The Red Couch Gallery

red couch, a doorway?

Red Couch: Art by Metro, opened in June, 2017. Since that date we have hosted the artistic beauty of Metro Community artists and friends Liz Ranney, Chrisen Stober, Kirsten Petersen, and Dena Milanese, in our little street front gallery. As is our custom, we hold a launch party for each artist. On December 6, 2017 from 5-7 pm we gathered with friends from Metro and Karis to celebrate Dena’s journey leading to her first art show.

We are convinced that God is up to something through Red Couch. I’d like to share what that means on a personal level.

Almost two weeks ago I sat with Jeff Simla and said, “How are we going to deal with safety and security in Red Couch? A lock on the inside door is a must!”

“And a panic button, I think we need a panic button! We can’t host open hours until we deal with this.”

Almost two weeks ago I sat with Jeff Simla and said, “How are we going to deal with safety and security in Red Couch? A lock on the inside door is a must!”

“And a panic button, I think we need a panic button! We can’t host open hours until we deal with this.”

God must have belly laughed at that point. I didn’t see my departure from the tattered red couch, and philosophy of radical welcome. I was on a sidetrack heading to locked and guarded exhibition space! What about the artwork, what about the volunteers, what about me, said logic and fear. And God began to put things in place to change my heart.

Over the next few days, working in the gallery, door unlocked, taking down Kirsten Petersen’s art show and installing Dena Milanese’s work, the gallery door opened, and in walked;

Gerard: Can I come in and get warmed up? I’ve been out all night. Yes. Of course you can. (sits down on the floor) Can I make you some tea? That’s OK, I’m good. Whose dog is this? Kirsten’s dog, Olive. (Proceeds to pet and fuss over the dog for several minutes, and the dog loving every bit of it, responds.) OK, I’ve got to go check my cart. Thanks.

Alan: I used to draw Viking ships and Vikings and I forgot about that until now. I haven’t been able to draw since I got shot. I got shot three times in Iraq...(stays and talks and laughs and shares and then goes off into the day.)

Stan: How much is that painting? (he asks Dena who had not yet priced it, or hung it on the wall. It was still sitting on the gallery floor.) I’ll give you [$]. I’m going to bank to get you cash, and then I’ll tell you the back story.” (He comes back in 20 min

and pays Dena.) So, yesterday morning I wrote a letter to ten men in my leadership circle. I told them I had a piece of the puzzle on my desk.

So when I saw this piece of art made of puzzle pieces, I knew it was from God, for me.

Almost two weeks ago I sat with Jeff Simla and said, “How are we going to deal with safety and security in Red Couch? A lock on the inside door is a must!”

“And a panic button, I think we need a panic button! We can’t host open hours until we deal with this.”

God must have belly laughed at that point. I didn’t see my departure from the tattered red couch, and philosophy of radical welcome. I was on a sidetrack heading to locked and guarded exhibition space! What about the artwork, what about the volunteers, what about me, said logic and fear. And God began to put things in place to change my heart.

Over the next few days, working in the gallery, door unlocked, taking down Kirsten Petersen’s art show and installing Dena Milanese’s work, the gallery door opened, and in walked;

Gerard: Can I come in and get warmed up? I’ve been out all night. Yes. Of course you can. (sits down on the floor) Can I make you some tea? That’s OK, I’m good. Whose dog is this? Kirsten’s dog, Olive. (Proceeds to pet and fuss over the dog for several minutes, and the dog loving every bit of it, responds.) OK, I’ve got to go check my cart. Thanks.

Alan: I used to draw Viking ships and Vikings and I forgot about that until now. I haven’t been able to draw since I got shot. I got shot three times in Iraq...(stays and talks and laughs and shares and then goes off into the day.)

Stan: How much is that painting? (he asks Dena who had not yet priced it, or hung it on the wall. It was still sitting on the gallery floor.) I’ll give you [$]. I’m going to bank to get you cash, and then I’ll tell you the back story.” (He comes back in 20 min

and pays Dena.) So, yesterday morning I wrote a letter to ten men in my leadership circle. I told them I had a piece of the puzzle on my desk.

So when I saw this piece of art made of puzzle pieces, I knew it was from God, for me.

(Dena and I are speechless! Tears.)

Couple #1: (upbeat, curious, and engaging) So what is this space all about? I proceed to share about our current artist Dena, and our social gallery that invites community artists to show their work and celebrate the beauty of image dei in their lives. No commission. Support. Relationship. And then I say, can I tell you a God story? And it morphs from there.

“They pray over each artist that has shown and will show here, they pray over the space which they declare is “A doorway””

They pray over me, tears, hugs, conversation and alignment. (and they go out into the day.)

Couple #2: (interested, questioning, about 30 min after couple #1) We were just walking by, and saw the gallery and wondered. They look at Dena’s art while I explain.

She says oh, is it like helping hands for artists.

Yes, I say, it’s a bit like that. Do you know this person and that program and they should know about you and Red Couch, he says. He leaves me with names and takes a brochure. They are smiling as they walk out the door.

Gentleman and his dog: (locking the door, full to overflowing, I am going home. He crosses the street to see me.) I’ve not walked this far down St. Paul in years he said. Is this your gallery? We chat, he is intrigued by what we do, he asks if we need volunteers, he takes down Dena and my contact info.,

I tell him about the launch event on Dec. 6th, and we shake hands and part ways.

Several days pass, and I am still pursuing a lock on the inner door of Red Couch to keep the art and volunteers “safe.” I bring in a bell and hang it on the door, so I know when someone comes in. God ramps it up a notch, smiling, like the daddy who finds his child so delightfully naive, he reaches out, offering himself. Back at Red Couch yesterday, God sends;

Dena, for a launch party planning meeting, and chat.

Teresa, for a divine encounter with Dena, after not seeing her since Dena was in her addiction, living on the street.

Lynda, for a reminder of my shared experience with her in The Journey, 2006 to 2008.

Ryan, for a cup of tea and a chat.

Michelle, for a cup of tea and a chat.

Jeff, for a pass through and a kind word.

Heather, for a tour, and a bite to eat, and a chat.

A group from CMHA spontaneously coming through to see our progress.

Al, who is busy working away on Metro Central renovation, says,

“Sorry for dragging everything through here like this but there’s no way to get out into the street right now, and I feel bad for going through the gallery...”

BOOM...RIGHT THERE...God touch, God revelation, right- sizing, heart shift:

Ah, Al, I say, that’s exactly what is supposed to happen. What do you mean, he says? It is supposed to be a walk through, just like this.

Oh, so you can see the art, he says? Yes, that too, I say.

Words By Lesley-Anne Evans

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