Every couple of months a healthy handful of creatives gather in the front gallery of Bleeding Heart Art Space for ArtLuck. We share some time, some snacks and some beauty. It's like "show-and-tell" for adults.
It's rare we set aside an evening to share our creativity with one another. Rare to find a space to see and to be seen. Where beauty finds ample room. Art ArtLuck, creatives come together to offer the rarest of gifts–our full attention.
Here are some highlights from what we saw at our April 5 ArtLuck.
There are some new friends among us, so I begin with an opening welcome, the ArtLuck origin story, and a reading of a favourite quote from dancer Martha Graham. I heard this passage from a letter first in a songwriting workshop by Over the Rhine. It has since grown into something strong inside my spirit.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
― Martha Graham https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/47790.Martha_Graham
We will keep the channel open tonight, artist after artist.
Charlene is sharing first, and it is her first ArtLuck. So kudos to Charlene for her courage and example.
She lays her pieces along the floor–a series in development. Or not a series. She has many questions for us. There are renderings she likes. Parts that are settled. There are areas of unrest and disease. Struggle and compulsion to fix and finish.
The work is beautiful and unique. Photographs merged with textured collage. Translucent areas that cloud a clear view. Charlene tells us how she paints onto her models before photographing them.
We move past "I really like it!" towards constructive feedback. We share where we feel a weight on the canvas. Areas that seem to fit, and others that might not. All feedback is for the artist to accept or reject of course–to shift her view or strengthen her resolve in her original vision.
You can see more of Charlene Changkee's work at http://charchangkee.wix.com/charlene
I hope to see more of this series, and more from Charlene at ArtLuck in general. We're off to a great start.
Edward Van Vliet
We are five days into National Poetry Month. Edward Van Vliet has thrown down a challenge to write a poem a day. He challenged himself first and tonight he shares us two of these poems, slowly. He reads each twice, as we soak in his love for language. A dense forest of images wraps itself around us. We only have time to untangle bits here and there.
You can get tangled up yourself, by reading the poems on Edward's blog.
Julie has shown a lot of work at ArtLuck over the years, but tonight's pieces get several 'my favourite!' responses.
Her first piece incorporates textured elements to recreate the elaborate surface of a cliff face she saw in nature. The work draws us in, and more than one of us want to touch it. But we behave.
The second work from Julie is a watercolour ocean scene. She creates intricate textural detail here too, using only watercolour paint. I've never seen such vivid colour and detail in a watercolour. This piece shows Julie's mastery of the medium and gets me excited for her upcoming Bleeding Heart workshop.
Julie has posted a detailed walkthrough of how this piece was created on her website here.
Dave Von Bieker
I'm up next, singing a song just written this week. I'm hoping for feedback, wondering if I should keep working on this for my repertoire. The song is called Haunted, and you can hear a version of it online here.
Feedback centres on the lyrics. I'm curious to know if the hearers understand the story I'm telling. They get most of it, but some fuzzy, unintended references remind them of angels, which is not what I want. I change that bit.
Another lyrical choice raises Edward's eyebrows. I've arranged words in a way that doesn't 'work'. I've done this intentionally, to fit the rhyme and rhythm, and I defend my position, but unsuccessfully. Edward believes there is a better way to say what I am saying here, and maybe he is right. The line is "a moment open closed". I feel I am collapsing language into a short phrase I can spit out in time, but Edward insists this is breaking the rules. I'm surprised to find these rules exist, but I end up changing the line to 'an open moment, closed.'
Weeks later, I'll change it back. Sorry Edward.
Megan is here for her first time tonight, and unsure of what's about to go down. She hasn't planned on sharing. Maybe. She's left her work safely in her car (I encouraged her to do to this, because who knows?).
By the time her turn comes around, Megan feels comfortable sharing. Or we implore her to share so strongly that she goes to her car to get her painting.
The piece shows the northern lights in vivid detail. They appear to dance across a speckled starfield. Trees silhouette beautifully at the bottom, above a broad band of black.
She has questions about that black. The seasoned painters in the room share how they would handle that nebulous void–how black is almost never total black.
It's a good round of sharing, questioning and listening. I hope we see more work from Megan in the future.
As far as I know, Megan doesn’t have a website for her art yet. Perhaps she should enroll in my June 7 workshop?
Janae is certainly not sharing for her first time tonight. She's been here many times, and we're all about to learn how much the ArtLuck community has meant to her.
She reads us a personal piece, sharing her story of discovering the joy and meaning in her creativity. I can't help but be a little proud of what Bleeding Heart has meant to Janae over the past couple of years. I didn't realise that even her personal blog was a result of encountering the Bleeding Heart community at a Bridge Songs event.
Hearing Janae read her story I am so grateful to be doing what I'm doing, pointing the way towards 'thin spaces' where art and faith enrich each other. It's humbling to know that even as I stumble along myself, I make the way easier for others.
Riley, a perennial ArtLuck favourite, is back after a brief hiatus.
Riley Tenove recently had a solo painting show at Bleeding Heart, but there are not paintings today. These are drawings, all similar, but different enough to warrant questions about whether or not they constitute a cohesive series.
We chat about what feels finished and what does not. How colour and detail affect the depth of a piece. What 'pushes back' and what 'pulls forward'. We all want to see where this series leads Riley. With any 'luck', we soon will.
View Riley's website at http://rileytenove.space
Of all the experiences I have at Bleeding Heart Art Space, ArtLuck remains one of the most rewarding.
We meet again–our last time before a summer break–this Thursday, June 2 at 7 PM. Will you join us?