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Divinia Jelen

"Garage sales are my summer job," says Divinia Jelen of Cottage Grove, who bought nail polish for four years before transforming the faded hood of her '88 Escort with a nail-polish mural depicting western Oregon. "The central figure is Mother Earth with a water goddess superimposed. Her legs become rivers full of fish." Jelen worked four hours a day from early September until mid-October on the painting. "It's my first work of art," she admits. "My artist friend Bedo drew the basic design on the hood." An avid garage-sale art collector, Jelen covers her walls with paintings. "I take pride in rescuing them," she says. "I use Feng Shui to arrange them." Self-reliant since a neglected childhood in the north woods of Wisconsin, Jelen split for California at 13, worked as a bookkeeper, a CPA, became a social activist and manager of the radical newspaper The Seed in Chicago ("the CIA confiscated our last paper") and of a food-co-op directory in Albuquerque ("a knock at the door: 'We want you to leave town'"). Since coming to Eugene in 1980, she was a founding member of the East Blair Co-op, got a BS in geography, worked in merchandising, then retired to Cottage Grove to favor her asthma.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 29 October 2009

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