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Paintings evoke Thais that bind

Wherever Fasai Streed goes, she carries her homeland in her heart.

“No matter where I am, I am still Thai,” the Bangkok native says.

However, she fell in love with an American in Thailand several years ago and moved to Portland with her husband, Devon Streed, a former U.S. embassy employee, in 2008.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Fasai Streed hopes viewers of The Old Siam come away with a sense of what rural Thailand was like when she was a child.

“It’s hard to live in a foreign country,” she says, noting she had to adjust to different weather and different culture in America. “I missed my friends, I missed my job.”

To help her adjustment, she decided to volunteer at the Portland Art Museum in 2008, which inspired her to take up painting, an art form she learned from her mother, who was a painter herself.

“I continue painting because it reminds me of my roots, my childhood and my mom,” she says.

And it was living with her grandmother for a spell in Thailand that inspired her first-ever public exhibit, “The Old Siam,” on display at the Fireplace Gallery in Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St., through Friday, Nov. 29.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Sunday Market.

You also can see the paintings at fasaigallery.com.

Titled for the ancient name of Thailand, “The Old Siam” showcases Thai/Siamese village life, culture and traditions. The exhibit’s 11 watercolor or oil works depict rice harvesting, threshing and hulling; fishing; people picking oranges and lotus; rafting; a floating market; and a Sunday market.

Streed described what went into some of her paintings. For example, “Sunday Market” depicts Thai villagers selling their crops.

“I was sent to live with my grandmother during my elementary school years, and where we lived was outside Bangkok,” Streed says. “Every weekend, she would take me to the market, and we would buy fruit or vegetables together. My grandma actually wore a broad-brimmed hat, a long-sleeve button-down shirt and a sarong like in the painting.”

“Floating Market” shows villagers who sell crops from their boats on a canal.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Floating Market.

“Nowadays, there are a number of floating markets, but they cater to tourists,” she says. “Almost every house along the river or canals would have a platform built into the canal like in the painting. My grandmother’s house was no exception. Every day around 2 p.m., I would be at the platform in front of the house waiting for a noodle boat to stop by. It cost only 30 cents at that time for a bowl of noodles. No wonder why I love noodles so much until the present day.”

“Picking Oranges” depicts farmers harvesting oranges using long-handled wooden baskets.

“My grandmother worked in a small orchard,” Streed says. “Some days she would take me with her, and I saw her do this. Of course I had offered to help her for the oranges in return.”

Meanwhile, “Paddy Field” shows farmers harvesting rice, something Streed says she saw whenever she left Bangkok and went to the countryside.

Streed says she hopes her exhibit gives folks who have never visited Thailand a sense of her homeland.

“I want the people to think about a simpler way of life, when people lived comfortably with nature,” she says.



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