National Endowment for the Arts awards grant to create East Portland Cultural Corridor

$75,000 NEA grant to connect people, culture, and transportation; strengthen the sense of community in East Portland

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), in partnership with TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), APANO, Division Midway Alliance, and Slavic Community Center of NW, will receive a $75,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Our Town is NEA’s creative placemaking grants program that supports the integration of arts, culture, and design to strengthen people’s connection within their community. The NEA grant funds will be matched locally by $50,000 from RACC (with funding from PBOT’s percent-for-art program) and $25,000 from TriMet.

“The Division Transit Project is not only about bringing better, faster, more reliable bus service to the neighborhoods along Division Street, it is also about community,” said TriMet interim General Manager Sam Desue, Jr. “We appreciate the National Endowment for the Arts recognizing the heart of Portland, a feeling that all belong and are welcome, whether on transit or elsewhere in our community.”

The NEA grant will launch the East Portland Cultural Corridor, a project aimed at generating a cohesive sense of place and cultural presence in East Portland along Southeast Division Street from SE 82nd Avenue to SE 175th Avenue. The project will leverage TriMet’s Division Transit Project, currently more than halfway through construction, as a geographic backbone and future travel option that will become a part of the daily life of many East Portland residents.

“It’s exciting to see a transit project that celebrates creativity and recognizes the role artists and the creative process can have in achieving a community vision,” said Kristin Calhoun, RACC’s Public Art Director. “Arts and cultural activities bring people together to strengthen connections to each other and the places we care about.”

Artists and community-based organizations will lead the following initiatives throughout the corridor:

  • An artist in residence to engage community members and project partners in creating a cohesive district identity.
  • APANO Art + Justice Lab Fellows Project will provide fellowship pairings of one established and one emerging artist that will design a public project or performance.
  • Division-Midway Alliance will initiate cultural district planning for a cultural center.
  • Slavic Community Center of NW will produce an International Children’s Festival and participate in cultural district planning.

TriMet initiated the grant application as a means to address current federal transit funding restrictions on public art on the Division Transit Project. As the grant recipient, RACC will oversee and administer the funding to the community-based organizations and artists, with project management by TriMet. This is a first of its kind collaboration between the City of Portland, PBOT, RACC, and TriMet to provide direct support to non-profit organizations to support some of the cultural needs identified by the community.

Capturing the Moment – Selected Artists April 2021

Just over a year ago, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued her executive order putting our state into lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus. Last fall the Regional Arts & Culture Council asked artists to submit works of all media “Capturing the Moment,” reflecting their artistic response to the economic and health crisis in our communities. It was an effort to reflect and record our collective experiences of change, uncertainty, loss, and hope. Submissions flooded in–sculpture, illustrations, video, photography, painting, and more.

In addition to sharing their work “Capturing the Moment,” artists also shared the ways they were impacted by lost opportunities for funding or revenue due to COVID-19. Some were laid off from regular employment, many lost freelance gigs, canceled tours, postponed debuts of new works, and other productions. Some used makeshift spaces to continue working; painting on a friend’s porch or editing in a loaned studio after being evacuated by summer wildfires. Despite the challenges, they demonstrated their resilience and creativity. They adapted, adjusting projects that were canceled or delayed because of the pandemic. They found new life – and continued living – as artists and creatives.

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

Artworks from 34 Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color were selected by the curators for Capturing the Moment. This new public art collection showcases work in a wide scope of media, created by emerging artists and creatives across the region in response to this particular moment in time.

See and hear the works of seven of these local artists (details and links attached). The featured artwork includes the timely and moving video, Sayonara Mata Ashita, conceived and directed by Michelle Fujii in collaboration with Unit Souzou Ensemble; Somya Singh’s “memoir comics” which capture the isolation and familiar scenes of the quarantine including social distancing, protests, and the disconnection experienced through screens and social media. An elegant collection of natural dyed meditation seats and altars, ceramic hand-thrown planters, and vessels from multimedia artist janessa bautista were included along with a short thriller, Vent, by filmmaker Ashley Mellinger. Julian Saporiti’s multi-media No-No Boy media project, Orient Oregon, and May Maylisa Cat’s video Farang Kee Nok (Bird Sh!t Foreigner) confront both the invisible stories of early Japanese American immigrants and today’s appropriation of food culture and racialized labor. Finally, Waves 1-5, a series painted in acrylic on 8” x 8” canvases by Valerie Yeo uses this metaphor to suggest how the rhythmic, steady power of moving water creates permanent change.

Read their stories. Learn more.


#PDXCARES Supported Capturing the Moment

This initiative of the Regional Arts & Culture Council was intended to further and support Portland-based artists making work during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. The call for submissions aimed to reflect and record this time of change, uncertainty, loss, and hope. It will continue to serve and showcase some of the work emerging from artists and creatives during this historic moment. Artist submissions selected for Capturing the Moment will be shared via RACC and the City of Portland’s communication channels including digital formats and social media accounts.

Funding for Capturing the Moment came from the City of Portland’s federal allocation of CARES funding (#PDXCARES). It was specifically dedicated by the city to Asian, Black, Indigenous artists, and all artists of color who reside in the City of Portland.



Arts Education and Access Fund 2021 Logo Competition


Rose City Park Elementary School third-grader announced winner

Portland, OR – The Regional Arts & Culture Council and the City of Portland’s Arts Oversight Committee are delighted to announce the winner of the 2021 Arts Education and Access Fund (AEAF) Logo Competition. The competition challenged students to reimagine the original logo to illustrate how the fund supports the community and showcase students who benefit from arts education in school.

Logo design by Vincente, Rose City Park 3rd Grader

Arts Education and Access Fund 2021 Logo Design Competition


Vincente, a third-grader at Rose City Park Elementary School


Edison, a fifth-grader at Rose City Park

Cate, a seventh-grader at Sunnyside Environmental School

All students attend Portland Public Schools.

The design competition was open to all students from kindergarten to eighth grade who receive arts education in Portland’s six school districts: Portland Public, Parkrose, Reynolds, David Douglas, Centennial and Riverdale. The design challenge was to for students create a new AEAF logo over Winter Break 2020.

A panel of judges including professors and officials from Reed College, University of Portland, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland State University, Portland Art Museum, Echo Theater Company, Office of Commissioner Dan Ryan and the City of Portland Department of Revenue reviewed the submissions and selected the winner.

When asked what inspires him about art, Vincente replied, “Happiness. I have a sign in my room ‘Build Yourself Up and Never Give Up.’ I want people to become happy when they see my art.” Read the full interview with Vincente.


Arts Education
Arts education helps children develop the skills they need in order to communicate effectively, expand their analytical thinking, and engage with their community. In traumatic, turbulent times like these, art can be a literal lifeline for social, emotional, and mental health.

Art brings exposure to the world around us and broadens children’s interests as their capacity to learn new things expands. Students find solace in the arts and a space for their voices to be heard. Though arts, students are able to build consensus and connection, bring awareness to social issues, and highlight inequality and inequity in the world around them. Through arts education, our children—and the greater community—can see connections and develop unique relationships that align with our common goals and interests. Arts can— and should—be a celebration of our rich, culturally diverse society.

Portland’s Arts Education and Access Fund
Portland voters overwhelmingly approved the Arts Education and Access Fund in 2012 restoring arts education in all of Portland’s public elementary schools and expanding access to arts and culture for Portland residents. The City of Portland collects the tax and administers these dedicated funds. Portland’s Arts Oversight Committee, an independent volunteer committee reviews expenditures, progress and outcomes.

The Arts Education & Access Fund Oversight Committee seeks new members. Find out how to apply.

Thanks to the arts tax, today every elementary school in Portland’s six school districts (Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds and Riverdale) now has at least one art, music, drama, or dance teacher on staff – about 100 teachers in total. Teachers have risen to the challenge of distance learning, still delivering arts education to students online. Funding allows for approximately one arts specialist for every 500 students. Find out more.

Money from the arts tax goes first to schools (65% of total funding since 2012). Any additional revenues are then allocated through RACC grants to arts organizations and special projects that expand access to arts and culture to underserved communities including communities of color, veterans, artists and audiences with different abilities. Portland neighborhoods underserved with RACC grants are also prioritized for project funding.




An independent nonprofit 501(c)3 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


MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Nelson Kent, Communications Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council

503-823-5426, hnkent@racc.org

ART PURCHASE OPPORTUNITY: Ecology, Wellness & Connectivity

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

Art Purchase Opportunity

Hobbs Waters, 51018, mixed media on canvas, 2018. Currently installed at the Multnomah County Health Headquarters in Portland, Oregon.

Artists from Oregon & Washington can add to the vitality of Portland’s Public Art Collection by submitting portable scale two dimensional works for purchase by the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Types of artwork that qualify for this opportunity are prints, paintings, photographs, drawings, textiles, collage, Bas relief, mosaic, glass, ceramic, and metal, intended to be hung on a wall with a 4” depth maximum. Special consideration will be given to artwork that relates to key concepts that guided the development of the Vanport Building: Ecology, Wellness, and Connectivity. Learn more about these concepts in the “About the Vanport Building” section below.

Selected artworks will initially be displayed in publicly accessible spaces in the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability offices on the 7th floor of the new Vanport Building, located at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Southwest Montgomery Streets in downtown Portland. All purchased artwork will become part of the Portable Works Public Art Collection, consisting of more than 1,300 pieces exhibited in publicly accessible buildings owned and operated by the City of Portland and Multnomah County. To view the current collection, visit our online gallery.

Submissions Due:  5 p.m., Wednesday, March 31, 2021


Selection criteria and decision-making

Selected works will strongly meet the criteria based on panel rankings, available budget, and The City of Portland and the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s commitment to supporting artists from historically underrepresented communities, as well as expanding the range of artistic and cultural expression represented in the Public Art Collection.  This opportunity prioritizes Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color to acknowledge the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on BIPOC communities.

A panel of artists, curators, community and City representatives will select artwork for purchase.

Find the submission information here.

Apply online in the RACC Opportunity Portal.

Funding for investments in artworks created by local Northwest artists comes from the City of Portland’s Percent for Art Program and is approximately $65,000.



Marie Watt, Part and Whole: Ripple, Hoop, Baron Mill, reclaimed wool blankets and thread, 2011. Currently installed at the Portland Building.

Learn more at two upcoming info sessions for artists

Instagram Live – 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23

Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities.

On Zoom, 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 16, RSVP HERE


We’re Here to Help!

Questions about the overall opportunity?

Contact: Morgan Ritter at 503.823.5046, mritter@racc.org

Questions about the online portal and application materials?

Contact: Danielle Davis at ddavis@racc.org





About the Vanport Building

If you want to learn more about the history of the Vanport flood, see Vanport Mosaic, “The Time Nature And Racism Teamed Up To Wipe Out A Whole Town” on NPR’s Code Switch, and the “How Oregon’s Second Largest City Vanished in a Day” in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Portland State University, Portland Community College, Oregon Health & Sciences University and the City of Portland join together in the Vanport Building to share resources, enhance programs, and further expand their impact in our communities. This vibrant ecology of collaborators work together toward climate protection, energy efficiency, green building and sustainability. Natural light fills the building, creating comfortable environments to work and learn, whether in introspection or interaction. The building’s guiding principles center health and include wellness, universal access, and social justice and equity. Through this dynamic partnership, the building holds collaboration and connectivity at its core.

Learn more about the Vanport Building here.

Support Beam Round Two Funded through PDXCARES Announced

We are excited to announce 17  additional artists selected to receive financial support through our Support Beam initiative.

Support Beam is designed to support emerging artists’ long-term creative practice and livelihood during an unprecedented time. This new opportunity prioritizes Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color to acknowledge the disproportionate historical and ongoing systemic inequities, and the impact this pandemic is having on BIPOC communities.

Inspired by the depression-era Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.), this program utilizes City of Portland PDXCARES (#PDXCARES) funding to commission a piece of public art without restriction to media or themes, and aspires to sustain as many artists as possible during a precarious economic and political time.

Through intentional efforts like these, our public art begins to more accurately represent the many distinct communities who enliven our region. Learn more about the artists selected for initial round of Support Beam.

Over the coming months, Support Beam artists are giving us a peek into their art practices, studios, works in progress, and creative lives. Follow along with their posts and stories on Instagram at #raccsupportbeam.





Iván Carmona



Jodie Cavalier



Daniela del Mar



Sade DuBoise



Sarah Farahat



Marcelo Fontana



Tiana Garoogian



Laura Camila Medina



Lucia Monge



Dana Paresa



Diego Morales-Portillo



Ameera Saahir



Orquidia Velasquez



Mike Vos



Tazha Williams



Tammy Jo Wilson


Limei Lai Mural Signals Return of Fresh Paint Temporary Mural Program Partnership

New mural artist Limei Lai

Artist Limei Lai’s new mural, Together, enlivens the street scape at Open Signal located on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Portland. This is the seventh mural to adorn Open Signal’s exterior as part of the Fresh Paint program. A partnership between Open Signal and RACC, Fresh Paint is a professional development program providing emerging artists of color with the opportunity to paint a public mural in a high-traffic setting for the first time. Artists learn new ways of creating art for public spaces and build their portfolio. For several artists, the mural projects have led to other public commissions or opportunities.

Limei Lai’s mural, Together, depicts three generations of women.

The mural depicts three generations of women. “The world is extremely beautiful and fun in the kid’s eyes; it is a complex chaos in the woman’s eyes; it is where the loved ones live in grandma’s eyes. The present and the past, the here and there, we are all in this world together, weeping and smiling and hugging, celebrating women’s lives and the world community,” notes the artist.

Lai, originally from China and now based in Portland, is currently getting her Bachelor’s degree at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. In paint, fabric and clay, she explores themes of change, weakness, and aging through generational stories. Her work is informed by her experiences as an immigrant and her Chinese roots. She believes that art not only evokes issues and problems in society, it celebrates the beauty of this world in its entirety.

This work marks a return for the program, which took a hiatus as Oregonians were directed to stay at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The piece was completed on Sept. 28, 2020, and will remain on display until March 2021.

Five muralists transform vacant building in Chinatown/Japantown

Diverse local artists commissioned in Portland

Last weekend, five local artists began new murals on boarded up sections of the former House of Louis restaurant, located in Portland’s Chinatown/Japantown Historic District (NW Fourth and Davis). The murals add to the building’s colorful and distinct façade. The Old Town Community Association is managing the project with funding for the artists provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

Although many businesses throughout Portland closed their doors in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the House of Louis restaurant has sat shuttered since January 2018. It was the last Dim Sum restaurant to operate in Old Town. The buildings new murals face a section of NW Davis Street designated the Davis Festival Street, recently revitalized and restored by the Association.

“So many artists out there creating important work are not being paid. We were thrilled to be brought into this project to support individual artists financially, provide a platform for diverse voices, and give the community something inspiring and beautiful,” said the art council’s Executive Director, Madison Cario.

The five commissioned artists:

  • Amaranta Colindres*
  • Latoya Lovely
  • Rebecca Rodelo*
  • Yasmin Correa*
  • Devin Finley

*pictured above

The Regional Arts & Culture Council’s murals program is designed to deepen our communities’ sense of place, uplift diverse voices, tell stories and empower local artists.

Regional Arts & Culture Council elects new board members

On July 1, Parker Lee became RACC’s new board chair, succeeding Linda McGeady who will serve as Chair Emeritus until June 30, 2021. Founder and managing partner of the design consultancy, Territory, and co-author of “The Art of Opportunity,” Parker Lee is a veteran of the technology, entertainment and sports marketing industries.

Joining Parker on the Executive Committee are Treasurer James Smith, and Secretary Frances Portillo. The Vice Chair position remains open.

The RACC board also elected three new members. Full board and staff profiles are available online at racc.org/about/staff-board.


Shani Marie Harris-Bagwell

Shani recently launched Shani Bagwell Consulting, a firm focusing on EDI and accessibility, committed to empowering underserved communities, and giving voice to the voiceless. She serves on the Basic Rights Oregon Equity PAC Board, the Multnomah County Commission Audit Review Committee, and the Portland Bureau of Transportation Pricing Options for Equity for Mobility Committee. Shani holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Contemporary Commercial Music. She has performed throughout the United States and internationally.

Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Leesha Posey

Leesha Posey is an organizational leader, small business coach, educator and advocate for intentional and purposeful equity, diversity and inclusion. She is currently the Equity Manager for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services. She is a member of the Community Budget Review Committee for Portland Public Schools, National Forum for Black Public Administrators, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as the other local and national organizations. She has served as co-chair for the North/Northeast Community Development Initiative Oversight Committee for Prosper Portland, and is an alumna of Emerge Oregon Leadership program.

Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Nathan Rix

Nathan is passionate about elevating the social value of public art because of how it influences the imagination of Oregonians. Nathan is currently the Deputy Director, Strategy & Policy with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Nathan has served on numerous non-profit and public sector boards and commissions that serve the tri-county area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties), including as the Chairman of the Budget Committee with the City of Tigard. He currently serves as a Commissioner with Oregon Volunteers, which funds state-based AmeriCorps programs and promotes service, volunteerism and civic engagement across all of Oregon diverse communities.

Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His