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.
With a combined background of architecture, industrial design, materials science, mechanical
engineering, graphic design, fine art and love of our community, our team of two is ready to step
into the next phase of design. For each of us, art has been an expression of love of our history,
culture, and community. Growing up in Portland (Irvington, Alameda, Sellwood and King areas), we each spent much of our childhoods in the Boise and Eliot neighborhoods.
Many of the landmarks are no longer around and our friends’ families no longer live in the area. We
grew up with stories about the Maxeys and the old crew on Gantenbein, going to Hank’s Dairy on
Williams and Fremont, and attending Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church on Ivy and Rodney.
Now we are property and business owners on N Williams Ave, and have a home in the Eliot
Honoring the history of Williams Avenue is something we strive to do in our daily lives. We are also
part of the Williams Avenue present, and future.
From the Original Call to Artists:
Safety Project Background
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. They committed to recommending sustainable transportation solutions that balance the needs and concerns of all users of the corridor, including neighborhood residents, workers, businesses, religious institutions, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists.
In April 2012, the SAC made final recommendations to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. These included recommendations to honor the history of Williams Avenue . The Committee is an independent group of citizens who have come together to help implement Recommendations No. 8 and 9. Excerpts from the recommendations are attached.
For more information about details of the Safety Project and its process, please visit: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/williams/ .
Call to Artists
The Committee to Honor the History of Williams Avenue (the Committee) is seeking artists or artist-led teams interested in developing permanent public artwork (the Honoring History project) as part of the North Williams Avenue Traffic Operations Safety Project (the Safety Project). .
The artist(s) or artist team(s) will work closely with members of the Committee to develop artwork and historic markers for the Honoring History project to be integrated into the Safety Project. The Safety Project extends along Williams Avenue from NE Broadway to N. Killingsworth Street & is scheduled for construction in late summer of 2014. The Committee states its intention to conduct a process that does not, in itself, create barriers to participation by artists.
The Honoring History project is funded by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and administered by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC).
The Honoring History Project
There are layers of history on Williams Avenue from the early twentieth century to the present that speak to the experience of African American citizens in Portland. The Committee seeks to remember this history through tangible public art in the public right of way that incorporates elements such as photographs or other historically accurate representations, and the written and/or spoken word or music, to convey stories and the complex dimensions of this history. see Resource List
The Committee desires art that:
– Honors the history of Williams Avenue as the mid-twentieth century heart of Portland’s African American community, as well as honoring the many people associated with this period and place
– Acknowledges some of the contradictions, including the pain, anger, frustration and ultimate resilience of the people who have lived here
– Is evocative, figurative and historic, not just abstract
– Bridges a cultural gap & is accessible to both old timers and newcomers
– Is beautiful and pleasing
– Is weatherproof and durable
– Possibly incorporates audio and/or other technology, such as mobile applications, to deepen the experience