On Tuesday, December 6, PDC and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) presented a Community Hour at Curious Comedy Theater in Vanport Square to celebrate the start of construction of Alberta Commons and to introduce the artists who will create public artwork for the project. Attendees were enthusiastic about the artist presentations and the anticipated grand opening of the project’s anchor tenant, Natural Grocers, slated for fall 2017.

Alberta Commons is the Natural Grocers-anchored project at the intersection of NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and NE Alberta Street. The Community Hour also featured members of the project team and PDC staff who provided updates on the construction schedule, the community benefits agreement, and the tenanting plan for the non-anchor space.

Two public artworks will be included on the building occupied by Natural Grocers. The two artists selected for this work are Arvie Smith and Mehran Heard.

Portland artist Arvie Smith creates beautiful paintings with luscious glowing color and fluid brushwork. Smith has had a distinguished teaching career and is professor emeritus at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland where he taught since the mid-‘80s.  Since 1998, he has traveled extensively through Ghana, Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso, West Africa. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Portland, and he currently has an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum’s APEX Gallery.

Mehran Heard’s drawings are intricate, energetic and colorful compositions that combine bold figurative work with imaginative imagery. He has created chalk murals, illustrations for corporate clients, skateboard designs, and album cover art and most recently had his work included in a group show in Sapporo, Japan. In 2015, Mehran collaborated with artist Jeremy Nichols on the Black United Fund mural that celebrates black women in history who have laid the groundwork for racial equality.