RACC funding brings art classes to residents living in affordable housing

By Heather Morrill, The Giving Tree NW

For eight weeks, beginning September 2016, two groups of residents living in affordable housing took part in The Giving Tree’s Art Explorations. These class sessions, brought directly on-site to the community rooms at Alder House Apartments and Station Place Tower, were funded in part by an Arts Equity Grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC).

The Giving Tree NW provides opportunities for residents living in affordable housing to gather together as a community, and improve their quality of life, through art, education and recreation. Participants are seniors, veterans, people with mental illnesses, physical limitations, developmental disabilities and/or recovering from addictions, all united by low or fixed incomes. They are also artists, makers, musicians, writers, dreamers and doers.

Art Explorations breaks isolation and brings diverse individuals together to share a new experience. These classes are a chance for participants to build community, utilize art as a means of communication, and tap wells of strength and creativity that had been previously hidden.

RACC funding helped expand The Giving Tree’s existing 6-session Art Explorations curriculum by two sessions to include self-portrait work, to deepen lessons in self-expression, and see all the unique beauty each one of us offers. Artist and Art Instructor Suki Allen Olson, of Bird’s Eye View Studio, taught the eighth class session of the series, a self-portrait in ink. Taking a class at Suki’s studio captivated participants, expanding their technical skills and knowledge of working artists in the community.

J. King, an artist and affordable housing resident who completed Art Explorations on October 19th, is a shining example of the change engaging undeserved communities in art making can bring about.

“I suffer from a traumatic brain injury,” says King, “and expressing myself through art helps with my memory, thought patterns, ideas, and gives me something positive to do. A year and a half ago I was homeless (for 9 years, on the streets of Portland). I believe that Art Explorations has tapped a vein in me to express myself more through art, to participate in group art shows and try to make a name for myself and my work.”

With co-hosts Innovative Housing, Inc. and Erickson Gallery, The Giving Tree NW will display artwork created in 2016 during Art Explorations at Erickson Gallery, 9 NW 2nd Ave., for the month of November.

The celebratory First Thursday opening on November 3rd, 2016 from 5-7 p.m. will give the greater community of Portland an opportunity to see creative expressions that are usually invisible. It will give a creative voice to an under represented portion of our population, broadening our entire creative community and showing the impact and role of art in the goal of creating diverse, equitable communities.

RACC Arts Equity Grants provide financial support to organizations in Multnomah County and the City of Portland conducting arts and culture projects and programming for communities of color, immigrants, refugees, underserved neighborhoods, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ communities, and other under-represented communities. These grants help further RACC’s commitment to ensuring that everyone in our region has equal access to arts and the fundamental right to express their culture through the arts. A listing of other Arts Equity grantees for 2016-17 is available online. Arts Equity Grant applications will be available again in early 2017, and RACC anticipates the deadline will be in late February. Watch racc.org and Art Notes for further information.

Art by participants in The Giving Tree NW's Art Exploration classes.

Art by participants in The Giving Tree NW’s Art Exploration classes. The artists (L to R in order of their artwork) are: Cat Moncrieffe, Christi Hart, and Rosella Golden.

Light a Fire Award: George Thorn

Eloise’s Blog:

The Regional Arts & Culture Council heartily congratulates George Thorn for receiving a Light a Fire Lifetime Achievement Award from Portland Monthly. George has been the quiet force of wisdom and advice for countless arts organizations in our community for many years. Happily for us after working all around the country with his partner in Arts Action Research he settled here. He is essentially a part of the RACC family shepherding our Cultural Leadership Program, which helps many arts organizations large and small every year with all kinds of arts management challenges. I compare his work to that of a therapist, listening to leaders articulate the problems they have identified and then talking through how best to address and resolve them. And these invaluable services come at no charge to the arts non-profits.

George also teaches the Art of Leadership, a program RACC inherited when Business for Culture and the Arts closed last summer. This series of classes trains business and other professionals in all aspects of serving on non-profit boards with a focus on arts & culture organizations.

When people ask how Portland has developed such a vibrant arts community part of the answer is certainly George Thorn. We are so lucky that he landed in our midst. Congratulations George!

Read: How George Thorn Guides Portland Arts Organizations to Sustainability

Portland city council candidates Steve Novick and Chloe Eudaly share views on arts and culture

In March 2016, RACC distributed a questionnaire to all official candidates for Portland Mayor and City Council during the spring primary. The questions were:

(1) In what specific ways have you supported arts and culture in Portland?

(2) Artists and arts organizations add measurable value to our region’s economy, our education system and our quality of life, and yet there are a number of pressing needs in our community that often compete for attention and investment.  What is Portland’s proper role in supporting arts and culture in the region?

(3) The region’s affordability is a serious concern for all of us, including artists and arts-related businesses. What are your plans for making housing and creative spaces more affordable?

(4) Are there other unmet needs when it comes to shaping Portland’s arts and culture policy for the future? If so, what steps would you take to help ensure those needs are met, and how should they be funded?

(5) The Arts Education & Access Fund, or arts tax, has delivered on its promise of providing arts specialists for all K-5 schools in Portland, but the fund hasn’t generated enough revenue to support as many grants for arts and culture organizations as envisioned. If elected, would you take any steps to modify the arts tax, improve administration of it, and/or fulfill the voters’ vision of supporting arts education and access through other means?

For the November 8 general election, Steve Novick and Chloe Eudaly are in a run-off for Portland City Commissioner Position 4. You can read their responses to these questions by clicking the links below.

For Portland City Commissioner, Position 4:

Steve Novick

Chloe Eudaly

The third annual “Día de los Muertos” installation comes to the Portland Building, October 19 to November 4

PORTLAND, ORE – In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Unidos Latinos Americanos (ULA) will present a site specific Día de los Muertos installation in the exhibition space adjacent to the Portland Building lobby starting October 19th.

Día De Los Muertos is a national holiday in Mexico and is now celebrated widely throughout Latin America, the U.S., and beyond. In keeping with the holiday’s tradition of remembering and celebrating the lives of loved ones who have passed on, ULA will build a Día De Los Muertos altar in the center of the exhibition space. The central display will be framed by an arch on the back wall made of vibrant crepe paper flowers, each one handmade by ULA members and friends. The installation will also include photos, objects, and food & drink favored by loved ones. To personalize the project and engage the audience, the public is invited to join this celebration and remembrance by submitting images of their own loved ones who have passed, anyone can participate; submitted images will regularly be printed out and added to the display.

To submit images of your loved ones for inclusion in the project select a photo of the person and take a digital image of it with your camera or phone; then email a your jpeg to PortlandArtAltar2016@gmail.com Please size the jpeg no larger than 8”x10”. If your loved one’s photo is framed, leave it in the frame when you photograph it. (Unframed photos will have a frame digitally added.) Printouts can be picked up at the end of the installation.

About Unidos Latinos Americanos: ULA is an affinity group of City of Portland employees committed to developing a professional network to promote advancement and mentoring opportunities for all Latino City employees. The organization highlights contributions made by the Latino culture, helps recruit Latinos for employment, and advocates for strengthening community inclusiveness through public outreach. ULA also regularly collaborates with other regional Latino community organizations and institutions on projects, shared goals, and accomplishments.

Viewing Hours & Location: The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in down-town Portland and is open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday – Friday. Día de los Muertos opens mid-day Wednesday, October 19th and runs through mid-day Friday, November 4th.

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.

October is National Arts & Humanities Month

Issued by Americans for the Arts on October 3, 2016

October is National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM)—a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. NAHM was launched by Americans for the Arts 30 years ago as National Arts Week in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, it was reestablished by Americans for the Arts and national arts partners as a month-long celebration, with goals of:

FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels;

ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts;

ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and

RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives.

Get Involved!

Hosting an event is an easy way to celebrate NAHM in your community, like a Creative Conversation, an open house or special performance at a local arts venue, or a Community Vision Forum. Check out our resources page for event ideas and tools.

We have tools to help you promote your event! Use our National ArtsMeet Calendar to promote your event and find others happening near you. (Don’t forget, you can use this calendar year round!)

We are excited to host the first ever National Creative Conversation on Facebook Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 9-10 p.m. ET. Creative Conversations have been a mechanism for communities to talk about the arts and culture in their area. This is a chance for everyone to gather together as a national community to share what is happening on the ground! Mark your calendars, invite your friends, grab a snack and beverage, and join the conversation!

President Obama has officially proclaimed October 2016 as National Arts and Humanities Month. In this year’s proclamation, he wrote, “In seeking to break down barriers and challenge our assumptions, we must continue promoting and prioritizing the arts and humanities, especially for our young people. In many ways, the arts and humanities reflect our national soul. They are central to who we are as Americans—as dreamers and storytellers, creators and visionaries. By investing in the arts, we can chart a course for the future in which the threads of our common humanity are bound together with creative empathy and openness.”

You can secure a proclamation from your elected officials to make National Arts & Humanities Month an official annual commemoration of the arts in your city or town. Use our sample proclamation and customize to your community.


Pieces of the Public Art Process: Recent and Upcoming Projects

The public art process is dynamic and often reveals the significance of place and community.

Public art is not only an object or image in public space. It’s ultimately a process that requires coordinating the realities, opportunities, and challenges unique to communities. From a work’s conceptualization, to fabrication, and eventual installation, the process involved in public art often involves harmonizing many factors–from interests and expectations to tastes and policies–in order to produce the object or image seen out in public.  For the Public Art department at the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), the entire process has largely two components amid the broader effort of enriching communities through arts and culture.

The public art process highlights the relevance and context of “place,” be it abstract or concrete. Place can be considered not only an object or physical location, but also a way of seeing. The significance and history of a specific place can also be the inspiration behind a public artwork.

The emphasis on community is present as well. This part of the process is participatory and collaborative, where community members, rooted in place, experience, or common ground, ultimately contribute perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, and share decision-making in the public art design process.

Both “place” and “community” are elements that provide value to the work itself and the overall cultural and physical landscape in which the art is installed. Several recent and upcoming projects demonstrate the various dimensions of public art:

Artist Sabina Zeba Haque’s yearlong residency at the Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC) culminates in work that focuses on the annex and growth of East Portland’s incredibly diverse population. Haque will collaborate with neighborhood residents and PARC to examine the history of place as a marker of exclusion and inclusion over the past thirty-five years. She will weave a portrait of inclusive civic identity through hand-drawn animation, video projections, poster installations, and theater performance. Entitled “Annexation & Assimilation: exploring the archive east of 82 ave”, a one-night exhibition event will take place on October 21, from 6-9pm, at the APANO/JADE Multicultural space at 82nd and Division and include large-scale video projections, poster installations, performance and oral histories. On November 17th, Haque will present an artist talk at 7pm and a second viewing of the projections from 6-8pm at APANO. Both events are free and open to the public.

The Awareness & Prevention Through Art (aptArt) Paint Outside the Lines campaign, is a multi-wall mural project, partially funded through the Public Art Murals Program, where transglobal artists are engaging with marginalized groups in the Portland community through P:ear and IRCO’s RISE program (Refugee & Immigrant Student Empowerment) at David Douglas High School. Since its founding six years ago, AptArt has facilitated workshops and collaborative murals with communities living in conflict-affected areas, including Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Jordan.  Portland is the first U.S. city to be a part of this effort. Artists Kevin Ledo, Ernesto Maranje, and Ruben Sanchez are painting murals at four sites in Downtown Portland and the Central Eastside Industrial District. The project will extend into spring 2017, but two murals will be completed in October 2016. (Read Portland Tribune article, Eastside Mural Aims to Claw Out Conflict, 10/11/16)

Kevin Ledo's mural in progress as part of

Kevin Ledo’s mural in progress as part of “Paint Outside the Lines Portland” project on SW 2nd and Stark.

Artist Nick Goettling was selected to create two related murals on retaining walls in Portland’s Powellhurst Neighborhood, on both sides of the street between SE 136th and Mitchell. The mural design was inspired by the research and input of various neighborhood and community groups. Using a simple palette of blue, red, gray and white, the east wall depicts a montage of various images of local or historical significance strategically placed within an aerial map of the neighborhood. The west wall features the name of the neighborhood – Powellhurst Gilbert. In both murals, small pink hearts will be included to honor the life of a five-year-old girl who was struck and killed near the site several years ago. Nearly twenty neighborhood volunteers worked with the artist to complete the project by the end of September 2016 and a community celebration is in the works.

The Black Williams Project, led by artists Cleo Davis and Kayin Talton Davis, acknowledges the complex and changing history of Williams Avenue and its impact on Portland’s African American community. Contrary to recent times, North Williams/Albina was home to the City’s largest African American community for most of the 20th century. The artists have gathered stories and perspectives from the existing African American community in connection to North Williams that will be depicted on 12” x 18” panels at approximately 30 locations along Williams, between NE Broadway and NE Killingsworth. The project is funded by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and administered by RACC.

Installation of public art for the recently reconstructed Sellwood Bridge has begun, and is projected to be completed by January 2017. Boston-based artist Mikyoung Kim’s installation, Stratum Project, consists of a series of 23 fourteen-foot-high sculptures, the design inspired by the power and beauty of the geological phenomena of the Willamette River Valley. The sculpture’s richly patinaed surfaces refer to the geological processes of this region. Upon completion, the artworks will line both sides of the street east of the bridge, ending at S.E. 6th Avenue and Tacoma Street. The project is funded by the Portland Bureau of Transportation Percent for Art and will be maintained by RACC.

A public art sculpture, titled River Guardian, will be installed on the South Waterfront Greenway near SW Curry Street. Pacific NW Native American artist Lillian Pitt, along with artist Mikkel Hilde have developed the concept to stand as tribute to the resilience and endurance of native peoples. The sculptural form draws inspiration from mythical images of shadow spirits found in petroglyphs and pictographs along the rock walls of the Columbia River. Made from recycled materials, the sculpture’s represents several themes, including: honoring native ancestors, respecting nature, healing, and sustainability. The sculpture is expected to be completed by late October 2016

Following the construction of an expanded wastewater station for the City at the intersection of Fanno Creek Trail and SW 86th, artists David Boekelheide and Christina Conant were selected to design and fabricate an outdoor sculpture. They have proposed an installation consisting of a series of curved weathered steel ribbons that weave along the east side of the Bureau of Environmental Services Pump Station property. Overlapping sections of the sculpture reference the topographical elevation lines of the Fanno Creek area. In collaboration with Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation, native edible species will be planted near the installation in reference to the native people of the Tualatin tribes and first agricultural settlers in the area.

Night Lights, a monthly public art event, begins its second year of urban intervention on Thursday, October 6. Every First Thursday through April 2017, local artists and art students will claim public space at NW Park Avenue at Glisan Street, broadcasting their digital media work on the north wall of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) offices after dark.  This fall, works by Renee Sills (October), Arlanna Gazca (November), and Portland Community College (December) will be on showcased.

Welcome new staff

Eloise Blog:

After losing three staff members recently we are pleased to welcome their successors.

Sarah Deal, 
The Right Brain Initiative Administrative Assistant, 503.825.5136, sdeal@racc.org 

Sarah is The Right Brain Initiative Administrative Assistant. She provides general daily administrative support; in addition to working closely with Right Brain committees, professional development workshops, and volunteers to optimize logistics and communication.

She is thrilled to return to RACC three years after her time as an Outreach Apprentice. In the interim, she graduated from Portland State University, coached rowing in New Zealand, and guided trail rides in Argentina. When not in the office she serves as the Head Coach for PSU Crew and can usually be found navigating the Willamette.

Sarah jumped right in during the busy season of a new school year and is holding together the Right Brain team and all the various parts of this complex tri-county program. Welcome Sarah.

Amanda Kronlage, Public Art Conservation Technician, 503.823.5046, akronlage@racc.org

Amanda is a blacksmith and sculptor from Iowa who now assists in the installation and care of public works belonging to the City of Portland and Multnomah County. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a BFA in Sculpture and an Art History minor she apprenticed with a blacksmith and learned to make beautiful furniture using fire and metal.

In 2014 she rejoined most of her millennial peers and caravanned with her partner to Portland where she enjoys sitting near the ocean, looking at strange critters and growths, admiring public art, eating, and forcing herself to drink IPAs. You may view her sculptural work at www.amandakronlage.com

Amanda also joined RACC at a busy time of year. Nice weather is our prime time for taking care of the public art collections. She and the team had a recent challenge when vandals spray painted the statue of Mayor Vera Katz on the Eastbank Esplanade. Thanks to their speedy response the offensive paint was removed in a matter of hours.

Alison Bailey, Business Partnership Manager, 503.823.5424, abailey@racc.org

A long-time friend to the nonprofit, business and arts communities, Alison brings a decade of experience as a corporate funder to the new Business Partnership Manger role. She leads the Work for Art team and is responsible for building meaningful connections between business and the arts in the region. In addition to Work for Art, Alison will help inspire funding support and awareness for the Arts Breakfast of Champions, Battle of the Bands, Art of Leadership, and RACC’s arts integration program, The Right Brain Initiative.

Before joining RACC, Alison managed The Standard’s corporate giving program and charitable foundation. Prior to that she produced national tradeshows and spent nearly ten years at Nordstrom as a department manager and sales associate. Alison is thrilled to call RACC her work home and can’t wait to make supporting art and culture a fun and easy choice for everyone. A native Portlander, Alison is happiest in the woods, at a concert or drinking beer in the neighborhood with her guy Chris.

Please say hello to these talented people when you have a chance!

Night Lights to appear over NW Glisan Street on First Thursdays

Local artists will project large-scale media works outdoors each month through April

PORTLAND, ORE – Night Lights, a monthly public art event, begins its second year of urban intervention on Thursday, October 6. Every First Thursday through April 2017, local artists and art students will claim public space at NW Park Avenue at Glisan Street, broadcasting their digital media work on the north wall of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) offices after dark.

Night Lights is a unique collaboration between RACC’s public art program and Portland Community Media (PCM). Now in its second season, participating artists were selected through an open call and a community panel process, and will receive a stipend for their participation. Presentations will include large-format projections, and, in some cases, live performance.

The full Night Lights schedule appears below, showcasing a different artist or university each month. The first installment, on October 6, features artist Renee Sills who will orchestrate a video dance party, in which attendees will learn dance moves from instructional YouTube videos. In January, members of the public are invited to BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), that is, to bring their own projector and media project to share.

As part of this year’s series, Kalimah Abioto was selected as an artist-in-residence. Abioto will work on-site at Portland Community Media for three months, using PCM’s state-of-the-art media equipment and production studios to develop a new work to premier at Night Lights on March 2, 2017.

Night Lights schedule


Regional Arts & Culture Council, exterior north wall
411 NW Park Avenue @ Glisan Street, Portland
First Thursdays, October 2016 – April 2017
Dusk – 9:00pm

Thursday, October 6, 2106
Renee Sills

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Arianna Gazca

Thursday, December 1, 2016
Portland Community College

Thursday, January 5, 2017
BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer)

Thursday, February 2, 2017
Laura Heit

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Kalimah Abioto (Artist in residence)

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Portland State University

Learn more about Night Lights at nightlightspdx.tumblr.com


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.

For over 35 years, Portland Community Media (PCM) has empowered our community to make effective use of media for civic participation, creative expression and cultural exchange. Through media production resources, education programs, community development initiatives and a robust distribution platform, PCM helps artists, nonprofits, community groups and government agencies explore the frontier where story and technology meet. Learn more about pcmtv.org.