This project has ended! We appreciate your support!
Follow any of these links to participate:
Post to Facebook include @seamusberkeley #pofh @FamilyHouseSF
- Volunteer at the Studio:
Help us in various roles at the studio in Berkeley
Please consider supporting this project with your tax-deductible donation now.
Portraits of Family House is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of Portraits of Family House are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Fractured Atlas’s fiscal sponsorship program helps artists and arts organizations raise money from charitable sources.
‘I have been yearning for my artwork to serve a more meaningful purpose. The Portraits of Family House is a perfect match.’ ~ Seamus Berkeley
PORTRAITS WITH A PURPOSE
The Portraits of Family House project is a series of oil paintings showcasing the courage of those involved with Family House, a nonprofit providing free housing for families of children being treated at the Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco for serious illnesses.
The project plans for the creation of 24 oil paintings by Seamus Berkeley, a fine arts painter with decades of portraiture experience. The paintings capture the compassion of those who make Family House the wonder it is: the children, families, caregivers, organizers, volunteers and health care professionals.
The project is creating a visual legacy of the faces and spirit of the people who transform Family House into a supportive community and home away from home for families in need.
So far 8 of the 24 oil paintings have been completed and are already on display at Family House. (You can view the finished portraits in the gallery tab.) As each portrait is completed, it is donated to the Family House organization. The full set of portraits will be compiled into a book documenting the compelling stories of these families, volunteers, and more.
This is a painting of Lahoma and her son Demetrius, one of the families featured in this project. Demetrius suffers from IPEX syndrome, an autoimmune disorder where the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body’s own tissues and organs.
IPEX syndrome is an extremely rare disease. So rare, in fact, that when Lahoma’s first son died of it nearly thirteen years ago, they didn’t have a name for it.
Lahoma’s story, a fight against the seemingly impossible, is one of the many inspiring narratives found at Family House and one of the many we want to express.
The goal of this project is to use art as means to shine a light on the goodness of humanity as seen at Family House by all the people caring for families in their time of deepest need.
Please help us share the compelling story of these everyday heroes.
How it Started
In fall of 2012, Seamus Berkeley was in downtown San Francisco speaking with small business vendors at a condo development. He was looking to sell his art. There, he met a woman named Karen Banks. When she found out he was an artist she said, “Forget about my business. Let me tell you what I’m really passionate about.”
What Karen was passionate about was none other than Family House. She inspired Seamus to visit Family House shortly after their first meeting. What Seamus saw there transformed his view on life, love and loss.
“It blew me away,” Seamus says. “I saw children in comas, a newborn with a brain tumor. It was a whole aspect of life I hadn’t considered.”
But tragedy wasn’t the only thing Seamus saw at Family House. He saw compassion, courage, and kindness. He saw a community of individuals—who in any other situation would only be strangers—supporting each other in the face of looming death. Yes, there was suffering at Family House, but there was also hope.
This hope which awed him also inspired him. It was within the walls of Family House that he witnessed deep empathy in the face of despair, and he wanted to paint the empathy which moved him in a way that would also move others.
Seamus began the Portraits project shortly after his first visit to the homes. He began talking with the families and the volunteers, learning about their hardships and their uphill fight to triumph over these same hardships.
“This capacity for people to care for one another in the most distressing circumstances encourages me to persist in my mission to share these stories through my ability as a portrait painter,” Seamus says.
These stories will work as a reminder that yes, others have been here, have experienced this, and have made it through.
Simply talking about their personal story can be therapeutic for these families. In this project, they are encouraged to talk freely about their situation–the ups, downs, fears, and uncertainties. The Portraits of Family House project is about giving this community a voice and faces to go along with the stories. We want to share these stories, convey emotion, and bring about an even stronger awareness of the compassion and community associated with Family House.
About Family House
Founded in 1981, Family House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing temporary housing to families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital. Family House currently operates two residential buildings with a total of 34 rooms located in the vicinity of the hospital and is currently constructing an additional 80 room residence adjacent to the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Mission Bay.
Their locations sustain a nearly 100% occupancy rate and accommodate up to 107 people per night. Over a year, they serve more than 2,000 families, many of whom live at or below low-income status.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Your support is essential in completing this project. We have 17 more portraits to create along with the design and printing of the corresponding book. Your tax deductible contribution will help complete this project by covering items such as paint, canvas, gesso, transportation expenses, studio space, labor, design & printing of the book, promotional materials, and other costs associated with completing the remaining portraits and accompanying book.
Our Immediate goal is $20,000, but this is just a starting point. It will actually cost around $135,000 to complete the project, so we’d love to spread the word and go far beyond the initial $20,000 goal. Any amount raised will help us continue work on the next portraits, but we need a lot of help to complete the entire project and leave this visual legacy of and for the community at Family House.
MEET THE TEAM
Seamus Berkeley is a fine arts portrait painter who has painted hundreds of people, from life. While living in Taos, New Mexico where he founded the Taos Society of Portrait Artists, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the art portrait painting. Since moving to the Bay Area, he has continued to create commissioned portraits and other works while also offering art instruction. For this project, Berkeley is working with a small team to tackle all of the logistics involved with the Portraits of Family House project.
Robyn Comfort is one of the founding team members and continues her ongoing support of the project through social media updates.
Danielle Kreie has recently moved to the Bay Area bringing her program coordination skills developed while working with the Sun Foundation, a nonprofit arts and science educational organization. “I heard about the project and knew right away that I wanted to get involved. Art has the unique ability to relate to people on so many different levels and I think this project exemplifies that. I really like that Seamus is stepping out of the box and actually using very personal paintings and stories as a way to enhance Family House and promote a sense of community.”
Ezequiel Calderone, Jr., marketing specialist and consultant for PwC.
Theresa Le Phung is a multimedia journalist with a passion for people and storytelling. As a reporter, she aspires first and foremost to authenticity, diligence, and making a difference no matter how small. For the Portraits of Family House project, she is writing the stories of the portrait subjects.
Your tax deductible contribution will help complete this three year art project benefitting Family House by covering such items as paint, canvas, gesso, travel expenses and overhead for the complete set of portraits. Support this project now!