Yale Union, Portland, Oregon.

Yale Union Art Center Cedes Property Rights to Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

Yale Union, a contemporary art center in Portland, Oregon, will transfer ownership of its land and historic building to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), a Native-led nonprofit organization that works with Indigenous artists to promote Native culture in the US. Located at 800 Southeast Tenth Avenue, the brick edifice—built in 1909 to house a large commercial laundry—was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, a year before being acquired by Yale Union, which was founded by a group of artists. “This free land and building transfer will set an example for recognizing the value of Native ownership of property in urban areas across the nation,” NACF president and CEO Lulani Arquette said in a statement released by the two entities. 

Open to the public since 2010, Yale Union hosts events, holds exhibitions in its 9,400-square-foot space, offers studios, publishes books, and serves as a community gathering place. Under its new ownership, the property, which is to be called the Center for Native Arts and Cultures, will operate as NACF’s national headquarters. At the same time, the building will host Indigenous artists, exhibit their work, and provide space to “practice culture and make art,” including areas designated for “cultural ceremony and celebration.” Workshops and seminars geared toward the local community will address issues like the decolonization of space, antiracism, and environmental justice.

The land transfer initiative, which began in 2018, was born from discussions between former executive director Yoko Ott and current board president Flint Jamison about art institutions’ role in “restorative social change.” In 2021, after a brief period of co-organized programming, Yale Union will dissolve its nonprofit. “The property transfer to NACF will serve as a natural culmination of Yale Union’s decade-long mission to support artists, propose new modes of production, and stimulate an ongoing public discourse around art.”