Fortunate at the Vendue benefiting I Heart Hungry Kids featured in the Post and Courier

Fortunate at the Vendue benefiting I Heart Hungry Kids featured in the Post and Courier

This past April, I Heart Hungry Kids was chosen to be the charitable beneficiary of an amazing art exhibition entitled Fortunate. Held at the Vendue Hotel in downtown Charleston and organized by hotel staff in partnership with the Robert Lange Studios, the show was a huge success both artistically and as a fundraising event.

Riley, Jackson, and Gabe Silverman at Fortunate at the Vendue, with prints by Robert Lange and Nathan Durfee

Recently, Post and Courier writer Maura Hogan published an article discussing the rise of art hotels in Charleston as an alternative venue for exhibitions, and featured Fortunate in their coverage. Below is an excerpt of that article:

Charleston won’t stop building new hotels. That could be a good thing for local artists.

By Maura Hogan,

August 10, 2019

On the main floor of The Vendue hotel, there is a giant Zoltar fortune-telling machine tucked into a corner. Enthusiasts of the movie “Big” may recall a similar one from the scene in which a young boy makes a wish with a carnival Zoltar to be big. He is thus transformed into a grown-up, played by Tom Hanks, who retains his childlike wonder.

The turban-topped figure encased in glass at The Vendue produces fortunes for a dollar. The merry machine is part of “Fortunate,” the hotel’s current exhibit of 30 commissioned works that are each inspired by the prophetic slip of paper found within a fortune cookie.

On a recent afternoon, Vendue guests laughingly extracted their Zoltar fortunes, resulting in a lively scene that seemed in marked contrast from a standard hotel lobby tone of unassuming patrons sipping drinks and studying maps.

Zoltar achieves more than that, too. A percentage of the proceeds from the art sales and the fortune machine are going to a local charity, I Heart Hungry Kids, which provides lunches to local schoolchildren who are in need of them, among many other initiatives.

What’s more, by disabling the invisible fence between residents and visitors, businesses and artists, The Vendue and similarly arts-supportive hotels offer a prism into the civic potential of our ever-proliferating hospitality sector. Existing and planned properties can — and should — interact with the community in meaningful, mutually beneficial ways. Arts programs are but one illustrative example of that.

In 2012, when Jonathan Weitz of Avocet Hospitality acquired The Vendue, he struck upon the idea to highlight art as the hotel’s point of distinction, informed by the hotel’s gallery-dense French Quarter neighborhood.

“At that point, no one was really focused on the art side of it,” said Weitz, who began his research by checking out 21c Museum Hotel, the visionary boutique art hotel collection based in Louisville, Ky., that has now expanded to places like Durham, N.C., Nashville, Tenn., and Cincinnati.

At The Vendue, art director Emily Rigsby works with local galleries including Robert Lange StudiosMary Martin Gallery and Mitchell Hill to run an extensive program anchored by two major rotating exhibits annually.

“We’ve allowed the Charleston arts community to determine what The Vendue is going to look like, show by show,” said Weitz, adding that 16 guest rooms are each dedicated to a specific artist.

This interface between business and art is significant enough that the national nonprofit arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts has initiated its pARTnership Movementprogram to promote such practices. The group’s 2018 survey of the corporate practices of 132 small, mid-size and large U.S. businesses determined that 79 percent of businesses believe the arts improve the quality of life in the community. Its website offers examples of businesses that have done so, including hotels.

Read the full article here:

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Red Heart Granola

Red Heart Granola

Riley Says: Make this heart healthy snack for your sweetheart!


  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup pecans, walnuts, or almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cut freeze-dried strawberries or craisins


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large bowl for all ingredients
  • Knife for chopping nuts, or just hit ’em with a rolling pin
  • Flat baking sheet 9″ x 12″
  • Parchment paper for baking


  • Heat oven to 275 degrees
  • In a big bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until everything is all mixed up.
  • Add the oil, syrup or honey, and vanilla to the bowl. Stir until everything is coated. Riley’s Tip: pour the oil into the 1/3 cut measure first, then add to the mixture. Use the same oil-coated cup for the syrup or honey and it won’t stick!
  • Get a big flat baking sheet and put down a sheet of baking parchment paper so it won’t stick to the pan.
  • Spread the granola out in an even layer.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Take it out of the oven. Use oven mitts and be careful!!
  • Let cool completely.
  • Mix in the craisins or strawberries.
  • Store in an airtight container. I use a big glass jar with a steel lid that works great and is environmentally friendly too.

Yield – 4-6 cups of granola

Riley’s Rockin’ Recipes are designed for kids to make at home with easy to find ingredients, and are brought to you by Sodexo and the MUSC Office of Health Promotion.

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