The Installation Space’s Inaugural Exhibit: KSMoCA’s Present Days

The Installation Space’s inaugural art exhibition in the newly renovated Portland Building includes a selection of ephemera from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Museum of Art (KSMoCA), an art museum within an elementary school in Northeast Portland. This display includes a selection of previous artworks and comments by Lomarion, a fifth-grader at the school on the Student Curatorial Committee, and a selection of new pieces from the KSMoCA Mentorship Program.

Mentors and mentees participating in this exhibit include: Claire Melli & Tasha, Leo Crum & Emily, Laura Glazer & Reed, Gillian Rappaport with 5th-grade students, Mo Geiger & Becca Kauffman with the 5th-grade Safety Patrol, Lyberty Udochu, Omar Arras, and Sean Bascom with JAGz (Justin, Amir, Gabriel, Melia, & Chris). Present Days was coordinated by Diana Marcela Cuartas and Lillyanne Phạm, current MFA students in Portland State University’s Art + Social Practice program.

On view: July 1, 2022 – November 11, 2022

at the Portland Building — Installation Space, 2nd Floor
(1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, Oregon 97204)


Photo by Gilian Rappaport and Bex Copper. Currently on view within the exhibition.

A Message from KSMoCA:

KSMoCA: Present Days Featuring Lomarion’s Favorite Works from 2015-2022 / Mentorship Program Spring 2022 

Welcome to an exhibit/extension of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA), Present Days! We, the Student Curatorial Committee, restarted in January 2022 with a new crew and students after a year of hibernation during COVID-19.

Coming back to in-person life, we have spent the last few months getting to know the school staff and building relationships with its community, creating pathways for families to engage with KSMoCA, and taking part in the mentorship program with fifth-grader Lomarion.

Our names are Diana Marcela Cuartas and Lillyanne Phạm. We are current MFA students in Portland State University’s Art + Social Practice program. We were allowed to update a previous exhibit started at this space in 2019 by Roz Crews and six fifth-graders, now middle schoolers. What you see here reflects the current days of KSMoCA. After an intense time shift, we are back and filled with creatively generative mentorship relationships and critical topics relevant to our everyday lives.

Lomarian, Curator and 5th grader, Student Curatorial Committee.

Interview with fifth-grader Lomarion

Lillyanne: What is KSMoCA?

Lomarion: KSMoCA is an art place where people go to create art. My favorite part about KSMoCA is the different types of stuff that we can do. The room is like a jungle with a lot of cords. And my good awesome friend Lilly. We hangout Wednesdays and Thursdays. We are hosting a basketball game on June 4th too!

Lillyanne: Yes! A basketball game as a collaborative art project for PSU’s annual Art + Social Practice conference, Assembly 2022.

Diana: The jungle is the museum. Do you like having a museum at the school?

Lomarion: I like having a museum because it has a lot of different types of animals like lions because I’m always lyin’. It makes me want to go to an art museum and help with the art.

Diana: Why does art need museums?

Lomarion: Art needs museums so people across the whole world can see every piece of art created by a famous person or a person with creativity.

Lillyanne: Do you like museums better in schools or downtown?

Lomarion: Yes! I haven’t been to the one downtown. It’s about to be math time for me.

Lillyanne: Let’s get you back to class.

Lomarion’s Favorite Works from 2015-2022

We, Lomarion and Lillyanne, started our student-mentor relationship in the spring of 2022. We talked about life near and in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and the contemporary art museum, KSMoCA. Lomarion shared his experience both as a student and as the school’s neighbor; he also has an older sister who attended the school. Unofficially, he is known as the school’s mayor, as health/PE teacher Mr. Monty said. Lomarion’s expertise led him to curate this show. He gave his advice on the best works to pay attention to at the school along with his favorite works from peer submissions. He said curating is “picking things you like and sharing it with people.” He suggests that being a curator takes “50% smarts, 50% imagination, great thinking, good ideas (good as in nice), being prepared, having a cute face but a cuter voice.”


About KSMoCA 

KSMoCA, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Museum of Contemporary Art, is a contemporary art museum inside an elementary school. The project reimagines how museums, public schools, and universities shape people, culture, and perspectives by creating radical intersections and sharing resources across organizations. Internationally renowned artists collaborate with students and school staff on site-specific projects, exhibitions, and workshops, cultivating space for art to educate within and beyond the classroom through mutual exchange. Students learn through experience about museum practice and careers in the arts by participating as curators, preparators, artists, gallerists, writers, and docents.

KSMoCA’s program includes rotating exhibitions with visiting artists, a classroom adoption program with local arts institutions, a 1-on-1 mentorship program with local artists, a public artist lecture series, site-specific commissions, community and neighborhood events, and more. The public is welcome to experience the museum by appointment and during selected open hours.

For more information, visit our website: www.ksmoca.com.

Also check out @ksmoca on Instagram for the latest updates.

About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School is a pre-K – 5th grade public school located in the King neighborhood of NE Portland, OR. In 2018, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our legacy and our name change, a student-led initiative directed by middle school students who worked with district administration to change the school’s name just days after the death of Dr. King. At Dr. MLK Jr. Elementary School, we believe in the unlimited potential of everyone in our diverse community. We believe that a caring, well-balanced student will be motivated to become a global citizen who is inspired to take action.

The Mentorship Program

The KSMoCA Artist Mentorship Program pairs working artists and arts professionals in the Portland area with K – 5th grade students at Dr. MLK Jr. Elementary School in a long-term mentorship. Volunteer mentors spend 40 minutes with their mentee each week in student-directed, flexible time designed to foster the development of each student’s individual creative practice and encourage mutual exchange.

Students at Dr. MLK Jr. Elementary School hold a diverse set of intersectional identities. It is important to us that the KSMoCA Artist Mentorship Program supports and reflects our students’ experiences, and that we cultivate an environment of culturally responsive learning.

Since 2019, the KSMoCA Mentorship Program has been paused due to COVID-19 safety procedures. To continue relationship-building, Lisa Jarrett and Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. taught three PSU courses entitled KSMoCA Museum and Community for art and non-art majors alike during 2021 and 2022. PSU students worked at Dr. MLK Jr. Elementary School to collaborate with Dr. MLK Jr. students and develop mentor/mentee relationships.

Mentors and mentees participating in this exhibit: Claire Melli & Tasha, Leo Crum & Emily, Laura Glazer & Reed, Sean Bascom & Gabriel, Gillian Rappaport with 5th grade students, Mo Geiger & Becca Kauffman with the 5th grade Safety Patrol, and Lyberty Udochu, Omar Arras, & Sean Bascom with JAGz (Justin, Amir, Gabriel, Melia, & Chris).


About Installation Space

The Installation Space is an art gallery with an almost 30-year legacy located on the second floor of the Portland Building. The gallery is managed by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and its mission is to present conceptually rigorous, site-specific and experimental media installations.

The Portland Building houses numerous municipal offices including Parks & Recreation, Transportation, and the Water Bureau. The building is a controversial anomaly of postmodern architecture, designed by Michael Graves in 1982.

The Installation Space gallery program began in 1994 and was on hold for years due to the building’s extensive, multi-year renovation and pandemic closures. This exhibition marks the relaunch of the art program. Stay tuned to learn more about exhibition opportunities and future programming.

Questions? Contact Morgan Ritter, RACC Public Art Exhibitions & Collections Specialist, at mritter@racc.org.

Black Portland Matters Art & Placemaking Initiative launches two new projects featuring local photographer Richard Brown and writer Renée Watson

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) has teamed up with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to support local Black-led art projects around the city.

Along the median strip on NE Holladay Street, between the Oregon Convention Center and the Hyatt Hotel and parking structure, the temporary public art project that began in 2019, In—Between returns. Author Renée Watson has responded with poetry to the photographs of Richard Brown. Eight unique ten-foot banners displayed along the Max tracks convey Black children’s dreams of their possible futures.

Richard Brown is a photographer and a Black Portlander who has spent decades working to bridge the divide between the police and the Black community. Through his art and activism, Brown has been an advocate for Portland’s Black communities for over 40 years.

“Being an activist can often feel like walking through a dark tunnel with no end in sight. But I have learned something over the years: you can make your own light. And you’ll need to. I’ve made my own light by taking pictures.” – Richard Brown.

A sample of the banners that will be displayed along the Max tracks. Designed by Danielle McCoy of Amen Amen Studio.

Renée Watson is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, educator, and community activist, and her writing centers around the experiences of Black girls and women, exploring themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Many of Renée’s books are inspired by her childhood growing up in Portland.  Her book series, A Ryan Hart Story, takes place in the Northeast Portland neighborhood and the main character attends Vernon Elementary school.

The artist and author share common ground, both in their work and in their personal histories. Having grown up in Northeast Portland, Watson now calls Harlem home. Born in Harlem, Brown now calls Northeast Portland home. The students featured on the banners attended Vernon Elementary School, which Watson attended and continues to write about. This pairing of text and image, curated by and featuring the work of intergenerational Black artists and activists, asserts dreaming into becoming.

The banners will appear on four posts along NE Holladay Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 1st Avenue through June 30, 2023.

“I am the song of my ancestors. In me an ocean of melodies sing.” – Renée Watson

Continuing up NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Richard Brown’s series of photographs “Keepers Of OurStory will be on view beginning in late September on the exterior of the Walnut Park Complex at Multnomah County Northeast Health Center (5329 NE MLK Jr Blvd, Portland, Oregon). Made in 1988, these studio and environmental portraits of Black Portland elders were created to encourage the community to value the Black elders in their lives. “Keepers Of OurStory” sits alongside the 1998 mural work of celebrated Portland artist Adriene Cruz, who coincidentally was also born in Harlem.

Intisar Abioto, whose photographs were previously displayed at this same site alongside Hank Willis Thomas’s work, has curated these projects. A Memphis native, Abioto moved to Portland twelve years ago with her mother and sisters, and has since gained recognition for her photography and her blog, The Black Portlanders. Moving from the visionary and embodied root of Black girl Southern cross-temporal, cross-modal storytelling ways, her works refer to the living breath/breadth of people of African descent against the expanse of their storied, geographic, and imaginative landscapes.

Another Black-led Public Art project in Northeast Portland is from artist Sharita Towne. Named Black Reverie, the project is a collaborative project to create publicly accessible, exterior site-based activations that act as artistic expressions of love for Black Portland in neighborhoods of significance. One component of the project consisted of Sharita working with a variety of collaborators to create screen-based activations focusing on Black Portlanders telling their migration stories through the use of video excerpts, soundscapes, projection mapping, programmed LED lights as well as a refurbished telephone interactively capturing stories. This occurred on Juneteenth in 2021. In the fall of 2021, the second aspect of the project was completed which resulted in a mural that includes LED lights and installed lettering of the words “still here”.

For opportunities to apply for future installations, artists can follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or sign up to receive public art opportunities in their inbox at racc.org/public-art/public-art-email-list/.

Call for Artists: Midland Library | Exterior Canopy Artwork Design

Multnomah County Library Midland Canopy Artist Rendering

Approved by Multnomah County voters in 2020, the Library Capital Bond Project will include expansions and renovations to seven branch libraries; building an East County flagship library; adding gigabit speed internet to all libraries; and creating a materials handling and distribution center, also known as the Library Operations Center. The renovation and expansion of Midland Library is part of the Chapter One Projects phase of the bond project. The exterior canopy artwork at the library is one of three public art elements intended for the new site.

In partnership with Multnomah County Library (MCL), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists/artist teams living in Oregon and Washington to submit qualifications for a site-specific exterior artwork at the soon-to-be renovated library.

One artist/artist team will be selected to create a design for a 2-dimensional exterior artwork that will be installed on the underside of the canopy along the south side of the building, visible to vehicular traffic on SE 122nd Ave as well as pedestrians entering the library from the street and parking lot. The budget available for the commission comes from Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program and is $40,000.

Submissions are due by Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 5 pm PDT. 

Further information about the project can be downloaded here.

Art Opportunity

We are seeking an artist or artist team to create a site-specific artwork design that will be digitally printed on high pressure laminate (HPL) with production processes specifically selected for a durable exterior installation that can withstand the elements, is graffiti resistant and easily cleanable. The artist/artist team is expected to provide a high definition digital file for printing as a final deliverable for construction and will also work with the design team to select a complementary solid color for adjacent panels. The artist/artist team is not required to have experience in digitizing their work, RACC can support with meeting this technical criteria, as needed. The architectural team will coordinate installation of the HPL directly with the contractor, and the artist/artist team will be invited to review samples, installation drawings and the final install. The HPL will be installed on the underside of the entry canopy which is located on the south side of the building, framing the new Midland Library entrance and public plaza. Pedestrian traffic from the parking lot, street and other neighborhood amenities, including the nearby Midland City Park, will benefit from close interaction with the artwork. We expect the design to translate to scale so that the artwork can also be enjoyed from a distance as people travel by car and public transportation along SE 122nd Ave.

The canopy extends along the width of the south side of the building, spanning approximately 224ft. The horizontal and vertical faces along that stretch range from approximately 5ft to 18ft, giving a total square footage of 3500sq.ft.

The canopy artwork will be highly visible as people arrive at the library, creating a covered outdoor porch that draws people in from the street or parking lot. This front porch brings the experience of the library outdoors, creating a sense of arrival well before walking through the building doors. This space is intended to be flexible, it includes seating and tables for gathering, and may also host resources such as a community bulletin board, shelving that provides space for free used books, activity kits, or a public zine library.  

Information Sessions

  • Wednesday August 17, 2022 at 12.30pm on Instagram Live with Mario and Sophie from RACC. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities. Watch the previously recorded IG Live session here.
  • Wednesday August 24, 2022 at 5pm on Zoom with Mario and Sophie from RACC and Sophia from Colloqate Design, the design team leading the Midland Library renovation project. Watch the previously recorded Zoom Info Session here.

We strongly encourage you to attend an info session, especially if you are a first-time applicant. The project team will share information about this opportunity and go over the steps of how to submit application materials.

If you have questions about the Zoom info session or need any accommodations in order to attend, please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

Artwork Goals and Qualities

The goal is for the artwork to represent the myriad of communities that live, work and play in the Mill Park neighborhood. The community wishes to see themselves reflected in the new artwork through artistic expression and creative storytelling. There is a deep desire for the artwork to instill a sense of place and belonging, creating a warm, inviting and welcoming environment where imagination, interests and engagement can be inspired.

In discussion with the community and MCL team members, we are looking for artwork that has bold and vibrant colors. Other ideas that have come up include geometric shapes and pattern-like design, perhaps reflecting textiles, symbols and color palettes from various cultures weaving together; a representation of numerous tree canopies from different places; or a quilt-like design created through an array of community stories. Further collective visioning will likely stimulate even more creative suggestions.

Examples of communities that frequent Midland Library include Black/African American, Indigenous Peoples, Somali and other East African immigrants, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin speakers), Vietnamese, Slavic and Eastern European, Malay, Bhutanese, Iraqi, Tongan, Latinx (not just Spanish language speakers), youth and elders, LGBTQIA2S+, people living with disabilities and neurodivergence, houseless. More information from the community engagement process so far, including demographics, will be shared with the artist/artist team to ensure authentic understanding and representation.


The selected artist/artist team will receive $40,000 for this opportunity to create an artwork design that will be delivered as a digital file. This fee is inclusive of the following expenses; artist fees, design development, community engagement and communication/coordination with the design team, construction team and third-party contractors who will help to fabricate and install the artwork. There is a separate allocation, up to $15,000, for the digitization of the artwork, which will be paid directly to the artist or vendor who completes this scope of work. Costs for materials, fabrication and installation will be covered separately by the Library Bond Project construction budget.

Community Engagement and Participatory Design

The overall concept for the design of Midland Library is based on the idea of weaving. The project aims to weave together a diverse range of stories and lived experiences in a shared communal space. Humans’ relationship to nature, especially in the Pacific Northwest, is also central to this concept. On the interior of the building, this shows up as a focus on water as a connector to all life and environments. As part of the community engagement process, library patrons were asked to participate in the selection of the color palette for the interior design. Option B, the concept inspired by the movement of water, creating a calm space with gentle colors and soft, natural patterns, won the public vote.

We are seeking an artist/artist team who welcomes and reflects the diverse communities that are served by Midland Library within their process and work, while also centering these design principles.

Prior to finalizing a design, the selected artist/artist team will plan and facilitate at least two engagement sessions to meet with community stakeholders for visioning and public review of their design. Midland Library will be available as a venue to host events. Interpretation, translation and other access services can be made available, if needed, and coordinated through MCL and/or RACC, if enough time is given in advance. Working or in-progress design materials and narratives may be requested for wider community communication updates and will be coordinated in conjunction with the project team.

About the Library Capital Bond Project

As part of the Library Capital Bond Project, MCL is expanding the Midland Library to provide additional space and an enjoyable experience for all through renovations to the existing building as well as more robust services. Located on the southwest corner of SE 122nd Ave and SE Morrison St in the Mill Park neighborhood of east Portland, Oregon, the existing 24,000 square foot library will be updated and expanded by 6,000 square feet. The revised site will include a new entryway which creates the opportunity for an exterior art canopy.

The renovation and expansion of Midland Library is part of the Chapter One Projects phase of the Library Capital Bond Project and will be one of the first to reopen, currently scheduled for late spring/early summer 2024.


This opportunity is open to artists/artist teams based in Oregon and Washington. If applying as a team, at least one member must meet the residence eligibility requirement. Applicants who have an interest in and/or experience with community engagement processes, including social practice, which inform their approach and art practice are strongly encouraged to apply. Strong consideration will be given to artists who have experience working with youth and residents from historically underrepresented communities to develop their artwork including communities of color as well as immigrant and refugee communities.

MCL and RACC are committed to reflecting the cultural richness of our city by promoting opportunities for emerging and historically underrepresented artists. Artists/artist teams representing communities of color are encouraged to apply. RACC is committed to engaging new communities of artists and expanding the range of artistic and cultural expression represented in the City’s public art collection.

The selected artist/artist team must be able to create, complete and deliver their digital artwork design by February 2023.

Selection Process

At this time, the selection process will be entirely virtual. A selection panel composed of Multnomah County Library representatives, local artists, community members and East County residents, Library Bond Project team members and Midland Library design team members will review artists’ submissions and choose more than one finalist to invite to  interview for the commission.

Overall, the purpose of the interview is to allow the artist(s) to understand the context and intention the selection panel has for the final art piece and for the selection panel to meet the artist(s). After the interviews are conducted, the selection panel will choose an artist/artist team. The selected artist(s) will then be issued a Design Phase contract during which they will create a community engagement plan, meet with the community and create a proposal that includes a design of the canopy art, a budget and a timeline.

Criteria for selecting finalists for interviews are (1) quality of past work as demonstrated in submitted images; (2) ability  and interest in creating site-specific artwork; (3) how past artwork has fit one or more of the general goals described above, specifically community engagement practices, through process and/or in the final design; (4) interest in and/or ability to create connection to Midland Library and the Mill Park neighborhood.

Please note the selection panel reserves the right to select an artist who does not directly apply to this call, if appropriate.

How to Apply

All application materials must be submitted through the RACC Opportunity Portal, an online application system. Applicants will need to create an account, or log into their existing account at https://racc.org/apply. If you are applying as a team, please assign one person to apply and be the point of contact on behalf of the team.

Application Materials

  • Artist bio/resume. Upload a PDF, no more than two pages, that outlines your creative activities and artistic accomplishments. If applying as a team, submit one PDF that includes a bio/resume for all team members.
  • Statement of interest. In 3000 characters or less, provide a statement that outlines the following:
    • Your interest in this project
      • Why this project, its focus and themes are of interest to you
      • Why you’d be a good match for the project
      • How do you foresee your work connecting to the mission and values of the project
    • Describe your capacity and/or experience to complete the scope of work
    • Explain why you value community engagement in your artistic process and share past examples of successfully incorporating this into a project
    • If you are applying as a team, describe your individual roles on the team and how you anticipate working together
  • Up to 8 past work samples. These work samples are the primary way the quality of your work will be judged. Provide up to two images, no larger than 5MB each, for each work sample. For each image, please provide title, artist name, media, dimensions, year completed, budget and location. Conceptual information is desirable but not required.

Once you have started your application, you can save after each step and sign out. Your application will be saved as a draft that you can continue to work on, as needed. Please note that after you click “Submit,” your application is final and no further edits can be made.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us throughout the process.

Submissions due: Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 5:00pm PDT


We are here to support and assist you! If you have questions about the overall opportunity or the RACC application portal,  would like to set up a time for a phone/video call or have any other needs for assistance please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

If you would like to be considered for this opportunity and don’t have a computer or online access, please feel free to contact RACC for support. Also, if you prefer these materials in another language you can contact the RACC project team  for translation services.

We strongly encourage you to submit your application with enough time for any questions to be answered prior to when submissions are due as enquiries received towards the end of that period may not be responded to. We appreciate your understanding and consideration of our capacity.

Interpretation services are available, please email info@racc.org

Servicio de interpretación disponible

Предоставляются услуги переводчика

Có dịch vụ thông


Important Dates

August 5, 2022 – RFQ launch

August 17, 2022 at 12:30pm – Instagram Live Info Session. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed.

August 24, 2022 at 5:00pm – Zoom Info Session. RSVP here.

August 31, 2022 – Applications due

(Early/mid) September 2022 – Panel review and artist selection including interviews

(Late) September 2022-January 2023 – Community Engagement and Participatory Design

February 2023 – Design submitted to contractor for procurement

March-October 2023 – Intermittent construction administration, installation will happen towards the end of this period

Call for Artists / Convocatoria a artistas: East Portland Cultural Corridor

The Regional Arts and Culture Council and a coalition of local organizations are seeking an artist/artist team for a community-based Artist in Residence to work closely with project partners, community members, neighboring institutions, and businesses to identify, express, and elevate outer SE Division Street’s identity as a cultural corridor. Artists from Oregon and SW Washington are eligible to apply. The budget is $75,000. The due date to apply for this opportunity is 5pm PDT, Thursday, July 21, 2022. Read the full details about this call. Información en español.

*This Artist in Residence means that the artist will be working in and with community. It does not include housing or a living stipend.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), in partnership with TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Division Midway Alliance (DMA), and the Slavic Community Center of NW (SCC of NW), received a $75,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Our Town is NEA’s creative placemaking grants program that supports the integration of arts, culture, and design to strengthen people’s connection within their community. APANO, DMA, and SCC of NW each have community art projects funded through the NEA Our Town grant. The grant will support resident artist fellows (APANO), a design process for a cultural center (DMA), and an international children’s festival (SCC of NW). RACC, PBOT, and TriMet are working with community partners to amplify the cultural corridor through a transportation justice lens. The $75,000 budget for the Artist in Residence is funded by PBOT’s percent-for-art and TriMet as a match for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant.

The Our Town grant launches the East Portland Cultural Corridor (EPCC), a project aimed at generating a unified sense of place and cultural presence in East Portland along SE Division Street from SE 82nd Avenue to SE 175th Avenue. East Portland, the most diverse geographic area of Portland, is home to approximately 25% of the population of Portland and over 40% of the school-age children in the city. This area includes Montavilla, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Hazelwood, Mill Park, and Centennial neighborhoods, as well as Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative Districts at both NE 82nd/Division and in the Division/Midway area.

Who is eligible to apply?

Artists or artist teams living in Oregon and southwest Washington are eligible to apply. If applying as a team, at least one member must meet the residence eligibility requirement. RACC and the coalition of partners are committed to engaging new communities of artists and expanding the range of artistic and cultural expression in our city. Artists who live in or have a relationship to outer Southeast Portland will be prioritized.

How to Apply

All application materials are submitted through the RACC Opportunity Portal, an online application system. Applicants need to create an account or log into their existing account at racc.org/apply. If you are applying as a team, please assign one person to apply and be the contact on behalf of the team. For first-time users of the portal, view a brief video learning how to register here.

Information Sessions for Artists

  • Friday, July 1 at 12pm PDT on Instagram Live. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities.

We’re Here to Help!
If you have questions about the overall opportunity or the RACC Opportunity Portal, please email Danielle Davis with questions or to set up a time for a phone call: ddavis@racc.org.

If you don’t have a computer or online access, please don’t hesitate to contact RACC for assistance. Also, if you prefer these materials in another language please contact RACC project staff for translation services.

Interpretation services available, email info@racc.org
Servicio de interpretación disponible
Предоставляются услуги переводчика
Có dịch vụ thông

Fresh Paint: Seeking Artists for Next Round of Murals

The Regional Arts & Culture Council and Open Signal invite emerging Black and brown artists/teams who are currently living in Clackamas, Multnomah or Washington counties in Oregon, or Clark County in Washington to submit qualifications for a temporary mural at Open Signal along the highly visible NE Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd. at 2766 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Read the full details about this call.

Submissions are due by 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 20, 2022.


Fresh Paint is a partnership between RACC’s Public Art Murals Program and Open Signal, a media arts center carrying a vision for community-driven media focused on creativity, technology, and social change. This partnership provides artists the opportunity to explore working in the public art sector and incorporate new approaches and skills in their artistic practice and experience.

A portion of Open Signal’s west-facing wall along MLK Jr Blvd has been designated as the Fresh Paint space and measures approximately 9’H x 18’W.  Two artists/teams will be selected to have a painted mural featured for six months between October 2022 – September 2023. The selected artists will receive a $2,500 commission for their participation and are offered the opportunity to engage with a range of resources at Open Signal, including the use of equipment.

Artist Information Sessions
  • Thursday, June 16th at noon on Instagram Live. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities.
  • Wednesday, June 29th at 6 pm on Zoom. RSVP here. Watch the previously recorded Zoom information session here.

We strongly encourage you to attend an info session, especially if you are a first-time applicant. Staff will share information about this opportunity and go over the steps of how to submit application materials.

Questions about the Zoom info session or need special accommodations to attend?

CONTACT: Daniela Serna at 503.288.1515 ext. 931, daniela@opensignalpdx.org.

Are you eligible to apply?

This opportunity is for emerging artists that identify as a person of color including (but not limited to) Native American/Indigenous, Latino/a/x, Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, African American, African, and Southwest Asian and North African.

In addition, you must:

  • live in Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah, or Washington counties,
  • have a consistent visual art practice
  • not have created an exterior-wall mural in the City of Portland (interior murals and murals on non-building infrastructures are fine).

How to Apply

All applications must be submitted through RACC’s Opportunity Portal here.

Applicants must create an account, or log in to their existing account. Instructions in the application portal will guide you through the process.

Questions regarding the application platform and materials and project’s process/timeline?

CONTACT: Salvador Mayoral IV at 503.823.5865, smayoral@racc.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.

Portland Artist Jose Ruiz Valentine Selected for Fresh Paint Mural

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

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

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

Every day thousands of people pass by Open Signal’s building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at Graham Street. Pass by the building today, and you’ll get to see work-in-progress on the latest temporary mural being created by Jose Ruiz Valentine, a 20-year old Portland artist who graduated from Rosemary Anderson High School in 2019. The mural design reflects his Chicano history and culture. The large, colorful mural depicting a serpent and catholic imagery is titled Venerated Mother.

In a partnership between the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Open Signal called Fresh Paint, artists are selected for this professional development opportunity. The initiative provides emerging artists of color with a paid opportunity to paint a public mural for the first time in Portland.

With a focus on graffiti and various forms of illustrative art, Valentine has been involved with local youth and artistic groups including the Red Stone Collective and Morpheus Youth Project for years. He uses art as a way to seek restorative justice in his life and works to help youth make positive changes in their own lives.

“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share this iconography on a large public mural,” Valentine explains in his artist statement. “I want to make this type of artwork and cultural iconography accessible for everyone to see. I’m especially excited to share it with those whose roots relate with this work. These images represent an ancient culture with a beautiful and powerful history. I am still trying to understand these images as well, in the context of the current life that I live. I’m hoping doing this work will deepen my understanding of them.”

The Fresh Paint partnership is designed to support artists like Valentine, who don’t have experience with publicly funded commissions. “We want to get up-and-coming artists like Jose the support and resources they need to develop a new skill set and build their portfolio,” explains Salvador Mayoral, who facilitates RACC’s Public Art Murals Program. “For many of the selected artists, the mural projects have led to other public commissions or funding opportunities,” he adds.

See more artwork from Jose Ruiz Valentine.

Artist Statement – Venerated Mother

“The Virgin Guadalupe is a Cultural icon to (Mexican) people.  To some, it has spiritual value as a symbol of Catholicism.  To others, it is a visual symbol that exists in and represents our homes. My brother who died recently used to wear a necklace of the virgin around his neck. To me, it represents my brother.  His name was Kingo.

Serpent imagery is a part of Mexika (Aztec) cultural and spiritual/religious symbolism. It is part of a more ancient belief system of Mesoamerica.  The two-headed serpent Goddess is also referred to as Tonantzin Coatlicue. She is the birth of the Sun, moon, and stars. She represents fertility, life, and death. I named my daughter Tonantzin so she will remember our culture, and preserve it with her presence. For me, the serpent imagery represents my daughter.”

To qualify for the Fresh Paint opportunity, artists must live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, defined as Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington. RACC runs the selection process, relying on past Fresh Paint muralists to review submissions and recommend which new artists should be selected.

Selected artists receive a stipend for their participation and are offered the opportunity to engage with Open Signal’s resources and programming. Since the Fresh Paint partnership between RACC and Open Signal kicked off in 2017, 10 artists have been selected. Each mural is hosted for at least four months and then painted over in preparation for the next artist.


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

About the Regional Arts & Culture Council

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

For more information visit racc.org.


Next steps for toppled and removed monuments – Updated FAQ

Updated following RACC Board Action 10/13/2021

What is the status of statues that were removed or toppled in 2020 protests?
The statues from the City of Portland’s public art collection are secured in a temporary storage facility. This includes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider, Harvey Scott, Promised Land, and Elk.

Will these statues be returned to their former locations?
RACC’s Public Art Committee (PAC) oversees and guides Public Art Program policies for the selection, placement, and maintenance of works of art acquired through the Percent for Art Program and other public/private programs RACC manages. When necessary, RACC also oversees the review, re-contextualizing, relocation and removal of artworks from these public collections. On Sept. 29 the RACC Board endorsed the Public Art Committee’s recommendation not to automatically return five of the toppled or removed statues to their previous locations (excluding the Elk).

What about the Elk statue?
City officials and RACC have determined separately that the Elk will return to downtown Portland. The project details, budget and timeline are being developed.

What happens next?
On Oct. 13, the RACC Board approved Monument Review Guidelines for City of Portland outlining the criteria and process for determining the next steps for these five statues. If accepted by Commissioner Rubio (City liaison to RACC) and the City Arts Program, it sets in motion a process of determining next steps for each individual monument. Should the monuments be assigned a new home? Should all of them remain in the public collection? According to the Monument Review Guidelines, consideration of these questions requires meaningful community engagement that centers the voices of community members whose culture and histories have not been represented in public spaces. Each of these statues has its own unique story and engagement may vary depending on the stakeholders.

How can the community get involved?
Community engagement and stakeholder input is required as part of the process. Please contact the City Arts Program in Portland  for the most up to date information or the office of Commissioner Rubio.

Why is RACC recommending these monuments for review?
In our role as the steward of the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s public art collections, the Regional Arts & Culture Council works intentionally with artists, community organizations, and public partners to ensure that the public’s art collection represents our diverse cultural histories and identities. As we consider the disposition of monuments toppled or removed in 2020, our mission and values guide our recommendations and consideration of next steps. Similarly, we look to the City’s adopted policies for guidance and find this recommendation to be consistent with recent action by the Portland City Council recommending new public art representing more diverse cultural identities and histories for the South Park Blocks. The George Washington statue cannot be returned to its former site as that site is privately owned and the owners do not wish to have it in that location anymore.

RACC’s Public Art Committee revised policies regarding the donation and removal (deaccession) of art from the public collection. What were the major changes?
The committee, in consultation with city leadership, reviewed the Public Art Program policies and criteria as they relate to donation and deaccession (removal) of memorials, monuments, and statues. The PAC updated those policies to align with RACC’s mission, vision, and values and the City’s value of antiracism. The updated policy states that public artworks can be removed if the “subject or impact of an artwork is significantly at odds with values of antiracism, equity, inclusion.” They also expanded circumstances that can lead to the removal of a piece of artwork, if it becomes a rallying place for “gatherings centered on racist or bigoted ideology.” RACC’s board endorsed these changes in May 2021. The Monument Review Guidelines approved by the RACC Board are consistent with these policies.

What happens to a statue if a determination is made to remove it from the public art collection?
If a decision is made to “deaccession” an artwork (remove it from the collection), it could be traded or sold, returned to the donors, recycled or destroyed.