ArtLuck: Origin Stories

ArtLuck: Origin Stories

Every ArtLuck takes on a different character. The people who attend and share give each gatherings a unique flavour. A theme often emerges to define an ArtLuck–a thread to tie each offering together. 

March 30 landed in the middle of spring break, which meant five kids joined their parents for ArtLuck. Five, where there are usually none. I love it when kids share their work. Their unfiltered comments are refreshing. 

As I look back, the kids helped define this ArtLuck’s theme. This outing was all about origin stories. What inspires and shapes us. How we become artists, if we are willing to call ourselves artists at all.

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ArtLuck Plumbs the Depths

ArtLuck Plumbs the Depths

Our first ArtLuck of 2017 is filled with new faces alongside familiar friends. The food is delicious, conversations run deep and we are sent off with a serenade. 

ArtLuck is our every-six-weeks-or-so night of creative sharing. Show and tell for grown ups. A potluck for the eyes and ears, as well as the stomach. Creative community at its best. 

Here is a recap of our evening together on February 9, 2017. 

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The Return of ArtLuck

The Return of ArtLuck

Remember show and tell? This is like that. But with food. And art. And grown-ups.

Bring a piece of art you'd like to share. It can be your art or someone else's. It can be visual art, writing, music, dance or a slice of theatre. We can watch you live or use our projector. We'll make it work so you can share what you want to share.

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Creativity in Bloom - An ArtLuck Recap

Creativity in Bloom - An ArtLuck Recap

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.

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ArtLuck Recap: Oh, The Places We Went!

ArtLuck Recap: Oh, The Places We Went!

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.

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How We ArtLucked Into Summer

How We ArtLucked Into Summer

One more ArtLuck before we hit the summer months for rest. It turns out to be a doozy.

Pam shows up early to help. We bring out enough chairs, we think. Then people begin to arrive and we find out we were wrong. In the best way. We've underestimated.

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All the Broken Beauty of Community: An ArtLuck Recap

All the Broken Beauty of Community: An ArtLuck Recap

We begin with a smaller crowd than usual, but we do begin. When I say smaller I mean both numbers and size. Edward Van Vliet has brought his two sons, Samuel and Aden. Our youngest ArtLuckers in a while. It’s always inspiring to see what kids bring to the table.

On a table by the door, the kids leave their sketchbooks, next to paintings by Daniel Van Heyst. With two Vans and a Von (that’s me), we’re definitely ready to begin.

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ArtLuck Weaves a Common Thread

ArtLuck Weaves a Common Thread

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.

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ArtLuck Redux: January 15, 2015

It’s January 15th, just before 7 PM and I’m rushing around making final preparations. Grabbing tablecloths from the basement. Asking my wife and two kids for help. Searching for a missing water jug. Struggling to get the details right with this first ArtLuck in the new Bleeding Heart Art Space.

The first guest arrives. Daniel Van Heyst is a new ArtLucker, but certainly not new to the Edmonton arts scene.  15 of us come and go by the end of the night. Familiar faces like Adam Tenove and Edward Van Vliet welcome newcomers like Kayla Muth and special guest Karla Adolphe, in from High River for a concert.

I’m worried that this space won’t be as ‘homey’ as, well, my home. I don’t need to worry. Conversation picks up and carries on and after twenty minutes I call us all to attention. I lay the groundrules and share some history. I talk about the freedom to ask for critique – or not to ask. The freedom to simply be here and share food and beauty and conversation.

We decide to order our night by birthday, and that puts Cheryl Muth in the lead.

Cheryl Muth

Cheryl is a painter, and has brought 2 pieces of her own, as well as a small piece she picked up in her travels to Bangladesh. She passes the small piece around – a vibrant painting of a woman, in deep indigo and fusia and colours in between.

Cheryl’s own pieces are landscapes. We hang the first on the gallery wall – a treat offered by this new space. There are vibrant colours. Bright pink on the face of the rocks. Colours that belong, but surprise. I ask Cheryl if these colours were perceived, or added through her own imagining. They were added. She loves colour. She explains that so long as the value of a colour is the same, the hue can be anything and still sit well in the painting. I still find this amazing. I want to try it for myself.

Cheryl has her own questions. How to finish the edges of these deep canvases? Solid colour?  Wrap the image around? Nothing at all? Edward Van Vliet shares some insight. 

You can view more of Cheryl’s work at

Penny Tores

Penny reads us a poem. I’m surprised to learn that this wildly creative visual artist is also a writer. There is so much talent in the room. Moths fill the piece, representing thoughts and impulses within, batting against our boundaries. Crashing into the light. The moth motif is strong, but there are other images that don’t fit as neatly. ‘The son eats the father’. Penny tells us that her family had gerbils, and she observed this grotesque scene one day. Literally, the son at the father gerbil. It’s a vivid image, but many of us feel it belongs in a different poem. A piece that can shine a brighter light on the ‘gerbil thing’. Karla Adolphe is drawn into that line. ‘The son eats the father’. It is tugging on her as we move along.

I encourage Penny to finish this poem and submit it for Bridge Songs: Perfict. I hope she will.

You can discover more art by Penny Tores at

Michelle Earl

Michelle is another artist exploring many mediums. Most often a writer, Michelle has brought a painting to show us. A painting of a dragon. Well, part painting, part drawing perhaps. Michelle likes to work with felt pens, often on fantasy images that match her writing. She passes the small piece around the room so we can all get a better look. 

If features not only a dragon, but a knight, so many of us bring up George and the Dragon. Michelle is not familiar with the story. She plans to look it up and I think it will bring new life to her piece.

You can view Michelle’s work on her blog, The King’s Poetry, at

Daniel Van Heyst

Daniel is no stranger to the Edmonton arts scene, and many of us know him orbiting different worlds. He designed the original Badlands Passion Play, and knows the Rosebud Theatre crew. He has designed numerous theatre sets. He currently teachers art at The King’s University College here in Edmonton. Daniel Van Heyst is also a painter in his own right.

His own offering is in the form of delicious salad rolls – he has not brought art to share this first visit. But he has brought experiences to tell us about, and I’m happy to share these opportunities with you.

Firstly, an art show from painter Rhonda Harder Epp is coming ot King’s. It is called Walls, and the invite is included here. Her website is

Another artist, Betty Spackman, is planning a closing celebration/bone-burning event (how often do those happen?) with the tentative fall date of Sept. 26 2015. Daniel is currently looking for a large warehouse-type space to house the final showing of her massive installation piece, Found Wanting. If you have a warehouse-type-space in mind, get in touch.


Finally, Daniel Van Heyst has his own show of paintings coming up in the foyer of Roots on Whyte, from February 27 to March 30. You can view his art on Facebook at

Janae Mercier

Janae is a writer visiting us for the first time. I have known Janae for a while from my work at Hope Mission, so it is exciting to see her at ArtLuck. She shares a short essay from her blog, full of nature imagery, and images of nature inverted. Her piece asks what might happen if animals were to buck their natural tendencies. If bears ceased to hibernate, say, or bats flew by day. She moves then into our own nature, and questions our resistance to the God whose image we are created in.

Janae explores her faith through her words, and we encourage her to use the richness of language and metaphor even moreso in those explorations. I look forward to watching Janae’s writing develop in the months to come, and you can watch too, on her blog. You can read the post she shared there at

Edward Van Vliet

Edward Van Vliet shares three poems with us. It’s been a joy to track with Edward through his return to writing poetry regularly. He has a gift for language and a passion to share that gift. We are blessed by it.

The second of three poems Edward shares is as near to perfect as I think poetry should come. Tight, focussed and moving. 

The third ends with this sucker-punch;

"perhaps one day i will forgive you
perhaps i will even forget
this is not that day."

Edward has posted these works on his blog, where he posts his poetry adventures and thoughts on art and faith at

Kayla Muth

Another first time ArtLucker, Kayla Muth is also the first photographer of the evening. She shares two images, both framed black and white photos. Both are well composed. Both capture brooding scenes from California beaches. Both garner ‘oohs' and ‘aahs' as they are passed around.

We talk about contrast and shadow. We talk about composition. We discuss technique. We ask about a halo effect on one image, where a faint ring of light encircles the subjects, separating a small structure and a man from the grey sky (shown in the photo here). 

Having just been to the AGA to see a lot of photography, I point Kayla in that direction. If you haven’t been recently, allow me to point you there too.

Dave Von Bieker

I’m next. It’s time for some music. I play a song many people here have heard before, in a more raucous incarnation. I strum Wherever You Are gently, crooning quietly along. I get good feedback.

The chorus I’ve added plays well. But I can still work on the lyrics. Make them stronger. Especially in that chorus. It’s the kind of feedback you don’t love, but know you need. This is how the art grows stronger. 

You can hear this song on Soundcloud at

Adam Tenove

To have an ArtLuck it seems you need just three things. Food, art and Adam Tenove. Adam has been at nearly every ArtLuck and is here again tonight. We quickly forgive him for being 2 hours late. He brings a characteristically adventurous snack (deep fried okra) and an interesting painting. He also shares some poetry – strangely beautiful work from a Canadian anthology.

Adam’s piece references, in both form and content, Indigenous cultural symbolism. It pulls that heritage into a gritty urban landscape. We talk about appropriation of symbols. Of where the boundaries lie–what we can borrow from other cultures and what we should not. Adam wants to respect Indigenous culture, while still reflecting it in his work from his limited vantage point. Whether he fully understands the culture or not, it is part of his Canadian make-up. It is in some ways a part of his identity. And so, should it not be a part of his work?

This is the type of conversation I love at an ArtLuck – full of meat and meaning. 

You can view more of Adam's work, and read his thoughts on art, at Ellipsis Art Collective.

Karla Adolphe

Hearing Karla Adolphe sing is always a blessing. Tonight she stumbles on what to sing for us and Edward asks her to share her own favourite song. She does. Roll Away the Stone, from her Emporiums collaboration with Aaron Strumpel is one of my own favourites, too. Simple, potent imagery over an immensely singable chorus. So singable, in fact, that I ask to sing along.

And so I end the night dueting with Karla Adolphe, instead of photographing her performance. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday. That performance was recorded, and will be posted in episode 2 of the Storm the Perfict podcast, next Friday.

If you’d rather not wait, you can download the original song from iTunes here. Aaron Strumpel definitely outdoes my backup vocal, anyways.

You can find out more about Karla online at

And that’s a wrap. One more ArtLuck in the can, but this time in our bright new art space, surrounded by the current Marcie Rohr show, Inner Core

Get your art and your recipe ready to join us next time we ArtLuck in early March.

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13 Moments from Our ArtLuck

I can't think of a better reason to be a little tired today than staying up for last night's ArtLuck.

Do you know what a blessing it is to have artists grace your living room, bringing their brightest beauty through your door? To have your kids watch, wide eyed, as a painter reveals his new canvas, or a poet shares her verse? 

I know that blessing, and I am grateful. I'm grateful for the 20 people who joined me last night for what may be the last ArtLuck we host in my living room. My family will miss hosting as we move to our new space, but what a finale. 

For those who couldn't make it out for our ArtLuck, those who want to delve deeper into what was shared, and for the curious, here are 13 moments from our November 13 ArtLuck.

1. Setting the Stage

At 6:25, before anyone arrives, the house is warm. Ready. Quiet before the beautiful noise. There is something about that moment, waiting for friends and strangers to arrive. You don't know who will come, or when they will arrive. At an ArtLuck, you hope there will be enough food, and enough art, to go around.

There is always enough.

This photo reminds me of the beginning of The Friendly Giant. 'Here's a chair for two to curl up in.' 

2. Wenda Salomons

Wenda is first to present.  No stranger to the Bleeding Heart Art Space, Wenda Salomons has shared her ethereal pinhole photos, and charming Instagrams, with us before.

On this night, she begins our evening with two blessings written by John O'Donohue.

You can find his book, To Bless The Space Between Us, at the EPL here.

We were indeed blessed. A perfect way to begin our evening.

You can see Wenda's work at

3. Rebecca Lippiat

Next up was a newcomer to the ArtLuck scene, but an old friend of Bleeding Heart and Alberta Avenue. Photographer Rebecca Lippiat has strayed from her more commercial photography work for a series of well-planned images focusing on menacing red figures. 

As we pass the lap-top around, these evocative images draw out varied feelings and associations, which makes for great conversation.

Image by Rebecca Lippiat

Image by Rebecca Lippiat

Discover more of this project at

Edward Van Vliet, in classic Edward style, is armed and dangerous with art references. He points out a resonance with the work of Joel Peter Witkin. His work is certainly fantastical, and very well executed. His images are often also difficult to digest and controversial.

I am reminded of some works by Fritz Liedkl I saw at the Glen Workshop two summers ago. 

View Rebecca's Fine Art Photography at

View Rebecca's Lifestyle Photography at  

4. Edward Van Vliet

Edward himself is up next, with 3 new poems. It's exciting to hear Edward's recent surge of poetry. While I cannot play any audio for you here (because I have none), I can share, with Edward's permission, his new poem "Forgiveness"



it was not at all 
what I expected. nothing 
really changed.
not then.

later, however –
later it was all
different. later,
there was recognition
of loss. the violence
of assumption
lost. something
we both took
from each other.

yours was the better bargain.


at that moment
all i felt was surprise.
that you didn’t stop
wouldn’t stop
when I asked, stop

i carried all that
for years,
the weight
of that exchange
growing larger.
then forgotten.
or ignored.


i recognize the weight
of chains, what burdens
i carried forward.

i remember
how sharp
the hook, how deeply
buried, sweetly disbursed.
this is how we share
and in this sharing
i carry it away.

all that waiting.

Read more of Edward's work, and discover his visual and installation art at

5. Marcie Rohr

Marcie is a flurry of thoughts, inspiration and emotion, as she shares where her art and her heart have been leading her lately. She shows us some beautiful books, including I Saw a Peacock With a Fiery Tail

She also reads a gorgeous passage to us from The Rest of The Earth by William Haywood Henderson

Marcie's own piece is in a new style - fine-point drawing in black and white covers the matte, while bright, bold colours splash in similar, but less controlled, watercolour patterns within. We all love this piece, which captures Marcie's passion for creativity perfectly. 

You can find Marcie's work at

6. Hope Mission Art Programs for Kids and Youth

Erin and Megan from Hope Mission's Tegler Youth Centre are with us tonight. They share opportunities for artists to impact the lives of kids with limited access to art inspiration, education and materials. Even with that limited access, these kids are showing their talent, as we see from sample works Erin and Megan pass around.

These talented, creative kids are looking for mentors. Perhaps you can help?

If you have a creative gift you'd like to share with a small group of kids who need positive influences and opportunities, contact Megan (for elementary age kids) or Erin (for youth).

You can find more information on our site here

7. Jared Robinson

Jared Robinson is a fitting follow to the art of the Hope kids, because his work has such joy and youthful energy. And a squid.

Jared's new painting is awesome, with wit and layered meaning. He presents a very strong visual that we all want to see painted large on a wall somewhere. 

Anyone need a mural? Send this guy a challenge!

Discover Jared's work at

8. Michelle Earle

Michelle has so many creative interests, and is always looking to experiment, grow and have fun making art. She is most often a writer of poetry and fantasy, but tonight she brings us a drawing made at, and of, the Alberta Legislature. Or more specifically, two columns framing a portion of the grounds.

Not able to stop her creativity for even an evening, Michelle also snaps photos on her new camera throughout the night.

You can hear Michelle read her poetry on her podcast, The King's Poetry, on Soundcloud.

Read Michelle's blog at

9. Quetzal

Our youngest ArtLuck participant of the night (but not our youngest ever), is Quetzal. Attending with his mom (up next), Quetzal shows a drawing he has done of a 'Mech', which, he explains, is a type of robot that people wear to give them extra abilities. The drawing is pretty awesome. Perhaps Quetzal has a drawing-enhancing Mech of his own?

Night Bird, by Penny Torres

Night Bird, by Penny Torres

10. Penny Torres

Penny, new to our ArtLucks, brings two very different works to show. One was extremely tactile - with dozens of small plastic creatures fused to the canvas in bright ordered chaos. It reminds me of the work of Chris Millar. The other is a painting of a bird with a wily eye, full of expression and mystery. 

You can discover more of Penny's work on her website at  

11. Dan Lowe 

Dan brings us back to the raw power of language with his two poems. We note how closely Dan knits spirituality with the body. There is no division between the spiritual the physical in his poems. Edward Van Vliet is reminded of the metaphysical poets, like John Donne. He is also reminded of Leonard Cohen, and any time the spirit meets the sensuality of the body, how can anyone not be reminded of Cohen?

You can read Dan's work on his website at

12. Aydan Dunnigan

There is another author in our midst, and this one can also dance the tango. We don't get a tango demonstration from Aydan Dunnigan, but discovered that Aydan's work also traverses the territory between body and spirit. Aydan tells us a bit about his journey out of a dark, shameful view of the body and sensuality, discovering a way to dance towards hope. 

I am intrigued, and more so when Aydan reads from his book Trauma to Tango. The writing is tight and engaging. Funny and relatable. Thankfully, Aydan is ready with copies to sell. 

I buy one, and intend to dive into Aydan's story very soon. You can get your copy at

13. Adam Tenove

I'm fairly certain that Adam Tenove has been to more ArtLuck's than anyone. Each visit from Adam brings new work, exploring new territory. And a new culinary experiment. Thankfully, Adam's experiments turn out very well.

This ArtLuck offering (in addition to cookie pizza), is a new painting in a series. These works explore still, abandoned Edmonton spaces. This space, an immediately recognizable LRT tunnel, gains new significance through the care and attention of Adam's brush. 

There is a long conversation about whether or not we want to see people or action in the scene, and why that is. Adam asks for feedback, as the piece is not done. He gets that, and I look forward to seeing the end result.

You can discover Adam's work, and his writing about art, at  

And there you have it. Another fantastic ArtLuck in 13 moments. Let's do it again in the new year, shall we?

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