2nd Annual Artistic Expressions Studio Art Show

The amazing artists of the Artistic Expressions Studio are holding their second annual show and exhibit, with special concerts and panel discussion to complement the art they have prepared.

Here are the details:

The Artistic Expressions Studio is holding its 2nd annual ART EXHIBIT. The public is invited to view the work of these artists and attend events presented by Special Guests of the Studio on Nov. 13 and 14, evenings, and Sat. afternoon, Nov. 16. The Special Guests include:

  • Nov. 13, 7-8 pm, in the sanctuary, The Centretown Brass Quintet, featuring Peter Crouch and Cameron Walker, trumpet, Michel Levasseur, french horn, Trevor Argue, trombone and Corey Rempel, tuba, performing a program of some jazz and blues standards and some original works for brass;
  • Nov. 14, 7 pm-9 pm, pianist William Blais of Ambient Melodies playing in the gallery;
  • Nov. 16, 1-3 p.m., in the sanctuary, a panel discussion, “Living the Dream – A Healthy Society for All” sponsored by the Douglas Coldwell Foundation. The panel will feature authors and physicians, Vincent Lam and Ryan Meili, and former MP and journalist Dennis Gruending.

    The Artistic Expressions Studio is a joint project of Centre 507 and Centretown United church. It’s purpose is to provide an equipped studio space to artists of our community living with a variety of serious challenges. These artists may frequent drop-ins, live in rooming houses, shelters or on the street. Despite these circumstances they are talented and serious artists and their work deserves to be exhibited, admired and collected. Following the events on Nov. 13th and 16th the audience is invited to view The Art Exhibit in the gallery. The Exhibit and all events and will be held at Centretown United Church, 507 Bank St. at Argyle. All events are free but donations to the Studio are welcome. For more information see centretownunited.org or centre507.org. Free parking is available at Glashan public school, 28 Arlington Ave.

Last year’s show was a huge success, this year it will be even better. Hope to see you there.


Partnerships: the name of the game

Here’s how we define our Mission at Faith&Arts Ottawa:

“to engage people in deepening their spiritual lives by offering arts-based spiritual growth programs to the Ottawa community, and by creating a faith community of people committed to sharing their lives with one another. “

We have employed many art forms in pursuit of this mission: journaling, poetry, creative writing, music, sculpting, drama and more.  As we have grown our programs we have met a lot of wonderful people who share the vision and have offered their own gifts in partnership.

Like the amazing congregation of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Sandy Hill who have turned their former chapel into a fully equipped art studio and are partnering with Faith&Arts Ottawa to create the SpiritArt studio and SpiritArt program (www.spiritartprogram.ca).

Like Eleanor Crowder and Anna Lewis, two of the principals at the Bear & Company Theatre company (www.bearandcompany.org) who led our ‘god Monologues’ verbatim theatre project back in the spring of 2013.

And now, like Jonathan Harris and the good folk of the 9th Hour Theatre company (www.9th-hour.ca) who are partnering with us to create a remarkable piece of original theatre called “Grain of Salt.”  More about that later, but for now we are delighted to find kindred souls at 9th Hour, who define their mission this way:

“9th Hour Theatre Company exists to creatively engage the art of storytelling in order to explore, examine and express themes and questions of faith and spirituality, including the person and characteristics of God.”

With a Mission so closely aligned with Faith&Arts Ottawa’s, the only surprise is that it took over a year for us to seek one another out and begin collaborating.  Now that we have, and we are, you can look forward to lots of engaging, spiritually challenging theatre in the years to come.

New information on the site, and lots more on the way.

As we roll out all our programs and events for the rest of 2013 and 2014 we will be adding new pages to this site.

You’ll find information about our new art studio and all the programs we’ll be offering there – created in partnership with All Saints’ Anglican church in Sandy Hill – under the “SpirtArt Program” tab.

You will be able to follow the development of our multi-year, multi-discipline, verbatim theate project under the “god Monologues” tab.

And we’ll be announcing more partnerships and more creative news in the weeks to come.

After months of low profile work, we are rolling out a truly unique and exciting palette of programs and events in the months ahead.  Let’s get creative!

We’re back! With lots of exciting news.

Whew! I am delighted to start posting again … finally.  There hasn’t been much action around here in a long time, but a lot of hard work has been happening away from the spotlight and now it is coming to fruition.

We’ll be announcing a whole bunch of exciting new initiatives and partnerships that are going to help Faith and Arts Ottawa fulfill its mission to offer imaginative arts-based programs that explore faith and spirituality.  I have been amazed at how many people and organizations share the vision of engaging in spiritual growth through the creative arts.  A new community of spirited artists is emerging.

Some highlights of what is coming:

  • a new art studio
  • over 20 incredibly diverse and exciting art workshops this fall.
  • poetry, painting, dance, music, journaling, sculpting, mask-making, and more!
  • a theatre tour all the way from Thunder Bay to Halifax.
  • two new theatrical productions in 2014.

Stay tuned!

The Creator’s Sacrifice

“The Creator’s Sacrifice” is a cycle of 17 paintings that tell the Easter story as imagined by Ovide Bighetty, a self-taught Cree artist from northwestern Manitoba who paints in the Woodland Cree tradition. They are remarkable for their colour and vibrancy. 

Take a look at this Kisemanito poster, and you’ll see what I mean.

All 17 paintings will be in Ottawa for a two week exhibit, March 23 – April 6th, at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Sandy Hill. For anyone interested in the intersection of spirituality and art, or aboriginal art and Christian spirituality, this show is not to be missed.

Here are a few links for more information:




“The god Monologues”


The cast has been hard at work since the beginning of February and “The god Monologues” is taking shape. It is going to be engaging, honest, thought-provoking, and fun!

So… what are your questions about religion and spirituality? Is there a God? What is religion? Does prayer work? Does faith affect values? Does spirituality influence actions? Is there only one true religion?

If you resonate with any of these questions, then you’ll want to come see “The god Monologues.”

Here’s what you’ll experience: A cast of young adult actors exploring profound issues of faith, spirituality, belief and values using their own words, and the words of their peers. This is documentary theatre, drawn from real life, exploring real life issues.

Under the able direction of Eleanor Crowder and Anna Lewis, the cast of committed amateur actors have been stretching themselves for six weeks now, as they have explored the breadth of contemporary spirituality among young adults. With two weeks to go, the pressure is on and we’ve doubled the number of rehearsals each week. The result is going to be terrific theatre, and a meaningful exploration of some of life’s most profound and persistent questions.

Sunday, March 24th,

7:00 p.m.

Rideau Park United Church

Free Admission

The audience will have the opportunity to make a free will offering toward the work of Faith and Arts Ottawa.

I hope to see you there.

The God Monologues Project

“The unexamined life is not worth living…”

Socrates, quoted in Plato’s Apology.

What is the God Monologues Project?  A 10 week “documentary theatre” project that explores the spirituality of young adults in their own words, culminating in a performance on March 24th. The script will be created by the cast itself.

(In “Documentary theatre” a cast of actors creates an original work of theatrical art by developing a script from the words of real people.   See the Background section below for an explanation of where we will find the words we need to start the creative process.)

Who can participate?  Young adults who are interested in either live theatre or spirituality, or both.  No previous acting experience is necessary, just a willingness to commit to participating each week from early February to late March.  We’re looking for people with a sense of adventure and fun, who are willing to take risks and explore some profound questions.

Where?  At St. Giles Presbyterian Church, corner of Bank Street and First Avenue in the Glebe.

And when?  Wednesday evenings, starting on February 6th.  Rehearsals will start at 6:00 p.m. with a cast dinner (another great reason to sign up!) at 6 p.m. and will finish by 9:00 p.m.   The program will culminate with a performance on Sunday, March 24th.

Why would I want to do this?  This is an unique opportunity to explore some profound life questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I believe?
  3. What are my values?
  4. How do my beliefs and values influence the way I live my life?

And it’s gonna be a lot of fun.  It is called a ‘play’ after all.

Paradoxically, one of the best ways to learn about yourself is to pretend to be someone else; to explore in depth another person’s thoughts, feeling, opinions, and motivations.  And that’s what theatre is.  The essence of acting is to play a ‘character,’ another person who may be very unlike yourself, to explore what they believe and how they behave, what their ‘voice’ sounds like.  In doing so, you will have the opportunity to explore what you think, what you believe, and how you want to live your life.

How much?  Free. Your only cost is the time you commit to it.  Which will be a significant investment.  If you join, you will be expected to attend all the rehearsals and the performance.  Live theatre is a team sport.

OK, I’m interested, how do I get more information?   Leave a comment on this post, or drop me a line at david.sherwin@faithandartsottawa.org.

Background: The Rev. Dr. Tom Sherwood, formerly the Ecumenical Chaplain at Carleton University and still a professor there, has spent the past three years investigating the spiritual lives of young adults who have rejected the religious institutions of their parents and grandparents.  He has gathered about 400 first person statements from young men and women of differing religious, ethnic, economic and geographical backgrounds.  Taken together they paint a fascinating picture of the diverse and creative spiritual lives of young adult Canadians today.

Part of the mandate of Dr. Sherwood’s research is to share his findings as widely as possible, to give a ‘voice’ to his subjects.  As part of that mandate he has partnered with Faith and Arts Ottawa to create a live theatre production based on the words of some of his study participants.

The Soul’s Language: Creative Writing as a Spiritual Practice

“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.”

Anna Quindlen

Everyone is looking for something: security, adventure, peace, excitement, wisdom, love. We look all around us for the things we need. We look to nature, to people, to technology, to art, to God. But some things we cannot find outside of ourselves, no matter how hard we look. There are some questions that can only be answered from within. Most of us know this, instinctively, but we don’t know how to do it. How, exactly, do we turn and look within ourselves for the answers we cannot find in the world around us?

Anna Quindlen, and most every other author, might say, “by writing.”

Writing – thoughtfully, creatively – is one of the great spiritual disciplines, often overlooked because it has become so common-place and is used for so many other, less profound, purposes. So, please join us as we reclaim creative writing as a spiritual practice. Faith and Arts Ottawa is about to offer a four-week creative writing workshop, open to anyone who is interested in exploring how writing can be a path to connecting to the sacred within. Here are the details.


WHY: Our lives are so stressful and full of activity that little time remains to connect with the voice of creativity within (our essence). Spiritual practices free up our internal voice so that our lives become more grounded and centred.

WHAT: The practice of creative writing (including poetry) can reveal our fullest capacities of heart and mind. This four-week workshop explores a variety of activities for accessing your most intimate and unobstructed voice. It is open to anyone who would like to explore writing/poetry as a path to connecting with the sacred within.

WHEN: Four Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, November 15 – December 6, 2012.

WHERE: Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue (Bank and Aylmer) in Room 5.

Registration fee is $50.00 for the series (or sliding scale). To inquire or register: info@faithandartsottawa.org or http://www.faithandartsottawa.org.

Here’s a link to a poster with more information: Creative Writing as a Spiritual Practice

Faith and Arts Dinner: September 30/12

We’re hosting an informal dinner and get-together for university students and other young adults at Centretown United Church, corner of Bank and Argyle. We’ll gather between 5 – 5:30 and eat around 6. There’s a simple, fun art activity after the meal, and we’ll be finished by 7:00.
Chili, rice, salad, bread, drinks, and homemade cookies!! A chance to gather, share a meal and visit. Its going to be fun!


Only a few were able to come to our contemplative photography event on the shores of the Ottawa River, such is the nature of our busy lives.  But many (perhaps most?) of us have powerful memories of walking along a shoreline and being moved to think about the larger questions of life.

David Lee wasn’t able to attend the event, but he shared the following poem with me and has graciously given permission for me to post it.  Thanks David!

Here is David’s introduction to the poem:

In summer 2008 my wife and I did a 400 km ‘pilgrim walk’ along the St. Lawrence River south shore below Quebec City, similar to our previous ‘Camino’ pilgrimage across northern Spain. This is a beautiful and historic region, deeply rooted in francophone language and culture. I found myself enthralled by the coastline including ‘l’estran’, the strand–the area along the shoreline which disappears at high tide but is fully visible at low tide. It raised questions as to what really exists, and evoked images of the high and low tides of our lives. The result was the following.

(L’estran : n. m.  Terrain entre la marrée haute et la marrée basse.  Métaphorique : endroit qui n’existe qu’une partie du temps, ou qui—partiellement ou entièrement—n’existe point une partie du temps.)

L’estran se révèle petit à petit
Comme le sourire de ma belle
Quand l’amour se dessine
Sur son visage révélateur.
Et voilà : l’espace libérée
De ses contraintes liquides,
Les poissons disparaissent
Les andouilles sinueuses aussi.
Mais, dans la lumière croissante
D’un soleil prometteur
Les crustacées s’étendent et réchauffent
Et les pierres-joyaux flattent les yeux.
C’est le printemps qui s’ouvre
Devant nous, comme dans un théâtre
Quand le rideau se lève
Et tout est possible, tout est à croire.
L’eau descend toujours, créant ainsi
Un nouveau monde, un monde à nous,
Domaine à merveilles, domaine d’espoir,
L’île s’approche. Peut-on s’y rendre?
Dans l’été de la marrée nous avançons forts
Toujours main dans la main, l’eau montant
Inaperçue sur les hanches.  L’île nous invite —
Vierge, mystérieuse.   Insaisissable?
Persévérer?  Ou renoncer?  Les buts,
Les idéaux de cette saison dans la vie
Sont-ils aussi vains
Que des papillons vacanciers?
L’eau monte.  Nous hésitons.  L’île
Nous accoste toujours, sa mine théâtrale
Nous offrant aperçus alléchants
De secrets ne dédiés qu’à nous.
Mais, voyons donc, l’automne a ses
Gloires – belles, même spectaculaires
Quand la marrée, envahissante,
Surmonte les derniers rochers en flèche,
Nous accaparant, nous ravissant, et apportant
Dans ses bagages des aquarelles, des aiglefins,
Qui, fluviaux donc jadis chassés,
Sont maintenant de retour en force!
Glissants, mouillés, les sourires graves mais satisfaits,
Têtes hivernales, mains entrelacées,
Leur remontée se joigne au retour de l’eau :
L’estran de la vie se ferme.