Red Deerian Leo Ducharme has a fascinating way of injecting his Christian beliefs into his vibrant, compelling art.
The talented painter’s works will be featured at The Loft on Gaetz during the month of August. A relatively new locale for artists to showcase their craft, The Loft on Gaetz is located on 4920 Gaetz Ave.
Originally from Edmonton, Ducharme recalls having an encounter with God while attending Living Stones Church in Red Deer back in 1987.
“I was asking God about what is my purpose,” he recalls. “I did go to art school back in the 1970s, but I remember thinking now that I was a Christian, I had a totally new perspective and viewpoint.”
Ducharme, 56, refers to his collection of acrylic paintings as conveying Christian symbolism.
“Every picture has a story, and I kind of use that as my theme.”
His love for art stretches back to his childhood when his mom gave him a paint by number set. “I loved it. Somewhere in that concept I thought to myself I really like this, I want to be an artist when I grow up.”
He was also a deep thinker as a youngster. “My head was in the clouds most of the time – I was a real dreamer,” he recalls with a laugh.
But as the years passed by, his personal life went into a bit of a slide. “Circumstances in your childhood have a tendency to later reflect on your personality and your character,” he explains. A difficult childhood sparked a pattern of negativity over the years, and a tendency towards depression.
His struggles launched a personal search for meaning. “I was searching for a reason for living. And I guess we all go through that kind of a journey.”
A spectrum of religions was explored until he found Christianity. Considering how he describes his darks days that stretched into years, there’s clearly been a shift in how he’s perceiving life these days.
Ducharme is all smiles as he describes his passion for art, his vibrant faith, his marriage to wife Adrianna and his joyful outlook on what lies ahead.
“I went through my journey to faith, and through that I discovered art and I discovered music,” he explains. Much of that was fleshed out during his years at Living Stones Church under the guidance of then music pastors John and Norma Broughton.
Ducharme collaborated with the couple on some Christmas productions, and he even was inspired to write a worship song that became a favourite for the congregation.
“They challenged us to go beyond our limits,” he says. “They brought a lot of people along.”
And during that whole time of developing his musical and writing abilities, Ducharme was painting as well. He was flourishing on many levels. “Once you take one step of faith, it leads into confidence and more courage.”
His paintings are indeed striking in their powerful use of colour and design.
And the message is there as well from the Biblical images of the good seed of God’s word impacting the human heart to a bold, bright piece which Ducharme says points to God’s glory.
Meanwhile, he’s enthusiastic about sharing about 30 pieces of artwork with viewers through the month of August at The Loft on Gaetz. A reception is set for Aug. 6 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
“I’m always excited about having an opportunity to be a witness, to say here is stuff that is from deep within a person’s soul. Basically, it’s my journey of faith, of discovering identity and of discovering confidence as well.”
The Loft on Gaetz has several offices and a common area gallery dedicated to promoting the work of established and emerging artists, designers and craftsmen through a variety of art shows and special events.
“As a group (of businesses and organizations), because we have a large common area, we wanted to make it into a gallery,” says Gayle Wood, who manages Residential Design at the location and is one of the coordinators of the gallery.
She said the gallery became operational this past spring although the concept was essentially born last fall. Wood said the gallery at The Loft on Gaetz is also joining the First Friday event monthly, where galleries across the City host special events such as openings of new exhibits.
The Loft on Gaetz is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and occasionally on Saturdays for special events.
Check out visit www.theloftongaetz.ca for more information.