Founded by artists, Yale Union is a center for contemporary art in South East Portland. It is led by a desire to support emerging and under-acknowledged contemporary artists, propose new modes of production, and stimulate the ongoing public discourse around art.
We are a small organization in a large building. At this point in our development stage, it would be disingenuous to say that our building, a handsome brick block, isn’t as much an albatross as it is an instrument. While still in renovation (see PLAN section) Yale Union (YU) will demonstrate that a contemporary art center does not need to be architecturally complete to foster culture.
In 1916, an article in the Portland Evening Telegram reported that Yale Laundry (built in 1908) had 125 employees. The majority of the workers employed in the laundry business were women. They worked long hours under harsh conditions. By 1919, the plight of the laundry worker had become symbolic of the need to enforce state labor laws; that year the laundry workers went out on strike. In response to labor trends, several power laundries were consolidated in 1920 to form the Home Service Company in order to share resources and meet new regulations forming around hours and wages. This consolidation was successful and the laundry business boomed.
In 1927, owner Charles Brown sold his remaining interest in Yale Laundry to the Home Service Company; soon after it merged with Union Laundry. The laundry operated until the mid-1950s, when personal washing machines became affordable for middle-class families.
The building is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places for its ability to convey information about American industrialization and the industrial laundry business of early 20th century America, the women’s labor movement, and the rise of the middle class. In 2008, the Yale Union Laundry Building was purchased for the creation of YU. It would be easy to cheat with a building this pretty, but in our minds, sometimes nothing feels more antagonistic to being sans-serif in our thinking than a 100-year-old building. That’s an un-lasting sentiment; one of the chief functions of Yale Union is simply to turn dead matter into a living contribution to Portland.
To be frank, much of this season’s current program is based offsite. Please check back regularly for updates on scheduling. If you would like to attend the Finlay exhibition and visit the library, our open hours are on Sunday 1pm-6pm or by appointment.
By public transit, YU is situated near the intersection of the 15 & 70 bus lines. Vehicle and bicycle street parking in the neighborhood is traditionally easy. Entrance to exhibitions is free although a donation of $5 is suggested.
Access to visitors with physical disabilities is not limited, but please call 503 236-7996 once you arrive for assistance.
Curtis Knapp, Director
Steve van Eck, Deputy Director
Robert Snowden, Curator
Hope Svenson, Curator
Mark Lewis, Music Curator
Scott Ponik, Designer
Jenny Martin, Operations Manager
Amanda Clem, Communications
Ryland Heagerty, Content Manager
Louise Thackray, Intern Coordinator
Alex Mahan, Web Developer
Dean Chen, Financial Officer
The Yale Union Internship program provides an opportunity to be involved in the development and execution of a progressive and engaged contemporary arts program. The internship is designed to offer in-depth training and first-hand experience to those interested in pursuing a role in the fields of curating, exhibition production, or arts administration. Internships are usually a glimpse-behind-the-curtain-exercise, a classic look but don’t touch scenario, a time of gluey lips and stamp-lickage. At YU, interns touch, smudge documents, and activate projects. From the gate, interns feel the implosion of work, swift responsibility, and a steep learning curve. The position is ideal for a recent college graduate, or MA/MFA level student (not mandatory), with interests in non-profit arts organizations and an existing engagement with contemporary art. The post is for a four-month period (with possibility to extend if appropriate), and requires a minimum commitment of two days per week. Yale Union offers internships in the following areas:
YU will consider applicants who demonstrate exceptional research and writing skills as well as a strong interest in contemporary art and architecture. The Curatorial Research Intern will work directly with YU’s curator and curatorial assistant to conduct extensive research associated with YU’s upcoming exhibitions, as well as commissioned projects and publications.
Want to know how art gets funded? Gain valuable insight into the Pacific Northwest’s fundraisers and grant makers by working behind the scenes to support our projects. All the while, develop a sense of how a small non-profit operates. Interns will work closely with the Development Department on various long- and short-term projects including fundraising, event planning, and corporate sponsorships. Experience all stages of the donor prospecting process: discuss projects with curators, research potential corporate, foundation, and individual supporters, draft text and design proposals, and coordinate grant schedules and materials. Get acquainted with Portland’s social scene researching and planning events and representing YU. Assist with Board of Director relations and planning. And rack up impressive skills for any future career in the arts or the non-profit sector, including database knowledge and specialized research. This internship is particularly appropriate for recent graduates interested in getting a broad overview of a non-profit arts organization, and graduate students in Arts Administration/Public Administration/Non-profit Management programs wishing to gain relevant experience. Organized, upbeat, and motivated interns who are looking to explore their interest in the arts are encouraged to apply.
Want to learn how exhibitions get realized? With several projects in production at any given time, you will gain experience in the various stages of the production process from initial to final presentation stage while working with the Curator and Director. While specific tasks vary per project, you will conduct research (e.g. sourcing and pricing, installation research), assist in the workshop, and attend curatorial meetings, with the opportunity for active participation. Interns showing a healthy commitment and particular aptitude may be assigned special design and build-out projects.
If you are a method nerd with questions about how art institutions are formed, grow, and respond to their environments, then this internship is for you. You will develop research questions and research methods with the Deputy Director, and build a portfolio of research findings to support the growth of YU.
How to Apply:
Please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample (no more than three pages) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Aaron Flint Jamison
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Fields Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation
The Martin Family
Henry Lea Hillman, Jr Foundation
The Autzen Foundation
Foundation for Contemporary Arts
The Jackson Foundation
Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation
Colin & Rosine Evans
David Hilmer Rex
Nancy & Paul Ross
Emily & Martin Wilson
Teri & Christopher Gelber
Judy D Jacobson
John Bayard Snowden
Brannon D. Ingram
Sarah Miller Meigs
Scott Lawrimore & Yoko Ott
Dante & Ashley Ortiz
Harold G Rossit
Jerry & Diana Sellers
Martin & Carolyn Winch
Steve Van Eck
Individual, Couple, Neighbor, Artist, Student, Senior
Gregory Landry & Mary K Guth
Barbara A Lee
Roberta Margolis & Sheldon Renan