights your own.”

In addition to emphasizing the message that the collaboration sends to the audience, Chenney also notes that it was essential to be sensitive and respectful to the needs of the artists themselves. Combining historical content from both their lives and their art was not a process to be taken lightly. It also required plenty of deliberation on what might best speak to the location of the installation and the needs of the artistic economy.

“It’s really working with a sensitive understanding and respect for these artists and it’s also finding the right note for this place,” says Chenney. “It’s like supporting our farmers and supporting our small businesses who are trying to make a living here. If you’re only looking for big names to be a draw, then inherently you’re going to lose sight of the value of your own community’s contribution.”

With the In—Between project, Chenney believes the planning team found the sweet spot.

John Goodwin, who serves as the Major Gifts Officer for the Portland Art Museum, and also participated in the planning process, agrees. As someone who is incredibly passionate about engaging underrepresented communities with the arts, he was thrilled with the idea of exposing Abioto’s work with the broad, diverse audience traveling the Orange MAX line and giving a West Coast audience in general the opportunity to interact with Thomas’ art.

“We like to talk about bringing the world to Portland and bringing Portland to the world,” says Goodwin. “And when we say the world, we don’t just mean London, Paris, Milan. We mean Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Vancouver. The world also includes those places that the world doesn’t really think about.”

For Goodwin, the mission of engaging underrepresented communities with the arts is very personal. It began when he moved to Portland over 20 years ago and worked as a docent with the University Club. During that time, he couldn’t help but notice and be concerned by the phenomenon that Black and Latinx students seemed noticeably less comfortable than their white counterparts.

From that point on, he made bridging that gap an integral part of his work.

“Because we don’t have the largest population of African or Latinx residents coming to the museum, we have to come to them,” says Goodwin. “We go where you are. Even if we don’t do banners, we try to do other exhibitions.”

After spending years facilitating community arts partnerships with the University Club and the Portland Trailblazers, he recently joined the Portland Art Museum as a staff member. In his current role, he helps connect major art projects with the funding resources they need.

Chenney believes measures like this provide an opportunity for public art projects that the city wouldn’t have otherwise.

“RACC provides a lending hand,” she says. “Most people on the train might not know anything about the artists, but it might pique their curiosity, or at least bring them a little joy.”

However, for Abioto, it’s not just about how her art makes people feel, it’s about what it catalyzes them to do.

“We’re asked to bring our experiences, but it’s not free,” she says. “If white people find joy in my work, that’s not enough. You need to be giving up things. Stuff that’s not yours, that’s never been yours.”

While discussing the implications of In—Between, Abioto can’t help but reflect on another recent installation she presented at Governor Kate Brown’s office. During her time at the Oregon Capitol Building, she was particularly struck by the murals adorning the walls.

A lot of these institutions are not salvageable. Should I put my mind space towards murals in the capital? Those murals are racist. That’s the white settler colonial state. Those are white men and women and settlers. And people who killed the Indigenous people here.

The combination of the pervasiveness of these kinds of murals and monuments and the lack of public art celebrating Oregon’s communities of color highlights the urgency for more projects like In—Between and, seemingly, plenty of future opportunities for Abioto personally.

However, as a result of these experiences and long before the idea of a “post George Floyd” world, Abioto made the decision to become more careful with her work. She has been taking photos just as prolifically, but not publishing them. She has also been collecting work by local Black artists.

In addition to producing, collecting is also important to her because so much of her work has centered on how Portland’s Black artists have lived and, in many ways, not lived. Abioto specifically name checks Charlotte Lewis, a revered community artist who no longer has any murals standing in the city. 

“I’m aware I can be easily erased,” says Abioto. “She died in 1999 and I got here in 2010, and I didn’t hear about her for years. I want something different and my goals are different.

“I’m going to keep making art around our history. I’m going to keep making art around how our life force shifts and changes and chooses in these time periods. In these dreams we’re passing through. In these memories. That’s going to keep happening no matter who’s seeing it. No matter whether I’m in the paper or winning awards. I’m still doing the work.”

Editor’s Notes:

It is the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s responsibility to commission, care for, and maintain public art. As part of RACC’s role working with the City of Portland, we manage Percent for Art projects,  used to bring public art to locations throughout Portland. RACC assembled an artist selection panel composed of community members, artists, representatives from Prosper Portland, the Oregon Convention Center, and project designers Mayer-Reed Landscape Architecture. The panel agreed that goals for the project should include bold artwork that connects to the area’s communities and reflects the general concepts of movement, change, adaptation – addressing a general statement of “where are we going.” This will be the first of a series of temporary installations. Future installations of In—Between will evolve in focus, but will continue to reflect the overall theme of “where are we going.” To learn about opportunities to apply for future installations, artists can follow racc.org on Facebook or Instagram, or sign up to receive public art opportunities in their inbox. Funding comes from the City’s Percent-for-Art ordinance, which set aside 2% of the construction cost for a new parking garage adjacent to the Hyatt at the Oregon Convention Center to create public art. The project was funded through the Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area (OCC URA) managed by Prosper Portland. The URA funds are required to be spent within in the URA boundaries.


Photo by Intisar Abioto

Bruce Poinsette is a writer, educator, and community organizer based in the Portland Metro Area. A former reporter for the Skanner News Group, his work has also appeared in the Oregonian, Street Roots, Oregon Humanities, and We Out Here Magazine, as well as projects such as the Mercatus Collective and the Urban League of Portland’s State of Black Oregon 2015. Poinsette also contracts with the University of Oregon Equity and Inclusion Office and numerous Oregon nonprofits, as well as teaching journalism and creative nonfiction with Literary Arts’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program. He hosts the YouTube series “The Blacktastic Adventure: A Virtual Exploration of Oregon’s Black Diaspora.” In addition to his professional writing work, Poinsette also volunteers with Respond to Racism LO, a grassroots anti-racism organization in his hometown of Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Follow the artists of Support Beam

Artists awarded Support Beam commissions are giving us small windows into their work, processes, and personal stories. In their own voices, hear more from these inspiring artists.

Support Beam funding from Multnomah County Percent For Art and PDXCARES.

Follow along at #RACCSupportBeam on Instagram.

Teressa White

“I want Native people to feel stillness; a moment where they can connect with their culture. A lot of us, especially Urban Natives, are disconnected from place and home. Disconnected from family, tribe, or our ancestral lands. I would like Indigenous people to feel inspired to find their heartbeat; to listen and seek out their own connection.

Far North stories often include frightful, grisly, often transformative elements that might be taboo in dominant culture stories. I am fascinated by them. To me, they express that we are more than just one thing; we are many things. There is personhood and spirit in everything and everything is connected.

I think we get stuck in our understanding of the world. We believe what we have been told. We limit ourselves when we get fixed this way. Art helps me ask questions and see things in a different way. I can get the feeling of what it’s like to not be so sure. Art asks that I expand my perspective, open my heart and my mind. It’s good for us humans to not feel so sure, to consider what we think we know. It’s rare that we have a full understanding of anything, I think. When I look at art that inspires me, it makes me say, ‘Oh, I see! I didn’t know that before!'”

Words from Terresa White, excerpted from a full feature in RagTag Magazine

More from the artist: www.terresawhite.com

Mike Vos

Portland-based artist Mike Vos shoots images with 4×5 film using in-camera double exposures. Vos’ work is presented as an interconnected series of photographic installations that revolve around a central theme: a world without humans and wildlife’s reclamation of the industrial landscape. Drawing deeply from literary themes such as magical realism, alternate history, and subtle horror, Vos has crafted complex and intriguing visual narratives. These photographic projects all exist within a shared universe; each focusing on different facets of the story. His work carries a strong environmental message about the impact humans have on the natural world, and challenges individuals to consider the lingering effects of our choices once we are gone.

More from the artist: www.deadcitiesphoto.com




Daren Todd

“The goal was to push myself to create art on a daily or weekly basis, and to utilize all of the creative talents I practice into one big project. For the past few months I have spent each week painting each letter of the English alphabet, recording my thoughts based around a random word that starts with each corresponding letter, and compiling those recordings, time-lapse video of my painting process, and self-produced instrumental music as a score, into a series of small videos released on my website and Instagram. The purpose of this practice was to push myself to work through creative blocks, train myself to continue to make work regardless of the outcome, and to hopefully inspire the other creatives in my communities to pursue their creative passions with fearless resolve. I believe that although we live in a time where the ability to stay connected through digital or virtual platforms during the course of a global pandemic is easier than ever, it is also more important than ever for artists and creatives to use their voices to amplify the struggles we face on a day to day basis. This artwork represents that journey by conveying myself in a hopeful light, backdropped by the alphabet, which represents the idea that communication is our greatest human trait.”

View the full process video and our recorded live interview with Daren



“Capturing the Moment” through the lenses of Portland’s Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color

Interpretation services available, email info@racc.org

Servicio de interpretación disponible   |  Предоставляются услуги переводчика   |   Có dịch vụ thông dịch   |   通訳サービスあり


34 Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color have had works selected for a new public art collection titled Capturing the Moment. This collection showcases work in a wide scope of medium, created by emerging artists and creatives across the region in response to this particular moment in time. It is an effort to reflect and record our collective experiences of change, uncertainty, loss, and hope.

A community curatorial team composed of four Black artists and creatives reviewed the submissions and made selections. The curatorial team includes: Christine Miller, visual artist; Bobby Fouther, visual & performing artist; Ambush, Creative Consultant/DJ;  and Stacey Drake Edwards, textile artist.

Selected artists will receive up to $1,500 per individual.

Abby Castillo

Alvaro Tarrago

Anthony Hudson

Anthony Wylen

Ashley Mellinger

Belise Nishimwe

Charlie Brown III

Donna Hayes

Dwayne Sackey

Ebonee Atkins

Emmanuel Henreid

hampton rodriguez

Harrison Pinsonault

janessa bautista

Jene Etheridge

Jonas Angelet

Julian Saporiti

Kiana Kinchelow

Machado Mijiga

May Anuntarungsun

Michael Cavazos

Michelle Fujii

Michelle Martinez

Montrell Goss

Niema Lightseed

Paola De La Cruz

sage c. braziel

Somya Singh

steven christian

Taylor Valdes

Terrance Scott

Terrance Burton

Valerie Yeo

Yathzi Turcot Azpeitia

This project is supported by the City of Portland and #PDXCARES funding. The collection will be made available for our community to experience; details to follow. For more information, contact: Heather Nelson Kent Communications Manager

New Public Art COVID-19 Relief Opportunities

In our continued response to individual artists and creative workers impacted by COVID-19, we have two new public art calls opportunities: a direct purchase of artwork for The Visual Chronicle of Portland and Support Beam, an initiative to commission emerging visual artists making work in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Eligible artists may apply to either or both opportunities.


Eatcho, What have you, pencil and watercolor on paper, 2017

The Visual Chronicle of Portland

A collection of works on paper that portray artists’ perceptions of what makes the city of Portland, Oregon unique. The budget for new acquisitions is $15,000. To serve as many artists as possible, individual pieces must be priced no more than $1,000. 

Submission Closed:
Wednesday, May 27, 2020  


Contact Keith Lachowicz klachowicz@racc.org     

Naomi Shigeta, All the World’s a Stage, oil on panel, 2014. Currently installed at the Emergency Management Coordination Center in Portland, Oregon.

Support Beam

This is intended to strengthen artists towards the production of new work over a period of three to six months. The overall budget for this initiative is $70,000. Selected artists will receive between $3,000 and $5,000. 

Submission Closed:
Friday, June 12, 2020 at 5 p.m. PST. 


Contact Morgan Ritter mritter@racc.org    


Interpretation services available, email info@racc.org

Servicio de interpretación disponible

Предоставляются услуги переводчика

Có dịch vụ thông dịch


New art brings a glow to the city’s iconic Portland Building

Come visit your new art collection at the reconstructed Portland Building

Public art installed in the Portland Building adds a glow to the newly renovated architectural icon. The building has always doubled as a venue to showcase public art and that role has grown with the reconstruction, which includes new pieces commissioned through the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). RACC’s Public Art Program acquires and cares for publicly owned art.

A local panel of artists, curators, community members and city staff worked for several years to commission and purchase these artworks for the Portland Building as part of the City’s 2% for Art requirement. The current installations, located on the first and second floors of the building, are part of the first phase of art selected and created specifically for the building.

Please note, to protect public health, the Portland Building is currently closed to the public.the City of Portland is postponing the grand reopening of the Portland Building scheduled for Thursday, March 19. All Design Week Portland events are rescheduled for August 2020.

New commissioned artworks installed to date in the Portland Building
Refik Anadol Studio, Data Crystal: Portland
One of the most impactful aspects of the building renovation is the addition of a large window wall and gathering space on the east side facing Chapman Square. Today, people passing by on Fourth Avenue can gaze into the building through the double-height wall of glass and see Refik Anadol Studio’s large-scale, 3-D printed, A.I. data sculpture, Data Crystal: Portland, which was designed specifically for the Portland Building.

The artwork is visible to building visitors from both the first and second floor. It represents the material connections that emerge from invisible interactions between fellow city dwellers by combining art, technology, and the interconnected communities of Portland. Anadol was inspired by the last line of Ronald Talney’s poem, inscribed on the plaque that accompanies Raymond Kaskey’s sculpture Portlandia, “This is how the world knows where we are.”

The visuals projected on to the sculpture were conceived by Anadol in partnership with the mind of a machine, utilizing cutting-edge machine learning algorithms trained on a data set of nine million publicly available photographs and digitized archival documents of Portland. The shape of the 3-D printed structure on which the visuals are projected was also informed by the same data set, but created by using advanced robotic 3D printing and A.I. technologies.

For this artwork, Anadol theorized that with today’s technology, it’s nearly impossible to get lost in this world – both geographically and historically.  With every photograph taken, a digital memory is captured, and a virtual record of a specific time and place is recorded.  These memories are “crystalized” when shared publicly.  When aggregated, the repeated acts of sharing digital memories eventually solidifies the collective memory of a specific place.

Portlandia, Raymond Kaskey
Get up close and personal with the iconic Portlandia statue from a new publicly-accessible balcony, or with a smaller, 3-D print located at the top of the second floor stairs, made with the partnership of local Portland business, Form 3D Foundry. Originally installed in 1985, Portlandia by Raymond Kaskey, is the second-largest hammered-copper (or repoussé) sculpture in the United States, and was rededicated in 2019 as part of the building reconstruction. Tag your photos of either version of this Portland icon to #weareportlandia.

Neither Here Nor There, Shelby Davis and Crystal Schenk
Located on the first floor adjacent to the building’s front entrance, is Neither Here Nor There by husband and wife artist team Shelby Davis and Crystal Schenk. Together the two transformed a huge, 100-year-old silver maple removed from the Laurelhurst neighborhood in 2015. Extracting the tree itself was a labor of love, involving large cranes and slabbing the trunk with a rare ten-foot chainsaw. But the stunning material lives on, reborn, in the renovated building. The installation includes several hand-carved and meticulously crafted wooden benches where visitors can sit, as well as hanging shelves and floating sculptural pieces suspended from the ceiling.

Topography from around the state was computer modeled and fit to some of the biggest boards from the tree’s trunk and then cut to relief on a computer-controlled (CNC) router. Afterward, each piece was carefully glued together, hand carved, and sanded. Glass castings implanted in the floating panoramas, with their shift of scale, create new perspectives on the familiar. Their subtle and grander shapes recall actual time spent in those landscape folds – creating memories and inspiring visitors with a sense of connection and curiosity. Look for local and significant places in Portland and Oregon including neighborhoods, the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and more.

Portion of Neither Here Nor There, Shelby Davis and Crystal Schenk

We’ve Been Here by Kayin Talton Davis
In the new Lizzie Weeks room to the north of the front entrance is We’ve Been Here by Kayin Talton Davis. The primary focus is Lizzie Weeks, along with images of other Black women establishing lives in Portland at the turn of the century into the 1930s. Talton Davis describes the significance of creating this large, vibrant panel and the research she did to collect stories about the lives of important, but overlooked, women as part of her process. “I went into city archives, Oregon Historical Society,” she said. “I also reached out to other people within the community to get different pictures and stories.” Additional women portrayed include: Lola Ondine Graham Chandler (with her sister), Frances Josephine Harlow Chandler (a Lakeview midwife), women from the Walker family (Rutherford Collection), Beatrice Morrow Cannady and Thelma Johnson Street.

Small Works Collection
Visitors can also enjoy several locations on the first and second floors hung with smaller-scale artworks made by artists from the greater Portland area. There are three artwork zones, each with its own curatorial focus.
Zone One, First Floor – Sublime Landscape – painting by artist Adam Sorensen (not currently installed)
Zone Two, Second Floor – Cityscape – many artists
Zone Three, Second Floor – Social Landscape of Portland, life experience of living in Portland, the cultures, multiplicity of viewpoints, fun and quirkiness of the residents – many artists

On the second floor, comfortable, modern seating is placed next to the second-story balcony, adjacent to the new artworks. Visitors to the balcony area can enjoy expansive views of the park blocks and downtown buildings through the large, window and views of the hanging sculpture Data Crystal: Portland.

Complete list of artists and artworks featured in the “Small Works Collection,” below.

Zone Three, Second Floor – Social Landscape of Portland (north wall) – many artists

Installation Space
Also on the second floor, visitors will find the building’s new Installation Space. Since its start in 1994 the Portland Building’s Installation Space has hosted more than 200 site-specific exhibitions, showcasing and promoting local contemporary artists and reflecting the creative rigor and diversity of Portland. The Regional Arts & Culture Council curates these rotating exhibitions.

The new space will be programmed with interdisciplinary conceptual art work made by regional artists and is envisioned as a way to energize public dialogue, understanding and exposure of visual art, as well as draw new audiences to the public’s new building.

King School Museum of Contemporary Art – KSMoCA
The inaugural exhibition in the Portland Building’s new Installation Space includes a selection of ephemera curated by the Student Curatorial Committee from KSMoCA’s archive.

Photo by MOE of the Student Curatorial Committee in an exhibition they curated at PSU
(left to right: Roz Crews, Solianna, Isaiah, Rocky, JaMiyah, Ana, and Diana with Dr. MLK Jr. school Community Agent Tiffany Robinson)

The King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA) is a contemporary art museum inside Dr. MLK Jr. School, an elementary school in Northeast Portland. Creating unusual connections between kids and internationally renowned artists, KSMoCA reimagines the way museums, public schools, and universities can affect people, culture, and perspectives by creating radical intersections for sharing resources across organizations. KSMoCA was founded in 2014 by artists Lisa Jarrett and Harrell Fletcher and is collaboratively developed with the Dr. MLK Jr. School community, PSU students, and a team of artists.

KSMoCA’s Student Curatorial Committee is led by fourth and fifth graders from the school with KSMoCA Program Managers (and artists), Roz Crews and Amanda Leigh Evans. The committee conducts research about local and non-local artists to inform their work as curators of KSMoCA’s MLK Jr. Gallery. As part of this research, students meet with curators, gallerists, and educators to discuss curatorial topics, study books about contemporary artists, and conduct studio visits with local artists. In 2018, this group established a student-run gallery within the museum to display work by their peers in addition to work by local artists in Portland, OR.Learn more: http://www.ksmoca.com/

RACC advocates for public and private investments in the arts, provides grants for artists and arts organizations, manages public art, raises money through workplace giving, conducts arts education in public schools, and provides community services, including workshops for artists, organizational consulting, and a variety of printed and electronic resources. RACC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that receives funding from a variety of public and private partners to serve artists, arts organizations, schools and residents throughout Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. For more information visit racc.org

Get Directions

For information about artworks and artist contacts:
Heather Nelson Kent
Communications Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council

For Portland Building information:
Heather Hafer
Public Information Officer, Office of Management and Finance

Small Works Collection
Zone Two, Second Floor – Cityscape (near Installation Space)

First Name Last Name Artwork Title Year
Akihiko Miyoshi Protocol 2019
Avantika Bawa Coliseum #4 2017
Avantika Bawa Coliseum, Red Sky 2018
Elena Thomas From the Bridge 2018
Ivonne Saed Sellwood Bridge Construction 1 2015
James Allen Portland Trolley Years 2016
Loren Nelson 3600 NW John Olsen Parkway; Hillsboro, Oregon 1999
Marie Watt Untitled 2012
Marie Watt Part and Whole: Ripple, Hoop, Baron Mill 2011
Michelle Muldrow Portland Trailer 2018
Rory ONeal Overpass Glow – PDX 2019
Ruth Lantz Veil of Density 2015
Gabe Fernandez Audi with 356 cover 2018

Zone Three, Second Floor – Social Landscape of Portland (north wall)

First Name Last Name Artwork Title Year
Deb Stoner Hellebore and Pieris Japonica in Winter 2016
Hsin-Yi Huang The Light Within 2009
Katherine Ace Friends and Neighbors (1) (group of 6) 2019
Rebecca Rodela Abuelito y yo reunidos 2014
Sabina Haque New Portlanders 2019
Stuart Allen Levy Cinco De Mayo 2009

Zone Three, Second Floor – Social Landscape of Portland (south wall)

First Name Last Name Artwork Title Year
Emma Gerigscott Dog Party No. 1 2017
Jo Hamilton The Ruth Nebula – 1948 2018
Sabina Haque HALFIE 2010
Samantha Wall 31 Days series 2017
Oriquidia Violeta Madrina 2019
Ralph Pugay Cattle Rave 2013


State of the Arts annual presentation information

RACC will present its annual State of the Arts report to Portland City Council later is spring of 2020. We invite you to join us and learn how RACC and the City invest taxpayer dollars to support culture, creativity and the arts—and to thank City Council for their support.

Council Chambers is equipped with a sound system for the hearing impaired. Assisted listening devices are available from the Clerk.

The City of Portland will gladly accommodate requests for an interpreter or make other accommodations that further inclusivity. Please make your request at least 72 hours before the meeting to the Council Clerk 503-823-4086. (TTY 503-823-6868). Translation in ASL will be present at our presentation.

City Council meetings can be viewed at www.portlandoregon.gov/video

The meetings are also cablecast on CityNet, Portland Community Media television. Watch CityNet on Xfinity Channel 30 and 330 (in HD) and CenturyLink Channels 8005 and 8505 (in HD).

Regional Arts & Culture Council and Young Audiences announce exciting partnership changes

We are excited to announce that management of The Right Brain Initiative is moving from The Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington (Young Audiences). This expansion of Young Audiences’ role will play to the strengths and expertise of each organization, sustain our long-standing and successful partnership, and ensure the continuity of the program for the students, teachers and schools that we serve. Both boards of directors support the changes.

Over many months we’ve worked together to review our partnership and get a clearer picture of each organization’s strengths, challenges and vision for the future. We both see this as a way of aligning mission with action. Young Audiences will focus on what they do best – providing the programs and services needed to bring together our community’s students and artists. RACC will continue its core grantmaking programs and public art projects, while expanding its advocacy and fundraising programs with a deeper focus on reaching underserved communities. These changes will help both organizations going forward into a new decade and we anticipate a smooth transition.

We are enormously proud of what we have accomplished together through the Right Brain Initiative since its launch over a decade ago and believe that the program’s next decade is just as bright. Young Audiences has been a key part of The Right Brain Initiative since its inception, and has been serving our region for more than 60 years, guided by the mission “to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts.” The Right Brain Initiative aligns perfectly with that mission and Young Audiences looks forward to collaborating with students, educators, artists, families, advocates and supporters to ensure that the program continues to evolve to be responsive to our communities’ needs and to secure its sustainability.

The announcement comes after a year of planning led by RACC’s executive director, Madison Cario. Find out more about changes presented by Cario this week to community partners, city officials, board members and staff that will make the organization more fiscally sustainable and achieve RACC’s vision.

We are both looking forward to another great decade for The Right Brain Initiative!

Madison Cairo, Executive Director                 Cary Clarke, Executive Director
Regional Arts & Culture Council                     Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington


Upcoming Right Brain residencies scheduled at schools will proceed as planned. For questions about in-school programming or upcoming residencies scheduled in your school – contact Kim Strelchun (kstrelchun@therightbraininitiative.org) at Young Audiences. For questions and to learn more about the changes visit Young Audiences here.

Regional Arts & Culture Council sets course for new decade


>>Reorganization will focus resources and programs on artists and underserved communities

PORTLAND, ORE – The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) today announced organization-wide changes to reflect a new vision and priorities. Under the new vision, RACC will continue its core grantmaking programs, public art projects and arts education while expanding its advocacy and fundraising programs with a deeper focus on reaching underserved communities. As part of the changes RACC will eliminate 5 positions that are currently vacant, lay off an additional 15 employees, and hire 15 new positions to support RACC’s new focus areas.

The rollout comes after a year of planning led by RACC’s executive director, Madison Cario, and with the support of the board of directors. Additionally, the proposed changes are responsive to the City of Portland’s audit of RACC in 2018 and the city’s current budget priorities. The changes are effective immediately.

“We take this transition very seriously and deeply appreciate the work of RACC employees, especially those leaving the organization. These changes respond to what we are seeing and hearing from our community, and position RACC to better serve our region today and in the future,” said RACC board chair Linda McGeady.

“When RACC connects artists with resources, opportunities and each other, our communities become stronger. We have a vision of establishing RACC as a champion for arts and culture locally, regionally, and nationally,” stated the City of Portland’s Arts Commissioner, Chloe Eudaly. “The organizational changes proposed by RACC will help us all better achieve that vision.”

Additional details about the restructure include:

• Enhancing public awareness and engaging community members in culture, creativity and the arts through strategic investments and partnerships
• Creating an advocacy team to make the case to the public and partners about the value of arts education and the city’s Arts Education and Access Fund
• Increasing engagement in public art projects and collections, grantmaking and other publicly-funded arts programs and investments managed by RACC
• Demonstrating how the arts build livable communities by connecting to politics, education, economics, development, planning, and civic engagement
• Strengthening relationships with regional elected officials and policymakers at all governmental levels
• Advancing racial equity, diversity, inclusion and access both within the organization and in our work with community partners
• Better measuring and demonstrating the benefits to residents of investments in public art, arts education, arts and culture organizations and individual artists
• Applying best practices from around the country to measure public participation in and perception of the arts as a means of gauging effectiveness and making improvements.

“To achieve this vision, RACC needs to become more fiscally sustainable, diversify our funding sources and streamline our organization,” stated Cario, who took the helm of RACC one year ago following an 18-month national search. They added, “I’m excited to see what we can do when we focus on incubating new ideas, innovating the role of an arts council in today’s world. I am inspired by our staff and board’s commitment to ensuring the arts are accessible to everyone in our community.” The detailed plan was presented this week by Cario to community partners, city officials, board members and staff outlining the changes and reasons. Changes include:

• Shoring up or eliminating unsustainable cost centers – including sunsetting RACC’s workplace giving program
• Moving management of The Right Brain Initiative, an arts integration program, to RACC’s long-time partner Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington, a nonprofit organization
• Creating a dedicated development team at RACC with clear fundraising goals to help increase and diversify revenue
• Better leveraging public dollars to secure new national and local funding
• Reorganizing staff positions to align with organizational changes, simplifying work groups and reporting relationships.

RACC’s year-end report was released in December, highlighting accomplishments in 2019 and celebrating the artists, arts workers and arts educators who make our community stronger. RACC will present its next “State of the Arts” report to the Portland City Council on February 27 at 2:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Heather Nelson Kent at hnkent@racc.org or by phone 503-823-5426 or mobile 503-860-6145.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council is a local arts agency serving 1.8 million residents in the Portland, Oregon metro region including Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. RACC provides grants and technical assistance for artists and nonprofit organizations, with more than 5,000 grants totaling $44 million in the past two decades. RACC also manages a widely-celebrated public art collection of more than 2,200 artworks for the City of Portland and Multnomah County; conducts employee giving campaigns that have raised more than $8.5 million for local arts organizations since 2007; organizes networking events, forums and workshops; and integrates the arts into the broader curriculum for K-8 students through The Right Brain Initiative, serving more than 27,000 students a year. Online at www.racc.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Nelson Kent, Communications Manager, hnkent@racc.org, 503.823.5426

Hank Willis Thomas and Intisar Abioto featured in a new public art project, In—Between

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December  16, 2019 

Portland, Ore – A new temporary public art project has been installed along the median strip on NE Holladay Street between the Oregon Convention Center and the new Hyatt Hotel and parking structure. As part of a new series called In—Between, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invited Portland-based artist Intisar Abioto and Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas to create ten banners, each 10 feet tall, featuring the artists’ words and images. The banners will appear on five posts along NE Holladay Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 1st Avenue through May 31. 

Funding comes from the city’s Percent-for-Art ordinance, which sets aside 2% of the construction costs for Prosper Portland’s new parking garage to create public art. Kimberly Branam, executive director of Prosper Portland, commented, “Art teaches us about ourselves and our community, and we are proud to play a role in honoring the history and culture of the neighborhood through this work.” 

 RACC assembled an artist selection panel composed of community members, artists and representatives from Prosper Portland, the Oregon Convention Center, and Mayer-Reed Landscape Architecture. The panel agreed that goals for the project should include bold artwork that connects to the area’s communities and reflects the general concepts of movement, change, adaptation – addressing a general statement of “where are we going.” 

With this pilot exhibition, the panel seized on an opportunity to feature both internationally acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist Hank Willis Thomas, whose first major retrospective is currently on view at the Portland Art Museum through January 12, and Portland-based artist and storyteller Intisar Abioto.  A Memphis native, Abioto moved to Portland nine years ago with her mother and sisters, and has since gained recognition for her photography and her blog, The Black Portlanders. The intention of her portrait work is to allow the complexity of people’s natures to unfold in the work.   

Julia Dolan, the Minor White Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum, reviewed Thomas’s body of work with Abioto, who quickly gravitated to Thomas’s text-based series “I AM A MAN,” inspired by a 1968 Ernest C. Withers photograph showing a large group of protesters bearing the same message. Thomas’s series of paintings plays with the orientation and wording of the text (A Man I Am, I Be a Man, I Am Many, I Am The Man, etc.), ending with a painting that says, “I am. Amen.” Thomas states, “The greatest revelation should be that we are.”   

In responding to Thomas’s workAbioto stated that her goal was “to honor the lived history and origin of the I AM A MAN statement as expressed through the work and trials of those living through the 1968 Sanitation Worker’s Strike. It was also to illustrate with images the I AM statement as lived in and by Black people in diaspora today.” Abioto selected images from her vast archive that “communicate a deep and internally rooted sense of I AM emanating from the individuals themselves. I AM. WE ARE. These statements are timely, timeless, and true, regardless.” 

Future installations of In—Between will evolve in focus, but will continue to reflect the overall theme of “where are we going.”  This will be the first of a series of temporary installations.  For opportunities to apply for future installations, artists can follow racc.org on Facebook or Instagram, or sign up to receive public art opportunities in their inbox at racc.org/public-art/public-art-email-list/.  


The artworks by Intisar Abioto and Hank Willis Thomas are on display along NE Holladay Street, between Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and 1st Avenue, through May 31. 









THE REGIONAL ARTS & CULTURE COUNCIL (RACC) provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools through The Right Brain Initiative. RACC values a diversity of artistic and cultural experiences and is working to build a community in which everyone can participate in culture, creativity and the arts. For more information visit racc.org. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Hawthorne, Director of Community Engagement, jhawthorne@racc.org, 503.823.5258.