By Dan Werle | CNA Media Team
Portland has long been a destination for creative people looking to make and share their work. The city landscape is dotted with gathering spaces where artists live, work and/ or perform.
One such space in Concordia has withstood shifting demographics and rising housing costs. The Alice Coltrane Memorial Coliseum functions as a practice spot and gathering center for musicians and other artists.
The building sits on the eastern-most edge of Concordia, at the southwest intersection of 42nd Avenue and Sumner Street. Like many neighboring houses, it was built in the late 1920s. Since then, it has seen a number of different occupants, owners and purposes.
A former resident of the building informally named it for Alice Coltrane. Also known as Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, she was a jazz pianist, harpist, composer, bandleader and, later in her life, a swamini. Her husband, John Coltrane, was another prominent jazz musician until his death in 1967. She died in 2007.
The building’s name honors her musical and spiritual legacy. So does her photograph, surrounded by flowers, displayed prominently inside one of the rooms.
Throughout the years, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is rumored to have visited there while studying at Reed College. For a few years, it reportedly served as a gathering center for Hare Krishna worshipers.
Chris Radcliffe owned it from 2006 until last August. He’s a member of the Cacophony Society, a counter-culture network of people based in San Francisco with “lodges” throughout the world.
In 2008, a container home he built on the lot was featured in Portland’s Build It Green Home Tour. The 1920s structure has also housed performances by:
- Joey Casio, an electronic artist known for his ahead-of-the-curve mixes and infectious friendliness – who died in the 2016 Oakland Ghost Ship Fire
- The long-running Portland-based creative music group Million Brazilians
- Rainbow in the Dark, a queer and transgender group that traveled across the United States in a school bus
That building is now occupied by Heterodox Records and also used for rehearsing and recording by such artists as Soup Purse, Grease Envelope, Production Unit Xero and Ralph Barton. The latter is an electronic dance music DJ, improvisational comedian and modular synthesizer builder.
Ralph, credits much of the spirit of the building to its previous owner. “It wouldn’t be this kind of building without Chris. This was his lab. This was his project.”
Dan Werle lives in Concordia with his wife, Anna, and their dogs.