A Call To Portland Artists

Parkside was recently awarded a Kenton Placemaking Grant through the North Portland Trust Fund for community enhancement. We submitted a proposal for a project that we feel will continue to create important conversations and increase connections among community members and places they care about. This project is meant to create a canvas for the history of Kenton to be represented on the corner across Brandon Ave. from Kenton Park. Please help us make this happen by sharing this information with artists and community members. We feel that it is important to have spaces to visually reflect this history and create discussions for us all to learn more about where we live and how it came to be what it is today. All funds awarded will go directly to artists for time and materials.

We seek to provide a visual rendition of the racial and economic history of Kenton through a series of 2' tall x 7.5' wide panels, mounted outdoors at the corner of Willis Blvd. and Brandon Ave, on the newly installed patio in the parking strip, which is visible from Kenton Park. This conspicuous location, on the block between the iconic Paul Bunyan statue and Kenton Park, will invite tourists and longtime neighborhood residents alike to explore and learn more about our unique history: a prosperous company town, the location of the first black policeman and teachers hired in Oregon, the site (and the high ground) for the Vanport disaster in 1948, a shameful era of segregationist redlining by the City of Portland, a center of the Black community in North Portland these many years, and much, much more. We will commission artists from the Kenton community to draw from this rich narrative and paint panels front and back. Parkside will ask artists to provide short bios for themselves as well as a brief summary of how and why they chose their subject matter. This project seeks to increase awareness of the history of our district and provoke difficult discussion of racial injustice and economic disparities that continue to plague our community.

The project will be divided into three phases: the first phase is partially complete, in that the patio and primed panels are constructed. The second phase consists of soliciting content. Parkside will host two meetings, open to the community, in the coming weeks: the first will seek to gather prospective artists and community stakeholders through public postings and announcements to discuss mural content and invite proposals, and the second of which will, by silent ranked choice voting amongst all participating community members, decide which artist proposals shall be chosen. The third phase will be ongoing; Parkside will serve as a center for discussion of the subject matter of the panels, and the artists will be expected to provide short bios and summaries of their pieces and their motivation.

Objective One: Increase connections people have to each other and the places they care about. This project will be located outside of Parkside and across from Kenton Park. Community members have been meeting at Kenton Park for 75 years; they’ve been meeting at Parkside for less time than that, certainly, but we have put much effort into being a location in Kenton that feels more like a neighborhood meeting hall than a restaurant for more than six years. We want this project to foster stronger bonds in our community than those that already exist by encouraging listening, understanding, engagement, and disagreement.

Objective Two: Engage historically marginalized and/or underrepresented communities. The subject matter of the panels is strongly encouraged to be centered on Kenton’s history, specifically that part of Kenton’s history which informs much of current societal unrest. Further, BIPOC artists will be specifically encouraged to submit proposals.

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