Support Beam Artist Reflection: Patricia Vázquez

Patricia Vázquez is an artist with SUPPORT BEAM, a new RACC grant program supporting artists’ long term creative practice and livelihood. 

I have been drawing, painting and making prints for longer than I have done any other kind of artwork. I am a self taught visual artist. I have learned through taking classes here and there, and through working independently to develop a formal language. It has been a slow and private endeavor. The process of publicly becoming an artist was plagued by doubts, fears and contradicting inner messages. For most of my life, I couldn’t embrace an artistic identity. In a recent interview with students from Reynolds HS (available through the Art Talk Bus podcast), I shared that when I was young, I thought artists were people from another planet. Where I grew up, in the most populated and impoverished area of Mexico City, there were no artists, art centres, art activities, or anything art related. Art was something that people from a reality radically different than mine did. It took me decades (and tens of thousands of dollars in student debt!) to transform that belief. Even today, when I say “I am an artist”, the voice that speaks feels foreign to me, like it belongs to somebody else, or like it comes from somewhere far away.

As a result of acquiring an MFA in Social Practice, most of the artwork I make available publicly, and get paid for, is interdisciplinary and process based. This kind of work is a good fit for me, because it allows me to explore issues, situations and people I am deeply interested in, to use methodologies I learned while working as an organizer and educator, and to test the impact of socially embedded art making processes. However, producing images is also an essential aspect of my artistic thinking. I have intensely missed creating images, the quietness of a studio and the dialogue with the paper and the canvas. Compared to my interdisciplinary artwork, my visual work is not as immediately recognizable as socially or politically invested, but the fact that I am doing it feels incredibly political to me. The fact that it exists, that it is created by this person that wasn’t meant to be an artist, has a political significance.

The drawings I have created over the last few months originate in countless studies, sketches and doodles of the natural world. Some of them maintain a direct resemblance to landscapes, plants, logs, stones and other natural elements. But others, while done in the same style, are less recognizable landscapes, “impossible architectures” as I have started to call them. In these drawings I combine semi-architectural structures with an organic style of drawing. These works are manifestations of ecological anxiety and visions for a future where the natural reclaims the artificial; a future where the announced ecological catastrophe is reversed and nature trumps the threat of human domination.

The monoprints are a combination of these drawings and an experimental use of screen printing. This is a new way of working for me. Until recently I have used screen printing in a more traditional way, creating multiples of posters, t-shirts or other materials with a functional use. I have developed an interest in the pictorial qualities of screen printing and its potential for creating textures and color surfaces that are not controlled and that are unique to each print. I am still developing a language in this new medium, and I look forward to continuing this body of work.

-Patricia Vázquez

Patricia Vázquez Gómez works and lives between the ancient Tenochtitlán and the unceded, occupied, stolen and colonized lands of the Chinook, Clackamas, Multnomah and other Indigenous peoples. Her art practice investigates the social functions of art, the intersections between aesthetics, ethics and politics and the expansion of community based art practices. She uses a variety of media to carry out her research: painting, printmaking, video, exhibitions, music and socially engaged art projects. The purpose and methodologies of her work are deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and other social justice movements. Her work has been shown at the Portland Art Museum, the Reece Museum, the Paragon Gallery, and the Houston Art League, but also in other spaces as apartments complexes, community based organizations and schools. She is the recipient of the 2013 Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize and has received support from the Ford Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), Portland’s Jade and Midway Districts and the Oregon Community Foundation. Patricia’s work can be explored at http://cargocollective.com/patriciavg

For more updates and ongoing stories from Support Beam artists, follow along on Instagram at #RACCSupportBeam.

Support Beam Round Two Funded through PDXCARES Announced

We are excited to announce 17  additional artists selected to receive financial support through our Support Beam initiative.

Support Beam is designed to support emerging artists’ long-term creative practice and livelihood during an unprecedented time. This new opportunity prioritizes Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color to acknowledge the disproportionate historical and ongoing systemic inequities, and the impact this pandemic is having on BIPOC communities.

Inspired by the depression-era Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.), this program utilizes City of Portland PDXCARES (#PDXCARES) funding to commission a piece of public art without restriction to media or themes, and aspires to sustain as many artists as possible during a precarious economic and political time.

Through intentional efforts like these, our public art begins to more accurately represent the many distinct communities who enliven our region. Learn more about the artists selected for initial round of Support Beam.

Over the coming months, Support Beam artists are giving us a peek into their art practices, studios, works in progress, and creative lives. Follow along with their posts and stories on Instagram at #raccsupportbeam.





Iván Carmona



Jodie Cavalier



Daniela del Mar



Sade DuBoise



Sarah Farahat



Marcelo Fontana



Tiana Garoogian



Laura Camila Medina



Lucia Monge



Dana Paresa



Diego Morales-Portillo



Ameera Saahir



Orquidia Velasquez



Mike Vos



Tazha Williams



Tammy Jo Wilson


Capturing the Moment – Call to Portland Artists and Creatives

Interpretation services available, email info@racc.org

Servicio de interpretación disponible   |  Предоставляются услуги переводчика   |   Có dịch vụ thông dịch   |   通訳サービスあり

Application window closed Monday, Oct. 26.

Artists are essential. In times of crisis, artists express what they see and feel, helping us process what we are going through, activating, and uplifting the community.

Capturing the Moment is a new call for Black artists, Indigenous artists, and all artists of color to submit works in all media created in this moment. ANY work that captures a creative response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice protests, and/or the political environment of the moment. Submissions of all media will be considered – murals, paintings, photos, films, essays, poetry, performances captured on film or video, posters, stickers, t-shirt art, etc.

This new call aims to reflect and record this time of change, uncertainty, loss, and hope. It will continue to serve and showcase some of the work emerging from artists and creatives at this moment in our history. Artist submissions selected for Capturing the Moment will be shared via RACC and the City of Portland communication channels including digital formats and social media accounts.

Supported with City of Portland #PDXCARES funding dedicated to Black artists, Indigenous artists, and all artists of color who reside in the City of Portland.

Hampton Rodriguez, Bike, 2019, newspaper on canvas, 12 x7. Recent addition to Visual Chronicle of Portland


  • RACC will purchase actual physical artworks/memorabilia of all media. (Framing will be provided by RACC, as appropriate.)
  • RACC will also purchase written works, digital images of works, digital recordings of performances, etc. to show/use through RACC & the City of Portland’s communication channels.

Only works created since March 2020 will be considered. Selected artists will receive up to $1,500 per individual. The overall budget for this initiative is $38,000.

A panel of RACC staff and BIPOC curators selected by RACC will review and curate artist submissions. RACC reserves the right to select works from artists and creatives who do not directly apply to this call, if appropriate.


This opportunity serves artists who reside in the City of Portland only. Funds may only be awarded for submissions from Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color who meet the eligibility criteria.

Additionally, priority will be given to artists who have not received RACC Support Beam 2020 commissions or a 2020 Project Grant or are not already well represented in Portland’s Portable Works Public Art Collection.

Elijah Hasan, See It Through, 2019, Inkjet print, 11×14. Recent addition to Portland Visual Chronicle.


All artwork for consideration must be submitted through RACC’s Opportunity Portal: racc.org/apply.

Artists must create an account, or log into their existing account. Instructions in the opportunity portal will guide you through the process. Incomplete submission forms cannot be considered.

Once you have started your Capturing the Moment submission form, you can save after each step and sign out. Your proposal will be saved as a draft you can continue to work on as needed. Complete all the tasks and hit “Submit.” Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions during the process.


Artists must include the following in their proposal:

  • Up to eight (8) works that “Capture the Moment,” including images, writing, or video. File size should be no larger than 5 megabytes. The .jpg format, PDF format, or links to video work online is preferred. Provide no more than two (2) images per artwork/item. For each submission, provide title, media, dimensions/length, date produced, and (if applicable) background or conceptual information.
  • Artist bio: A short paragraph that briefly describes your artistic practice (150-200 words).
  • Applicant demographics
  • Applicant W-9 form

Contact hnkent@racc.org

We’re Here to Help! Talk with the Program Staff. Ask questions and seek help early; last minute help can be in short supply.

If you have questions about the RACC application portal or if using the application portal presents a barrier to applying, contact Ingrid Carlson: icarlson@racc.org.


Application closes 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

Use RACC’s Opportunity Portal to apply racc.org/apply


Chanda Evans, our new Arts Education and Access Fund Specialist

A note from Chanda Evans the new Arts Education and Access Fund Specialist (AEAF) at RACC.

What is the role of the Arts Education and Access Fund Specialist at RACC?

A large part of my role at RACC is to support and advocate for our arts education teachers. RACC teachers are in six school districts throughout the Portland Metro area. In 2012, the Portland voters passed the Art Education Access Fund (Art Tax) with overwhelming support. In addition to supporting more than 90 music, dance, theater and visual arts teachers in Portland’s public schools, the Art Education Access Fund provides support to other art organizations in the greater Portland Metro area. RACC also works with The Arts Oversight Committee, required in the measure approved by voters to ensure we comply with the funding and City of Portland requirements.

What does advocating for arts education mean for RACC?

It’s my job to listen, support, and help navigate systems for our teachers and advocate on their behalf. RACC participates on numerous committees, which engage, advocate for, and support our community in arts education. Partnerships are a critical component of the work that RACC does in arts education and we have ongoing relationships with many regional organizations and a few on the national level, like the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It is part of my responsibility to maintain these relationships and work to develop new ones.

What do you hope to accomplish in this new role?

I will continue to focus on what really matters – the stories we tell connect us to the greater world. We use art as that medium for expression. It is no different for our students. Without sustained and continued support for arts education, we will deplete our community of creative, critical thinkers. Arts education is one of the threads that binds us. Covid-19 has not changed that. Most of us acknowledge arts education is essential;  I want to support an equitable education for our students and eliminate their barriers to success.


Millions in new state and local funding is coming available for arts non-profits and artists, performing arts spaces, music venues, and small businesses. Timelines are short. Read below to see where you or your organization can tap into these new resources.

Watch our COVID-19 resources page for details on new grants and relief opportunities as we know them.

#PDXCARES Venues Funding – Application Closed

Funds for performing arts spaces, music venues, independent film theaters

In July Portland City Council allocated $2.5 million in federal COVID relief funding for Portland-based businesses and non-profit organizations that program  public space for music, dance, and independent film and that are unable to open until Phase III of the state’s re-opening due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health shutdown.

Up to $2 million will be available in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for commercial entities with eligible expenses related to the coronavirus closure in accordance with federal requirements.  An additional $500,000 is dedicated to non-profit entities for the same purpose.

Priority will be placed on supporting applicant organizations that are led by or serve Black, Indigenous, and all people of color (BIPOC) community members, that have not previously received other state funds, or that present or partner with local artists and musicians.  The federal CARES Act requires that funding be used only to cover expenses that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the economic shutdown and that were incurred during the period that began on March 1, 2020, and ends on Dec. 30, 2020.

Prosper Portland and RACC will host a panel review process. Staff will screen for eligibility and priority
criteria. Panels made up of a diverse group of community representatives will review eligible
applications using the following priority and review criteria. More details in the application guidelines.

Businesses and organizations apply here www.racc.org/apply Application closes 5 p.m.,  Monday, Nov. 2.

Read the FAQ for more details.


With City of Portland #PDXCARES funding, RACC offers a new call for submissions from Black artists, Indigenous artists, and all artists of color living in Portland.

Capturing the Moment is a new call for artists and designers of all media to submit works created in this moment. ANY work that captures a creative response to the global pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice protests, and/or the political environment of the moment. Submissions of all media will be considered – murals, paintings, photography, essays, poetry, performances, posters, stickers, t-shirt art, etc.

Application closed Monday, Oct. 26, 5 p.m. 

Read the full description and find out how to apply here: https://racc.smapply.org


New Round of Small Business Assistance Grants – application closed Sept. 24, 2020

Individual cities and counties have their own deadlines and requirements for these funds.

Resources and information here: https://www.mesopdx.org/grants/

Opened Sept. 14 in Portland: https://prosperportland.us/[portfolio-items][portland-small-business-relief-fund]

In Washington County: https://www.co.washington.or.us/CAO/business-recovery.cfm



Application Closed – Oregon Cultural Trust Coronavirus Relief Funds

Funding for Cultural Nonprofits and Community Venues

When: Application closed Aug. 24 at noon.

Cultural Coalitions in each county will help make funding decisions by September 14.

Find out more about how the City of Portland allocated $114 million in federal CARES ACT funding

Learn more about State COVID Relief funding for arts and music


Keep any eye out here and on our COIVD-19 resources page for more updates.

Regional Arts & Culture Council elects new board members

On July 1, Parker Lee became RACC’s new board chair, succeeding Linda McGeady who will serve as Chair Emeritus until June 30, 2021. Founder and managing partner of the design consultancy, Territory, and co-author of “The Art of Opportunity,” Parker Lee is a veteran of the technology, entertainment and sports marketing industries.

Joining Parker on the Executive Committee are Treasurer James Smith, and Secretary Frances Portillo. The Vice Chair position remains open.

The RACC board also elected three new members. Full board and staff profiles are available online at racc.org/about/staff-board.


Shani Marie Harris-Bagwell

Shani recently launched Shani Bagwell Consulting, a firm focusing on EDI and accessibility, committed to empowering underserved communities, and giving voice to the voiceless. She serves on the Basic Rights Oregon Equity PAC Board, the Multnomah County Commission Audit Review Committee, and the Portland Bureau of Transportation Pricing Options for Equity for Mobility Committee. Shani holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Contemporary Commercial Music. She has performed throughout the United States and internationally.

Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Leesha Posey

Leesha Posey is an organizational leader, small business coach, educator and advocate for intentional and purposeful equity, diversity and inclusion. She is currently the Equity Manager for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services. She is a member of the Community Budget Review Committee for Portland Public Schools, National Forum for Black Public Administrators, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as the other local and national organizations. She has served as co-chair for the North/Northeast Community Development Initiative Oversight Committee for Prosper Portland, and is an alumna of Emerge Oregon Leadership program.

Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Nathan Rix

Nathan is passionate about elevating the social value of public art because of how it influences the imagination of Oregonians. Nathan is currently the Deputy Director, Strategy & Policy with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Nathan has served on numerous non-profit and public sector boards and commissions that serve the tri-county area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties), including as the Chairman of the Budget Committee with the City of Tigard. He currently serves as a Commissioner with Oregon Volunteers, which funds state-based AmeriCorps programs and promotes service, volunteerism and civic engagement across all of Oregon diverse communities.

Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His


Time for Review of Public Art

The toppling of the statue of George Washington on June 18, 2020, is part of our critical national conversation about systemic racism and injustice. Portland is part of this conversation as people examine the point of view these statues represent and consider the impact on Black Portlanders.

Last Wednesday, City Council adopted six core values to guide the City’s decision-making and workplace culture: anti-racism, equity, transparency, communication, collaboration, and fiscal responsibility. Together, the City Arts Program and the Regional Arts & Culture Council are working to determine what pieces in the public art collection no longer align with the City’s values. RACC has a short list of statues in the collection that have been identified by staff and community members as problematic or harmful. RACC is preparing to make a recommendation to the City about pieces that should be removed from the public collection.

The City Arts Program also intends to work with RACC over the coming months to review the entire collection, including portable works. But with more than 2000 pieces, that will take time, research, listening and learning.

George Washington statue, toppled by protesters, June 18, 2020

Our message to audiences is: “Please stay with us. We’re in this together.”

Arts consultant George Thorn on strategizing for a post-COVID world

By Joni Renee Whitworth


George Thorn is a co-founder of Arts Action Research, a national arts-consulting group. The focus of his consulting is the Regional Arts & Cultural Council’s Cultural Leadership Program. He also co-leads RACC’s Art of Leadership, a six-part board training program offered annually. More about George, below.

George shared his thoughts about navigating the uncertainty of this pandemic and creating a strategy for engaging with artists and audiences. 


Arts and culture will never be needed more than they are today. Considering artists and arts organizations, we know that everyone’s going to be hurt in some way, except for the very wealthy. There are a lot of people and a lot of sectors’ going to hurt really, really badly. That’s the world that we are inhabiting. Our message to audiences is: “Please stay with us. We’re in this together.”

What’s the next step for arts orgs in putting together a strategic plan for after the pandemic? Some people are in relatively good shape, some of them really have cash flow problems, whatever it is. We know that we’re not going to go back to the way it was. It’s going to be a very different reality. It’s time to ask the leadership of each organization to begin to envision what they think this new reality will be for them, how they begin to think about it, what needs to be in it, who needs to be in it, what are the needs within that, what do we need to learn? Knowing as they develop this vision of the next reality, they’ll have to be very adaptive and keep learning.

How are we going to evolve? We need a very simple sort of plan of evolution and financial framework and a programmatic framework. With that plan, which will keep changing, leaders can say to everyone who’s close to them, “This is what we know now. These are things we’re envisioning. We have a timeline that we want to begin. We have intended to do this project here and there. At a certain point, we have made a decision whether or not we can do that project.” Then it’s a matter of helping keep that information going. So, as an arts leader, you’re really saying, “Knowing what we don’t know, so and so, what we’re doing, please stay with us, we’re in this together. We can’t wait to get back into a room with you, with artists making art.”

There is a point of no return. If we want to do a show in October, what’s the point of no return when we have to do that, when we have to make that decision? What artists are doing now, in terms of streaming and video, that’s all testing. Is this a good experience for the artists? Is this a good experience for the audience? It’s different from someone teaching yoga. I think it’s pretty straight ahead. We could consider hosting one-person shows, but we also know that people at some point will want to get into a room again with artists making their work, or get into a gallery to see art in person.

I had some contact with some arts leaders, and they said, “We don’t know anything, so we can’t plan.” Well, now’s the time to plan, because if we wait till we know everything, we’ll be too far behind. A good example of someone who’s doing good work is Samantha from Shaking the Tree Theatre. When the pandemic began, I said, “Samantha, so what are you doing?”

She said, “I spent half the day in the office. The other half of the day, I’m in the theater. I’m painting eight, six by eight panels. I’m working with a sound engineer and a lighting engineer. I’m going to create an immersive experience called Refuge.” That production may have a life in the fall. But this is the artist’s way of thinking: “I want to be back in the studio. I want to be making work.”

Art’s now going to be redefined in different ways by different people. What is that connection with audiences, with readers, with gallery goers?

Artists give us perspective. They give us a way of thinking. It’s in their responses to what they’re seeing and hearing and thinking about. We saw that so much after 9/11: people went out eventually, but they wanted a wide range of things. Some people wanted Beethoven. Some people wanted to laugh, so they went to a comedy club. Some people needed to write. We will come back together, but people will want to experience art in a very personal way, and in all forms: theater, dance, music, literary, AR/XR, visuals. We may get some new audiences through that. Some people may not think of going into a performance venue, but they somehow got into streaming one artist or another online during COVID-19. Oregon Shakespeare Festival is streaming video of shows they’ve done, but it’s a different experience.

Many arts organizations want “the younger audience”. In Gen Z, everyone is a storyteller, a videographer. They’re making work. They’re showing their work. They’re influencers. They participate; their communication is totally participatory. Most traditional art is observational; you sit and observe – a totally different experience. Smart arts leaders need to think about how to market, then, to these people. Normally, when you go into a theater, the house lights go to half, then you turn off your phones and devices. We may be ready to change that model. We need to be thinking about meeting everyone’s needs and making art more participatory. We do have examples of, “After the show, please go on the web and leave a comment”, but that’s not a real talk back; that is still observing.

Now, if we have phones out at a concert, the older audience may resist it. They want to have a singular focus. We have tension there. It’s time to address it. This is an interesting space. Let’s see if there is some other way to address this, creatively. This is what artists do every day. Artists come up with an idea for a project, whatever it is, and they invest in that, whether it’s a single artist or a group project, it’s about problem solving. What they do is they solve problems, they have vision! There’s never enough time, people or money, but they still make it happen. How do we collaborate, who do we need to collaborate with? Where is our audience and our buyers? What artists do every day is solve problems, move forward, have a vision, and keep the project going. In that way, the pandemic is not as new – this is the type of thinking artists do every day.

For any artist starting any project, there’s a risk. You have no idea how it’s going to turn out, whether anyone’s going to be interested in it, what’s the audience that we want for this work, etc. But we do have a process. Scientists and artists share a process: trial, discovery, vision. With a scientific process, the idea is someone puts forth an assumption, and everybody does everything they can do to disprove it. If you can’t disprove it, it becomes a new reality. With making art, someone puts forth an assumption and through collaboration and work and so forth, something new and larger is created. The making of art, the creative process, is the best planning, problem solving and decision-making process available to human beings. I’m amazed every day by what artists make with so little. 

George Thorn works as a consultant in all aspects of organizational development as well as making presentations to conferences and workshops. In parallel with his consulting activities, for eighteen years he directed the graduate program in Arts Administration at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was the Associate Director of FEDAPT. Prior to these activities, he was the Executive Vice-President of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. George spent sixteen years in New York where he had a general management firm that managed Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring companies. George began his career as a stage manager of Broadway productions. In 1996, he relocated to Portland, Oregon, to open the West Coast office of Arts Action Research. In Portland, he has consulted with over three hundred and fifty arts and cultural organizations and artists.