It Was the Fest of Times, It Was the Worst of Times (#ArtScene13)

The curtains are closing in on February, this cold and distant month. This moody wraith on the Calendar. There is dark and cold, but toes are dipping into spring as we flirt with positive digits on our weather apps. Just the other day it was colder in Santa Fe, New Mexico than here. That felt pretty good. Spring is coming. Snow is melting. Just ask any of us with old basements.

The #yegarts scene fit February like a soggy glove. Seasons are in motion. There are death knells. There are new buds. And in the midst of it all, there is still a heck of a lot going on inside.

So let’s get it out there. Let’s move from deep dark to bright sunshine, shall we?  

First, the dark.

1. The ARTery is Closing

Just last month, we lost The Roxy. Now, the ARTery, that lovable Goofus to the high-brow’s Galant, is being forced to close by the city. I don’t know enough to cast my judgement on the decision. It was likely inevitable anyways. That building was old and let’s face it, the word decrepit comes to mind. But it was charming as all get out. A mustachioed Scott McKeen was just photographed there for an Avenue spread. It felt a lot cooler than me, and a lot younger than me, and a lot louder than me. And I will miss it. 

The ARTery has been was accessible to emerging artists. Easy and relatively cheap to rent (under $500 on the hottest nights, with a sound tech). A great vibe and a great cachè in the #yegarts scene. And a great size, too. 

Find out more about the closure from Metro here and from The Journal here.

2. McDougal United Church Could be Next

It’s closing in on the 00’s and my wife and I are sitting in a very warm pew, listening to an unknown artist named Jenn Grant play a solo electric guitar through a vintage amplifier soaked in reverb. I am wowed. And this before the main event – Hayden. The songwriter I’ve followed for over a decade. He doesn’t dissapoint. 

Just this fall I saw Bahamas in that same room. Just two shows there. Both absolutely magical. Both, if I recall, eliciting spontaneous praise from the artists themselves mid show. 

But if a story is being told here it is this. Small, accessible #yegarts venues are old. They have to be. That’s how we can afford them. And I’ll let you in on a secret. These buildings get ‘grandfathered in’ on requirements like parking stall count requirements. Requirements that make building new arts venues very difficult. 

I am wondering what happens when all of these grandfathered venues fall. When we have to replace them under the current standards. When real money has to be spent. 

In the meantime, there is a fight on to save McDougal. You can read more about the impending closure from The Edmonton Journal here, or sign the new petition to save the venue here.

3. Where Venues Go to Die

Of course these are not the first venues to close in Edmonton. Discover a historic list of now-deceased #yegmusic spots at the Dead Venues museum

4. The Clock is Ticking

No, literally. 

The Clock is an astounding technical acheivement now on display at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Referencing hundreds of films, if not thousands, from around the world, this 24 hour video installation acts as a time-synced collection of clips referencing the current time of day. I witnessed the clock ticking 4. There were visitors at doors. Kids were let out of school. Men checked their watches in the airport lounge. Clocks in the foreground and background of various shots showed the same time as my own watch. 

See The Clock now, and if you can, catch a 24 hour screening!

5. Let Death Bring Life

Steve Jobs has some good words on how the end affects today; 

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” ― Steve Jobs

6. Things We Can Do to Save #yegarts

Ben Freeland has an excellent post with 6 positive, doable actions we can all take to make sure the #yegarts heart keeps beating. Hint: be a patron.

7. The Galleria Won’t Save Us

This post from John Richardson on The Galleria project lays out why we need more small venues, not one massive multi-million dollar saviour.

I wouldn’t build it. I’d build a black box theatre space in Beverly. I’d build a Terwilligar Community Art Space. I’d build a concert hall with a sprung stage for ballet in Mill Woods. I’d build a Jazz club in Belgravia, a Blues joint in Allendale, another art gallery up in Belvedere. . . And more theatre spaces and galleries in more neighbourhoods.

Imagine if there were no Community Rec Centres in Edmonton, only a huge Rec Complex Downtown. Imagine if there were no branch libraries, only a bloated Milner Library on Churchill Square. Does that make sense? Of course not.

Do yourself a favour and read the whole post here.

8. Pushing Past Obstacles, Winning Awards

I’ve been to The Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts and I can tell you it is a joyous, exuberant recognition of just what this city can create.

Nominations for artists and orgs end today at 5 PM, so be sure to give a shout out to your favourite #yegarts contributors.

Even without enough venues, or funding, or time, or support, or … you get the idea. Even without the perfect conditions, we are making Edmonton beautiful and sharing that beauty. 

Here’s a small slice of how. 

8. Embrace The Quiet Rebuild

This weekend you can take in The Quiet Rebuild: New Portraits, from Alexis Marie Chute, at the Harcourt House Annex Gallery. The opening reception is tomorrow night, Feb 28, and is part of the Exposure Photography Festival. Get the deets here

9. Our Luck is Changing with The Serca Festival of Irish Theatre

Right here on The Ave there is a plenty to celebrate. Making a theatre venue from a Community League is old hat for Mark Henderson and Frank Zotter, part of the team bringing us the Serca Festival of Irish Theatre in a couple of weeks. There will be feasting! Merriment! Sport! Drink! More feasting! 

Find otu what’s on with Serca on their website.  

Official SkirtsAFire poster

10. But First, The SkirtsAFire Festival

Now in its third year, the SkirtsAFire Festival is back on  Alberta Avenue

Experience theatre, dance, comedy, art & design, music, workshops and spoken word from women. 

The festival runs March 5-8, and coincides with International Women’s Day, but you needn’t wait. You can catch the World Premiere of The Mothers, a play by Nicole Moeller, now in its 10 day run at the Alberta Avenue Community League.  

Official poster

Official poster

11. Pecha Kucha Night

20 images illustrate 20 minute talks on creativity, innovation, design and the like at Pecha Kucha Nights. And speaking of creative women, Julie Rohr brings her project, The Women to this edition of Pecha Kucha Night, on March 5!

Get your tickets and be inspired

12. Be Inspired Right Where You Are With the Storm the Perfict Podcast

The latest episode of Storm the Perfict just posted, with a conversation with pinhole photography artist Wenda Salomons on the unpredictable beauty of imperfection. We also chat about something I’m sure you can’t relate to; self doubt. 

13. ArtLuck With Us Next Week

All these online resources are great, but there’s nothing like creative community in person. 

ArtLuck provides space to share good art, good food and good conversation. You are invited to join us March 5 at The Bleeding Heart Art Space at 7.

RSVP on Facebook here

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You have something to say–why not say it here? Email your blog post idea to and let's chat.

Arts Potluck Goes Online for #ArtsTalkTuesday

Perhaps you missed our Arts Potluck on Friday, September 5. Perhaps you were there, and want help remembering what you saw and who you met. Perhaps you have no idea what on earth an Arts Potluck is? 

Look no further, friend. Here is a recap, with links and images, from this past Friday's event. If you have any questions, ask them below. If you want to share your own work and take part 'virtually', provide us a link in the comments below. If I forgot something (if?!), make up for my forgetfullness by adding to the comment stream.

A Whole Lotta Sharin' Goin' On

Our first Arts Potluck of the season is a hit, with over 20 folks in my living room to share snacks and art. Some bring kids. Some come just to watch and listen. I think it's safe to say that all have a good time.

7 PM to almost 8 PM we eat and reconnect. Or connect for the first time. There are many new faces. There are many tasty snacks. Around 8, we move into the living room. I am happy to finally see my new couch make room for five grown adults!

I give a bit of the history of the Arts Potluck–how it began with Jeffery Overstreet's Thomas Parker Society at the Glen Workshop two years ago. Then the sharing begn.

Sebastian Barrera


To keep things simple, we order by birthday. That meant that newcomer Sebastian, with a September birthday, kicks things off. Sebastian's smooth, Portuguese-influenced vocal and guitar are a beautiful way to begin. We sit mesmerized as he shows off not only his mastery of music, but his ability to play, sing, smile and care for his young daughter all at the same time. I am impressed.

Sebastian teaches free music lessons every Saturday at the Parkdale-Comdale Community League. Through his initiative, Creart, he has been able to give free arts instruction and musical instruments to kids in need.  Creart is looking for additional instructors – artists who want to make a difference in community through their gifting. 

Cheryl Muth

cheryl's work.jpg

Cheryl Muth shares her vivid oil paintings next. One depicts a violinist in Barcelona. The other is a landscape. The two paintings represent a broad spectrum of style, which leads us into a conversation about the work we make for pleasure, and the work we make for pay. How does one make their art profitable, anyways?

There are, of course, no definitive answers. But there is feedback and encouragement. There are ideas. There is the wisdom of experience in a room full of artists.

More of Cheryl's paintings can be found at

Aaron Vanimere

Aaron waits his turn, far left.

Aaron waits his turn, far left.

Aaron is with us fresh from a Vancouver trip. While there, he saw a concert, in a small venue, that left a mark. He shares his story of meeting the artist and it's obvious this meeting has impacted Aaron. But before the meeting, the album, Heal, was working it's magic.

Aaron leaves us with a fitting bit of homework. Listen to the new album, Heal, by Strand Of Oaks.

You can find Strand Of Oaks on BandCamp at


Marcie Rohr

Marcie is up next with art that comes from a deep and personal place. She's just returned from an intense conference on justice, faith and land. She's developed a new perspective on our interconnectedness with the land, and she's still processing this relationship and its implications. This processing can be seen in her work, still unfinished. We offer feedback, perhaps more than Marcie is even after. The dance of feedback can be a difficult one to learn, but Marcie is gracious and so are the critiques and suggestions.

We are all interested where this new exploration will lead Marcie and her work.

You can discover more of Marcie's paintings on Saatchi Art at

Julie Drew

Next up is new work from Julie Drew. Julie is no stranger to the art and faith scene in Edmonton, but this work is different from previous showings in many ways. First, this is acrylic, not watercolour. Second, the subject matter is not a beautiful landscape, but rather a garbage heap. And finally, there is actual garbage attached to the piece, and bursting out of the frame, which is used as an element of the composition, rather than a firm boundary. 

Julie reads an essay to us on redemption. This piece is tied to the idea of redemption, as displayed by the vine, growing up from the refuse in the piece.

Now comes time for feedback. Julie is interested in our thoughts, as this is a new direction. A lot of us like this exploration. It is fun, bold, risky territory. We like watching Julie play at the margins like this. But we do have our critiques. Because I have known Julie for a while, I muster my courage and offer some feedback that is hopefully constructive, and not entirely positive. 

I still wonder how far to push in moments like this. Arts Potlucks are really not for intense critique. The concept here is more of a free-form grown up show and tell. A time to share some beauty. But Julie has asked for feedback and I feel honesty is most helpful here. So I offer some thoughts. I hope they are given and received in love. I still struggle with these moments.

In the end, there is conflicting feedback. Most of us agree that the vine is not needed in the piece, and draws our attention away from the interesting and beautiful depiction of the trash heap that is at the centre of the piece. We disagree on other elements. 

It is up to Julie to take this feedback and do with it as she sees fit. This is her piece – her vision. She has opened herself to ideas, which is a brave thing to do. Now she must decide to use or discard them. 

Julie Drew leads spiritual art retreats twice a year. Find out more about Art: Vocabulary of the Soul retreats here. The next retreat is October 17-19, on Weakness and Failure.

Find Julie's work online at

Adam Tenove

Adam Tenove is blazing new territory, too. Adam always seems to bring something new to the table. Literally. He arrives late because his crusted zucchini takes so long to cook. It is worth the wait.

Adam shows an intensely detailed pen drawing of intertwining figures. Incorporating feedback from a past event, Adam has added a deep red background. We are all draw in to the piece, which reveals more detail the closer you look. Adam points out the text that plays across the figures. Then he moves on do more experimental work.

Two pieces, mostly black, reveal the folding and unfolding of origami figures. The black is worn away along the folds, revealing a history in the material. This origami work immediately reminds of the of bronzed paper-folding sculptures of Kevin Box in Santa Fe. We all encourage Adam to follow this new direction and see where it leads. 

Finally, Adam shares a poem. It's great to see people moving beyond comfort to open up to the group in new ways. 

Adam writes on art, and shares his work, at

Julie Rohr

Next up is Julie Rohr, longtime friend of the Bleeding Heart Art Space, yet making her debut Arts Potluck appearance. Julie has been taking our Grow Your Art Challenge, and through that spurring on, has plunged headlong into an exciting photography project. 

Julie has been moved by the global devastation that is human trafficking. Her heart aches for these women, and she wants to do something about it. So she is. 

Julie has gathered professional photographers to take portraits, for a $50 donation each, of those wanting to support the fight against human trafficking. She shows us some samples, and in each we see the soul of the subject shine through. The photos are phenomenal - true works of art. The project is inspiring.   

Find out more or book your session at

Sam Drew

Sam Drew takes the piano bench next, and shares the second poem of the evening. I love listening to poetry. Sam's is strongly narrative, putting us within an interaction with a traveller in them theme-country of the night – Spain. 

Sam's poem is vivid and we follow his interaction with this man, towards a turn that leaves us thinking about the importance of the small interactions in our own daily lives. 

Thank you Sam.

Melissa Crayford

Melissa Crayford is a friend of Grace Law, one of our Bleeding Heart Leadership Team, but I've never met her before. She brings great insight to the night through our critiques, and some great snacks too. 

More than all that, Melissa brings some beautiful textile art. She shows us a piece with embroidery laid overtop of fabric printed with a black and white transfer. It's hard to describe, but fun to look and and touch. It is passed around the room as Melissa asks for our thoughts and reactions. We want to see more of this. I hope we will.

Hopefully Melissa finds more time to experiment between studies in the U of A Fine Arts Program.

Edward Van Vliet

Last but most definitely not least come three poems from Edward Van Vliet. All three pieces, Edward informs us, have been written since this summer's Glen Workshop. All three are fantastic, though quite different.

The first poem still stands out for me as I write this. Consider the lily, Edward invites us. And then he considers the lily, in realistic, often humorous and jarring portrayals.

I try and capture Edward's first pounding as he passionately proclaims his last poem, but the combination of fast movement and low light proves lethal to the clear image. 

Edward will be sharing these poems on his blog over at

And that's not all

There are others in attendance. Some are artists who didn't find the time to prepare things to share, like glass blower Keith Walker, and fashion designer Sabrina O'Donell, of Sabrina Butterfly. But they'll have their chance again, and so will you.

See you next time?





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Watch Your Click Finger - Here Come 13 More Rabbit Holes!

Look out folks. I hope you've stored away some precious moments because here come those rabbit holes of the internet again, to tempt you with their linky goodness!

  1. You may want to put that phone down and take some notes by hand. Apparently sketching is real good for you.
  2. One disadvantage of a paper notebook is that it is hard to organize to find things later on. Or, maybe there is an easy way to organize a paper notebook?
  3. For some of us, Back to School means time for working from home, free from distractions. But how do we get the work done? Here's how Ira Glass, host of This American Life, works.
  4. Speaking of Back to School - take a moment to remember your art teachers.
  5. Maybe, among other things, those art teacher gave you some wonderful words about art?
  6. Maybe it's time for some more training? How about free online courses from CreativeLive?
  7. No really, you may want to put that phone down.
  8. Looking for a way to connect with artistic community? Why not try an Arts Potluck?
  9. "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton in No Man Is An Island (via etechne)
  10. Speaking of email, I started my own newsletter today. Can I send you some tasty emails?

  11. Want to send your own newsletter? The newly redesigned Tiny Letter, from the good folks at MailChimp, is as easy as it gets.
  12. Speaking of design, did you know it affects just about everything? And most of our problems, according to visionary Bruce Mau in a recent CBC interview, are problems of design
  13. Of course, there is also the opportunity to make things much, much better, like in this powerful poem from spoken word artist Joel McKerrow.

Care to share a link of your own? Take advantage of the comments below!

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You have something to say–why not say it here? Email your blog post idea to and let's chat.

Rabbit Holes for a Friday

I like to share good stuff I find on social media, pretty much every day. In case you missed something, here is a curated list from the past week of posts that connected (and maybe some new stuff, too). Of course, you'll get some of this right in your inbox when you subscribe to our newsletter. 

I'm on the hunt for the world's greatest art quotes? Have one to share?

You could save those quotes to share at our first Arts Potluck of the year next Friday. Yes!

Karla Adolphe is coming Sept 14 for a house concert! Will you be there?

We're looking for the boldest and brightest to take care of the volunteers at Kaleido Festival this year. You in?

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” - Edgar Degas

According to poet Tania Runyan, your life doesn't mean what you think it means.

Netflix is about to get some Canadian competition, with an emphasis on human-driven recommendations and hand-picked collections. Would you switch to Shomi?

I'd like to tell you how I used to get driven to school in a milk truck.

Bored Panda has 25 awesome reflection photos. I'm a fan of reflection photos.

Oh, and last but most certainly not least, there's this little ditty

Blog for Bleeding Heart!

You have something to say–why not say it here? Email your blog post idea to and let's chat.