New mural graces Division Midway Alliance fence

Find out what’s behind this outer East Portland ‘cultural beautification’ project …

Volunteers work creating art on and around the Division Midway Alliance building in the Mill Park neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A group of volunteers took time over Memorial Day Weekend – specifically, on May 27 – to add some color and culture to the Division Midway Alliance (DMA) Neighborhood Prosperity District on SE Division Street.

“The art we’re creating was based on a three-week series, in which community youth gave presentations on their cultural backgrounds,” muralist Alex Chiu told East Portland News.

“We use artwork and ideas from those presentations to create the imagery for this mural, which will be covering the entire wall; as well as being painted on the bottom of the concrete staircase leading up to the front of the building,” Chiu said.

Project leaders – muralist Alex Chiu, and DMA Vietnamese Liaison Khanh Le –pause during the painting project for our photo.

“I am helping to facilitate a youth-led mural project,” chimed in DMA Vietnamese Liaison Khanh Le. “Together, we came up with this idea, because we wanted to create a safer, more creative, and more beautiful place for the community to come share and appreciate the art.

DMA Project Specialist Lorena Mora paints designs on their office’s  concrete staircase.

“To do this, we gathered together a group of youth who are from different cultural backgrounds,” she continued. “We were exploring the idea of culture, and how and why it is important to preserve their cultural identity and cultural heritage in the United States.

“So, as Alex noted, everyone in the group created their own presentation, including sketches, regarding to their family traditions, foods, and major symbols from their cultures,” Le continued.

These volunteers show skill and enthusiasm as they create this new mural.

As you go past, you’ll find images including:

  • Vietnamese – water buffalo with boy riding it – dragon fruit – person wearing a field hat
  • Mexico – a Folkloric dancer – sugar skulls – jasmine flowers – papaya – mortar and pestle used in food making
  • China – Dim Sum – Lion Dance


According to DMA Executive Director Lisha Shrestha, the project is supported through a “Harmonious Neighborhood Grant” from Multnomah County.

September 16: Division Midway Festival of Nations returns
It’s coming back! From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., the DMA brings back this festival. Join them for a day filled with cultural performances, delicious food, and vibrant ambience. It celebrates and embraces the diversity of the district, while promoting the best of outer East Portland’s multicultural community and businesses.

Interested in being a participant or vendor? CLICK HERE. It’s being held at 14601 SE Division Street, 97236.

For more information about the Division Midway Alliance, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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