Ernesto Castro is using his art to help fund renovations at St. Jude’s parish in Toronto. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Artist puts art to work to fund parish renovation

By 
  • May 18, 2017

Ernesto Castro believes in putting his art where his faith is.

The artist knew long ago he had a talent for painting, and he has been busy putting it to work for the benefit of his parish in Toronto.

“Christ is in all of my paintings,” he said. “All of my art reflects my faith as a Roman Catholic. In some works it is clearer than others.”

The Toronto artist knew long ago he had a talent for painting and in 2010 he began showcasing those skills to the public with his first solo exhibit called Curved Emotions.

“I never wanted to sell my originals,” said Castro, who in 2013 put together his second Curved Emotions exhibit.

“But then I decided to not be so selfish.”

This newfound sense of generosity brought about Castro’s third exhibit, with all the proceeds going to St. Jude’s parish in Toronto’s west end.

“From the start, years ago, I knew the Lord gave me this gift to help others and for His glory,” said the artist, who was born in El Salvador in 1977. “I have been blessed with a full-time job and have enough for food and rent (so) whatever is earned is for the parish.”

On the weekend of May 12-14, Castro exhibited more than 40 pieces of his art, both originals and prints, in the parish hall.

Between 300 to 400 people attended the event, he said, and he sold 11 originals and 16 prints.The $3,900 raised will be put towards a new carpet for the sanctuary.

“These shows are hard work,” said Castro, who also donated two prints to the parish last year which sold during St. Jude’s annual November fundraising dinner. “(But) they are worth it because people respond well to the art God allows me to create.”

Singer Danielle Knibbe, who will be touring western Canada this August, provided the live soundtrack during the art show along with DJ Avant Chord, a vinyl turntablist based in Toronto.

“There is a hope to raise money, of course, but also it is a social event,” said Fr. Jose Vargas Lara, pastor of St. Jude’s. “Human beings are social by instinct. So to have it all together — the spiritual, the church (renovation) and the social aspects — it helps us to be more connected.”

When Castro first approached Vargas Lara with the idea of selling art to support the re-beautification of St. Jude’s a warmth overcame the cleric.

“He’s a young man and he touched my heart because I see his emotions (and) his talents being put into action in order to have our parish bright and new,” said Vargas Lara.

Although the majority of Castro’s art is abstract, Vargas Lara see it as spiritual by nature.

“He explained that every paint that hits (the canvas) shows his faith,” said Vargas Lara. “It is spiritual in his spiritual way. Although it is an abstract spiritual painting ... it is related to his faith and to his beliefs in the Catholic Church.”

Castro said he has no formal art training, but he insists he is “merely an instrument of the Lord.”

“Of course it is me creating the art but it is Him that inspires it,” he said.

But Catholicism didn’t always play such an important role in Castro’s art or life for that matter.

Born in San Salvador, Castro spent the first nine years of his life in a country that was scarred by civil war. In 1986, he fled with his family for the safety of Canada.

In 2010, after years of struggling with his faith, Castro found a way to reflect his faith through art.

“My aim is to touch a person’s heart with my art, to inspire feelings and thoughts normally uncommon in everyday life.”

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