When people with the Portland Parks Foundation began working on an event to celebrate the city’s diverse artistic and grassroots organizing communities, they started by asking some big questions.
“We delved quite deeply into philosophical as well as logistical things,” said Subashini Ganesan, a Portland Parks Foundation board member and member of the Oregon Arts Commission. “What does it mean to say that we are celebrating? What does it mean to say we’re welcoming? What does safe space mean?”
Those inquiries eventually led to Paseo, a free festival being put on by the Portland Parks Foundation in the South Park Blocks and Director Park this weekend. It features music, dance, spoken word and other performances, as well as vendors, activities and mutual aid groups, like Don’t Shoot Portland and Snack Bloc PDX.
Ganesan said this intertwining of arts and community support is one of the event’s defining features.
“It’s tough to separate what mutual aid means and who some of these artists are,” Ganesan said, “because a lot of our artistic talent are involved in some kind of social justice work.”
OPB spoke with Ganesan and André Middleton, executive director of music-focused nonprofit Friends of Noise, to get their picks on what to see at Paseo this weekend. You can check out the full line-up and schedule here, but below are a few of their favorites:
5 p.m. Saturday: Tango Berretin trio has been performing for tango-dancing audiences across the U.S. for over a decade. The band features Andrew Oliver on piano, Alex Krebs on bandoneon and Megan Yvonne on vocals.
5:30 p.m. Saturday: Tashon Phoenix is a self-described Black, queer non-binary transmasc creative and spoken-word artist born in Tucson, Arizona, now living in Portland.
8 p.m. Saturday: Chainsaw Girl is a Portland band that espouses anti-capitalist and anti-fascist views.
9 p.m. Saturday: Psychotropika is a Chilean and Indigenous Mexican experimental music project that spans electronic influences. The group mixes a Latin flavor and traditional rhythms with immersive video montages.
12:30 p.m. Sunday: Rainezra is a 22-year-old R&B-influenced singer-songwriter and producer who’s performed at Paris Theater, Jack London and Al’s Den.
4 p.m. Sunday: Espacio Flamenco is collaborating with choreographer Shaun Keylock.