Love is the Why: Loving Artists Until it Hurts

I am sitting at a table with Lorraine Mansbridge. She is briefing me for an on air spot we are about to film. She is asking me questions about Bleeding Heart Art Space and I think I am ready. But I am not. When Lorraine asks me about our name–why we chose the name Bleeding Heart Art Space–I freeze. Nevermind, she says. It’s not important. We won’t talk about that. I feel like a failure.

A few days later, I will be surprised again by another TV personality. This time we’ll be live. Bridget Ryan will as me what sets our gallery apart from other galleries. What is our emphasis? How do we choose what work to show? I will be expecting to talk about our current show, runnign during the Kaleido Festival. That’s why I’m here, so this question will come a little unexpected. In many ways this is the same question Lorraine has asked. But when Bridget asks me I will be ready.

The reason this question is so tough for me is because it matters so much. The core of who Bleeding Heart Art Space is – what we are about – is wrapped up in these questions.

How do I explain the tightrope we are trying to dance across–strung between the pinnacles of art and faith? How do I say that we are religious, but not like you think? Christian, but not in the way you may imagine? These things are true. Faith is a big part of who we are at Bleeding Heart Art Space. It drives us in many ways. Faith is the gas in our tank and the GPS on our dash. But when I have to answer questions like this–compacted into soundbites–all of this sounds ‘icky’.

How do I answer Lorraine’s question in a setting that’s not built for conversation–a segmented snippet? How do I open up to truth without opening up questions I have no time to answer?

The answer to Lorraine’s question is ‘our brand of crazy’. The thing that makes us a litte different and a little 'out there' in best (and likely sometimes, for some people, the worst) ways.

The answer matters because today, when I am short on volunteers and not sure how we are going to pay the bills half a year from now and not sure how this idea is going to be sustainable over the long run and just generally NOT SURE ... I need something to lean on. I need a solid, clear why.

I need to answer Lorraine’s question.

She steps away and I’m left with my thoughts. There, leaning on a Kaleido Fest donation bin, the answer hits me. An answer I can articulate. An answer I am proud of.

Why are we called Bleeding Heart Art Space? Because we love artists until it hurts.

This is what drives me today and every day. This is why our walls are open to work from artists across the city. This is why we are working on the best ways to support and serve artists and creatives. This is why we care about the spiritual lives of artists–that artists are healthy mentally, physically and spiritually too.

This is how Bleeding Heart fulfills what Jesus declared one of the highest commands – to love your neighbour as yourself. We love artists. Until it hurts.

There are a lot of things I don’t need to tell Lorraine Mansbridge. I don’t need to explain that we do this because God first loved us. I don’t need to go over Jesus life and death as an incredible example of just how extreme love must become. All of that is a journey of knowing and of mystery. Theology that will prove true (or not) in relationship. Relationship takes time and investment. Truth cannot be packed into a single segment sound bite.

But we can start today, with love.

I get Lorraine’s attention before our interview. I tell her to ask her question again. I have a better answer now.

I tell her that we are called Bleeding Heart Art Space because we love artists until it hurts. Speaking this answer is not hard. Now let’s see if we can live it.

For more on our why, read the Bleeding Heart Manifesto.

Cover photo by Bronwyn Nuefeld - see her work on Flickr here.

Painting featured in the photo is by Lori Anne Youngman, as part of our OPEN WALLS show.

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