Time to see Native—November is Native American Heritage Month

“Where ever you are, Indians have been.” Jeremy FiveCrows (Nez Perce) used these words from Portland street graffiti to open his remarks at City Hall on October 12, Indigenous Peoples Day.

Indeed, where ever you are in the metro area, it’s the Chinook peoples who have already stepped there.

This is important, because, as Roger Fernandes (Lower Elwha S’Klallam) observed at the RACC-sponsored Northwest Native American Storytelling Festival last month, “The native people of this place have the most to say about this locale and the human relationship with it.”

Fortunately for us, they—and other native peoples—are still here, offering cultural and artistic expressions for everyone’s edification.

November is national Native American Heritage Month  and an apt time for us to celebrate the ongoing legacy of the original Chinook inhabitants and other native peoples whose contributions enrich this, our shared home.

November is also Public Art Month in Portland. The happy synergy between public art and Native American art is apparent in the work of native artist Lillian Pitt .. Some of her most recent public art is her contribution to the Vancouver Land Bridge, a part of the Confluence Project.

Pitt’s Welcome Gate graces the entrance to the Vancouver Land Bridge. In the City of Vancouver, Washington, the Land Bridge reconnects Fort Vancouver and the Columbia River and honors the Chinook peoples who, as Pitt says, were awesome traders. Lillian Pitt is Warm Springs, Yakama, and Wasco (a Chinookan people).

Her current project, with RACC and Portland Parks and Recreation, under the leadership of the Native American Community Advisory Council, is River Guardian, a sculpture fabricated from recycled and found materials. The piece is planned for the public walkway along the Willamette River in the South Waterfront and is intended to “help us dream and envision a future in harmony with nature,” according to Pitt and her co-creators, Mikkel and Saralyn Hilde.

Pitt is a prolific artist whose other public work can be seen at the Oregon Convention Center, the North Portland Interstate MAX station and the nearby Ainsworth Greenspace Project and PSU’s Native American Center. While these works, often collaborative projects with other usually native artists, draw on traditions of the Northwest and Columbia River, they are also inspired by legendary images from different tribal traditions and celebrate diversity of native peoples and voices in our region.

Going up in City Hall on November 11 is work by two Alaska Native artists Terresa White (Yup’ik) and Sean Gallagher (Inupiat). The installation Here To There And There To Here is part of RACC’s “Celebration of Public Art in Portland: 35th Anniversary of the Percent for Art Program.”

Their contemporary renderings of Yup’ik and Inupiat mask traditions evoke the back-and-forth connections between the human, animal and spirit worlds, according to the artists. “The qayaq (kayak) design in this installation is a symbolic lifeboat buoying us, the artists, through the calm and storms of time, life and space,” they wrote.

Living and creating here in the region, White and Gallagher like so many other native artists are part of the American Indian and Alaska Native diaspora, taking native peoples to urban areas such as Portland. The work of White and Gallagher can be seen through December 7.

Among the recent American Indian and Alaska Native artists and cultural practitioners supported by RACC is the Neerchokikoo Honoring Powwow.  For the past two years, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) has put on this annual extravaganza of artistic expression with the help of RACC.

The powwow honors Neerchokikoo, a village of the Multnomah Chinook people that, until well into the 20th century, stood on the land where the NAYA center is located. When the now 40-year old NAYA began a plan to move to this site in 2006, its leaders officially asked the Chinook community for permission to make its new headquarters on Chinook homeland.

In the mainstream American art world, the native oral tradition of storytelling might be called performance art. Native storytelling—as was recently demonstrated at the Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival—is performance, often theatric, and layered with meaning and purpose, but most of time it’s also embellished with humor.

This delightful RACC-supported event is affiliated with the Portland-based Wisdom of the Elders. Catch a final 2015 Northwest Indian Storytelling  event on November 20, 11741 SE Foster Rd., 7:00-9:30 p.m. in East Portland.

What other cultural or artist events or venues might a resident, or visitor for that matter, take in during Native American Heritage Month? Here are a few additional suggestions.

At the Portland Art Museum’s brand new Center for Contemporary Native Art, you’ll find the opening exhibition “Thlatwa Thlatwa: Indigenous Currents.” The exhibit’s three artists, Greg Archuleta, Greg Robinson, and Sara Siestreem are local natives and members of nearby tribes. Don’t overlook the museum’s excellent permanent collection of  Native American art}.

If there are any tickets left you might attend the NAYA Gala. Held at the Portland Art Museum, it’s a gathering of local Native American movers and shakers and features Native American cuisine and an art auction. NAYA bills the November 13 event as Oregon’s largest celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

For a more casual venue, take a walk to look at the mural in downtown Portland, 225 SW 6th Ave. This RACC-supported public work of art by Spencer Keeton Cunningham (Colville) and Jaque Fragua (Jemez Pueblo) is a 2005 addition to the cityscape.

Just as the metro area’s geography and natural environment reflect its native heritage—the Clackamas and Tualatin rivers, Multnomah County, Tilikum Crossing, Siskiyou and Umatilla streets and so on—our built environment is also beginning to embrace these deep native roots.

Over the years RACC has sponsored and purchased more than 100 pieces of native works of art, many of them displayed outdoors and in public buildings. The next time you’re in a public space, check for native art. And enjoy a month-long exploration of native culture and art.


Oregon Cultural Trust announces record $2.9 million in FY17 grants

Issued by The Oregon Cultural Trust on August 10, 2016:

The Oregon Cultural Trust will award a record 149 grants totaling $2.9 million to Oregon’s cultural nonprofits, a 9 percent increase over last year. The increase is the direct result of another record year of fundraising.

The awards include a total of $714,045 to the Cultural Trust’s five statewide partners (Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office); $714,045 to 45 county and tribal cultural coalitions – for regranting in their communities; and $1,433,798 in competitive Cultural Development Grants to a record 99 cultural organizations across the state.

The Cultural Development Grants include first-time awards to 45 organizations and the largest grants ever awarded – $40,000 – to eight groups: The Benton County Historical Society; The Dalles-Wasco County Library Foundation; Japanese Garden; Miracle Theatre Group; National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Oregon; Oregon Public Broadcasting; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and Portland Center Stage. More than half of the grants were awarded to organizations outside of the Portland Metro area.

A full list of grantees by geographic region is here.

Bukola Koiki presents “JJC (Journey Just Come)” in the Portland Building Installation Space, August 15 – September 9

PORTLAND, ORE – Beginning August 15th artist Bukola Koiki will present JJC (Journey Just Come) in the Portland Building Installation Space located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland. This four week long exhibition, held in lobby of the Portland Building, is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

JJC (Journey Just Come) was conceived by Koiki to explore the immigrant experience through pidgin—the simplified form of communication that develops between groups of people that do not have a language in common. As a Nigerian-American immigrant, she is particularly interested in using Pidgin English to explore how this shorthand form of communication affects the experience of immigrants living between cultures.

In Nigeria, a country of over 500 languages, basic communication can be truly daunting at times and pidgin is used to navigate everything from markets to parking lots. To help illustrate how pidgin communication functions Koiki has created a set of brightly colored flags with printed Pidgin English sayings (extracted from the local language in Lagos, Nigeria) that will cover the walls of the Installation Space. The title of the work, JJC (Journey Just Come), is slang that refers to naive newcomers or recent arrivals. The artist’s intent is to inspire conversations about what it means to experience a new culture through an unfamiliar language and to illustrate how the process of making linguistic transitions can both build, and block, mutual understanding.

“The overall effect of this installation will be a kind of magnetic disorientation as one might feel with the visual stimulation of a new city, something that immigrants like myself can definitely understand. As a way of engaging the audience I will be creating a game card that will list translations of the unfamiliar phrases and invite the viewer to match them to the right flag. Visitors can also leave me pidgin phrases and translations of their own.”

—Bukola Koiki

About the Artist: Bukola Koiki was born in Lagos, Nigeria and now lives and works in Portland. She came to study art in the United States as a teen through a series of events involving a secondary school classmate and the American Visa Lottery Program. Koiki received her MFA in Applied Craft + Design from Oregon College of Art and Craft and Pacific Northwest College of Art in May of 2015. Her multimedia work explores cultural hybridity and dislocation through the lens of memory, language, and ritual. She has exhibited her work in Oregon, New Jersey, and Tennessee and recently completed artist residencies at c3:initaive + Pulp & Deckle and Rainmaker Artist Residency in Portland.

Viewing Hours & Location: The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in down-town Portland and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. JJC (Journey Just Come) opens August 15 and runs through September 9, 2016. www.bukolakoiki.com

Meet the Artist: Join us for a chance to meet the artist and discuss her installation on Thursday, August 25th at 4 p.m. in the Portland Building.

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

Oregon Public Broadcast Think Outloud podcast (8/24/16)


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.

What a Time

Eloise Blog:

I wish I could write a glowing message about the joys of long hot days and cool breezes at night and all the other delights of summer in Portland. While of course we enjoy the bounty of our myriad farmers markets, outdoor concerts, beaches, bike rides and reading on the porch, this feels like a very different summer.

How can it be that we count the number of horrendous and hate-motivated shootings of innocent citizens and dedicated  corrections officers by the week?  The racial tension and prejudice that generated the Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements echo back to too many decades of a dark side of our country. We celebrate two terms of our first Black president, but the violence goes on. And this is now happening across the globe driven by political, religious and other motivations that push people over the edge to do the unthinkable.

And then we have an election season like no other – ever. Enough said. We must do better and we must prove we can.

So how do we get through this time without feeling completely beaten down? For me I look to the best we have here. The artists, artisans, and creative people of all kinds reflect who we are and who we aspire to be. They comment on the dark side but also help us see through the gloom and hatred and reflect the beauty of our place and the richness of our diverse population.

Summer festivals full of music, dancing, food and friends abound.  Shady parks lure us to picnic, read, write, strum a guitar, hang out with family and friends, take a nap. Let’s get together this summer and enjoy our best selves, the delight we see in our children, neighbors, visitors enjoying all our city and state have to offer. We cannot be oblivious to our world realities nor are we protected from violence in this place, but humans have a way of figuring out ways around.

Let’s tap into the creativity in all of us and make the best of all that we have. The sun is shining and the berries are abundant.

RACC’s private sector initiatives continue to grow

Throughout the Portland metro region, businesses are using the arts more than ever before to inspire employees, stimulate innovation and foster creative collaboration. And increasingly, RACC is working to support this powerful intersection between arts and business.

RACC’s workplace giving campaign, Work for Art, engages employees in creative activities while raising contributions on behalf of local nonprofit arts organizations. And through our Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), RACC provides essential services for businesses who support the arts, including Art of Leadership, a board training program, and the Arts Breakfast of Champions, an annual recognition event.

  • Work for Art raised a grand total $912,213 last year – our best campaign ever! Thanks to the generosity of more than 2,000 donors, 75 companies, and everyone who participated in our first annual Battle of the Bands event, Work for Art will be able to distribute larger investments (and a full 100% of the proceeds!) to 100 local arts and culture organizations this fall.

Our 11th annual campaign kicks off this month, chaired by Kregg Arntson, director of corporate social responsibility for Portland General Electric and executive director of the PGE Foundation. Although Work for Art is primarily a workplace giving program, anyone can participate and enjoy the benefits of making a single gift that supports 100 arts and culture organizations in our community. Online at workforart.org.

  • Art of Leadership, established by BCA in 2003, prepares business professionals to serve on the boards of arts and culture organizations. A series of six half-day workshops are led by internationally acclaimed arts consultant George Thorn and other expert speakers. The program also provides opportunities for an internship to observe an arts board, and a “speed dating” event to meet with boards seeking new members.

Registration for the 2016-17 series is now open! The first workshop is slated for October 5, then on future Wednesdays — November 9, December 7, January 4, February 1, and March 1. The $800 tuition fee includes all six workshops, five lunches, and an afternoon graduation reception. For more information visit racc.org/artofleadership. Deadline to apply: 9/26/16.

Coming next spring, RACC will unveil new, advanced-level Art of Leadership workshops specifically designed for current board members to do a deeper dive on board engagement and fundraising issues. Stay tuned!

  • The Arts Breakfast of Champions is scheduled to return to the Portland Art Museum on February 8, 2017. This annual event brings together elected officials, business leaders, and members of the arts community to celebrate and support culture, creativity and innovation in our community. Tickets for the event will be available in November.

To help us expand these programs and build more collaborations between arts organizations and businesses, RACC will convene a visioning session with arts and business leaders in the fall – stay tuned for more information, or contact jhawthorne@racc.org to be added to the invitation list. Also, RACC is currently seeking applications for a new, full-time Business Partner Manager position. For more information on this exciting job opportunity, visit http://bit.ly/2aAPtXV.

Work for Art concludes tenth anniversary campaign

On June 30, RACC concluded its tenth annual Work for Art campaign. And while it will take a few more weeks to count and confirm all of this year’s campaign contributions, one thing is certain: the 2015-16 fundraising drive will break all records for participation and revenue.

Ten years ago Work for Art burst onto the scene raising $447,000, but this year organizers expect to clear more than $900,000, with all proceeds benefiting local arts and culture organizations. Workplace giving campaigns remain the program’s largest source of revenue, with more than 2,000 individuals in 75 companies participating this year. In addition, 30 individuals stepped up with leadership contributions of $1,000 more, and Work for Art’s first annual Battle of the Bands competition added $70,000 to the campaign total in May.

Work for Art has also enjoyed significant exposure during its tenth anniversary, including a generous contribution from Portland General Electric. If you attended the Rose Festival Starlight Parade or Grand Floral Parade this year, you may have seen – and heard – the PGE float saluting Work for Art. Musicians from Metropolitan Youth Symphony (one of Work for Art’s 100 funded arts and culture groups) jammed out atop a colorful larger-than-life guitar. PGE employees have been the top donors to Work for Art for four years running.

The 2015-16 campaign total and top companies will be announced at a special event on August 4. Local arts and business leaders will celebrate outgoing campaign chairs, Mike Golub and Dave Lofland, and applaud Work for Art’s program manager, Kathryn Jackson, who departs this month after 10 years with the organization. Over the last 10 years, Work for Art has raised more than $7.1 million for local nonprofit arts organizations.

The 2016-17 campaign will be chaired by Kregg Arntson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Portland General Electric and the Executive Director of the PGE Foundation.

For more information on Work for Art and the 2016-17 campaign, contact Jeff Hawthorne at jhawthorne@racc.org or call 503.823.5258.

Project grants impact artists and our community

By Sara Farrokhzadian

Summer time is project grant season at RACC and staff is spreading the word about the upcoming “Intent to Apply” deadline on August 3, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. This year $650,000 in funding is available for artistic projects and events that are scheduled to take place in calendar year 2017. Project grant awards range from $1,000 to $7,000 each.

RACC encourages individual artists and nonprofit organizations in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties to apply.  Successful proposals will involve the creation or presentation of a performance, exhibit, or other work of art that is available to the general public sometime in 2017. There are two categories of project grants: Artistic Focus and Community Participation & Access. For more information on project grant guidelines, please visit racc.culturegrants.org.

RACC project grants support artistic projects in our community

RACC funded 131 project grants for 2016, , supporting a wide range of projects in a variety of disciplines including literature, media arts, dance, multi-discipline and social practice. This funding has provided important opportunities for artists and our community.

Fumi’s Floral Shoppe


From “Fumi’s Flora Shoppe”

Chris Parkhurst, a Portland media artist, received a RACC project grant to film a short documentary about 93 year old Fumi Itatmi and the flower shop she and her family have operated in Portland for the last 70 years. Fumi’s Floral Shoppe depicts Portland’s history and transformation through the challenges and change Fumi and her flower shop experienced, including Fumi’s forced placement in an internment camp during World War II. For Parkhurst, the film tells a powerful story of five generations of Japanese women keeping their family and community connected through their flower shop. The film presents the audience with real and tangible experiences from our collective history in Portland.

For Parkhurst, the RACC project grant award has had a huge impact on his art making. “RACC project grant funding allows me to practice my passion of documentary films,” Parkhurst said. Parkhurst has been making documentary film since 2004 and, like many other artists he knows, does not make his living through documentary film making. “I encourage every artist I know who has a project they feel strongly about to apply for the RACC grant,” Parkhurst explained. “Even more than that, if they don’t receive a grant the first time out to make sure to apply again during the next cycle and not to give up.”

Fumi’s Flora Shoppe will premiere in fall 2016.



Christine Martell and her Artosauer Project.

Christine Martell, a visual artist based in Hillsboro, received a Community Participation & Access project grant for her Artosaur Project in 2016. The Artosaur, a robotic dinosaur sculpture, is an arts advocate and educator with a mission to show us that art is everywhere. The project took the Artosaur out into the community to hold art making experiences for the public at library events. These art making experiences incorporated a technology component ranging in complexity from simple folding to create book marks with small children to building LED lit vibrating bugs with older children. Martell held all six of her events in Washington County and reached more than 1,800 participants. Martell also incorporated youth volunteers from the Youth Advisory Council to assist with facilitating the events increasing the community reach of her project.

The RACC project grant was instrumental for Martell and her work. “Through the project grant I am reaching very, very different communities than I have in the past.” Martell said. “I used to hold shows in galleries, but through Artosaur, I embed myself where the population is.”

Through the project grant, Martell feels supported as a community based artist. “RACC not only understands community based art, but RACC funds it as well,” she says. Although Martell has completed her RACC-funded project, she has already begun building on her project grant work. Martell and the Artosaur will hold a weekly pop up makerspace at the Tuesday Night Market in Hillsboro this summer.

How to apply

A great first step in the application process is reading the eligibility guidelines available online at racc.culturegrants.org. This will give applicants an opportunity to determine whether they are eligible for a project grant.

Applicants will submit an “Intent to Apply” form online by Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by 5:00 p.m. through racc.culturegrants.org. First time applicants will need to create a new account through the sign up feature and will be able to access the project grant guidelines and forms. The “Intent to Apply” is a simple form that helps to determine basic eligibility before applicants are invited to submit a full proposal.

All applicants will be notified by email within a few days whether they are invited to submit a full proposal, due August 17, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.

Eligible proposals will be grouped by discipline and adjudicated by a panel of community volunteers who have interest and experience in arts and culture programming. For a listing of project grant awards in 2016, visit racc.org/grants.

Awards will be announced in late December.

RACC staff is there to help

RACC staff are committed to making the grants program accessible to all applicants and to support candidates through the application process. Grants staff Helen Daltoso, Ingrid Carlson and Quinn MacNichol are available to assist applicants in a variety of ways.

RACC will host free orientation sessions in July, walking applicants through the guidelines and the process of submitting a competitive application. Applicants can meet grant staff and will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Free Grant Orientations:

Thurs, July 7| 9:00-11:00am
RACC Office (411 NW Park Ave #101 in Portland)
for Nonprofit Organizations

Tues, July 12 | 5:30-7:00pm
North Portland Library (512 N Killingsworth St in Portland)
for All Applicants

Tues, July 19 | 5:30-7:00pm
RACC Office (411 NW Park Ave #101 in Portland)
for Individual Artists

Wed, July 20 | 3:00-5:00pm
RACC Office (411 NW Park Ave #101 in Portland)
for Nonprofit Organizations

Thurs July 21 | 5:30-7:00pm
East Portland Neighborhood Office (1017 NE 117th Ave in Portland)
for All Applicants

Tues, July 26 | 9:00-11:00am
RACC Office (411 NW Park Ave #101 in Portland)
for Individual Artists

If you plan to attend you can register at

RACC also has a series of online video tutorials that can help guide applicants through the application process—available at http://bit.ly/1l6zBfd.

Parkhurst has noticed RACC’s focus on accessibility. “There are increased resources that are readily available,” said Parkhurst. During his application process, Parkhurst found it helpful to ask questions. “Part of what is instrumental is to ask questions,” he said. “It encourages dialogue between the applicant and the program.”

Martell, a first time project grant recipient, found the orientation sessions provided practical information on how to approach the application. She also submitted her grant application early enough to arrange for staff feedback on her proposal. Her advice to applicants is: “Do everything – attend the orientations, ask questions, and submit your proposal early and get feedback.” Martell feels that the project grant application process she has given her a better understanding of how to obtain funding that will help her as she moves forward.

RACC staff emphasizes that they want to make themselves available to support applicants. If applicants cannot attend the information sessions, have questions, or would like one-on-one support, they can call or email grant staff for assistance. First time applicants should contact Ingrid Carlson at 503-823-5417 or icarlson@racc.org, and returning applicants should contact Helen Daltoso at 503-823-5402 or hdaltoso@racc.org.

RACC also provides technical and translation assistance for applicants who require it. RACC can help with computer access issues and will translate application materials and provide over-the-phone interpretation services when needed. Applicants can contact Quinn MacNichol at 503-823-2928 or qmacnichol@racc.org for technical assistance.

Guidelines and “Intent to Apply” forms are now available at racc.culturegrants.org.

Yelena Roslaya brings “Visual Sound” to the Portland Building, July 5 – August 5

PORTLAND, ORE – Multimedia artist Yelena Roslaya works to represent sound visually. “The idea of visually displaying sound is inspired by my experience with hearing-motion synesthesia, which occurs when one sense triggers another…personally it happens whenever I see implied motion or energy. I want to share this experience with viewers through my installation at the Portland Building and hear their response.”

Roslaya’s first step in this process was the recording of everyday sounds that occur in the Portland Building—people opening doors, conversing with each other, or simply walking down a hallway. Using FL Studio software, those recordings were then translated into graphic wave images which will be displayed in front of a set of three-dimensional forms, or “sound wave sculptures,” inspired by the wave shapes. These large scale ceramic sculptures draw on the Udu drum forms Roslaya has explored in previous work. Even the colors of the glazes on the sculptures will be determined by the corresponding sound’s “color noise” spectrum—violet noise, white noise, red noise, etc. To complete the full experience for the visitor, each of the sculptures will also include a mp3 device that will playback its original source material.

About the artist: Yelena Roslaya is a graduate student at Oregon College of Arts Craft in Portland where she is the Studio Assistant for both the Ceramics and Drawing/Painting Departments. Her work is inspired by the way humans perceive and process sound. Roslaya lives in Battle Ground, Washington, and has shown at multiple venues in both Oregon and Washington.

About the Installation Space:  Each year the Portland Building Installation Space series reserves several exhibition opportunities for students engaged in creative study at the university level. The format and presentation requirements for the “student” installations are identical to those for established professional artists. The Regional Arts & Culture Council created this separate eligibility category to help introduce emerging talents to the world of public art.

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 – Friday. Visual Sound opens July 5 and runs through August 5, 2016.

For more information on the Portland Building Installation Space, including images, proposals, and statements for all 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.