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 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 cherylmuth.ca.
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 eloovias.wordpress.com.
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 kingspoetry.wordpress.com.
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 www.rhondaharderepp.com.
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 www.facebook.com/danielvanheyst-artist.
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 https://thelittlethingsoflife.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/imagine/.
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 etechne.blogspot.com.
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 https://soundcloud.com/vonbieker/2014-11-06-wherever-you-are
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.
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 KarlaAdolphe.ca.
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.