Square Halo Gallery’s Year-in-Review

Ned Bustard | Gallery Director

Each year is an adventure in the Square Halo Gallery at The Trust. Every other month a new show goes up and aside from knowing that it will be contemporary art inspired by the Christian faith, our visitors never know what to expect.


We went back to school in September with a show based on the ABCs. In this exhibition Hannah Weston (a local award-winning artist and calligrapher) lettered and illustrated a series of twenty-six original tanka poems by writer and poet Leslie Bustard, as well as a including a final showpiece of original letter forms and variations on traditional calligraphy hands. “Tanka” translates as “short song,” and is the name for a form of Japanese poetry. Tanke poems have 35 syllables, divided into 5 lines (the syllables for each line are 5, 7, 5, 7, 7). The poem is to be one sentence and about one person, object, or idea. The first half the poet describes the object, and the second half is a “turn” where the poet shares their response to it.  The poems presented covered a wide range of topics from holes in a bathroom sink and the Scottish island of Iona to tulips and firepits. You can learn more about Hannah’s art at www.HannahHolder.com and read more of Leslie’s writings at www.PoeticUnderpinnings.com.


Often when people stop in on First Fridays they will ask me, “is this your art?” I then tell them that although I am an artist, I usually am showcasing other folks’ art in the gallery. But in November I had the joy of showcasing art from my two new children’s books, Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver: The History and Legends of the Real Santa Claus and The O in Hope: A Poem of Wonder. Both came out during the fall from the new imprint, IVP Kids. The Saint Nic book was linocut prints and the Hope book were collages. Art history professor Dr. Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt writes, “In charming verse, Bustard winsomely enriches our modern notion of Santa with the history of Saint Nicholas. His colorful illustrations recall Byzantine mosaics and rightfully reimagine Nicholas in the diverse world of the early church in Asia Minor. This is sure to be a new Christmas favorite.” Katie Manning, author of The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman remarked, “How delightful to have the wide-eyed wonder of Luci Shaw’s poetry combined with the vibrant playfulness of Ned Bustard’s art! Kids and grownups alike will love The O in Hope. This book is my new go-to gift for baby showers and little ones’ birthdays.”

January – February

We opened the doors wide this year and issued an invitation to anyone anywhere to submit art  to the Inklings Art Invitational. We were so delighted by the submissions—young and old, professional an amateurs. The Inklings was a literary discussion group that met between the 1930s and the 1950s. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other writers would meet weekly at The Eagle and Child (a pub in Oxford often called “The Bird and Baby”). Many of the famous works of literature we know them for today (such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) were a result of these friends reading and critiquing each other’s early manuscripts. The artworks in this show were inspired by that robust fellowship and the works they created. The show was part of the 2022 Square Halo Books conference that focused on the Inklings and the ideas of creativity, collaboration, and community. This exhibition was judged and prizes were awarded by our friends at CURIO Gallery & Creative Supply.


Every year we give young artists a chance to have a “real” showing of their art as part of the annual Messiah Arts Invitational. This year we featured to painters, local artist Elya Dennis and her classmate Alexia Jack. Both artists focused on the human figure and the work was vibrant and thought-provoking.


January 28th, 1986 marked a tragic loss in NASA history and a sad day for the lives of many Americans. The space shuttle Challenger exploded in mid-air moments after taking off. Seventeen percent of all Americans witnessed the explosion live as they watched on television. The whole nation mourned in the days and weeks afterwards. April of 2012 marked the hundred year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a calamity that claimed the lives of over 1500 people from both sides of the Atlantic. The scar left on society lasted for decades. Even today, the sinking of this once beautiful ocean liner is in the back of our collective consciousness as a reminder of what can happen despite our best efforts and highest hopes. Buried beneath the waves of the cold North Atlantic is a boat yes, but also the dreams and ambitions of an age.

These and many other events were a point of departure in “Moments,” a show by Gunnar Norquist exploring communal memory as it relates to images, and specifically television news media. The small physical scale of the drawings was meant to bring attention to the grand scale of these events, both physically and in their lasting impressions on our national psychology.


Our final show of the year opens in June and features the art of Frederick Yocum. The show will be called “Transient Transcendence” and feature (mostly) recent work by the artists focusing on the confluence of the momentary and the divine. Much of his work deals with transitions, shifting states. I hope you will come visit us this summer. Yocum’s work is excellent, but even I have no idea what to expect!

Looking ahead to our next season, we will have a variety of solo shows as usual, the Messiah invitational, and another invitational to coincide with the Square Halo Books conference, with the theme of . . . The Square Halo. Might we get to see some of YOUR art included this year? Check out our Facebook page for more information about that opportunity.

Warm thanks for all those who came out this year to support the confluence of Art and Faith represented by the Square Halo. And if you haven’t been by in a while, make plans to come out and see the art First Fridays from 6–9pm, during The Trust concerts, forums by The Row House, and by appointment.