Portland seems to have an endless cache of arts and culture related outlets. Theatres, galleries, art schools, monthly and seasonal festivals, nonprofits, funding agencies, educational programs and initiatives and more—there are plenty of places for the explorer and the connoisseur (and everyone in between!) to engage with the arts.

Given the arts-loving environment in Portland, you’d think it’d be easy for an artist to showcase her work, or actually make a living doing what she does best, but that’s not typically the case. Many local artists make income through online sales, and attempt to show their work in other states and countries for maximum exposure. While Portland is indeed an incredible place for the arts in many respects, it’s still a challenge for an artist to show, perform or even gain traction when just starting out. Because artists need all the support they can get, here are some key resources that should register on every local artist’s radar. (For you spectators, there are some great ways to get peripherally involved here, too, with many events scheduled for April and May that make art and artists accessible.)

The Connector: Portland City Art

Artists: Anna Magruder (left) and Heidi Wirz (right)

Portland City Art’s one-year anniversary happens this month. To celebrate, there’s a group show and collaboration with the Regional Arts and Culture Council’s monthly Art Spark event (another important resource for networking and exposure to arts, artists, arts orgs).

The small, smart team behind PCA's creative force (Chris Haberman, John Graeter, Andrea Boyle) has gracefully managed to host (nearly) monthly shows and large-scale events, support local established and emerging artists, collaborate with galleries for small shows and events, and throw exceptional parties that attract artists, gallery owners, arts and culture policy makers and patrons alike. These gatherings not only offer a fun way to see art and connect like crazy, but truly create a space that allows arts conversations to take place, skillfully bridging the gap between east and west and making it safe for those wary of potential pretentiousness to participate in our vibrant arts culture.

The Funding Agent: Regional Arts and Culture Council

Eloise Damrosch, RACC Executive Director (left)
Carol Morse RACC Board Chair (right)

RACC grants offer opportunities for funding for individual artists and nonprofit organizations alike. A new grant cycle is on upon us with deadlines looming for both Professional Development and Opportunity Grants.

The Supporter: Portland Stock

Participants evaluate artists proposals at Portland Stock

An off-shoot of similar projects in other major cities, Portland Stock provides opportunities for artists to fund their small-scale projects, for people to participate in a democratic arts funding process, and for 100 interesting souls to share soup, break bread, discuss the virtues of projects and debate the age-old question: What is art?

Read our previous coverage of Portland Stock. The next event is scheduled for June, so get ready to submit your proposals (guidelines on the Portland Stock blog).

The Defender: Portland Mural Advocates

Mural on the Musicians Union building in Northeast Portland.

A committed, tireless group of artists and arts supporters fought the City and the Federal Court to make Portland safe for public art (murals). The heroic efforts of Portland Mural Defense paved the way for the creation of RACC’s Public Art Murals Program. This year, there are multiple mural projects being launched across the city. From Esteban Camacho’s installation in the new building for PSU’s School of Social Work to Art on Alberta’s community murals creation during the May 15th Art Hop event, murals are popping up everywhere, adding to our community and inspiring new projects. If you’re a muralist, get on it!

Read our previous coverage of Portland's murals.

The Community Builders: Circadia Arts Center
and Milepost 5

Hand2Mouth Theatre rehearsing at Milepost 5

Northeast outpost, Circadia Art Center, provides “space and resources for cultural and art events, workshops, classes, and performances”—and more. With community building top of mind, owner Balam McNally envisions a thriving, sustainable arts environment that encourages artists of all ages, skills levels and persuasions to rent work and performance space, take classes and share resources.

Further east, Milepost 5 is into the second phase (The Studios) of its utopian artist community project that launched a few years ago. By fall, 85 to 102 live/work spaces will be available for approximately $250 to $700 per month. This creative community also offers 10,000+ square feet for arts organizations and individuals alike to rent a shared work studio, exhibition, rehearsal/performance and other event space. Get on the wait list now!

The Networks: PORT, Hungry Eyeball and WAN

Portland’s arts community operates in the spirit of abundance and sharing. There are plenty of outlets that offer not only gallery openings, events announcements and reviews, but keep tabs on good opportunities for artists such as grants, group shows and networking events. The resources that you should pay attention to include:

  • Working Artists Network for events, workshops, networking tools and other resources to help grow your biz as an artist. WAN is the “artists’ chamber of commerce”.

If you’re an artist, download a grant application or attend an event to connect with others. If you’re new to the art scene, test the waters with an Art Spark or Last Thursday event. If you’re a gallery owner, scout new talent by cruising the blogs. The arts in Portland are accessible to everyone.