Thursday evening, February 18, I'm preparing for guests. I've just returned from the Latin market next door with a bag of spicy tortilla chips and refreshing salsa verde. Now I'm looking for bowls and plates and the teapot in the backroom of Bleeding Heart Art Space.
The early arrivals are helping. We set out chairs and plug in the kettle. We place tea and sugar next to insulated cups. Penny arrives and plugs in a crock pot full of Mexican deliciousness.
It's time for another ArtLuck.
ArtLuck is a time for sharing not only food but beauty with each other. A show and tell for adults. Each time, we open our doors to old friends and new surprises.
One by one the guests arrive. And guests of guests. The room begins to fill so we gather more chairs from the back. In the end, 11 or 12 of us are ready, with time enough for eight of us to share our work.
The conversation doesn't wait for the opening bell, and I pick up on some early travel talk. We have a guest from Vancouver and another who has recenty returned from Holland. I decide to set the night's order based on the distance each of us has ever traveled in a single trip. We will start with whoever has journeyed the shortest distance.
I soon realise my mistake. We have all travelled. A lot. It takes the help of Siri to sort out whether Beijing or New Zealand is farther away. Is Korea closer than Rwanda? Is Germany a longer distance than France? I won't consider all of this sorting a waste because we learn a lot about one another. We learn that we've been all around the world. Travel will pop up as a theme throughout this ArtLuck.
Penny Torres shares first tonight. She has brought two unstretched canvases, which she lays out on the floor one by one. It's always fun to look at paintings this way, as I almost always see a canvas on a frame.
The first image takes us to Mexico, a place where Penny has spent much time. This piece is about those memories. The journey from that time and place to this one. Penny tells us she has been painting this piece for years, but just recently pulled it out for another look. She is now working to finish it. Or she has finished it. We all take turns offering feedback and then another image emerges.
This canvas is a brooding portrait that feels incomplete to Penny. She doesn't feel she's captured the essence of her subject, a friend and private eye. Hence the brooding. We have plenty of good things to say about this painting.
View more work from Penny Torres on her website at https://eloovias.wordpress.com.
Pam Baergen brings us a piece we've seen before. She's done a lot of work on it, and she is wondering if it is too much. Has she crossed a line, she wonders, where things stopped getting better with this piece?
When we last saw this painting of an old photograph, the infant was walking with presence, casting long shadows. Now, she seems to disappear beneath the weight of the pale sky. In this new version, she is more a receding memory than an approaching child.
Some of us prefer this version and some the earlier one but surely nothing has been diminished here–only changed. With subtle shifts, the painting is saying something totally new now.
This work is part of a series Pam Baergen has been exploring for some time, and will be exhibiting soon in St. Albert. I'm looking forward to seeing all of this work in one place.
Find out more about Pam Baergen's art at http://www.livingportraits.ca
Julianna pulls us back from the past into the presence of bright, bold colour. Her first abstract work sets two swirls of complimentary colours at opposite ends of a tall canvas. Bright orange swirls into rich blue like shifting weather on radar. There is plenty of movement here. And texture. Juliana has been having a lot of fun with texture.
He next piece–two parts of a triptych actually–emphasizes surfaces even further. Artists around the room share knowledge about pastes and gels and other artists who succeed with textured paintings. There is talk of how to achieve texture on an entirely flat surface, working purely with tone.
I can't wait to see how Julianna continues to experiment with texture in her work.
Find Julianna Christensen's work on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/rosedoodles/
Tane is with us for the first time tonight at ArtLuck. He's spent many hours as a volunteer, welcoming people into the gallery and introducing them to the work of others; now I'm excited to see his own work.
Tane is just 17, and it's great when young artists share. Tane shows a mixed media painting in a bold illustrative style. In the image, two sides are at war. On the left is a mechanized monster, decked out with steampunk gears glued to the canvas. On the right is a more 'natural' dragon, surrounded by vines and trees.
We spend some time talking about what this piece is saying about technology's encroachment on nature's turf. We talk about ways Tane could go with this piece and others like it.
We don't forget to have fun with it, because more than anything, Tane's work is a lot of fun.
Edward Van Vliet
It's been an evening heavy with visuals. Edward Van Vliet brings us into the world of words with two original poems.
Edward wrote the first poem for We see. It hangs on a tree in that participatory exhibit, on until March 5 just across the street. We can see the installation through the windows as Edward reads about how missing and murdered indigenous women have impacted him. His words are careful but brave. He understands the waters are murky and deep here, and that to dip one's toe is to be affected, like a bird's wing in an oil slick. But maybe that's my poem, not his.
so we must all find a way
to connect presence
this is a witness
a great cloud of witnesses
who will sing the songs now?
who will speak the words?
someone is always asking about you
my answers are always thin
i do not know how to miss you
Edward's second poem begins with a cheeky promise to keep things brief, but it is not brief. It is sprawling in fact. It moves us from scene to scene without a moment to sit down, flashing a series of interconnected tableaus before our eyes.
The group wrestles with this poem. It doesn't offer its meaning easily, and Edward is OK with that. We ask him questions, and he questions us in return.
You can find more of Edward's poetry at http://etechne.blogspot.ca/
Another new contributor, Janet Sutanto has brought us a painting that is part abstract and part representational. The piece captures flowers, but also fresh colour and movement and emotion. We are all a little stunned by the beauty of what Janet has brought for us tonight.
Her work plays with surfaces like Juliana's work before her, and she fills us in one some of her secrets. The way she chooses her colours. The crackle she can achieve across the canvas.
We offer our reactions and then Janet tells us she is donating something like 50 pieces to an upcoming fundraiser. In Guatemala, a home has been established to care for young abandoned girls with disabilities. It is called Treasures of God Children’s Home, and all of the proceeds from the fundraiser will support that home.
I tell Janet I've been to Guatemala. My in-laws lived there as missionaries. Another guest knows the woman who started the home. It's a small world, after all.
Janet asks if she can put a poster up here in the gallery and I tell her that, of course, she can. We are more than happy to spread the word about art that is transforming our world in the direction of love.
Janet Sutanto will be one of many artists featured in Night Of Artists from March 3 to 6.
You can find her paintings online at http://www.janetpaints.com
We’re getting down to the wire now. I said we’d keep this night to eight but I need to back out on that because both Janae Mercier and Josefing Singh contacted me in advance to save a spot, so a spot they shall have. Unfortunately, it will be a shortened spot. We just can’t fit it all in.
Janae joined ArtLuck about a year ago, and has so far brought writing almost every event since. It’s been wonderful to watch her explore her writing, and now she has brought us something entirely new. Janae has been drawing.
She tells us how she discovered some drawings from her youth and recognized a talent she’d long forgotten. She’s revisited drawing and is finding much joy there. She passes around a high school linocut featuring Egyptian pyramids that remind me of Penny Torres Mayan ruins earlier this evening.
Next, Janae does something incredibly brave. She opens up her sketch book and passes it around the circle. We see works in progress and experiments.
You can read Janae’s writing on her blog at https://thelittlethingsoflife.wordpress.com
Josefine has been waiting patiently to share a collection of fascinating oil paintings. She first sets out just two and tells us how she scoured newspapers from a single year to pull out a series of 28 images to paint.
Each image she shows us comes from a story from that year (2014, if I recall). It's a great idea for a project, and reveals something more than the events themselves–it gives us a glimpse through the eyes of the artist. What images has she chosen to recreate and why? What stories have stuck with her and what does she want to tell us about them?
The whole project becomes more compelling as more and more works are laid out on the floor.
Then, before I can take it all in, we are out of time.
Guests pick up chairs and wash dishes. Post-ArtLuck sharing sessions spring up and new friends swap contact details.
As always, this night is only the beginning of many journeys. Now that we've all met, who can tell the places we'll go?
Our next ArtLuck takes place April 5, 2016 at 7 PM.