Fresh Paint Opportunity Re-Opens to First Time Muralists

Artist standing on a ladder painting image of a person on a wall mural

Artist Eric Mbungu Mpwo works on his Fresh Paint mural

Open Signal had a wall. We had experience creating murals. Salvador Mayoral, who facilitates our Public Art Murals Program, recalls how Fresh Paint, the partnership to provide emerging Black and brown artists a place to become muralists, got its start. “We were looking for a high visibility spot for a temporary mural pilot project,” he said. Open Signal’s Director of Strategy, Rebecca Burrell, remembers, “We were looking for a way to bring visibility to our mission and bring more art into our neighborhood.” The two organizations joined forces and their new initiative, Fresh Paint, kicked off in 2017. Since then, 10 artists have been selected to paint a temporary mural on an exterior wall of Open Signal’s building facing the highly visible Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Each mural is hosted for at least four months and then painted over in preparation for the next artist.

Installation Dates for Murals
  • October 2021 – March 2022
  • April 2022 – September 2022
The Opportunity

Fresh Paint is a professional development initiative providing emerging artists of color with a paid opportunity to paint a public mural for the first time in Portland. “We wanted artists who didn’t have experience as muralists but the desire to create murals get the support and resources they need to develop a new skill set and build their portfolio,” Mayoral explained. For several artists, the mural projects have led to other public commissions or funding opportunities. The wall currently features Limei Lai’s mural, Together.

RACC and Open Signal, announce a new call for Fresh Paint muralists. Interested artists have until July 14th, 2021 to apply. To qualify for the opportunity, artists must live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, defined as Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington. The selected artists receive a commission for their participation and are offered the opportunity to engage with a range of resources at Open Signal, including the use of equipment.

To be considered, artists can submit information about their background and interest through RACC’s online application portal. No proposals are required. Because the program is designed to support artists in establishing their careers, applicants may not have received any public art commission through RACC nor created an official exterior mural in the City of Portland. Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Public Art Murals Program will run the selection process, relying on past Fresh Paint muralists to review submissions and recommend which new artists should be selected.

Get Help with your Application

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

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

Artist Information Sessions
  • Monday, June 14 at noon on Instagram Live. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities.
  • Tuesday, June 22 at 6 p.m. on Zoom. RSVP here.

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

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


About Open Signal

Open Signal is a media arts center making media production possible for anyone and everyone in Portland, Oregon. Launched in 2017, the center builds upon the 35-year legacy of Portland Community Media to create a resource totally unique in the Pacific Northwest. Open Signal offers media workshops, a public equipment library, artist residencies and five cable channels programmed with locally produced content. Open Signal delivers media programming with a commitment to creativity, technology and social change. Learn more at opensignalpdx.org.

About the Regional Arts & Culture Council

An independent non-profit organization, the Regional Arts & Culture Council supports greater Portland’s creative economy by equitably providing 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. RACC connects artists and creatives to opportunity and access. Learn more at racc.org.



Fresh Paint with Bizar Gomez

In a city known for murals, how do you get your foot (or art) through a door when you’re an emerging artist of color? Fresh Paint, a partnership between RACC’s Public Art Murals program and Open Signal, offers that door to have artist work in the public realm.

In this 2019 cycle of Fresh Paint, a selection of new emerging artist have the opportunity to paint a temporary mural on the exterior of the Open Signal building facing the highly-visible Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Each mural is up for a period of months until it is painted over in preparation for the next mural. But what’s unique about this program is that it doesn’t just provide a wall for a mural – the program offers resources to emerging artists that would not typically have access to, which then gives them space to explore working in the public sector and incorporating new approaches and skills in their artistic practice and experience.

Bizar Gomez  was raised in the desert of Phoenix, AZ and now living among the trees in Portland, OR. Gomez is an illustrator and painter who is doing all he can to continue existing. Working primarily in gouache, graphite, ink and digital media, his work involves mixing urban world iconography, dreamlike surrealism, stylized figures, and social consciousness to create interesting visuals and narratives. Gomez graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in Illustration.

The trio’s mural is currently displaying through September 30, 2019. We caught up with Bizar after the completion of the mural to talk about the work and experience with Fresh Paint:

Tell us about the collaborative mural you created for this program. Can you walk us through your process of conceptualizing a mural and bringing it to life?

A gouache, color pencil and digital piece on the helplessness we feel when others ascribe identity to us by Bizar Gomez

“This Is You” -gouache, color pencil and digital -11″ x 14″

Once we decided we wanted to work together, the idea and design of the mural happened pretty organically. Even though our personal styles are very distinct between the three of us, there was still enough common ground in our approach and content that it was not difficult to create a composition that not only retained our own individuality, but also something that worked well as a whole.

What was it like to paint your first mural on the Open Signal building?

It was definitely fun, and once you got into the right flow of it, became very meditative. It was also pretty physical, and on most nights I found myself going straight to bed after a day of painting. We received a lot encouragement and support from the community and passersby as we were painting it, and it helped quite a bit to help us push through the day whenever fatigue began to get in the way.

Since your Fresh Paint mural, what have you been up to? What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way since your first mural?

Since the Fresh Paint mural, I’ve mostly been spending time looking for new mural opportunities, as well investing further in my freelance illustration career. I’ve learned that making murals can be demanding but rewarding, and that it is a very unique medium that reaches out to type of people who don’t normally seek art on their own. It’s also pushed me to consider other solutions to transfer line work to the walls. While projectors and grinding are commonly used, there are other methods such as using chalk powder and pounce tools that could better suit someone like me.


As an emerging muralist, what thoughts or words do you want to offer emerging muralists/artists?

A Self Portrait made for promotion Cactus Boy with graphite, ink, color pencil and digital 10

Self portrait “Cactus Boy” graphite, ink, color pencil and digital -10″ x 10.25″

Make an estimate of how long you think the mural will take to paint then multiply it by three, That’s how long it will actually take to finish the mural. Mural making takes a lot of planning even before you lay down the first coat of paint, and its important that you cross your t’s and dot your i’s accordingly in order to make painting it as painless as possible. It is worth it to better invest in the materials that you use, having a roller and a brush for every color can save you a lot of time and effort.

What are you up to now? Where can we find you and your work?

As of right now I am working on mostly personal work, developing things that I might want to explore in the future. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter or my website. You can also reach me through email at bizargomezart@gmail.com. I am always open to new projects, (Both mural or illustration) so if you have a project you think I would be a good fit for then please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.


Fresh Paint is a professional development program, now in its second year, that provides emerging artists of color the opportunity to paint a mural in a high-traffic setting for the first time. The goal is for each artist to learn new ways of creating art in a public space, as well as to build their portfolio. To learn more about the program, contact Salvador Mayoral IV (RACC)