Calling All Artists, Seekers, Creators & Healers!
Xhurch (the venue and residence) is seeking artists in residence. The idea is to streamline the waltz of daily life in order to focus your attention more intently on your craft for a specified period. Accepted residents will be able to station at Xhurch for one to three months, making their mark on physical space and temporal events at the venue, while pursuing creative goals in their preferred mediums.
Xhurch is an interdisciplinary arts venue and living space located in a former church. The story of how the building changed hands over the years speaks to the cultural and demographic shifts common to North and Northeast Portland. Built in 1930 as a synagogue, the diminutive "Alberta Shul" was then later sold to Mount Sinai Congregation, an all Black church, in 1952. The racial tensions inherent in the sale were distilled in a poignant letter from the rabbis of the shul-synagogue to their real estate agent ordering the sale of the building despite pressures having been put upon them to back out of the deal “for no other reason than that the purchasers, though Christian, are also Negro." The rabbis went on to say: "We regard such pressures as being violative of the principles of Americanism, of Judaism, of Christianity and of common decency... Man has no dearer right than the privilege of worshiping God in his own way.” (learn more at Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art & Monuments blog.)
Throughout the following half-century a host of congregations rose and fell at the site where Xhurch now resides. Mostly small churches comprised of African American churchgoers. In 1980, the building was purchased by a sole proprietor who had no interest in church-planting, but just so happened upon the opportunity to buy the building. He continued to rent to small congregations for about thirty years until there came a point where frequent turnover became tiresome and the building began its term as a storage facility.
Congregation Tifereth Israel, 1952 Shortly thereafter (in 2010) Xhurch was born. Xhurch started as a workspace and gathering spot for friends, artists, and collaborators, and soon blossomed into a unique venue for performance, art-making, and experiments in adaptive living. Since its inception the space has hosted a growing number of resident artists, musicians, and creative practitioners hailing from Portland Maine to Paris France, including many other passers through, while continuing to host regular art and music happenings, lectures, and more.
What To Expect
Xhurch is a vibey zone of creative saturation and manifestation. An artist in residence can expect an easygoing atmosphere conducive to the creation of work, punctuated by monthly events which range from lectures, to shows, to movie nights, to art installations. This balance of downtime and social opportunity is ideal for artists looking to develop their work and share it with a vibrant community of creators.
Xhurch possesses a magical atmosphere which subtly changes hue throughout the day. An airy breeze is an easy thing to come by (especially in the summer months), as is encouraging feedback and engagement around your work. Expect to be inspired by an atmosphere of creation and supported in your process, both in and outside of art-making.
Resources / Provisions
At Xhurch you’ll have access to a good number of resources, including art supplies, building materials, bikes, books, rare cultural artifacts (tapes/ zines/ talismans / a complete installment of The Library of Sacred Technologies), a garden (needs help!), musical instruments (including an upright piano & Hammond organ), high-speed internet, Oculus Rift headsets, and various sound, lighting, and projection equipment.
Xhurch is located at 4550 NE 20th Ave in Portland, Oregon in the heart of the Alberta Arts District, two blocks from Alberta Street on a sweeping bike thoroughfare known as Going Street. Nearby amenities include, Alberta Co-op Grocery, Bye-and-Bye, Grain and Gristle, Pok-Pok Noi, Beech Street Parlor, Extracto, Barista, Random Order, Trade-up Music, The Know, Zig Zag Wanderer, Mothership Music, Bollywood Theater, Salt & Straw, Back to Eden, Townshend’s Tea, Pine State Biscuits, La Bonita, Little Axe Records, Monograph Books, NE Portland Tool Library– to name a few Xhurch favorites.
The domestic conditions at Xhurch are unique, bearing a few anomalies that need mentioning up front:
With space being at a premium in this small church, principles of minimalism have been necessarily embraced. Collaborating on meals and coordinating groceries helps save space in the kitchen. A general aim of tidiness extends to the rest of the commons as well. Little is needed in the way of additional furnishings. A bed can be provided or brought, depending on your preference. Other furniture provisions are negotiable, with a small amount of space available for storage.
The interior landscape at Xhurch is never fixed. As a new resident you will engage in a process of homemaking, helping to create the space with an aim of meeting your comfort needs, and those of other inhabitants. The residency is for artists, creative adventurers and spiritual seekers. You will be given the space to sculpt your own reality in an independent fashion.
Expect at least one roommate (me, Matthew E. Henderson), with a good sense for the ebb & flow of daily life at Xhurch. It is an amazing place! If you're able to cope with unconventional living circumstances this could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for!
Rent + utilities = $333
* work-trade & skill-share opportunities strongly considered (see below).
** stay-times are flexible, rent proratable, etc.
How to Apply
If you're interested in applying for the Xhurch residency please complete the online form.
Work-trade / Skill-share / Collaboration Opportunities
Xhurch presents many opportunities to collaborate. While this residency is meant to focus on the creation of your own work, there are a number of ongoing projects which could use your help!
Below is an abbreviated list of ongoing Xhurch projects. Click the '▶' to expand each category.
OUTDOORS (NATURESCAPING / PLANTING)
Xhurch lettering / Google Earth project - The sloped side-yard facing Going Street is the staging area of an unfinished project. In an early effort to denote the building's namesake, concrete cinder blocks were embedded in the lawn spelling out “x h u r c h”. Aesthetically, the intention was always to “dress-up” or otherwise beautify the cinder blocks by planting in/on/or around them. For whatever reasons, this plan has yet to materialize, and while the stalled project has succeeded in spurring dialogue around the building's transformation from church to xhurch, the letters could have a much better impact with some renewed vision.
Garden - The Xhurch garden too has far from reached its full potential. Are you an avid gardener? There are two planters: one is highly underwhelming and the other is meh, with the exception of flourishing alpine strawberries!
Topiary - Xhurch features three dense bushes which lend themselves to fanciful topiarian ornamental shapes! Why not try out your Edward Scissorhands!
INDOORS (BUILDING / INSTALLING)
Museum/General Store/Gift Shop - The Xhurch is in need of a designated space which can attract and receive visitors to inform them of the building’s history and impart the enigmatic ethos of the Xhurch. Such a space could serve as a kind of museum / general store / and gift shop presenting postcards, topical literature, curious artifacts, and other such knickknacks for purchase, trade or gratis.
Loft - There is unfinished attic space above the vestibule which could be transformed into a loft. In addition to increasing inhabitable square footage, a loft would afford privacy while freeing up communal space. Are you handy with carpentry?
Shower - The Xhurch needs a proper shower installed at some point. (Or does it?)
PRESERVATION / PLANNING
Xhurch preservation effort - The former 'Alberta Shul' has had a vibrant history leading to its recent trajectory as X-church, deepening its patina over the years and finding new resonances. Are you into planning and preservation? Do you like red tape? Want to help preserve this historic building so its story can be shared for years to come? It sure beats another duplex!
“We regard such pressures as being violative of the principles of Americanism, of Judaism, of Christianity and of common decency. ...Man has no dearer right than the privilege of worshiping God in his own way.”
Read more at Samual Gruber's Jewish Art & Monuments blog.
VR Lab & Meetups - Recently, Xhurch has become a node in Portland’s burgeoning VR community, hosting weekly meetups wherein virtual reality and virtual worlds are explored. Xhurch continues to amass technical resources and expertise in this erupting field. If you are interested in VR consider us a friend and resource.
TECHNOLOGY (WEB DESIGN/VIDEO/VR)
Xhurches website & film - Since moving into the Xhurch in 2010 a broader interest in repurposed churches quickly took root. This interest gave rise to a project known as ‘Xhurches’. Basically, Xhurches takes a look at what others are doing with buildings that were once churches, and generally aims to advocate for their reuse. With the help of excellent collaborators like Missy Ward, Peter Pendergrass, Ashly Florence, and Van Pham the project has developed from a pocket-sized zine into a website (xhurches.org) and a film production ('Xhurches'). Are you web or video savvy? Would you like to help grow the Xhurches network, improve the reach and user experience of Xhurches.org, or help with the Xhurches film production? This project is really dynamic and fun and needs your help!
Xhurches Project Summary
xhurch /pronounced: church/ noun. 1.: a former church, one which has been adapted to a new use. 2.: an "ex" church
Our passion for the arts and church conversion stems from first hand immersion in both subjects. Since moving into a former church in NE Portland in 2010 and founding the arts venue 'Xhurch' (a precursor to Xhurches) our small artist consort has grown to encompass an expanding community of talented musicians, painters, dancers, performance artists, and community builders. Whether the abundance of disused churches in America reflects a broader decline in church attendance or religiosity is the subject of many reports and statistics, one thing is certain—an opportunity exists for artists, entrepreneurs and the like to adopt these often beautiful spaces (some of them representing our most inspired architectural aspirations) and reuse them in ways which continue to serve the surrounding community. Yoga studios, concert halls, rock climbing gyms, communal living spaces, all ages venues, museums, all are potential new uses. By showcasing the trend and providing a platform for continued dialogue surrounding repurposed churches and related themes, Xhurches can help engender healthy reuse patterns while revealing a network which is yet to be charted.
Xhurches.org details - Xhurches.org needs help with: creating xhurch profiles, adding xhurches to the “Directory”, adding xhurches to Google Maps, writing for the "Culture" blog associated with the Xhurches website, reaching out to other xhurches for photos, info, and permissions.
Xhurches film details - In order to explore firsthand the different instances of church reuse occurring on the West Coast, Van Pham and I were awarded a grant from RACC to conduct a tour of repurposed churches in Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, and document our findings. The result is a LARGE assemblage of video footage which we are turning into a documentary highlighting these trends in church reuse. Are you a video person? Interested in assisting us on this exciting project? There are so many thrilling avenues pertaining to this project and we need a good crew to accelerate its production!
Xhurch has hosted a number of notable artists, presenters, and townspeople, including: MSHR, IASOS, Maja D’Aoust, Pulse Emitter, Cloaks, Plankton Wat, Experimental Half-Hour, Clement Valla, Jason Urick, White Gourd, Corum, Tenses, Planets Around The Sun, Tunnels, Hair and Space Museum, Emily Pothast, David Golightly, Jamie Janover, Strength, Signify Sanctify Believe, Claire Cronin, Tanya Rubbak, Adam Overton, Guru Rugu, Sisters of the Lattice, Agnes Bolt, Nina Sarnelle, Bike Temple, Scott Mayoral, Van Pham, Lymay Iwasaki, Joshua Lee Vineyard, Rachel Hibbard, Ashley Florence, Peter Pendergrass, Alan Singley, Barbara Conable, Marian Grebanier, Melissa Ward, Willoughby Arevalo, Kieran McKeon, Kate Rose, Chris Spencer, John Griffin, Amanda Latham Griffin, Carl Adamshick, Jae Choi, Ensemble Economique, Je Suis le Petit Chevalier, Numbskull and more.
June 17 - Sanctuary Sunday: Visible Cloaks, Matt Carlson, Gummi
Temporarily Inducted at Xhurch, IntoTheWoods.tv
Space Christ: Alien Nativity is out of this world, WillametteWeek
Only In Portland: Alien Nativity Scene, IFC
Alien Nativity Display in NE Portland, KGW
Artist's Bizarre Celebration of Christmas, Daily Mail
Nativity 3.0, PORT blog
ONN/OF 2013: Retrospective, 4Culture
Last Weekend's ONN/OF: A Light Festival, CityArts
A Diary Entry from Neighbor Barbara Conable
Simply want to be involved?
Sign up for the Xhurch Mailer to receive info about happenings.
Xhurch is an artist-run, not-for-profit venue and residence. Volunteering opportunities are always available and appreciated! Whether it's preping the space for an event, or helping to stage the annual 'Nativity' scene, volunteering at Xhurch is fun and a great way to meet other artists. If you would like to help with Xhurch events/projects/productions, please contact email@example.com.
Supplies / Needs
There are a certain number of things, like light bulbs, printer ink, gaffers tape, lumber, and the occasional dump run that are regular expenses incurred by Xhurch for community productions. If you would like to donate supplies or materials please see the list of needs.
If you would like to make a donation to Xhurch, please use the donate button below.
THANK YOU for reading and for caring about the Xhurch!