Imago Arts Imago provides support, as an umbrella organization, for projects from various disciplines of the arts. Fri, 21 Jun 2019 21:26:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 40501197 imago evening – June 21 Sat, 18 May 2019 00:57:10 +0000

Join us for our annual event as we usher in the summer

Mike Janzen (piano), Petra Zantingh (visual artist), John Terpstra (poet), Motus O Dance Theater, Catherine Daniel – opera/gospel singer,  Ruth Fazal – violin

and Kristin Mark Westwood (singer/songwriter).

7:30pm Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

Reception to Follow

Mike Janzen Fri, 17 May 2019 01:16:54 +0000

The Manna Sessions

The story of the Israelites wandering in the desert has really mirrored my own story over these last years. In spring of 2016 I suffered a serious concussion and I’ve been slowly recovering ever since. There’s been many challenges but I’ve seen manna fall daily all around me and my family. Miraculous, practical and appearing seemingly out of nowhere. Providing abundant nourishment yet sometimes also monotonous in the fact that the desert can be grueling place where healing feels distant.

The Manna Sessions will be three separate music albums all revolving around similar themes of redemption, provision and this time of waiting in the desert. Having journeyed through a concussion injury over the last three years, this project will be quite personal for me and reflective of this season of long healing.

Three Albums…

Album 1: Jazz meets gospel

This album will join the powerful sounds of a gospel choir with my jazz trio (George Koller, Larnell Lewis). The music will be soulful and upbeat and will target the mainstream audience of jazz/blues lovers. I am a huge fan of the Toronto Mass Choir and am excited to explore creative ways of incorporating the uniqueness of a gospel choir with the inventiveness of jazz. The album will be vocal, groove-based and feature brass, trio and choir.

Album 2: Jazz orchestra compositions

I have often dreamed of writing more extensively for jazz orchestra and these through composed compositions that would feature that sound. The pieces will be both instrumental and vocal and seek to pull together classical strings with a jazz big band. The music will be energetic and beautiful.

Album 3: Singer Songwriter

The last two and a half years have been tremendously difficult in many ways but out of this forced sabbatical has come a bunch of meaningful songs. This vocal album will feature these songs in a pop/folk setting. Piano, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals will be the instrumentation.

Three stages for each album:

Each project will be completed in three stages. The first stage will be a composing period where I sift through the previously recorded voice memos and choose songs to work on. As well, I will create a number of new songs from scratch on themes that I’ve been journaling on. After the songs are complete, I will start arranging them for choir or orchestra or rhythm section. The second stage will involve recording the songs in a studio and then editing, mixing and mastering them. The third stage will be the production of the music, including artwork, online videos, online marketing, manufacturing of the albums and finally a release concert. I expect the production of this music will take three to four years to complete.

I am so very excited to work on this project as it is a huge gift to be able to work on something creative again. I also think the material will resonate with many people who struggle with very difficult circumstances in life. Over the last few years I keep hearing the words, “sing to those in the dark” and I hope this release will do that.

I strongly believe that nothing is wasted when we walk through the hard places of life. Thank you for considering this project. Although I’m not able to do extensive touring to pay the bills I am able to write and work on music and your support allows the healing process to continue.

Trees of the Book Thu, 16 May 2019 01:57:12 +0000

Using contemporary, visual language as a way to tell the story of divine providence through biblical references to trees, these paintings are part of a body of work called Trees of the Book. Trees are mentioned often in scripture and I was intrigued and challenged to look at them metaphorically, illustratively, and tangibly.

Golden Tabernacle trees (1 Kings 6:32)

Living primarily in cities, we forget that there was a time when trees held a more significant role in our existence. We still rely on trees. Trees supply food, mark seasons, clean the air, provide oxygen, cool streets and cities, and help prevent water pollution and soil erosion. Studies have shown that
the presence of trees can reduce violence.

Trees are such powerful visual images of growth, decay, and resurrection that most cultures have endowed them with symbolic meaning and otherworldly significance.

My love for trees remains a persistent presence in my work that has evolved from studies and true representation to flourishes and subtle illusions of trees. Relying on the fragile and mysterious relationship between water and pigment, the process itself requires patient manipulation.

As the water evaporates, the inks and pigments form into curious and detailed shapes. Trees of the Book retells the narrative of salvation through fifty-two paintings accompanied by written responses from writers, theologians, clergy, scientists, activists, and educators with the intention of publishing a book. The paintings seek to encourage prayerful meditation on God’s providence, while the textual components provide complementary interpretations of these passages.

-Petra Zantingh

An Imago Evening – with Malcolm Guite Wed, 13 Mar 2019 21:34:10 +0000

An IMAGO Evening

In partnership with Wycliffe College

Poetry for the Journey

Malcolm Guite – Poet, Author, Inklings Scholar

A conversation hosted by John Franklin

Special music – Esther Ruth Teel

Monday April 1st 2019

7:30 p.m.  –  9:00 p.m.


Wycliffe College – Leonard Hall

5 Hoskin Ave. U of T Campus

Reception to follow 

Sacred Christmas Wed, 16 Jan 2019 13:22:40 +0000

“Sacred Christmas” will be the title of a fully produced CD recording of sacred Christmas music. It will feature 10 originally arranged pieces in a variety of styles drawing on jazz and gospel influences while staying true to classical roots.  The album will include an a cappella track for 8 voices. There will be rich contrast in instrumentation: strings and brass will add colours and depth to the pieces. I am very excited to work with a team of arrangers, musicians and designers. I am equally excited about this partnership with IMAGO because it allows donors tax receipts! Since the project began in September 2017, ten thousand dollars has been raised.  Three of the ten arrangements are complete. Your support is deeply appreciated. Help me make this dream a reality.


Betty Spackman – ‘A Creature Chronicle’ Sun, 06 Jan 2019 13:33:51 +0000
Artist – Betty Spackman

‘A CREATURE CHRONICLE’  (a work in process) consists of 15 double-sided wood panels placed on adjoining bases to form an open circle.
The circular form of the construction creates different interior and exterior viewing experiences and references circles of conversation in various cultural contexts; gathering in the hut or around the fire or around the table to tell stories or to celebrate life events. The heart of the project is in fact about story and conversation; conversations between science and faith in particular, with art as a mediator and visual language as a tool for describing ideas and ideologies – in this case, theories of creation and evolution related to posthumanism. 
Betty has a background in animation and have taught visual storytelling. Her interest in visual storytelling underlines this new work combining, comparing and conflating what are often thought as conflicting narratives. Presented as a kind of non-linear storyboard to be walked around and into in order to be ‘read’, contemplated, and discussed, it is meant to function as a catalyst for dialogue as the viewers create their own ‘story’ from the images they see.
The installation will be accompanied by a catalogue she is designing consisting of a foldout replica of the panels and a documentation of references and symbols used in each. The catalogue can be printed on demand.


June 27th – an imago Evening Mon, 18 Jun 2018 21:49:09 +0000 Imago Evening
Wednesday June 27th 2018
7:30 p.m.
(doors open 7:00)
William Aide – pianist – recalling the beginning of Imago
 Duane Forrest – singer/songwriter
Ins Choi – music
Maria Gabankova– visual artist
Dennis Hassell – writer/actor
Executive Director reflecting on 20 years
Jeanine Noyes – singer
Admission $10
Reception to follow
Come and bring a friend


Cameron Hall
Yorkminster Park Baptist Church
(1585 Yonge St at Heath one block north of St. Clair – church parking available)

Lenten Reflections Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:32:21 +0000

Join us on March 24, at 7pm for Lenten Reflections: an evening of poetry, music and visual art at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, in Hamilton.

Featuring: Bethany Kenyon, John Terpstra, D.S. Martin, Peter Tigchelaar, Deborah Sawczak, Sharon Tiessen and Roger Sharp

Hosted by: John Franklin

Reception to Follow

Tickets are only $10 at the door.

320 Charlton Avenue West, Hamilton, ON –

Spirituality and Music – Vaughan Williams Sat, 11 Nov 2017 15:14:58 +0000 The claim that music has a significant role in human culture is not in need of defense as it is so obviously true. But what exactly that role is or perhaps better what the scope of that role may be are questions open to debate. Music is understood to be more abstract than some of the other arts. Whether it’s the musical stylings of Oscar Peterson or the symphonic strains of Antonin Dvorak we don’t ask what they represent.

There are exceptions as for example Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. However music is less about representing something than about inviting us to enjoy what is rendered and to be led to unexpected destinations. Recently I had been listening to the music of British composer Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) when I come upon an article that explores the spiritual insights found in the music of Williams. His father was a pastor but died when Williams was just two years of age and his mother was a believer of evangelical persuasion and a niece of Charles Darwin.

He attended Trinity College Cambridge by which time he had slipped from any religious belief and found support for his disbelief in the likes of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In time he softened his stance from atheist to agnostic. It is interesting that many who cannot find room for God in the small tent of their own mind are nonetheless open to tipping their hat to the divine in the grander spaces of culture and cosmos.
Elizabeth-Jane McGuire author of the article* I read observes the irony of how a non-believer like Williams wrote religious essentials in the modern musical canon. The two spiritual themes found in Williams’s life and music were the journey and beauty. It was through these gates that the composer was able to enter to find spiritual significance he was unable to access in organized religion.

What I happened to be listening to was a recording of orchestral pieces among which was the exquisite composition The Lark Ascending as well as Williams’s Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus – or the familiar hymn tune Kingsfold – (I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say…) For those who wish to reach a bit further you might listen to his Songs of Travel where, as McGuire notes, the themes of journey and beauty “shed light on Vaughan Williams’s personal spiritual transformation not into a believing Christian, but into a person who encountered the transcendent through beauty and who was transformed as a result”.*

This is one more example of how art and the spiritual may inhabit the same space reminding us that our world is layered – not flat – and art is one of the windows that enables us to see beyond the immediate.

*Elizabeth-Jane McGuire, Ralph Vaughan Williams: Spiritual Vagabond in ARTS: The Arts in Religion and Theological Studies, vol. 27 no 1 (2015)


Faith – the Unmentioned Inspiration Mon, 06 Nov 2017 22:13:10 +0000 If you were to provide a narrative about the life and music of Bach you might expect that some comment would be made about the composer’s faith. I attended a concert that featured the music of Johan Sebastian Bach and included images and a narrative about the composer. It was a fine concert and an interesting narrative but there was virtually no mention of the faith of this great composer.

In a post-enlightenment culture it is common practice when speaking of the work of an artist for whom faith was a key component of life – to simply ignore the faith element and speak only of the art and the artistic genius. Van Gogh would be an example in visual art and this is what happened at the concert I attended. This marginalizing of faith has inspired me to look again into the life of this composer and I
offer here some observations.

It is assumed that Bach got a good amount of religious instruction as a youth and was from his early days well acquainted with both scripture and Lutheran theology. He was hired as Cantor at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig and remained in Leipzig from 1723-1750. Most of his Cantatas were composed in this period and of the 300 or so that he likely wrote only about 200 remain today.

These are liturgical works carefully crafted around the scripture readings for the Sunday for which they were written. One can think of Bach’s Cantatas as musical proclamations of the gospel and they lie at the heart of his extensive corpus of compositions. Bach lived at a time of great transition in European culture and he gave voice to one of the main currents of the Protestant Reformation.

In addition to the Cantatas there are the Passions, St Matthew and St. John and the rich and beautiful Mass in B minor. These religious works evidence a strong Christocentric understanding of theology and provide a powerful coming together of word and music. The canon of Bach’s music extends well beyond these religious works and includes a varied masterful collection of instrumental music. He had a clear sense of the goodness of creation and of his own vocation to create and to do so as a divine calling. It was common practice for him to write SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) at the end of his scores.

He understood that the writing of music was an offering to God and there was no requirement that it have religious content. Such works as the Brandenburg Concertos, English Suites for piano, the magnificent Goldberg Variations or the Art of Fugue all capture something of the beauty and orderliness of creation. They are echoes of the beauty of the world around us and speak forth a hopefulness that is found in the story of the gospel.

Bach was both well versed in his Christian faith and committed to Christian practice. Great art it seems requires that one live in a great story. I am not suggesting that Bach’s faith is what made his music great – many composers and artists of distinction stand outside a faith tradition. But there is no doubt that what Bach believed contributed profoundly to both the shape and quality of his music. It is impossible to do justice to considering Bach’s work without also attending to the faith he professed that was woven into the fabric of all that he did as a composer.

I have been putting together this newsletter as Pentecost approaches and have featured three images by Gerard Pas that are part of his “Tongues of Fire” installation work. “Tongues of Fire” is an engaging linguistic image and in its original context speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the hearing of the gospel each in their own language – essentially a reversal of Babel. At the latterthe interest was to “make a name for themselves”.

At Pentecost the invitation was to proclaim the name of the One who has come to redeem and transform all creation. I have long been thinking about links between art and the Holy Spirit. I wonder if it might be acceptable to think of art as akin to “tongues of fire” symbolizing the presence of the Spirit and a dynamic movement that has the capacity to bring change and transformation to our lives and our  communities.

Could it be that in those many places where the music of Bach is played we have the presence of a tongue of fire – that speaks to the dynamic reality of the Spirit at work in the world? Might the art work that you do be like a tongue of fire that opens a way for an experience of divine presence in the world? Is the dance, the drama, the poetry opportunity for some to discern in their own language what they have
not been able to discern before?

I am thinking of course about art not as mere entertainment but as something – that engages us, arrests us and leads us to take time to reflect, to mull over and to discover. But it is art that may also energize us, inspire us and move us to unprecedented action. And it may feed us, nurture us, comfort us and give us hope. In these possibilities we have an account of the work of the Spirit. We must of course not confuse aesthetic experience and the Spirit but it seems there is a connection which merits consideration. I have offered here only a beginning.