Sometimes art does more than look great on a wall. Sometimes art cracks us open. Bares a bit of our soul. Sheds a bit of our weary weight. Binds us together with other human beings.
At the latest ArtLuck on March 5, art does all of this and more.
ArtLuck brings together a dozen or so people from across the city for a round of arty show-and-tell for grownups. Even better, there are snacks. I bring chickpeas and naan from our new neighbours, catering company Mini Kitchen. There are brownies. Chips and dip. Painfully delicious chocolate dusted almonds.
But I want to tell you about the people who have come and the art they share.
Michelle is first up. She brings something new to the floor–a short story. For a lot of reasons, this story was not written for me. It is a fantasy story. I don’t read a lot of fantasy. It is about a woman, and horses. I know a little bit about women, but not much about being one. I know less about horses.
Oh, and it’s also about menstruation.
Despite all of this, I’m drawn into the story. It is really a story about coming of age. The magic and mystery of growing up. The young woman in Michelle’s story has many questions about this strange time. This transition. She is sent on a journey for answers.
The answers come from horses.
Somehow, to me, this all makes perfect sense. Growing up is weird. Awkward. Why not throw in some talking horses and a dash of magic that cannot be explained?
You can read Michelle’s work on her blog, The King’s Poetry, at kingspoetry.wordpress.com.
Cheryl Muth is back with a new painting. This work is devoid of the kaleidoscopic colours we are used to in Cheryl's work. This painting is all browns and white. It’s a bold move from Cheryl. A lone bison, staring out at us with depth. I love this painting. The design of it. The assymetrical composition is perfect.
Cheryl tells us it’s already sold. We can see why.
Cheryl also tells us that the ArtLuck is spreading. She is a nurse, and has taken the idea of ArtLuck and arts community to her colleagues. An art show featuring their work is coming up. Hearing these stories is rewarding.
You can view more of Cheryl’s work at cherylmuth.ca.
Marcie is next up. She’s arrived late and I put her on the spot. She’s game. Her work is already here, all around us. Marcie’s Inner Core is still hanging on the walls of the Bleeding Heart Art Space. She tells us a bit about the process and story of these paintings. The progression of them. How her new work is changing. How she is being drawn towards carnivorous plants. Monster plants. How she’s painting something for her son’s room.
These savage plants, I later discover, stem from a frustration Marcie feels with her work these days. A frustration to get people to pay attention. To care. The tenderness of flowers mixed with an anger that lashes out. The give and take of creation. The hunger for affirmation and the desire to bring beauty into the world. All mixed up. Muddled. Vibrant.
We all want to see these monster plants on canvas. To witness in reality what Marcie’s imagination has described. Maybe next time.
Find Marcie’s work online at papercastle.ca.
Hear a recent conversation I had with Marcie about perfectionism and her process on the Storm The Perfict podcast here.
Julianna has shared her poetry with a Bleeding Heart crowd before, but today she has something different. Two somethings different in the form of two very different paintings.
The first is an abstract. So abstract, in fact, that Julianna and her husband Greg cannot decide which way to hang it. The bright purple and yellow hues remind many of pansies. Of spring. We like being reminded of spring.
The second image is more of a step out for Julianna, who is confident in drawing, but not representative painting. This image of a silver mountain against bright blue sky is graphical–well composed with a similar layout to Cheryl Muth’s bison. There are threads running through this night.
I don’t know Pheobe’s last name. I don’t think she has any work online and this may be the first time she’s shared her music in public. But I’m glad when she does share it.
Pheobe plays us two raw hip-hop tracks. The music is not her own, she tells us. She’s found beats online, then written and recorded hip-hop vocals over them.
The first is a rap over ’Tears in Heaven’, asking what would happen if she were to die. We hear the impact on each of those close to her. It is a powerful exercise–considering mortality in this way.
Pheobe comes from a difficult place. A past full of anger and abuse. Destruction and addiction. Crime and poverty. She channels this into her second song and it is a sucker punch that leaves us speechless.
Her rhymes are strong and her delivery has a complex candence that keeps things interesting. She has clear potential as a rapper.
But we are moved beyond her skill. We are moved by the rawness of her story. We feel privileged to be trusted with this story. With these words. These hurts and fears and doubts. We are pulled in. Connected. It is a powerful moment that leads to the next.
Janae is back to read two pieces. The first is previously published work, written for her blog. The second is not. It is a deeply personal essay about growing up and dealing with illness. Janae shares feelings of doubt and shame that an illness can bring. Feelings of ostracism, and eventual acceptence. She shares the power of her faith, as the love of Jesus has pulled her through a time of feeling unloved. Even feeling unlovable.
It is another moment I feel blessed to be a part of. Another connection.
Watching Janae unwrap this way, we all receive the gift. I look forward to hearing more of where her story is taking her.
Find Janae’s writing at https://thelittlethingsoflife.wordpress.com.
Pam Baergen has been meaning to make it to an ArtLuck for over a year. I’ve been hoping she would, and she finally has. I’m glad, because she brought those incredible almonds. But her work is even better.
She brings out two little pieces, preciously framed in gold. One is a portrait of an old woman. The other, a young baby in a christening gown. These were found photos. Very old photos of strangers. Full of strange mysteries. As Pam describes them, we all draw near for a closer look.
These aren’t photos now. They are ink paintings. On clear glass. Light materials shine through the translucent parts. They are like shadowboxes. The image of the baby has us all transfixed. We ask how she made these. We all want to see more.
I hope we do.
Within these images are stories. Stories we don’t know, so we project our own histories into these frames. We imagine context. We fill in blanks.
We all have stories that others don’t know. We reveal them sometimes, in bits and pieces, when people will listen. On nights like this.
Dave Von Bieker
I share last. I play a song on guitar called ‘Would Not Trade’, about the perfectly imperfect life I lead. About making do. About making anyways. Rationalizing the parts of my story I might choose to change if I could. Or perhaps not.
Perhaps I’d leave my story just as it is. It is my story after all, and it has brought me here, into this little room on Alberta Ave surrounded by these wonderful creative souls. Souls willing to open up to strangers, now more friends than just two hours ago.
Who would trade this?
Marcie Rohr makes an observation before we leave. This night has had common threads woven through it. Threads of risk-taking and story-sharing. Coming of age and transformation. Moving forward. Shedding skin.
I tell her this is a great observation. I warn her that, when I write my reflection on this ArtLuck, I will probably steal it.