Public Art Reboot

On Friday, 2/3 the Northwest Public Art Collective (NoWPAC) – which is comprised of artists, curators and Public Art administrators from the Pacific Northwest – gathered at Portland State University for Public Art Reboot, a day-long series of conversations where the group discussed practices, curation, growth, excellence and new ideas in the field of public art.

Here is a link to photos from the event. (Photos: Intisar Abioto)

NoWPAC facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NowPAC/

Stephanie Simek presents “Table of Elements (and Minerals)” at the Portland Building, February 21 – March 17

PORTLAND, ORE – Drawing on her previous work exploring materials with unusual and interesting physical properties, Stephanie Simek will install her deftly crafted, hand-built “table of holograms” in the Portland Building Installation Space beginning February 21st.

Simek’s project, titled Table of Elements (and Minerals), was designed with the architecture of the Installation Space in mind. Her installation not only serves as a way to engage visitors with a set of optical illusions (illusions that depend on the clever use of optical principles rather than complicated electronics) but it also functions as a conceptual container or vitrine for the artist’s personal table of elements—silicon, quartz, calcite, iron, copper, and bismuth. “It’s a table within a table, a reliquary for various elemental materials with remarkable inherent potential.” Simek says, “Each possesses unusual magnetic, electrical, or optical capabilities, and all have the ability to do work, such as carrying a signal or storing information.”

These familiar, but perhaps under-recognized, minerals have been used by the artist in her past installations to great effect. Those projects include the design and construction of a room-sized crystal radio, an invisibility cloak, a levitating sculpture, and an 8 byte data storage device.

About the Artist: Portland artist Stephanie Simek produces a wide array of work in multiple mediums. She received her BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and has shown and performed her work in the Pacific Northwest, New York, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Simek has received two Oregon Arts Commission Career Development Awards and was awarded a Regional Arts & Culture Council Project Grant in 2014. Her work will be included in a two-person show at Oregon State University in 2018.

Viewing Hours & Location: The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland and is open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Table of Elements (and Minerals) opens Tuesday, February 21 and runs through Friday, March 17.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) manages the 13’ x 8’ installation space in the lobby of the Portland Building and presents installation based art there year round. For more information, including images, proposals, and statements for projects dating back to 1994, go to www.racc.org/installationspace.


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 through Work for Art; 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.

A message from Oregon’s Cultural Advocacy Coalition

Issued on February 8, 2017 by Christine Drazan, Executive Director, Cultural Advocacy Coalition

Last week I sent an email about the state’s daunting $1.8 billion shortfall. This week we have an opportunity to do something about it. Please consider attending a public hearing near you and tell budget-writers to protect arts and culture when they work to balance the budget.

The legislature’s Ways and Means Committee is taking a road trip and traveling across Oregon to invite public comment on possible budget cuts and spending priorities. Concerned Oregonians will be there to speak up for senior services, public safety, education and roads. Will you stand for the arts?

We know that targeted cuts or attempts to tap the Oregon Cultural Trust would deteriorate public funding for arts and culture in Oregon to levels which could cause lasting harm to the state’s cultural ecology.

Given the budget crisis and the risk that arts, humanities and public broadcasting may face at the federal level, we must do all we can to protect current funding for arts and culture here in Oregon.

Please consider voicing your support at one of the following meetings:

Friday, Feb. 10, 2017
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at:
Oregon State Capitol
Hearing Room F
900 Court Street NE

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017
12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at:
Portland Community College, Sylvania Campus
Amo DeBernardis College Center
12000 SW 49th Ave.

Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at:
Hermiston High School
Main Commons
600 S 1st Street

Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017
1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at:
Madras Performing Arts Center
412 SE Bluff Street

Friday, February 24, 2017
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at:
Southern Oregon University
Stevenson Union, Rogue River Room
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.

Saturday, February 25, 2017
1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at:
Lane Community College
Forum (Building 17), Rooms 308-309
4000 E 30th Ave.

Friday, March 3, 2017
6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at:
Port of Tillamook Bay
Officers Mess Hall
6825 Officers Row

Will you help protect public funding for arts, heritage and the humanities in Oregon? Let’s work together to protect the values that connect us, move us forward and enrich our lives. Your voice matters! Legislators are asking to hear from you. Thank you for all you do to support and strengthen creativity and culture in Oregon, and for using this opportunity to tell budget writers we must protect funding for arts and culture in Oregon.

Additional Resources:

  • Big picture on arts and culture in Oregon? Take a look at this.
  • Current arts & culture funding in Oregon? Here you go!
  • Who received arts grants in your community? And how much was the grant? Check here.
  • Have a specific question? Let us know!

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Statement on Immigration and Refugee Ban

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that denies entrance into the U.S. by immigrant and non-immigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. It also suspends entry of all refugees for 120 days and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Americans for the Arts stands in opposition to policies that limit the free exchange of art, artists, and ideas based on nationality, faith, race, age or ability—and deplores the discriminatory nature of this travel ban. We urge the President to reconsider and rescind this executive order.

Implications for the Arts

The executive order addresses only entry into the U.S., and not the expulsion of those already inside the country. It does, however, mean that those people lawfully here—such as artists from the seven countries who travel to perform, exhibit, and speak internationally—may be unable to return to the U.S. should they leave the country, even if they hold a visa that permits international travel. This will have a harmful effect on scheduled performing arts programming and will interrupt the creation and scholarship of work in progress, such as museum exhibitions.

The Arts Improve International and Cultural Relations

The arts support dialogue, mutual understanding, and build positive relationships between the U.S. and global publics. They help us articulate our own values and beliefs and better understand those of others. Creatively sharing ideas, values, traditions, and other aspects of culture and identity are the very province of the arts.

  • Cultural exchanges: 650 local arts agencies have international programs that involve artists, teachers, students, and even donors (42 percent involve artists from other countries). 1-in-5 local arts agencies have Sister Cities partnerships that employ the arts.  These programs improve mutual understanding and appreciation of our cultures, both here and abroad.
  • Arts as an export industry: U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) increased from $50.2 to $59.5 billion between 2009 and 2013, up nearly 20 percent. With U.S. arts imports at just $35.3 billion, the arts achieved a $24.1 billion trade surplus in 2013.
  • Tourism: U.S. cultural destinations help grow the economy by attracting foreign visitor spending. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that, between 2003-2015, the percentage of international travelers including “art gallery and museum visits” on their trip grew from 17 to 29 percent, while the share attending “concerts, plays, and musicals” increased from 13 to 16 percent.

You Can Make a Difference

  • Make your voice heard. We are staying in contact with Congress on this issue. You should, too. Join the Arts Action Fund to take political action. It’s free. We will send you alerts so you can respond to decision-makers fast.
  • Register to attend National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20-21 in Washington, D.C. where you can add your voice in person.
  • Inform us of any specific actions impacting the arts in your community as a result of the President’s new executive order.  (Email Ruby Harper at rharper@artsusa.org).
  • Tell your story about the power of the arts! The former President of South Africa, F.W. DeKlerk, once told the U.S. Secretary of State that it was his cultural diplomacy visit to the U.S. that changed his ideas about a multiracial democracy. He subsequently released Nelson Mandela from prison and they began the country’s transformation. The arts promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • You are not alone. Our national arts partner, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, released a powerful statement of their support for refugees and immigrants.  It also includes dozens of statements by mayors from across the country.

RACC’s annual arts and business breakfast is February 8

What happens when you mix one Mexican Folkloric dance troupe, three inspirational acts of collaboration, surgeons who formed an 80s cover band, and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly? Add one giant light-bulb with feet and you get an event called, “Juice.”

On Wednesday, February 8, over 350 arts supporters and practitioners will participate in RACC’s Juice: Fueling Innovation presented by Portland General Electric – hence the appearance of Larry the Lightbulb.  Formerly the Arts Breakfasts of Champions, the longstanding event was renamed Juice to celebrate the creative “juice” that flows through businesses and the arts alike. The hour-long program will honor the Top Corporate Donors to the Arts and Top Work for Art Campaigns from 2016. Mexican dance troupe Ballet Papalotle will perform and local actor La’Tevin Alexander Ellis will emcee the program. La’Tevin lends his powerful acting talent to Hands Up, a production of The August Wilson Red Door Project directed by Kevin Jones. You can also catch La’Tevin at this year’s Fertile Ground Festival in Left Hook, directed by Damaris Webb.

At the heart of Juice are three stories of giving, service and collaboration. RACC’s Business Committee for the Arts (BCA) led the process in which a wide variety of non-profits and individuals submitted nominations in the following categories:

  • Outstanding In Kind Contribution – hear how a gift of time and talent lead to a lasting impression on one aspiring young artist
  • Extraordinary Service to the Arts – see how one passionate board member was a catalyst for equity and inclusion in arts programing
  • Innovative Partnership Award – find out which arts nonprofit wins the cash prize of $5,000 for their imaginative collaboration with a business

What if these stories inspired just one Juice participant to use creativity to improve a workplace or neighborhood, bridge a cultural divide or just help a business build something really awesome? That’s the potential power of Juice. The more people plug in to creative collaboration in our region, the more we thrive as a community. Now, more than ever, is the time to come together as a community.

There will be plenty of opportunities to choose your own creative adventure at Juice. Consider getting trained to serve on an arts board, help bring the Work for Art program to your workplace, or join the Battle of the Bands planning committee. But before you decide, let the rad stylings of Kaiser Permanente’s 80s cover band, “Members Only,” take you back in time. The band won the RACC’s 2016 Battle of the Bands Best Showmanship award and plans to perform again on May 17 at this year’s competition, co-chaired by Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and ZGF Architect’s, Sharron Van der Meulen.

Everyone is invited to attend Juice to see what’s possible in collaboration between business and the arts. Juice is an opportunity to celebrate these innovations, connect to this creativity, to find inspiration and unique ways to engage. We believe that everyone will come away from the Juice event with their own unique experience, inspiration and call to action. The nature of art is that we all bring our own lens. This is also true of our creativity. The possibilities for partnership, innovation and engagement are endless.

Join the movement, see you at Juice!

P.S. There’s also a juice bar.

Juice: Fueling Innovation
Presented by Portland General Electric
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
7:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Portland Art Museum

Tickets and a few tables are still available. To purchase tickets, visit www.racc.org/juice/. For tables please contact Alison Bailey at 503-823-5424 or abailey@racc.org.

Some responses to the current state of our country

ELOISE BLOG: This past Friday and Saturday I participated in meetings with 40 people who lead local arts agencies in large cities across the country. Top in everyone’s minds, of course, is the tornado roaring through national government. The participating leaders represent blue cities in blue states, blue cities in red states, and red cities in red states, so responses and actions vary accordingly. Adding to this political variety the opaque nature of the new administration’s decision making, the constant shifting of communications, and the day to day policy vacillations – charting a sensible set of responses and actions seems next to impossible.  But we cannot wait.

The meetings were organized by Americans for the Arts, the leading arts advocacy organization based in DC, with participation also by our liaison to the National Endowment for the Arts.  Since there has been so much focus on a recent article from The Hill, which reported that Trump plans to shut down the NEA and NEH and privatize NPR, I will start with comments from the NEA. The article is not ”news.” It mimics a position espoused by the Heritage Foundation in the 1970’s and which has popped up often. Obviously since these venerable institutions still exist the proposal has failed every time. Even staunch conservatives value what they are about. I don’t mean to suggest that Trump won’t try to cut costs this way, but reasonable experts are not yet convinced he would get his way with Congress on this one. Also troubling, though, is that the arts are funded through a number of other federal agencies beyond and richer than the NEA and those programs will also be under intense scrutiny.

Americans for the Arts is not in a position to aggressively advocate against the administration for fear of major retaliation, but is reaching out to influential people within current leadership who might be allies. It’s a political dance they are well qualified to do. They also have been calling out to everyone to strongly advocate for the values and beliefs this country was founded on and the important role arts, culture and humanities play in supporting these values.  To learn more please visit http://artsactionfund.org/page/s/trump-arts-petition and sign the petition.

Our group talked at length about the many and varied ways to respond, resist, and reset. Leaders in solidly red states and cities in mixed situations have challenging opportunities for responses, but we all live and work in cities where individuals are still completely free to speak out, reach out, act out. We discussed the benefits of peaceful and positive voices and actions. Since we all stress the importance of equity and inclusion in our work, we agreed upon a core commitment to create a culture of “belonging”. We are all in this together. We need to publicly and prominently create displays of cultural unity slicing through the fear and negativity and focusing on the nation we want to be. After all our constitution opens with “we the people.”

Over the coming days, weeks and months RACC will meet with our local officials to discuss how we as a city and region will move this vital work forward. Please share with us what you as individuals want to do/are doing, how your networks, organizations and associations are responding, what questions need asking, and how together we can ensure that at least our part of this vast nation stays firmly on a positive path for all people. Thank you.

For six valuable action suggestions please see “Here’s What You Can Do To Protect National Arts and Culture Funding,” courtesy of Claire Fallon and The Huffington Post.

RACC temporarily removes “Allow Me” from Pioneer Courthouse Square as brick repair project moves forward

In preparation for the repair and renovation of portions the brick plaza at Pioneer Courthouse Square RACC staff, working with Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland Parks & Rec, and project contractor Howard S. Wright, removed  J. Seward Johnson’s iconic Allow Me (a.k.a. “Umbrella Man”) sculpture from its location in the square’s southwest corner. The 460 pound bronze will be stored off-site for 6 months while construction proceeds.

During this time Allow Me will receive a spa treatment of sorts as conservators clean the surface, re-freshen the figure’s painted highlights, and apply a hot wax protective finish.

For more information on the PSC renovation: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/68100  To learn more about Allow Me: Allow me info

An Important Message from the Americans for the Arts President and CEO

January 26, 2017

Dear Americans for the Arts Members and Friends,

I am writing to you today about the status of federal funding for the arts in the new Administration and U.S. Congress and about what you should do right now and over the coming months.

Last week on Thursday, January 19, I sent our Americans for the Arts members, stakeholders, and constituents at the local, state, and national levels an alert calling attention to an article in The Hill newspaper which reported that two Trump transition team advisors are recommending elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I was asked to respond to this troubling news and gave interviews in the following publications: Washington Post, Variety, The Hill, and Paste Magazine among others.

Also last Thursday, Nina Ozlu Tunceli, executive director of our affiliated grassroots advocacy organization Americans for the Arts Action Fund, sent an action alert outlining four quick action steps to its members. The Arts Action Fund website www.ArtsActionFund.org will continue to have the most up-to-date information about ongoing advocacy efforts and actions to take regarding federal funding for the arts. The Arts Action Fund is also working with state arts advocacy groups on a coordinated campaign that will be released next week.

Today, I sent a letter to President Trump asking him to preserve federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But I would like the next letter that I send to the President to be accompanied by a petition signed by 100,000 Arts Action Fund members which can be found here. Over the coming weeks, I expect that there will be a number of opinion articles and targeted attacks regarding public funding for the arts. To help further explain what is—or isn’t—happening right now, Americans for the Arts has prepared a few FAQs from questions the staff have already fielded. We also need to organize and galvanize our forces. Please sign the petition and get at least five of your friends to do the same so we can raise our collective and individual voices with precision and in a unified manner.

I believe our collective job in the arts community is to tell our story and make our case again and again at the federal, state, and local levels. Below are the action steps I hope you will take as soon as possible:

  • Take two minutes to contact your two Senators and your House representatives now.
  • Join the Arts Action Fund (for free) so we can get alerts to you as quickly as possible and you can respond to decision-makers fast.
  • Work to get other colleagues to join the Arts Action Fund. We ask that you pledge to reach out to at least five board, staff, members, or audience members. Two national partners, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and Blick Art Supply, brought in 42,000 members and 37,000 customers respectively to become arts advocates for our cause.
  • Register to attend National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20–21 in Washington, DC where you can add your voice in person.
  • Inform us of any specific actions impacting the arts in your community as a result of the President’s new executive order on sanctuary cities. Please send an e-mail to Ruby Harper at rharper@artsusa.org.

This is what you can do now, but we will circle back to you at several points along the timeline below to customize and target messages as the process unfolds.

We’ve created a Rapid Response Team here and put together a general timeline of what to expect:

  • The White House will issue dozens of sweeping executive orders and form new policy positions within the first 90 days.
  • Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund will release a coordinated petition, grassroots advocacy, social media, and advertising campaign in early February.
  • The President will address a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017, and will likely present the Administration’s FY 2018 budget around this time.
  • Americans for the Arts is set to present National Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on March 21, 2017.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives and specifically the House Appropriations Subcommittees will set initial FY 2018 funding levels for every federal agency in the Spring (March–May) of this year.
  • The federal government’s current FY 2017 Continuing Resolution Appropriations expires April 28, 2017, and we need to keep a watchful eye on continuation of federal funding for the arts through the entire fiscal year ending September 30, 2017.
  • The U.S. Senate and Senate Appropriation Subcommittees will finalize their positions by July 4.
  • A final conference committee agreement between the House and the Senate will be reached by leaders from these committees by September/October.

At the national level, Americans for the Arts will continue to coordinate with national, state, and local arts groups on advocacy efforts through:

  • Ongoing strategizing with our national arts service organization colleagues, especially the 85 national partners of National Arts Advocacy Day, on direct lobbying.
  • Ongoing strategizing with our local arts, state arts, and arts education advocacy colleagues, including the 50+ members of our State Arts Action Network, on grassroots lobbying.
  • Expanding and re-targeting our national advertising strategy.
  • Continuing press and interview pursuits such as the interviews from over this past weekend.
  • Strategizing with, and involving, key pro-arts leaders from business, government, and the arts who connect well with the new Administration.
  • Identifying incoming White House staff liaisons to the arts sector.

Just yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order that could potentially deny certain cities, such as sanctuary cities, billions of dollars in federal grants, including NEA funds, if they do not follow new immigration enforcement protocols. Americans for the Arts is already developing strategies about a number of issues related to federal arts funding, and we are proactively investigating new opportunities for arts funding in the coming months; an example is legislation regarding expanding our nation’s infrastructure.

Finally, we are seeing that the current efforts to eliminate the NEA seem to be based on old Heritage Foundation arguments formulated more than two decades ago. Even though these arguments are dated, that does not mean they won’t have weight with new legislative listeners. The argument to eliminate or slash federal arts funding comes up every year, and your collective efforts have stopped that from happening in the past. But in the current political environment, it is critical that all of us redouble our efforts.

I think it is good to know what claims might be put forth so that we are all prepared with locally based strategies and answers. To help with this, our team is preparing rebuttals to each of these potential arguments which will be posted on the Americans for the Arts and Action Fund websites and forwarded to Arts Action Fund members. This information can help you make a case for federal funding with your congressional representatives.

Americans for the Arts is committed to working with you to ensure that all Americans have access to the arts and that we protect and cultivate funding for the arts on the local, state, and federal level.

Thank you for your hard work.

Robert L. Lynch
President and CEO
Americans for the Arts