Williams Ave Art

The Committee to Honor the History of Williams Avenue (the Committee) announces the selection of artists Kayin Talton Davis and Cleo Davis as the artists who will create artwork for Williams Avenue. The artists, who own Soapbox Theory & Screwloose Studio on North Williams Avenue, will install 10 tile sidewalk “murals”, 30 commemorative signs and an interactive kiosk along N. Williams Avenue from Broadway to Killingsworth Street. Final designs will be reviewed by the committee in July with installation expected in late summer.

“N Williams is changing. A lot. What many now living, working and playing in the area don’t know is that for the majority of the 20th century, N Williams/Albina was Portland’s largest African American community. Our goal is to highlight this history, through a multimedia public art project. Help us by sharing your stories, memories, and histories. We are also seeking pictures, recorded interviews, videos etc. to be included as part of the project.” from the artists website.

The Committee was born out of the  Portland Bureau of Transportation’s ( PBOT) Williams Avenue Safety Project based on goals set by the Safety Stakeholder Advisory Committee.  In 2011 the 26 members of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Safety Project accepted the charge to address safety and traffic concerns on Williams Avenue between Broadway and Killingsworth and make recommendations to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. They agreed to make decisions with compassion and integrity within a contextual framework, understanding the safety issues while at the same time acknowledging past planning processes and those who have been hurt or damaged by those planning processes. They agreed to do this in a way that was inclusive, safe, considered all voices, and had positive impact on the entire community.   In April 2012, the SAC made final recommendations to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. These included recommendations to honor the history of Williams Avenue .

PBOT set aside funds for a project to Honor the History of Williams Avenue. A committee of interested citizens including some of the SAC members formed to drive and advise the process. The Regional Arts & Culture Council was asked by The Committee and PBOT to manage the process of selecting and contracting with the artists. The Committee in partnership with RACC issued an open call to artists. The team of Kayin Talton Davis & Cleo Davis was selected to create their project.

Any questions about the project can be directed to Kristin Calhoun, Public Art manager at the Regional Arts & Culture Council:

Kristin Calhoun
Public Art Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council
411 NW Park Avenue, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97209

By Kristin Calhoun

One thought on “Williams Ave Art

  1. The idea and intent of this project is a great one. More art along Williams will only enhance the neighborhood. However, it is disappointing that this project is ignoring the first 50 – 60 years of the street and neighborhood. The history of Williams avenue started around 1880 long before it was a Black Neighborhood. It is in those first 50 – 60 years that the street was built, homes lined the street, buildings were new. While the period of 1940 – 1990 is very significant, it is not more or less significant than the history that preceded it. There are people in the community that believe the area has always been a Black Neighborhood. This project is just perpetuating that myth. Why not intertwine some earlier history in the project and tell the whole story?


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