Soul Restoration Project Residency Extends Black Artist Salon at Albina Arts Center Through January

PSU professor Darrell Grant’s storefront residency has hosted artisan markets, performances, arts shows, oral history sessions and panel discussions.

Kwanzaa on Killingsworth Painter Kathy Pennington in front of some of her pieces depicting Portland street scenes at Kwanzaa on Killingsworth (Brian Burk)

Since Oct. 22, the Soul Restoration Project has occupied a formerly vacant storefront at 14 NE Killingsworth St., providing space for Black artisans to showcase their creations, for Black musicians and poets to perform, for audiences to hear the oral histories of community figures, and more.

Originally slated to end Dec. 19, Portland State University professor Darrell Grant recently announced that his project would continue into 2022 at the Alberta Arts Salon.

On the project’s site, Grant describes the ongoing salon as “a laboratory to explore how art can activate and renew our civic space.” While he’s only had residency space on Killingsworth Street since October, Grant has collaborated with other artists to create the Soul Restoration Project in spaces like the North Park Blocks and Tilikum Plaza since the summer of 2021.

With co-curators like Sunshine Dixon, Bobby Fouther, Intisar Abioto, Mic Crenshaw and Friends of Noise, Grant has used the storefront residency to host artisan markets, performances, arts shows, oral history sessions and panel discussions on topics such as the future of Black media.

We don’t yet know what January will hold, but Grant announced three upcoming events, all happening next week, to close out the year. Monday through Wednesday, Dec. 27-29, Grant will host three hourlong talks titled A Space for Black American Music: A Series of Jazz Talks with Darrell Grant. The talks will be presented in-person and via livestream. Tickets cost $8 to $15 and are available here.

  • History: Exploring the deep history of artistic expression in the Black community, this discussion highlights contributions by guest culture bearers, including rapper Mic Crenshaw. 4:30-5:30 pm Monday, Dec. 27.
  • Traditions: This event centers on Black vernacular music, including spirituals, ring shouts, field hollers, blues, and freedom and gospel songs. Planned footage includes clips from the Darrell Grant Quartet performance with special guest dancers from Viva La Free. 4:30-5:30 pm Tuesday, Dec. 28.
  • Vision: Focusing on the creators defining the future of Black American music, this discussion explores original compositions and chamber music adaptations of music by Black composers, with guest artist Machado Mijiga on electronics. 4:30-5:30 pm Wednesday, Dec. 29.

Perhaps best known as the space now housing record shop and music space Turn! Turn! Turn! and as the former home of feminist bookstore In Other Words—immortalized in many Portlandia sketches—the larger Albina Arts building has a long history of fostering community in Portland. Last week, social justice organization Don’t Shoot Portland announced that it was actively campaigning to acquire the property and had been doing so since 2019.

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