There’s some inspirational artwork gracing the grounds of The Oaks. A large mural decorates the outdoor space and multiple smaller pieces adorn the walls of the new music room, thanks to the talent and generosity of Swedish artist Eli Frantzen Van Beuren. Currently based in Charlottesville, Virginia, this self-taught painter was born in Norway and spent most of her childhood in Sweden.
In the new music room at The Oaks you’ll find no less than six of Van Beuren’s images from a collection titled “The Memphis Project.” Displayed on black walls, the separately printed panels appear to be floating against their dark backdrop.
The first one she did was years and years ago, inspired by a Swedish children’s song that talks about how everything will go away except music. She’s been painting variations of this form for so long that now that it feels like something she’s just always done. When she heard about the new music studio at The Oaks, she knew her colorful images would be a perfect fit.
It only made sense to continue the theme for the oversized outdoor mural as well. At first glance, this guitar-shaped image seems to take the form of a woman; but while many see it as decidedly feminine, Van Beuren says it could just as easily be male. As a nod to this more natural setting, this image also includes some trees and birds. The sizable mural measures 30 feet tall by nine feet wide and is comprised of three separate panels.
Each of the images was created on the computer, then the digital artwork can be printed in a size that is just right size for the space. The outdoor mural is printed on a high-quality heavier vinyl that is so sturdy it can be even be washed. In contrast, the inside pieces are printed onto a material that adheres directly to the wall.
“It’s unreal,” Van Beuren says of the high-tech process, adding, “I feel like I’m cheating in a way. It’s still my art and my hand, but you can change colors and manipulate.”
All of Van Beuren’s pieces at The Oaks were donated by the artist because she says she really believes in the work being done there. It fits the mission of her foundation, 2bkinder.com, which focuses on giving of yourself and not expecting anything in return. Why? “Because it’s healthy,” Van Beuren says. “It’s a natural instinct to be kind. We’re all born that way.” Look closely and you’ll find a small symbol on each of her works representing that ideal.
Van Beuren is also drawn to The Oaks’ co-occurring treatment model, having walked with her husband through a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Through her journey with her spouse, who she says is currently doing better than ever, she experienced firsthand the struggle of loving someone so sick. She also confronted the stigma that still exists when it comes to mental illness and addiction, even developing lupus from the stress.
Her own experiences only fuel her desire to share her art with the world and inspire others simply by making them happy.