Open Walls brings 'beautiful chaos' to Bleeding Heart's new home

· The Pulse

After a three-year hiatus, Bleeding Heart Art Space has once again opened its walls to original work by local artists of all kinds, this time in its new home in Highlands.

Open Walls, a celebration of "the beautiful chaos of diverse community," has been an annual event for Bleeding Heart. But the fifth iteration had to close prematurely in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now the show is back in the admission-free gallery's new space in St. Mary's Anglican Church at 11203 68 St NW.

Most of Bleeding Heart's shows are juried, but Open Walls is different.

"It's meant to be an option for anybody and everyone who is brave and creative," said Heather Ritz, who has been involved in Bleeding Heart for more than a decade. "Basically, if it fits through the door, you're welcome to hang it or to show it."

The show, which runs until March 18, accepts one submission per artist until it runs out of room.

"We keep on adding to the pieces," Ritz told Taproot. "It becomes this wonderful collection that keeps on growing and growing and growing."

Thanks to a grant from the Edmonton Arts Council, Bleeding Heart has also opened its space to musicians and poets through its Warm Hearts concert series. It kicked off on Feb. 11 with singer-songwriter Emmet Michael and poet Naomi McIlwraith, and it continues every other Saturday until March 25.

"It's a really lovely way for us to celebrate the opening of an art gallery that we're really proud of," Ritz said.

Various pieces of framed abstract art hung on a wall

Artists of all levels of experience can display one of their works at Open Walls in Bleeding Heart Art Space's new home in Highlands until March 18. (Supplied)

Bleeding Heart started in 2012 as a pop-up gallery. It found more permanent digs on Alberta Avenue in 2014, and later moved to a space that could accommodate performances. In 2019, it returned to its pop-up roots, collaborating with neighbourhood organizations such as the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, which hosted the fifth Open Walls until COVID-19 intervened.

In May 2022, Bleeding Heart moved into St. Mary's. It is affiliated with St. Faith's Anglican Church, which runs several inner-city programs, but the gallery is not a religious endeavour, Ritz said. Rather, as the website puts it, Bleeding Heart is built on a belief that "there is value to be discovered at the intersection of contemporary art and religious faith," and it invites people of any faith or none to "explore the overlap."

Open Walls can be viewed from 11am to 3pm on Saturdays from Feb. 25 to March 18. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Warm Hearts continues on Feb. 25 with Good Information with Cay de Dios, followed by 100 Mile House with Corine Demas on March 12 and Melafrique with Meghan Eaker on March 25. Concert tickets are $5 to $10 each.

Once Open Walls closes, the gallery will turn its attention to solo shows by Ania Telfer and Stephanie Medford.