Light streams through the windows of Bleeding Heart Art Space on 118 Avenue. Its bright interior fulfills the founders’ intent that there be a community gathering place for the arts, and by extension, for social dialogue.

“One thing that art does really well is give a voice to people who may not have a voice, and to issues that may not have a voice,” said Dave Von Bieker, Bleeding Heart’s artistic director.

He’s curated shows at the small but welcoming gallery for two years in a volunteer capacity. St. Faith Anglican Church, which oversees its operation, recently hired him to continue that role. Since 2014, the gallery has been a venue for Edmonton art, poetry readings, small concerts and more recently, for freelancers seeking studio space.

“The church should be a common space where people can express what their spirit has to say,” explained Rev. Canon Travis Enright from St. Faith’s parish. “It should allow them a voice and the freedom to express that voice.”

The idea for an art space started with Urban Bridge, an Edmonton church to which Von Bieker belonged. The congregation wanted to explore connections between the arts and faith-based communities.

Since that church closed its doors, Bleeding Heart has been taken up by St. Faith, located nearby on 93 Street. As arts chaplain, Von Bieker manages venues at both the parish and the gallery.

St. Faith’s wood-walled sanctuary can seat well over 200 people, making it one of the largest concert spaces in the Alberta Avenue area. Across the street, the gallery offers a community space, an art space and a sacred space. A recent installation by Brandon Atkinson, a Cree artist from Alberta Avenue, generated comments expressing the spiritual and sacred feeling his works evoke.

“Community is inherently a sacred act. When we’re at our best, community, art and the sacred happen all at once,” said Von Bieker, noting that while the spiritual element isn’t an explicit goal at the gallery, it happens organically. “It is something we’re intentional about. There’s an implied spiritual role.”

Bleeding Heart is one of three ministries at St. Faith, along with poverty reduction and reconciliation with First Nations people. Last year, the gallery was involved with the REDress Project, a nationally shown installation by a Winnipeg Métis artist.  

“It’s part of our call to Alberta Avenue,” said Enright. “There has to be opportunities for people to find a way to express life, breathe and hope. The Bleeding Heart Space is a demonstration of that, how to be a reconciliation voice.”

Gallery programming emphasizes group showings, guest curators and emerging artists, as well as social justice and liturgical themes. Open Walls Two, showcasing local art and artists, runs through to the end of November. In December, Carly Greene, an Edmonton sculptor, will be exploring the idea of shelter. Summer projects are also in the works to include the healing power of stories and a retreat for faith-based artists.

Bleeding Heart’s funding has been largely through private donations, and Von Bieker is exploring government grants. Rent and artist fees are their biggest expense, and hours are limited by volunteer availability.

“We’re always looking for volunteers to host shows or help with special events,” said Von Bieker.

Bleeding Heart Art Space

Open Saturdays

11 am-3 pm

9132 118 Avenue