Orlo is a non-profit organization exploring environmental issues through the creative arts.

Orlo publishes the Bear Deluxe magazine, facilitates visual arts programming


Founded in 1992, Orlo is one of the region’s most inspiring nonprofit organizations—sharing an equal commitment to high-quality arts programming and environmental or place-based relevancy. Over the years the organization has met its mission through a variety of projects and arts programming, including a gallery and project space in Industrial Northwest Portland, traveling exhibits, film series, media campaigns and numerous community-based events. You might remember such projects as the “Bike-In” at Laurelhurst Park, the “YouEndDanger” media campaign, the “Orlo Video Slams,” the “Water & Plastic” exhibit at Quartersaw Gallery, the “SmokeScreen: Smokey Bear Turns 50” exhibit, the “Promised Landfill” exhibit or the “Word on the Street” citywide readings—to name just a few of many.

The organization’s first statewide project was “Oregon Common Ground,” an exhibit that sent photographers and writers around the state to interview everyone from the famous cross-dresser Darcelle to dock workers about the environment. After this remarkably successful show, Orlo “caught fire,” getting a lot of media attention and artist involvement. In 1993, the “Bear Essential” magazine—Orlo’s signature publication published its first issue, including hundreds of artists, “wild and free” to the public.

Orlo’s flagship project, now called The Bear Deluxe Magazine, is an award-winning and nationally distributed collection of environmental writing and visual art.

In the mid 2000’s, given limited resources and staff, Orlo developed a more specific and focused purpose statement reading, “To publish The Bear Deluxe Magazine, facilitate visual arts programming and generally serve as a leader in the field of place-based art.” To this end Orlo has helped to sponsor and co-create various visual art projects outside The Bear Deluxe, including the “Newer Shades of Green” exhibit at Lewis & Clark College’s Hoffman Gallery and the Monday-Night Lecture Series at Portland State University. Beyond “facilitating” projects, Orlo is open to new visual art projects once leadership and funding opportunities have been indentified. Orlo representatives also serve leadership positions within the arts community, speaking at events and conferences, sitting on art-review panels and collaborating with other like-minded projects. Orlo is pleased to note that, since its inception in 1992, many other artists, organizations and institutions have taken on the mantle of “place-based art,” growing the focus into a defining regional tradition.

In 2010, with the support of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Orlo relocated from Industrial Northwest Portland to the new Zoomtopia arts building in Industrial Southeast Portland.

In 2013, with the support of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, working contributions from a dedicated team, and generous in-kind work of our creative director, we were able to launch a fully redesigned and reprogrammed website. We hope to be able to take advantage of different mediums and roam more freely with better access to our content and our audience.

As we continue to build out this website, look for more on past and future Orlo projects.

Orlo and The Bear Deluxe Magazine have been recognized for editorial, creative and design excellence by the Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Cultural Trust, Literary Arts, Oregon Humanities, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Bumpershoot Arts Festival, Print magazine, Adbusters, Orion, High Country News, Utne ReaderThe Oregonian, the Eugene Register Guard, Willamette Week and Portland Monthly (community engagement).

Additional support has been provided by The Kinsman Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation, NeighborsWest-Northwest (Office of Neighborhood Involvement) and the Metro Central Enhancement Fund, among others.

Orlo has published and presented the work of over 2,500 writers and artists and has reached an audience exceeding 3 million.

Orlo, Italian for “on the brink” or “edge,” defines the independent spirit of our programming. Orlo Bear remains our mascot.