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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spoon Fed

I made mention in a previous blog "Generosity Created the Cat" of the SPOON Foundation's upcoming event.  But wanted to share it again!  For those of you here in Ptown this is a great opportunity to support the cause and have a wonderful time trying many different cart foods!  For those of you out of town, you may not know this but Portland is now know for it's food cart pods! They are everywhere!  Think of any food you could ever want, and wowza!, there's a cart serving it up!  It's true!!  Please read below for more info on the SPOON Foundation and the event!

Cart Night at the Ballroom: A Food Cart Fundraising Event to Benefit Orphan Nutrition.

SPOON Foundation, a Portland based non-profit focused on international orphan nutrition,
announces Cart Night @ the Ballroom, a unique food cart tasting event to benefit the
health and hope of our world’s orphaned and adopted children.

On Thursday April 7, 2011, from 6:00-9:00 PM, over 10 Portland food carts will set up tastings
of their best cart fare inside the Village Ballroom, located at 700 NE Dekum in Portland.
Attendees will get the opportunity to sample the unique food offerings from such local food
carts as Namu Killer BBQ, Nuevo Mexico, Mum’s Kitchen, Pepper Box, Robb’s Really Good
Food and Hungry Heart Cupcake. To wash down all the food, beer will be donated by the
Village Ballroom’s neighbor, Breakside Brewery.

In addition to unique food, the event includes live music from Jesse Lee Young Trio, door
prizes from KEEN, and a silent auction, with such items as VIP backstage passes to the film-
ing of Leverage and VIP tickets to the DEW Tour. Portland author Kelley Roy will also be in
attendance, signing donated copies of her book CARTOPIA.

Tickets are $45 in advance, $55 at the door on the day of the event. Ticket price include
the cost of food.

To purchase tickets and to learn more about orphan nutrition, please visit the SPOON
Foundation website, For a complete list of participating food
carts, updates on silent auction items, and deals on tickets visit the SPOON Foundation
Facebook page ( All proceeds from this Cart Night will
benefit the SPOON foundation, a non-profit working to improve the nutrition of orphaned,
fostered and adopted children.

About SPOON Foundation

The SPOON Foundation is a Portland based non-profit whose mission is to improve the nutrition of orphaned, fostered and adopted children so they can grow and thrive. SPOON’ s Orphan Nutrition Project is the first worldwide effort to uncover and prevent nutritional deficiencies that impede the development of orphaned children. The project was piloted in Kazakhstan in 2009 and has made great strides in changing the way governments nourish young orphans around the world.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Art is a Luxury? *WTF?

I was meeting with my AA group yesterday.  That's Art Accountability group to you!  And a certain someone brought up how her family was taught that art is a luxury. And the 3rd person in our group agreed!!! I was SHOCKED to say the least.  Art is NOT a luxury, especially for an artist.  Art is a *M.F'en necessity!

A little Rococo for ya!
I'm still in shock.  Image, if you will, there is no art. Look around you.  Bare walls, no color, every piece of furniture ceases to have style.  Every house would look a-like, all our clothes would only be utilitarian.  Art is embedded into every nook and cranny of our cultures.  You might not think of yourself as an artist, but every time you arrange your furniture, pick a particular combo of clothes, paint a room, arrange a flower vase, you are expressing yourself.  You are creating a composition.  You are, in fact, living art.  

c. 15,000-10,000 BC
Lascaux, Franc
Now, if you don't consider
yourself and artist, and apparently even if you are an artist,  you may disagree with me. But you'd be wrong.  :) Art has been an integral part of society.  I'll spare the art history lesson today.

Function without form?  Sounds horrible.  For me, art is a necessity! A staple in life's my diet.  My hope is that it becomes that for you too!  A life without expression hardly seems worth living.  

Disagree?  I'd love to hear why!  Agree?  Do tell!!

*M.F'en is my abbreviation for a shocking offensive pairing of swear words, same for WTF! :) Just in case you didn't know.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

If at First I Don't Succeed, Try Try Again?

I have a confession to make. and it's not a pretty one. I don't like doing things I'm not good at.  I've never been one of those people who can take a look at a part of themselves that's weak and work to make it stronger.  I have to already have an interest and a natural ability for it and then I am more than happy to develop it.

But that's not to say I can't/don't work hard, or that I can't learn new things.  It's just that it doesn't come naturally to me.  So it's hard for me to keep going at something when I feel like I'm failing. Like applying for jobs, applying for art things, getting out of bed in the morning. haha Some days it's a lot like this! 

Right now things feel a little sucky.  Rome rejection, another job rejection, some other art issues that feel like failure. But then I read a story about Hideaki Akaiwa diving in to the tsunami to save his wife, and then 4 days later putting on that diving gear again to find his mother. Or a heart wrenching story about how socks and letters are making people happy when they have nothing left. And about all the people and animals who are dead, devastated, or displaced in Japan and I feel really ashamed and weak.  I have nothing to complain about compared to thousands of people in Japan.  Don't even get me started about the rest of the world.  Not to mention the people I know who are struggling with their health, or people who have been unemployed a lot longer than me, or the homeless just down the street.

How do you keep perspective when the little things add up and seem bigger than they are?  I have a great life! It's just when the pressure of the "norms" weigh in it gets hard to remember that.  Expectations that I should have a *career working 40+ hours a week, a health plan, a 401k with thousands of dollars, a bigger house, etc. can cause me to question my desire to make art and my overwhelming urge to travel.  A *prestigious job,a big house, a new car, fancy clothes, none of those things are important to me.  We all need reminded of the great things we have in our lives, so I made this for me.  It's certainly not fancy, but it gets the point across.  :)

I'm going to try to remember the good things and try not to let the every day "life" things add up and get in my way!

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope it's sunny where you are!

*But that's not to say if I had a job I loved that it wouldn't fulfill some of those desires to create and make difference in other peoples lives. If I could only find that job creating art that would save the world! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Power of Art!

You've heard me say it before but I'll say it again.  Art has the power to heal, give hope, provide entertainment and of course joy! Don't believe I said it before?  Look here! 


Photo by Motoya Nakamura, The Oregonian
Imagine yourself fleeing your home with only the clothes you were wearing and maybe one or two items. What would they be?  For Samir Khurshid he took an unfinished painting of his parents, a few paints and brushes.

I will give you the readers digest version of this story and links at the end if you'd like to read more.

Samir is an Iraqi refugee, he fled Iraq when the opposition discovered he'd been painting US solders.  He then waited in Turkey 5 years for political asylum.  Samir started painting at age 4, he's now 33.  During his painting career in Iraq he painted Saddam Hussein 83 times. People knew who he was there.  When he arrived in Portland last fall, no one knew who he was.  He was alone, no money, and could not speak English.  All he wanted to do was paint and learn English.  But living in a small apartment with 4 other refugees made that almost impossible.  Until now.

Samir, who would now like to be called Sam, moves in to his new apartment this week.  It just so happens it's above the art studio he's started using recently in the Falcon! Thanks to Brian Wannamaker, of the Falcon Art Community, Sam has these places to get started until July!  He will also be taking English classes at PCC.

If you'd like to see more of Sam's work, please come the Falcon Art Community Spring Open Studio April 22nd at 6pm.   Or check out these photos

I would like to thank the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization and his caseworker Margret for really going the extra mile to help Sam and the people they come in contact with. 

And now I ask: What can art do for you?

Want to read more of this story? Enjoy these links!

Monday, March 21, 2011


How do you handle rejection?  Is personal rejection different than professional rejection? If so do you react differently?
In my case it's artistic rejection, and I do not like it. Today I received my very nicely written rejection email from The American Academy in Rome.  It went something like this:
Dear Serena Van Vranken,

Thank you for your application for a Rome Prize fellowship. When the jury met recently, they carefully considered your application materials. I am writing to inform you, on behalf of the American Academy in Rome, that the jury did not recommend you for a fellowship in Visual Arts.

Academy juries change every year, and a previous application in no way compromises your chances of winning a future fellowship. We hope that you will consider applying again, as many Rome Prize Fellows have applied more than once before being selected.

I guess I was more delusional than I imagined, as I am really disappointed. And was secretly putting off making some decisions until I heard from them. Now what? 

The AAR gets hundreds of applicants each year.  most of the winners are professors or are pretty far along in their careers but I was still hoping. It was a sort of tough application - you must have all the usual stuff plus an essay outlining your project.  Basically my project was painting the modern Roman in ancient Rome.  I'm intrigued by how old the city is and how modern man functions with in it.  I was excited to paint ancient architecture with the everyday modern men and woman interacting with it. Guess I'll start thinking about a stronger concept for a project!  

I haven't talked too much about my oil painting on this blog. Some of you may not even know I'm an oil painter.  Here are the photos I sent for the application process.
I hope you'll take a moment to check them out!  I apologize that I'm not able to post any photos from the computer I'm working on at this time.

Thanks for listening to me whine.  Sweet dreams.

ps. It occurs to me, now that I am posting this publicly, that for me embarrassment follows rejection. But I'm sharing it anyway.  As this is what I've promised this blog is about.  Trials and tribulations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Sound of Silence

I've been mostly silent this week.  I have a million excuses for my lack of posts and my lack of productivity.  None very interesting. 

My list is a mile long of things I need to do in the next two weeks.  I'm hoping to get through them quickly and efficiently while still having fun!  Side note:  I was able to get out into the garden today and planted beets, arugula, and swiss chard. Planted some snap peas this week too!

Today I will be painting for a few hours in hopes of getting closer to finishing my commission piece.  When it's done I'll post the process photos from along the way.  I'm really interested in your feed back once you see it.

I also have about 5 new prints to kick out before Pedal Nation here in Portland April 9th and 10th.  I will be sharing a space with 5 other "bike craft" artists/designers/sellers.  Among them will be two lovely ladies I've had the pleasure of selling with before, Rachel of  Bike Cozy , and Randi Jo of  Randi Jo Fabrications.  I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with some fabu people selling awesome goods!  The other bike craft team will be Curtis of North St. Bags, Brian of Velo Gioielli, and Becky of BIKEASAURUS.  If you are interested in bike stuff check out the Pedal Nation website and come down to say hi!

And last but certainly not least, I ask you to keep the people and animals of Japan in your thoughts.  During my brief time there this fall I fell in love with the entire nation.  My heart hurts for them. 

Enjoy your weekend!  I hope to be a little more communicative in the weeks to come! 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cascade Print Exchange!

Brochure and Packet of my Prints
Inside Cover of Brochure

My Linocut "Night Sky" Top of Page 85
Print exchanges are awesome!  For this one I printed an edition of 15 and mailed them off.  I get 12 random prints back, a brochure and a spot in a the exhibit of Fairbanks Gallery, OSU May 2nd - 24th 2011.

The Reception is Tuesday May 3rd 
4:30 - 6pm.  I will certainly try to attend!

Here are some examples of the ones I received!

Kelly Tully Intaglio on Monoprint

Left to right:  Vesper White "Pencils" Intaglio, Watercolor.  Maren Burck "Smallest of Birds" Lithograph.   Amanda Abraham "Sparrow" Lithograph

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Generosity Created the Cat!

I've always hated the saying "Curiosity Killed the Cat" for obvious reasons.  So instead of curiosity and unemployment, how about generosity and unemployment? Sounds a bit counter intuitive, lack of income and all.  But for me, it's all I've got!

Donated 1 of 50 to the * Spoon foundation
Giving gifts is my "language of love".  {The theory is we all favor one of the following:  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Giving/receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.}

So, I may not be able to take my friends out to eat, or buy them expensive drinks or gifts, or donate to all their causes.  But I can give them art.  My art comes from my heart, I've used my time and skill to make it.  Anyone can walk in to department store and charge a cold mass produced item.  Don't get me wrong, many a day, I've been more than grateful for those gifts and when times were different I've given those gifts.  Side Note: Now with the help of Etsy you can charge something one of a kind and handmade! 

Donated 1 of 30 to ** BTA
Am I trying to make myself feel better? Trying to prove I'm still a viable part of society?  Maybe.  The stigma of being on the dole is hard to shake.  

Lately I've been having a really hard time completing a task.  My mind is jumping all over the place, the littlest things feel like burdens and basically I can't seem to concentrate.  I'd like to think I'm not depressed, I don't feel "depressed". But the stress of money, the break in, lack of good sleep, lack of exercise, might be taking their toll.  That and this winter weather of gray and rain. Thank goodness spring is just around the corner!! 

So let me know if you have an upcoming event that needs a giveaway or raffle item, I'm sure I can arrange something! 

One last thing.  I guess I am curious after all, what's your language of love?

*The Spoon foundation is having their fundraiser Thursday April 7th!  Sounds like a blast!  Get more info here! Spoon Foundation
They provide proper nutrition for orphans!

** The BTA Bicycle Transportation Alliance's Alice Awards is Saturday April 23rd. The BTA works to make bicycling safe, convenient and accessible in communities around Oregon.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's Better than Cheese?

Kitties!! Here's my little kitty family!  I know, this has nothing to do with art, or unemployment, except they keep me company during my unemployed art making days!


Mirabelle, looking a little crazy eyed!

Sleeping kitty extraordinaire! Love to steal the pillow

Belle hates her photo taken!


Thai in a Box!

Belle in a Blanket!

Maya - foster child

Becky - I'm her foster kitty mom

Becky in a Basket!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sunday's on the Phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the Phone to me...

Day 116 of unemployment.  Day 116 of freedom.  (financial freedom is another story)

Happy Tuesday!  Tuesdays are my weekly open studio painting group night. (interested in live model painting? contact me) I'm in charge of the group and this month I've hired myself as the model!  Tuesdays are my painting days at home too, however. the painting I'm working on is too wet to work on. I'll give her another day or two to stiffen up a bit.  I'm hesitant to tell you want I'm working on.  Do you want to know? Will you judge me harshly? Let's just put it this way, I've been commissioned to reinterpret a classic.  I'm hoping Leonardo will forgive me. 

Projects(aside from looking for the perfect day job) to keep me busy:
Painting commission referenced above
March Print of the Month
House/Pet sitting gig
Rabbit themed print exchange
Oregon Ink Spot exchange
Pedal Nation show - Need new bike inspired work
Redesigning show set up
Selling old paintings on Ebay
Writing a page on "how to live on paint fumes" aka, green/cheap living tips!
Biking (my bike should be ready to go in a couple weeks!)

That should keep me busy!  

The printmaking workshop on Sunday went really well! If you are in Portland and interested in learning basic Drypoint and Linocut contact me!  I finally printed my drypoint heart and posted it to Etsy today!

 Have a lovely art filled week!