Art on Alberta Has Left the Building

August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

August 1, 2013—Portland, ORArt on Alberta has officially closed its doors, leaving behind a rich legacy of public art, art and education support, and community engagement. The group of dedicated volunteers has focused on promoting the Alberta Art District’s distinct cultural identity through art and educational activities for over 13 years via community connections, festival partnerships, art shows, classroom visits, public art installations, and events such as the beloved Art Hop, a day-long community festival celebrating arts and culture traditionally held each May.

The small but mighty nonprofit organization was formed by a group of art businesses and artists who first met in 2000 to secure a grant for fabric banners for the street and to organize the first Art Hop event. The energy shared at initial meetings fueled the team as they set up a Board of Directors, sought 501c3 status, and began meeting monthly to work on projects ranging from distributing fabricated metal sculptures built by teens, affectionately known as Art Agogs, to organizing the “Shovel Art Project” featured at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Streetscape Improvement Project. The first board President was Donna Guardino (2000-2002) owner of Guardino Gallery. Onda Gallery’s Allan Oliver (2002-2005) was next, followed by Joseph Blanchette (2005 to 2007), Hilary Pfeifer (2007 to 2010) of Bunny with a Toolbelt, and Eve Connell (2010 to 2013). Local property owner / entrepreneur Roslyn Hill also helped organize Art on Alberta and the Alberta Street Neighborhood Business Association as a source of funds and community support.

Art on Alberta came together exclusively for charitable and educational purposes to enrich the artistic and cultural life of the Alberta Street corridor and to promote, develop, and preserve Northeast Alberta Street through community involvement as a viable and desirable place to work, live, and shop. In doing so, the organization has contributed greatly to the neighborhood’s cultural identity and revitalization efforts. Once the Alberta Main Street program was implemented in the neighborhood (2010), Art on Alberta eagerly partnered with this important group to continue the good work evident in this creative slice of Northeast Portland today.

Two main contributions – the annual Art Hop festival and the presence of Red Rover, a mobile gallery – enabled the group to bring arts experiences to the broader Portland community. Art on Alberta’s roving trailer gallery was used as an installation space, a tool for art education, and a literal vehicle to bring art to the community in a fun, unconventional way. The annual Art Hop festival engaged community members in celebrating the arts with over 200 vendors, music,

literary arts, food, fun, and more. The 2009 festival was a tremendous undertaking and cornerstone for the arts community and for Alberta Street as it featured the work of local artist (with international acclaim) Thelma Johnson Streat. The 2010 festival featured muralists Rodolfo Serna and Esteban Camacho who assisted teens and community groups and neighbors in creating murals that are on permanent display at three locations on Northeast Alberta Street. That was the last Art Hop festival (May 2010). Red Rover has been donated to SCRAP, another arts-focused nonprofit organization that inspires creative reuse and sustainable habits by providing educational programs and affordable materials to our craft hungry community. Remaining funds have been donated to Alberta Main Street so it may continue to support public art on the street.

“Alberta Main Street is committed to fostering the development of Northeast Alberta Street as a world class arts and creative district. While Art on Alberta is closing their doors, many of the founders and people remain engaged in our efforts,” notes Sara Wittenberg, Alberta Main Street’s Executive Director.

Art on Alberta relied on grants from RACC, OAC, other independent funders, as well as in-kind and cash donations from supporters and local businesses in order to host the Art Hop festival each year. The group also held annual meetings that attracted many small business owners, participated in RACC’s Art Spark events, and presented well-attended fundraising events like the Colour Party.

Art on Alberta’s board members are eager to see an official catalog of Northeast Alberta Street’s growing and impressive public art collection. A map project is underway with Alberta Main Street committees focused on design and promotions. A few Art on Alberta board members will join this group to share knowledge and history of the rich art legacy that continues to grow.

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Additional Information:

Art on Alberta was a nonprofit organization with a dedicated volunteer board that, for over 13 years, focused on promoting the Alberta Art District’s distinct cultural identity through art and educational activities.

Art on Alberta thanks all its supporters and funders over the years for helping to shape this fantastic arts-focused community, vibrant business district, and super cool neighborhood!

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