Portland Artist Jose Ruiz Valentine Selected for Fresh Paint Mural

See his design come to life on Open Signal’s building on MLK Blvd.

Large wall mural shows Virgin Guadalupe surrounded by orange and yellow flames, adjacent to a large green serpent

Portland Artist Jose Ruiz Valentine’s mural, Venerated Mother, in progress on the wall at Open Signal offices 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

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.


Regional Arts & Culture Council Announces Leadership Transition

Heather Nelson Kent
Communications Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council

Executive Director Madison Cario Departs for Bay Area Arts Enterprise

The Board of Directors of the Regional Arts & Culture Council announced today that Executive Director Madison Cario will depart on December 3rd to serve as CEO for both the Minnesota Street Project and the Minnesota Street Project Foundation in San Francisco. The Board and senior leadership are developing a transition plan to ensure smooth operations at RACC.

“The RACC Board is grateful for Madison’s leadership especially as we worked to meet the arts community’s needs during this devastating global pandemic,” said RACC Board Chair Nathan Rix. “Madison brought great vision and organizational capability to RACC, allowing us to be responsive, focus on equity, and strengthen our work with key stakeholders. The organization is well-positioned to lead and support Portland’s ever-evolving and growing arts community.”

Board Chair Rix outlined the transition plan in a meeting with RACC team members and board members on Wednesday. “We’re already mapping out our next steps for executive leadership and will be seeking community input and working with our stakeholders moving ahead,” he said.

The organization stands in a strong position having recently reorganized and realigned to better meet community needs, and secured funding and long-term partnerships, including a 3-year contract with the City of Portland, along with annual contracts with Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties and Metro. Under Cario’s leadership, the organization diversified its funding, securing grants from national, state, and local foundations, corporations, and private donors.

“My time in Portland has been meaningful and I am incredibly proud of how we rose to the challenges of this pandemic, responded to social justice issues and the needs of our community over the past three years,” said Cario. “RACC, and the communities we serve, will always have a vocal advocate and ally in me.”

The shutdowns and social distancing requirements caused by COVID-19 significantly impacted the arts community and artists across the region. The RACC leadership team, led by Cario, was instrumental in a statewide advocacy campaign that secured $50 million in federal CARES Act funding for arts organizations and venues across the state. Ultimately, RACC was tapped to administer millions in CARES funds to artists and art organizations. RACC distributed $13.2M through a new partnership with the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition; $2.5 M for local performing arts venues, and $190,000 in grants from the City of Portland’s CARES allocation designated for local Black, Indigenous, and artists of color.

“In my nine months as Arts and Culture Commissioner, I’ve enjoyed working with Madison tremendously,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who serves as the city’s liaison to RACC. “They helped Portland’s arts and culture community through the challenges of COVID and being more inclusive of more artists in our community. Their time in Portland has left our city, and our city’s arts and culture community, better, and I wish them well in their next steps.”


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


RACC Board of Directors Confirm Statues Should Not Be Returned

RACC Team and Public Art Committee to outline next steps for community review process

Today the Regional Arts & Culture Council Board of Directors endorsed a recommendation that toppled and removed monuments not be returned to their previous location and to inform City officials of this recommendation. The recommendation not to return statues to their previous location does not mean that works will be permanently removed from the City of Portland’s public collection. The statues include: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider, Harvey Scott, and Promised Land. City officials have decided that Elk will return to downtown Portland.

RACC’s Public Art Committee (PAC) made the recommendation not to return the five statues to their previous locations. The committee oversees and guides Public Art Program policies for the selection, placement, and maintenance of works of art acquired through the Percent for Art Program and other public/private programs RACC manages. The committee is made up of artists, art administrators, and community stakeholders. The PAC recommendation is consistent with recent action by the Portland City Council recommending new public art representing more diverse cultural identities and histories for the South Park Blocks. The George Washington statue cannot be returned to its former site as that site is privately owned and the owners do not wish to have it in that location anymore.

The recommendation not to return these statues to their previous locations raises the question of what happens next. Should the monuments be assigned a new home? Should all of them remain in the public collection? According to RACC’s Public Art Program policies, consideration of these questions requires meaningful community engagement. The Board directed the RACC team and PAC to come back to them at a meeting in October with a process for engaging stakeholders in a conversation about what happens next with each statue.

How can the community get involved?
Community engagement and stakeholder input are part of the process. Follow this link to provide input. Sign up for RACC’s online newsletter to be notified of future engagement opportunities at www.racc.org/about/newsletter/

Public Art Program Background
The Public Art Committee, in consultation with city leadership, reviewed the Public Art Program policies and criteria as they relate to donation and deaccession of memorials, monuments, and statues. The PAC updated those policies to align with RACC’s mission, vision, and values and the City’s value of antiracism. The updated policy states that public artworks can be removed if the “subject or impact of an artwork is significantly at odds with values of antiracism, equity, inclusion.” They also expanded circumstances that can lead to the removal of a piece of artwork, if it becomes a rallying place for “gatherings centered on racist or bigoted ideology.” RACC’s board endorsed the policy changes in May 2021.


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

Heather Nelson Kent
Communications Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council

Portland General Electric Foundation Awards Arts Education Grant to the Regional Arts & Culture Council


logo for PGE FoundationPortland, Ore. – The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce its Arts Education Program was awarded a Community Creative Expression Grant for $10,000 from the Portland General Electric Foundation. The purpose of the grant is to expand arts education advocacy and equity in Multnomah County’s middle and high schools with the expansion of advocacy into Clackamas and Washington County. This is a collective impact project with a focus on equity and access to arts education in underrepresented and underserved communities in the tri-county area compromised of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties. As we emerge into a new post-COVID world with a focus on equity and access we look to include more counties (Washington and Clackamas) school districts on the artlook® platform, a unique data driven arts education platform that connects schools, families, students and arts organizations to quality arts programs in their neighborhood.

RACC will conduct outreach and engagement, and offer professional development opportunities for arts educators in seven elementary schools in the Reynolds School District in East Multnomah County, which are currently unserved by the Council. This effort will support equity and access in arts education in the tri-county region through advocacy, outreach, and engagement. RACC’s mission is to enrich our communities through arts and culture. Support for artlook® Oregon will support this through collaboration and community engagement.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council wishes to thank the PGE Foundation for recognizing the past work in arts education and appreciate their acknowledgment with this grant in RACC’s pivot to expand the scope of services, advocacy, and community engagement.


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 a diverse, nationally acclaimed public art program; and developing long-lasting public and private partnerships. For more information visit racc.org

What Kind of Public Art Do We Want Now?


Three photos of the granit pedestal; one with people touching and reading the plaque, one without the artwork and one with the bronze head of Yorkrtwork atop a granite pedestal surrounded by tall fir trees.

Photo Credits: Mark Graves, Dave Killen of The Oregonian

A conversation with PSU Professor and York historian Darrell Millner, the unidentified York artist, and Kristin Calhoun, Director of Public Art, Regional Arts & Culture Council

Portland, Ore. – The Regional Arts & Culture Council today released a pre-recorded conversation with the unidentified artist who created York and PSU Professor of History and Black Studies, Darrell Millner. York, a piece of artwork depicting an enslaved man and significant member of Lewis and Clark’s “Corps of Discovery,” was mysteriously installed at Mt. Tabor Park in February. RACC’s Public Art Director, Kristin Calhoun, moderates the conversation. In the 50 minute podcast they discuss and answer many of the questions posed by the public. They also thoughtfully consider the benefits and risks of a “permanent” York sculpture that could continue to be a target of harmful and racist acts.

“Art is not neutral,” notes Madison Cario, Director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council in Portland. “York has sparked important conversations about who we are and what we stand for as a community.”

The public response to York demonstrates the power of art to raise new and hidden narratives and for community healing. The destruction of York, also elevates our knowledge that there is never a single narrative when it comes to our nation’s history and the political act of making art.

“Our goals for public art include integrating a wide range of art into public spaces in every community,” explains Calhoun. “As we consider the next steps for the statues toppled last summer, we see an opportunity for more interaction with temporary and permanent artworks representing more diverse cultural histories and identities. We also want to hear from the communities most impacted, recognizing how art has been used to reinforce power dynamics.”

The bust of York, created and placed on the empty pedestal at Mt. Tabor Park by an unidentified artist, replaced Harvey Scott. The statue of the controversial local newspaper editor was pulled down during Portland’s racial justice protests last summer. The statue is one of many memorials and monuments in the public’s collection that were donated to the City by private donors that were toppled in 2020 and had to be removed.

Today, formal processes of commissioning artists and selecting artwork guide the addition of art to local public collections. RACC commissions, cares for, and maintains the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s public art collection. In recent years, they have worked to ensure that artwork added to the collection reflects the diversity of artistic disciplines, identities, and points of view. Memorials, monuments, and statues make up a small portion of the public’s collection.

After the temporary artwork of York was destroyed and removed, hundreds of people contacted RACC via email, phone, and on social media. Community members expressed anger at the destruction and anti-Black racism that appears to have fueled the act. Many offered support for installing a permanent version of the sculpture that would be indestructible. Others wanted to get involved in the conversation about what happens next.

This spring RACC’s Board voted to update City and County policies related to donations and deaccession (when an artwork is removed from a collection). They added review criteria to look at works through an anti-racist lens. The new Deaccession Policy paves the way for a community engagement process to determine what happens next to monuments toppled last summer, and an opportunity for RACC and partners to continue supporting thoughtful community dialogue about new and existing monuments, informed by a commitment to racial equity and representation. On July 30, the City Council issued a joint statement on the York sculpture, condemning what they viewed as a racially motivated act of destruction and reiterating their unified commitment to disrupting racism.

Join the Conversation!
Participate in the conversation by subscribing to Art Notes at https://racc.org/about/newsletter/ or by following the Regional Arts & Culture Council on Instagram or Facebook @regionalarts. You can also send an email with your thoughts to info@racc.org.

Also, check out Prototypes, a six-week exhibition that is part of Portland’s Monuments & Memorials Project Led by Converge 45 and supported by RACC’s Public Art Committee. The exhibition includes online and public events designed to bring people together to consider the conditions and impacts of public monuments. Through an open call, the project collected ideas for new and re-envisioned monuments and memorials. Indigenous tribal communities, artists, disabilities rights activists, neighborhood associations, and other groups and individual community members have submitted ideas and proposals. See them at Prototypes events.

Events are currently scheduled for 6 p.m., Aug. 25, and Oct. 9. 

Listen here


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, hnkent@racc.org,  503-823-5426

artlook® oregon Interactive Database Expands in Greater Portland

An initiative of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Parkrose, and Portland Public Schools in Partnership with The Kennedy Center and Ingenuity/Chicago

Portland, OR – Through a unique partnership with the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child and Ingenuity-Chicago, The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce the expansion of Portland Metro’s artlook® oregon. Selected for a 3-year pilot program, RACC joined other arts education organizations and school districts across the United States to work with the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program and Ingenuity in Chicago to create a free, accessible, online arts/culture education search engine.  An interactive mapping platform and software, artlook® oregon, allows school districts of all sizes to collect, map, and analyze data regarding the availability and distribution of arts staffing, funding, and services on a school-by-school basis.

Chanda Evans, RACC’s AEAF Specialist, explains the importance of the initiative and how it fits into the art nonprofit’s strategic plan. “Our advocacy agenda includes creating a culture of accessibility and inclusivity as we move forward equitable arts/culture education for all K-12 students,” she said. “We know that supporting a well-rounded education includes an arts education: visual arts, dance, theatre, music, and media arts.”

As RACC looks to partner with more school districts and arts and culture organizations, artlook® oregon gives school districts a snapshot of the arts landscape within their district. It provides up-to-date mapping of how arts resources are allocated during the school day and uses data to help administrators set strategy and measure progress. Arts and culture organizations can more efficiently connect their services to schools and thousands of students.

The coalition partners, led by RACC, hope for collective impact including:

  • Accelerate arts equity for students in schools and monitor progress towards this goal over time
  • Build responsive, targeted, collective impact agendas with strong data backing
  • Use real-time progress indicators to guide monthly and annual decision-making
  • Leverage aggregated data to make a compelling fundraising case to supporters/donors
  • Make a data-driven case for better arts/culture policies and practices at district, city, and state levels.

The benefits of artlook® oregon reach across all levels of the community by unifying data in a comprehensive, interactive map.

You can find artlook® oregon at https://portlandmetro.artlookmap.com/



About the Regional Arts & Culture Council

An independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, RACC supports 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.










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.