News Archive 2009-2018

Profile: Robert van Vranken ’82 (Bowdoin Magazine) Archives

Robert van Vranken '82 (Illustration: Chelee Ross '12)


This profile originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Bowdoin magazine.

Bowdoin major: Art History

Current Residence: Pennellville, Maine

Title: Artist

Websites: and

On color: I try to not let personal preference get in the way.

If not an artist, I’d be?… Scary question!

On a studio fire: What the Buddhists say is true: Everything is impermanent. No exceptions. Life hurts. I suppose you could say that the studio fire in 2004 reconciled me with this truth, which often lies hidden beneath the surface of our daily busy-ness. No empire shall endure.

Inspiration from the everyday: That is the key. There is really nothing else of substance to work with. The world is much more beautiful than it is useful, if one has the inclination and courage to actually look.

Favorite time of day to create: I have always kept pretty normal working hours, 9-to-5-ish. It is a job, and there are plenty of days when even the most basic progress does not come easily. Like a lot of things, it’s a matter of hanging in there until the ball starts to roll.

Favorite pieces of art: That is too big a question. Just the other day, however, I saw a painting by David Ligare at the Sacramento Art Museum entitled “Penelope”-amazing! It gave me goose bumps. Well-executed Realism has always seemed a bit magical to me.

On television: I do not watch TV. As a form of cultural expression this medium has taken the prize for retrograde toxicity.

Favorite food: Risotto-no, burgers cooked on an outdoor grill.