RACC Blog

RACC Creative Spotlight: Artist James Enos

Artist James Enos, Make | Learn | Build grant recipient

James Enos works at North Pole Studio, a Portland-based progressive art studio for artists with autism and intellectual / developmental disabilities. With James’ consent, this Q&A was answered collaboratively with North Pole Studio staff and his mother, Beth Enos.


Would you share your journey as an artist with us? When did you begin; how did you begin?

James is an entirely self-taught author and illustrator. James began drawing in high school, and was encouraged to expand his drawings with the encouragement of an early teacher. His deep creativity quickly emerged, as he transitioned away from life drawing to more fanciful subjects. It was years before he started making the books that he is now known for, and the catalyst for this shift is still unknown.

James designs and executes each book from scratch. His extraordinary process includes binding, researching, writing, and hand-drawing illustrations— many of which fold-out and can extend upwards of 275 cm. His stories weave together to form a collection inspired by his life experiences, picture books adapted from major motion pictures, and pop-culture of the late 80s and early 90s, among others.

James began by hand-writing his books with penmanship that is a work of art in itself. James’ early books alternate line for line with a slightly different shade of the same color (i.e. light blue, dark blue; pink, red). Over the past two years, James has transitioned to writing on a type-writer. His illustrations have evolved but adhere to a consistent style.

James created art at the Portland Art and Learning Studio (PALS) until it closed in 2020. During his time at PALS, James was discovered by Marshall Weber at Booklyn, Inc. in NYC who began representing him and selling his books nationally. In 2021, James joined North Pole Studio, where he works to date. 

In a very short period of time, James went from being an unknown artist to boasting an impressive resume which includes being collected by major universities including Bainbridge Island Museum of the Arts; University of California, Los Angeles, Special Collections Library; University of Central Florida, Special Collections Library; University of Delaware, Special Collections Library; Yale University, Haas Family Fine Arts Library.

How would your community of peers (family, friends, other creatives/artists) describe you?

James is incredibly focused and has an admirable art practice, working continuously from 10am – 3pm and pausing only for a lunch break. When James is in the writing phase, his typewriter starts buzzing the moment he walks into the studio, and doesn’t stop until he leaves. It has become a beloved soundtrack of North Pole Studio. 

Because of the seriousness James approaches both his art practice and the world with, many don’t know what an incredible sense of humor he has. He is a prankster at heart and has a sharp and sophisticated sense of humor which is best captured in his books. 

James’ artistic genius and extensive knowledge of pop culture, familiar kids’ stories (such as Mulan, Tarzan, and the Chronicles of Narnia) is admired by his peers.

Thinking back to your artistic journey, bridging to where you are at now, how would you summarize your artwork currently? Where are you now with your work?

James continues to hone his craft; his evolution from hand-writing his books to his typewriter has marked a distinctive shift in his process. James’ illustrational style and syntax are consistent across his stories, but he continues to refine both with each book. 

James experimentation with various methods and materials for binding his large-scale, multimedia books is evident over time. James books are often up to 6” thick and well over 5lbs when complete, with fold-out illustrations strategically folded to fit into a structure that can be read cover to cover.

James’ latest books are tighter, both visually and structurally with consideration to decisions around materials and paper size. Additionally, many of his recent works are written in chapters, and can be read as isolated stories or as a collection.

Based on the award/grant you received from RACC how have you continued your direction in your project/artwork/process?

In 2021, James was invited to exhibit his books in a solo booth at the Outsider Art Fair in New York City. The Outsider Art Fair is a world renown art fair, and provides a huge opportunity for lesser known self-taught artists’ work to be viewed by major art collectors alongside the greats. With the support of his team, James applied for a Make | Learn | Build grant to cover the cost of the booth fee. With RACC’s grant award, Bookyln, Inc. represented James Enos at the 2022 Outsider Art Fair in spring of 2022.

Accessing grant funding is rife with barriers for many artists in the disability community, from awareness of opportunities, through application to the disbursement processes. James’ team values RACC’s recognition of his work through this award, and their collaboration in making this grant funding accessible.

What have been some of the speed bumps you have encountered? Did it change your trajectory or direction?

For a long time, James did not have access to the resources needed to fully develop his creative practice. Being part of a progressive studio community has provided James with access to materials, direct support, and advocacy to both structure and develop his existing practice and promote visibility of the work. Having access to progressive studio programming changed everything, as it provided a platform for James’ work to be seen and acquired. Without this platform, it is unlikely that James’ work would be included in the art collections and conversations it is today.

When the pandemic hit, James’ studio program (PALS) closed, putting a temporary pause on his practice as he no longer had access to materials and space to work. In the spring of 2021, James resumed his practice at North Pole Studio. 

What is next for you?

James is currently working on writing and illustrating and original series based on the Chronicles of Narnia. Both North Pole Studio and Booklyn, who represents James in NYC, will continue to facilitate opportunities for James’ work to contribute to the art and literary world.

Artist James Enos sits among his illustrations.

James Enos working in North Pole Studio. Photo by Kaitlin Green


RACC Responds to SCOTUS ruling on June 24th, 2022: The Overturning of Roe v Wade

The Regional Arts & Culture Council believes that human rights include the rights of women and the right to freedom from oppression. We believe that no one is a second class citizen or resident. We believe that women are equal and should be treated as such. As an arts and cultural non-profit organization we support the arts and artists who create using all forms of creative expression. As a social justice organization we cannot remain silent, nor will we.

Our core values include:

  • Accessibility
  • Advocacy
  • Equity
  • Diversity
  • Community
  • Innovation

 For questions, please reach out to us at info@racc.org.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council to Participate in National ‘Arts & Economic Prosperity 6’ Study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2022

Data Collection for Most Comprehensive Study of Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry has begun in May

Portland, Oregon — The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce its participation in Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. Administered by Americans for the Arts, AEP6 will examine the economic impact of the arts and culture in Multnomah County and 386 additional communities representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity® series is conducted approximately every five years to gauge the economic impact of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending by their audiences. In 2017, AEP5 documented that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity (spending by organizations plus the event-related spending by their audiences) which supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. The AEP series demonstrates that an investment in the arts provides both cultural and economic benefits. In Oregon, our arts industry generated $687 million of economic activity—$364 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $323 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 22,299 full time equivalent jobs and generated $53 million in revenue to local and state governments.

Audience-intercept surveys will be collected from attendees to arts events in Multnomah County from May 2022 through April 2023—in total, the national sample is anticipated to surpass 250,000 surveys. A survey of nonprofit arts and culture organizations will occur from January through April 2023. The national and local findings will be made public in September 2023. At that time, the Regional Arts & Culture Council will receive a customized report on the unique economic impact results for Multnomah County including the number of jobs that are supported and the amount of government revenue that is generated by our community’s nonprofit arts industry.

Americans for the Arts is committed to addressing equity and inclusion as a critical component of the methodology, organizational participation, and collection of data for AEP6 by centering and representing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American) identifying communities—a segment of the nonprofit arts and culture sector that has been historically underrepresented in past studies. 

For the first time, AEP6 will require that the local and state research partners collect a portion of audience surveys from attendees at events hosted by arts and culture organizations that primarily serve communities of color. The AEP6 study will establish a benchmark of arts and culture organizations that primarily serve communities of color, and the audiences that attend their events. It will also identify organizations that have a chief executive who identifies as BIPOC/ALAANA. Researchers will use this data to calculate and report on the economic impact of the BIPOC/ALAANA arts sector in each of the participating communities.

Carol Tatch, Co-Executive Director Chief of External Operations of RACC reflected, “Our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations continue to be critical to our economic recovery and it’s important to keep up with legislation that supports such recovery  like the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (aka CERA, H.R. 5019). The arts have the potential to impact many aspects of our community, the truth is they also have a power all on their own. The arts are an open invitation to engage in our history, our heritage, our politics, the way we learn—in short, the arts are part of our daily lives and play a key role in all aspects of the human experience.”

Nolen V. Bivens, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, commented, “The arts are economic catalysts—strengthening the economy by creating jobs, generating government revenue, and driving tourism. Community is where the arts make a difference, and while the national impact data are impressive, at its core, AEP6 is a local story. I look forward to seeing its results, which will be key in persuading decision-makers that the arts benefit all people in all communities.”  

For more information and a full list of the communities participating in the AEP6 study, visit www.americansforthearts.org/AEP6

 

Interested in getting involved in Multnomah County and the Portland City area, please contact Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy and Engagement at RACC, AEP6@racc.org.

More local information about AEP6 can also be found and will be continually updated on our website www.racc.org/aep6.

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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.


Change the Conversation About the Arts-AEP6 Now Open

Our nonprofit arts industry generates
billions in economic activity supporting millions of jobs every year.

CHANGE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THE ARTS
The arts bring us inspiration and joy, and make our community a beautiful place to live and work. But the arts do so much more. 

Portland, Oregon — The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce its participation in Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. Administered by Americans for the Arts, AEP6 will examine the economic impact of the arts and culture in Multnomah County and 386 additional communities representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

After more than a one-year postponement, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study is getting underway nationally this month of May 2022. This is the sixth national economic impact study of America’s nonprofit arts and cultural industry. It documents the economic contributions of the arts in diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Previous partners have included local arts agencies, community foundations, economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, performing arts centers, and more. And RACC is looking for your participation!

It is now more important than ever to demonstrate that, even in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting economic recession, the arts will provide a significant boost as we recharge the economy in America’s local communities. The arts will draw people out of their homes and back into community life—spending time with each other and spending their money with local merchants. Studies indicate that audiences cannot wait to return, and we are looking to our community along with them to count us in on that.

While the arts have the potential to impact many aspects of our community, the truth is they also have a power all on their own. The arts are an open invitation to engage in our  history, our heritage, our politics, the way we learn—in short, the arts are part of our daily lives, and play a role in all aspects of the human experience. While most appreciate the cultural benefit provided to our community, few realize that our local arts industry supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism. Economic impact studies such as these will expand the conversation about how many people view the arts.

In the previous survey, AEP5 showed that nationally the nonprofit arts industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.6 million jobs and generating $27.5 billion in government revenue. Locally, our arts industry generated $687 million of economic activity—$364 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $323 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 22,299 full time equivalent jobs and generated $53 million in revenue to local and state governments. Our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations have been and will continue to be critical to our community and economic recovery.

We are currently seeking your help to collect this data for AEP6. While part of a national study, our reports will be based on spending by our own local nonprofit arts and culture organizations as well as the event-related spending by their audiences (at local retail, parking, and restaurant establishments). We believe this important research tool will demonstrate that when we invest our dollars in the arts, we are not doing so at the expense of economic development. Rather, we are investing in an industry that strengthens our local economy. 

Let’s change the conversation. The arts mean business. 

Learn more about the AEP6 study and how you can get involved today: AmericansForTheArts.org/AEP6 

In short, the arts mean business. Help us change the conversation.

Interested in getting involved within the City of Portland or anywhere in Multnomah County, please contact Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy and Engagement at RACC, AEP6@racc.org.

More local information about AEP6 can also be found and will be continually updated on our website www.racc.org/aep6/.

 

 


If you are interested in participating and reside in our sister counties please contact the the following:

Washington County
Raziah Roushan, Executive Director of Tualatin Valley Creates, director@tvcreates.org.

Clackamas County
Dianne Alves, Executive Director of Clackamas County Art Alliance, dianne@clackamasartsalliance.org.


Fresh Paint Artist Zeinab Saab Reflects On Creating Mural, Benni wa Bennek

Zeinab Saab working on the mural, Benni wa Bennek. Photo by Sarah Farahat.

First, I would like to thank the members of the Regional Arts and Culture Council and Open Signal projects for this incredible opportunity. I am honored to have been a recipient of this grant, and creating a mural for the first time has been a dream come true.

Second, I have to thank my mentor, Sarah Farahat, for her patience, guidance, and overall support. As soon as the open call for the Fresh Paint project was released, Sarah was quick to send the opportunity to me and pushed me into applying for it. To tell you that I was nervous about applying would be an understatement. I have no background in this medium, but with Sarah’s 20 years of experience in creating and assisting in murals, I began to feel a sense of comfort in the unknown. When I began, it felt rather intimidating, but Sarah made it feel like a breeze. I am beyond grateful for all the knowledge and feedback she offered within the duration of this project.

The completed mural on Open Signal’s building at NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Photo by Sarah Farahat.

Benni wa Bennek is a love letter to the Arab women I grew up watching on their porches when I was a child playing throughout the neighborhood in Dearborn, Michigan. This was the space to speak of the gossip circling around the block, to share the joy and difficulty of motherhood and womanhood, and to share the intimacy between women using the veranda as either their daily or weekly therapy sessions over a cup of Turkish coffee. The design of the cup in the mural was taken directly from the set my mother had used for occasions such as these, two or more women after a long day of work, who can unwind in each other’s presence on the veranda.

I would also like to dedicate this piece to the Arab and SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) women; and to the femmes, gender-non-conforming, and queer people I have had the privilege of meeting in my life. How we too have been able to build a portal of our own, even in a time when we thought our mirror would not exist at all. Our search for our reflection led us here, being able to spill some tea and gossip, and also getting to trust each other enough to build our own emotional intimacy over a cup of qahwah. We too are now able to sip away our struggles and joy on the proverbial veranda, wherever that may be. And finally, I want to especially extend this dedication to the SWANA community I have met in Portland; a place like this can oftentimes make me feel like a foreigner, but this group of people allows me to find solace and comfort in them.

It is an honor to have been a part of this experience, and to have done this in NE Portland on one of the busiest streets in the city for people to witness. Thank you to the community of NE Portland for this invitation. Again, I am both humbled and honored. Thank you.

See more from the artist at zeinabsaab.com.


Artist Zeinab Saab, Pays Homage to Childhood Memories in Fresh Paint Mural

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 6, 2022

Catch the artist at work at Open Signal’s building on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Artist Zeinab Saab pays homage to the intimacy of porch conversations with their mural Benni wa bennek, now in progress at Open Signal’s building on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd at Graham Street. With vibrant neon colors and repeating tea cup graphics, the mural carries the spirit of aunties sharing conversation over Turkish coffee. Saab is currently at work on the mural with support from mentor Sarah Farahat. Benni wa bennek will be on view from April to September, part of the temporary mural program Fresh Paint.

Artist Zeinab Saab at work on their mural Benni wa bennek, in progress on the wall at Open Signal offices on MLK Blvd. Photo by: Sarah Farahat

Saab’s work focuses on exploration of the self through color theory and the grid. After receiving their BFA in printmaking from Bowling Green State University in 2015, they completed their MFA in Printmaking at Northern Illinois University in 2019. Their work has been exhibited in San Francisco, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, California, Dubai, New Mexico, and Hawaii among other places. Their work is also held in several permanent collections, including Emory University; The Bainbridge Museum of Art; Zayed University in Dubai, UAE; the Arab American National Museum; and the University of Iowa’s Special Collections Library.

Fresh Paint is a partnership between the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Open Signal that began in 2017. The program supports emerging artists of color with their first publicly funded mural commission while giving the artists the opportunity to expand their creative skill sets and build paths to other public commissions. Saab is the twelfth muralist to take part in this program; previous muralists have included Alex Chiu, Munta Mpwo, Limei Lai and Jose Valentine.

“This program is a great opportunity not only for artists to build their professional portfolio and get exciting new skills, but for our organizations to support important visual storytelling,” explains Daniela Serna, Open Signal’s Fresh Paint facilitator. “With every mural, we’re able to showcase an artist’s story, sharing bits of their communities and histories on a busy throughway — an act of placemaking that brings our wall to life.”

Artist statement for Benni wa bennek:

“The theme of this mural is an homage to my childhood heroes: the aunties on the porch drinking Turkish coffee, eating sunflower seeds, and talking shit/spilling tea about folks in the neighborhood. “Benni wa bennek” simply translates to “between me and you”. I wanted this piece to translate the idea of community and closeness and how quickly that connection is made over a cup of Turkish coffee or tea on your neighbor’s baranda, or porch. Not only does it describe the intimate connection between two people, but it also speaks to an even closer physical space between you and your peer (credit Dana Ghazi on that last statement). For me, Benni wa bennek is a reinforcement of love, trust, and community bonds that no one can break.”

See more from the artist at zeinabsaab.com.

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Contact
Daniela Karina Serna, Communications Manager
Open Signal
daniela [at] opensignalpdx.org
(503) 288 – 1515 x931

Andrea Blanco, Communications and Advocacy Design Specialist
Regional Arts & Culture Council
ablanco [at] racc.org
(503) 823 – 5100

 

About Open Signal

Open Signal is an equity-driven media arts center located in Northeast Portland, Oregon. The largest community media space in the Pacific Northwest, we offer production studios and equipment, workshops, artist fellowships, a cable and online broadcast platform, and a professional media production team. We focus on telling stories underrepresented in the mainstream media.

Learn more at opensignalpdx.org.

 

About the Regional Arts & Culture Council

An independent nonprofit organization, we support greater Portland’s creative economy by providing equitable funding and services to artists and art organizations; managing and growing our diverse, nationally acclaimed public art program; and developing long-lasting public and private partnerships.

For more information visit racc.org.


Arts & Economic Prosperity 6

THE ARTS MEAN BUSINESS IN THE GREATER PORTLAND AREA

The Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP6) survey is back.

AEP6 documents the economic contributions of the arts in over 250 diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. During 2015, AEP5 in Oregon the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $687 million of economic activity—$364 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $323 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 22,299 full time equivalent jobs and generated $53 million in revenue to local and state governments.

The study put to rest a misconception that communities supported arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. In fact, what AEP5 showed was that communities were investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism. This economic impact study sent a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the Greater Portland Area’s economic well-being, including Clackamas and Washington Counties.

This year, we have a chance to study the impact of the past few years along with the resilience of our creative community. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are active contributors to our business community. They are employers, producers, and consumers. They are members of the Chamber of Commerce as well as key partners in the marketing and promotion of their cities, regions, and states. Spending by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations totaled $364 million during fiscal year 2015.

To measure the impact of spending by cultural audiences in the Greater Portland Area, data were collected from 1,474 event attendees during AEP5. Researchers used an audience-intercept methodology, a standard technique in which patrons are asked to complete a short survey about their event-related spending (while they are attending the event). Event-related spending by these attendees totaled $116 million in the Greater Portland Area during fiscal year 2015, excluding the cost of event admission.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 showed conclusively that, locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business!


Read more about RACC’s lead in the City of Portland and Multnomah County here.

Audience surveys will be collected from attendees at performances, events, exhibits, venues, and facilities during the 12 months from May 2022 through April 2023. Venue Eligibility

If you are interested in getting involved as either a venue to be counted please submit your live event for consideration here (for the tri-county area) and/or are interested in volunteering in Multnomah County, please contact Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy & Engagement at Regional Arts & Culture Council at AEP6@racc.org

Raziah Roushan, Executive Director of Tualatin Valley Creates, director@tvcreates.org, for Washington County
Dianne Alves, Executive Director of Clackamas County Art Alliance, dianne@clackamasartsalliance.org, for Clackamas County

Read more at Americans for the Arts.


Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Regional Findings:
Oregon Study Regions Comparison

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Oregon Summary

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Greater Portland Area Summary

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Clackamas County Summary

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Washington County Summary


 


The Regional Arts & Culture Council supports an Equitable Arts Education for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 23, 2022

A Response to School Districts across our Region

Portland, Ore. – The impacts of the global pandemic have had profound effects on our entire society. As families and communities look to recover, heal, and move forward, we also must confront the barriers that existed prior to the pandemic lockdown of March 2020. The inequities across our K-12 school system have been exposed more than ever before.

As our school districts look to their budgets, reorganize, and prioritize, we know that teachers’ jobs are in danger. When public education loses teachers, we lose educational opportunities for all of our students. This in turn affects our entire region.

We support arts education programs in our K-12 schools. We know it is critical to include arts education programs in our K-12 schools, which will solidify a well- rounded STEAM education. We know that art engagement provides a skill set that is critical in our creative economy, and helps us heal, connect, and build relationships. Art has the power to help move us forward out of trauma. We know that having a robust well-rounded education that includes the arts keeps kids in school, exposes us to diverse cultures, teaches empathy and compassion, encourages us to think critically, to be civically engaged, and, most importantly, brings us joy. We know that the arts create a pathway forward, providing hope, and giving voice to the community.

We envision an arts education that is rooted in equity, access, and inclusion. RACC advocates for a core curriculum for all K-12 students that includes visual arts, music, dance, theatre, and media arts. We support arts educators and school districts by providing resources, professional development, and opportunities to convene. We collaborate with arts/culture partner organizations and local, state, and national art leaders. We promote equity and inclusion, and work to reduce and eliminate barriers.

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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:

Carol Tatch, Chief of External Operations,  ctatch@racc.org

Chanda Evans, Arts Education Program, cevans@racc.org