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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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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Workshop Recap: Altered Books with Penny Torres

Workshop Recap: Altered Books with Penny Torres

I've never altered a book before.

Sure, I've highlighted and underlined and jammed a thousand sticky notes into the pages to mine the goodness from a book for posterity. But I have never transformed a book into a work of art.

Tonight, Penny Torres is going to teach me how to alter a book. 

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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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Lessons Learned in 2015: A Bleeding Heart Year in Review

Lessons Learned in 2015: A Bleeding Heart Year in Review

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our first year in Alberta Avenue home. Opening late November 2014, we set out to create an art space, sacred space and community space in the heart of the revitalization of our neighbourhood. We’ve done that in so many ways this past year, and I’ve learned a lot on the journey.

In a year that included the shutdown of our founding church family and nearly five hundred visitors in one weekend, how could we not learn some lessons?

Here are some highlights from 2015, month by month. Not everything is covered, but like me, you'll find plenty to celebrate on this list. With each month, I’ll share one of many lessons learned, too.


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Review: Karla Adolphe Live At The Space

Review: Karla Adolphe Live At The Space

Karla Adolphe is a firecracker. To witness her ancient, booming voice rising from a young and unassuming woman feels like a miracle. One bellow and Karla Adolphe commands a room–especially an intimate room like Red Deer’s The Space. Karla thrives when connections can be made with her listeners. Her heart beats for creative people and when she performs that heart nearly bursts. With all of this electricity, it’s hard to believe Karla Adolphe has never released a live recording. Until now


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Walls Wide Open

Walls Wide Open

It’s Thursday, October 22. The final evening for pre-submission to OPEN WALLS, our community art exhibit.

I’ll be the second volunteer on shift today. I make it on time (for those who know me well, this is impressive), but barely. I should be early. I have the keys.

I arrive to find Lisa waiting for me. She’s not alone. A line up of four artists–canvas in hand–has formed behind her. These people are excited to share their work.

I really should have gotten here early.

Banner image by Bronwyn Neufeld.



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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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12 Months in 12 Posts - A 2014 Year in Review

It's been a very big year for The Bleeding Heart Art Space. This is the year we became a space. But that was just last month. A lot happened on the way to that space. A lot of you showed up and taught art, faith and community to dance. 

It is hard to narrow down my 12 favourite posts of 2014. Do I choose the posts I had the most fun writing? Those that got the most comments? The most reads?

In the end, I've chosen the dozen posts that, for me, best represent the last 12 months of The Bleeding Heart Art Space journey. 


The Grow Your Art Challenge Launches

Way back in January, I launched the Grow Your Art Challenge. It was largely a selfish endeavour, as I wanted to grow myself as an artist. But the more I thought about that, the more I thought it would be so much more fun to grow together. With you. So I put the challenge out there to anyone who wanted in. Choose an artistic goal. You have a year to complete it. We'll hold you to it. We'll celebrate when we're all done. Or not done.

With 2 days to go, I can safely say I have failed at my own challenge. But I've failed wonderfully well, and my goal is still alive. It will be done, and it has led me many wonderful places this past year. And we are still having that party.

Read the original challenge post, and who stepped up, here.


Click to see the full Valentine


A Valentine for Artists 

Dear artist, we love you. So began our first ever Artist Valentine. The Valentine was an original design and well received. It was encouraging to watch this put a smile on people's digital faces, and we'll certainly send a new one out come February 2015.

This post marks the first time I realized that an organization named The Bleeding Heart should be all over Valentines Day.

Read the Valentine post here.


A Poem and a Pause for Ash Wednesday

Obscured date by obscure date, we've made it a little, sideways goal to bring ancient Christian holy days into the light. Ash Wednesday was the first such liturgy we engaged in, in 2012. This year we did not have our own Ash Wednesday gathering, but I did post an original poem to mark the occasion. 

It would be wrong to mention a day like this without thanking the makers of Salt of The Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar – an alternate view of time as we know it, and a reminder that the Church marches on to her own beautiful beat. 

Read the poem here.


When Denominations Dance: Sacred Space in Review

For this special Sacred Space event called Mary/Martha, we teamed up with the good people of St. Faith's Anglican Church.

This post marks the time when I saw the value in sharing these experiences, in detail, so that those who couldn't join us can still get something from the gathering, and perhaps be inspired to craft their own. The event also underscores a deeply rich relationship with the Anglican church that continues today.

Read the full recap post here. 


Marcie Rohr Dreams of Anywhere But Edmonton

Neighbourhood artist Marcie Rohr submitted work for Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton, and her series of paintings became a featured post on our blog. Marcie also wrote a letter to our city. A letter that perfectly captured the complicated feelings we all have for this ice-cold oil town. But maybe that's just December talking.

With this post, the relationship between Marcie Rohr and The Bleeding Heart deepened, leading to further collaborations (one of which is just around the corner).

Read the post and letter from Marcie Rohr here.


19 (Mostly) Free Sites and Apps that Keep the Bleeding Heart Beating

I was starting to venture into the waters of Mega-List-Posts. I'll admit that the primary goal here was drawing more readers to the blog, and expanding our niche a little bit. It has worked.

These long list posts (like the one I'm writing right now) take a long time to craft well. But they also stand outside of time, which is good. They are not the type of updates that become irrelevant when an event has come and gone. They are 'evergreen'. This means that this post is just as valuable today as it was when I wrote it. Which, if you still haven't heard of or tried any of those 19 tools, is quite valuable indeed

Part of our mandate at the Bleeding Heart is to help artists achieve excellence, and sharing what we've learned along the way is a part of that. 

Discover these online tools here.



Why I Don't Have a Cell Phone

This was the biggie. Likely the most read, most commented on post I'd written to date. I knew it was a little odd not to carry a cell phone, but I didn't know just how interesting that oddity might be. It turns out my reflection on technology's role in my life gave voice to the wrestling of many restless hearts. It certainly made me question my decision to live just a little off the grid.

I ended the piece realizing that our relationship to technology is deeply personal, and always evolving. Discernment is required at every turn.

It's about time I wrote a follow up to this post. I now have a cell phone.

Read the original post.


Twerking on God's Great Dancefloor: The Glen Day Seven

This post marked two milestones. My completion of a massive series reflecting on the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and my first public use of the word 'twerking'. It may have been my last use, too.

This post garnered good responses and high click-through rates. I'd like to think it was the incredibly rich quality of my writing. But the more realistic version of myself thinks it was that word that drew attention.

This post makes me very excited to return to the Glen this summer – and hopefully bring some of you along (early bird registration ends Dec 31).

Read the original post.

Rickshaw waiting


Kaleido Moments and 34 Photos

Fall begins on Alberta Avenue with the mighty Kaleido Family Arts Festival. For the second year, The Bleeding Heart Space was serving up food and ambiance for the hundreds of volunteers needing a short rest.

This time, we had a camera, too. When the floors were swept and the dust settled, I shared 34 photos – 34 moments that, for me, made the weekend one of 2014's highlights.

Discover the 34 Moments and Photos here.


Our New Home on Alberta Avenue

A 2014 highlight reel cannot miss the launch of our brand new space at 9132 118th ave. There were few posts I was so excited write as this announcement that we would take up permanent residence in Elm Catering's living room. It felt like writing down my dream, except that this time, it was real.

This post was such big news, in fact, that it beats out four others for a spot in the 2014 annals. This was the same month where I asked 'Why is Beauty?', shared photos and stories from '13 European Art Experiences I'll Never Forget', took you to the amazing abandoned Temelhoff Airport in Berlin and showed you how I use the magic of Trello to put the first 10 minutes of my day to good use.

But I can't mention all of that, because this was also the month we got our space. 

Read the post here.


13 Moments From Our Artluck

Ah, the Artluck. This November Artluck was to be the first time we gathered in the new space to share beauty and snacks. But with renos on our new space in full swing, it instead became the final Artluck I hosted in my home – always a great honour. 

With work from old friends like Marcie Rohr, Edward Van Vliet, Adam Tenove and Wenda Salomons, as well as newcomers like Aydan Dunnigan, this Artluck reminded me why I love these every-so-often get togethers. In fact, I think it's time for another, don't you?

Read the recap here.

Blurred inlook


Art Show on the Radio

Even if this were not among the most viewed posts ever on our blog, it would be a personal favourite of mine. CBC producer Isabelle Gallant put together a beautiful, in-depth story that reflects the heart behind Blue Christmas, and what The Bleeding Heart Art Space is all about in general. I am so grateful for Isabelle's care and attention on this piece, and hopeful that this is only the beginning of a good story at the new Bleeding Heart Art Space.

Read the post and hear the story here.


I write this on the very first day of 2015, with so much to look forward to. We'll be launching a creative coworking space. Bridge Songs: Perfict is just around the river bend. We'll celebrate our achievements from last year's Grow Your Art Challenge, and begin a new one.

You and I are about to blow those 2014 stories out of the water.

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