Last Autumn I was honored to be asked to create a painting to be auctioned at the the annual fundraising dinner for the St. Andrew Nativity School in NE Portland. It was a wonderful experience: meeting the motivated and underserved children who benefit from this amazing school, mingling with the generous donors who make this school possible, and attending the absolutely delicious dinner (from Lincoln, Clyde Common, Irving St. Kitchen, and Salt and Straw).
A few months before the event I was contacted by the school and commissioned to create some smaller paintings that the school could give to the chefs that donated their time to this event. I was allowed to have complete artistic freedom, and I felt pulled to create for them a series of paintings that centered on the beauty of food. I ran into the Alberta Co-op and purchased the most beautiful food I could find, which in September meant luscious figs, apples, and pears.
My experience painting the figs was inspiring. I live in a part of the country that is bursting with gorgeous produce, and I have always been passionate about supporting local and organic-style farms.
Later in the year I got the chance to play with this theme again, for a show called Big and Small at the Red E Cafe, for which I painted more local produce, this time purchased at the People’s Farmer’s Market. I was hooked.
When the opportunity to apply for PDX-CSA came my way, it was a natural fit for an idea that had already been brewing in my head. Why not take it a step further and focus a whole series on one single farm, highlighting the beauty of the bounty that can be grown on one piece of land by one set of committed farmers? I had been experimenting with different agricultural CSAs since moving to Portland in 2006, and have for the past few years been delighted with the produce that comes from Winter Green Farm, a biodynamic veggie farm in Noti, OR (outside of Eugene). I am excited to document the fruits and veggies that come in my CSA share this summer in my PDX-CSA project (the first delivery is this week! Yippee!).
Collectors who purchase a share of my work will get a triple-local experience: The food is locally grown, the art is locally created, and the wood panels on which I will make the paintings are from a wonderful woodworker in N. Portland, Matt from Art Substrates. My hope is that this project inspires buyers and viewers to research local businesses and farms in their area and learn about their own local food options.
I am excited to be focusing on this project on my Instagram site all summer (https://www.instagram.com/betsylevineart/), including photos of the produce and of food made with the produce, and hopefully visits to the farm as well.