Art celebrates 'most diverse area in Portland'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Forced from their neighborhoods by gentrification, some people were pushed into other parts of Portland, like the Jade District.

A colorful art exhibit is highlighting the history of the Jade District and the artists behind it hope it will educate people about the efforts to keep this neighborhood’s diversity intact.

Just off Southeast 82nd Avenue near Division Street is the Orchards of 82nd, also known as O82. Inside is a colorful art exhibit.

Artist Jose Camara-Lavadores made this artwork in the Jade District along SE 82nd in Portland at the Orchards of 82nd building, May 10, 2022 (KOIN)

Artist Jose Camara-Lavadores created the piece, “a map of 82nd. I put a heart to kind of represent that it’s, you know, a part of the community. It’s like a beating part of it. It’s the most diverse area in Portland. … I also had kind of a dripping melting effect to kind of symbolize that it’s not perfect.”

He is one of several artists who collaborated on the exhibit through APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, located in the same building.

Roshani Thakore, the Cultural Work Manager for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, May 10, 2022 (KOIN)

Roshani Thakore hopes it will show people how gentrification often force poorer and more diverse communities out, hurting neighborhoods like this one.

“We wanted to create spaces with community members to just start about education around history and see after knowing people’s history, like, what else can we do? What changes can we make so that these histories and stories aren’t lost?” Thakore said.

The exhibit also pushes to keep the culture of this community intact.

“You’ll notice a lot of east Asian businesses, grocery stores, residents, pretty much on 82nd avenue,” Thakore said.

Artist Grace Kwon sees this as a way to take in art and an important lesson at the same time.

Artist Grace Kwon in the Jade District along SE 82nd in Portland at the Orchards of 82nd building, May 10, 2022 (KOIN)

“Each poster tells the story of the people who lived there and then the reason for their displacement or the reason for why these people find themselves in east Portland,” Kwan said. “It’s not a question, but it’s more like a call to action. So place the pin here if you want to join us in stopping gentrification.”

Camara-Lavadores said they “all kind of collaboratively came up with a definition of gentrification and we know that the city of Portland recently got jurisdiction of 82nd. We are a little concerned that some changes might happen that might exclude certain communities.”

The Portland City Council said control of 82nd Avenue will soon be transferred from ODOT to PBOT, specifically from Northeast Killingsworth to Southeast Clatsop.

PBOT will officially take over control of 82nd on June 1.

The city said it will use $185 million inn funding to improve this stretch of road — add street lighting, update signs and roadway striping and repaving the road.

When the changes take place, these artists hope more people will make sure they are changes that will benefit and preserve this community’s history and culture.

“I think it’s really important to make a note of the people that are present and not exactly try to push them away, but try to help them better to improve themselves,” Camara-Lavadores said.

At the end of the exhibit there is a “Don’t be a gentrifier – Neighborhood welcome kit.” The exhibit is open to the people who live at O82 or by appointment through [email protected]

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