Portland Street Art Alliance murals foster community identity, and it's planning a big campaign in 2020 in Southeast Portland

COURTESY: ODDIO - The Portland Street Art Alliance, whose members create respectful and beautiful art work (above, 'The Alexis Walls'), is laying the groundwork for a big project over the next year — the Viaduct Arts initiative, in which artists will paint on the sides of buildings and more in the Central Eastside Industrial District.The Portland Street Art Alliance is a group of artists who paint respectful and beautiful images and work to find ways to incorporate the art into the landscape of the city.

For years, the group put on its Taylor Electric Block Party, focused on painting at the old Taylor Electric building in Southeast Portland. It had to postpone its event this year, because PSAA has its eye on a bigger picture — or pictures.

The Viaduct Arts Initiative aims to paint vibrant murals on viaduct corridors and property walls in the Central Eastside Industrial District, in Southeast Portland, to make a walkable hub and public art gallery. While it's still in the planning stage, there has been a call to artists, and 2020 promises to be a banner year for the organization.

Supported by an Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights grant, the Viaduct Arts: Central Eastside Mural Art Program will feature three established Portland street artists and emerging artists to "take new risks to develop their public practice and skill sets, build their connections and promote more inclusive engagement and access to public art-making in the city," PSAA stated. It's intended to "seed" art-making as an integral part of the district's identity.

"Street art can enrich everyday life, help build a city's identity, build bridges, and foster a sense of place and pride in our community," the PSAA stated.

COURTESY PHOTO: TIFFANY CONKLIN - According to the Portland Street Art Alliance, 'Street art can enrich everyday life, help build a city's identity, build bridges, and foster a sense of place and pride in our community.'The group has been working with business and property owners for access to art-making.

"We've been referring to Viaduct Arts as an initiative, not a project. It's a lot larger than what we think of as a project and involved a lot of community partners and stakeholders than usual," said Tiffany Conklin, PSAA executive director.

She added, of why the Viaduct Arts undertaking started:

"With new zoning changes and increased development happening in the Central Eastside Industrial District, Viaduct Arts is a 'seed' to ensure that street and graffiti-style art remains an important part of the district's unique identity. With this initiative, PSAA also aims to build our network and support working artists in rural communities across the state. The goal is to increase representation in Portland's public art landscape."

Artist applications are due Dec. 1, with artists selected by Feb. 1. Design and review phase takes place in February and March, followed by logistics planning in April and May and painting in June.

Conklin said PSAA already has several property partners — Killian Pacific, Libertas Companies, All Service Moving, Todd Hess Building Co. — and it's in talks with others. Murals will be part of the Belmont-Morrison and Hawthorne-Madison viaducts, and on Southeast Second and Third avenues.

"We're still in the process of securing all the walls, getting city permits in place and developing the call to artists," Conklin added.

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