Art Crawl Night Again – May 2015 plans

Hello, everyone.

It’s been far too long since I’ve made an update here. The Hamilton Art scene is going as strong as ever. The final night for the Obscured Arts Exhibition at The Baltimore house is tonight. The paintings come down today and tomorrow. Three small pieces submitted by myself have already been taken down as of yesterday, but you can see them here:

Faith (2014) sml Hope (2014) sml Love (2014) sml

Tonight, there will be a photographic art event showing at the Steel Lounge on King William and Ferguson.

The galleries still running on James Street North should all be open with new shows. I hope to sneak out and take them in quickly before repairing to the Steel Lounge. If I get to do the rounds, I’ll try to give a review/update in the next couple of days.

The weather looks ideal for a great Art Crawl night. I hope to see all the regulars and lots of new people out. Don’t miss it.

And finally, this page may be ‘repurposed’ slightly to promote both the Hamilton Arts scene AND a possible upcoming studio project we’re looking into starting soon. Stay tuned.



The Triumphant Return

Hello…. I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?

Okay, so it’s been almost a year since our last post. That wasn’t deliberate. What was deliberate was the incredible amount of time and energy we gave to civic engagement pursuits. We’re still active in a few areas, but things in the art world have been hotting up, so it’s well past time to report.

First off, you may have missed this:

Copyright: Ingelbert Lievaart Photography
Copyright: Ingelbert Lievaart Photography

Dawn and I lugged her artwork out to Art Crawl in June. It was nice, if a bit chilly toward the end. But we definitely needed to bring some of the big guns, to contrast against the guy who was selling art across the aisle from us.

Then we did this:
Stinson Yard Sale - Art Market at Bishop's Park, Year 001 sml
Dawn and I both went out for the Third Annual Neighbourhood-wide Stinson Yard Sale. We even sold some art… to close friends, but we sold some art!

And then there was this:
Art Crawl 2014 07 11 1of4
Art Crawl 2014 07 11 2of4
Art Crawl 2014 07 11 3of4
Art Crawl 2014 07 11 4of4
Not the absolutely mental artwork in front of the last two photos: mostly brand new, eye-catching abstract expressionism pieces done by yours truly. I have officially returned to painting, after what was pretty much a twenty year hiatus.

After all this forward momentum, you might reasonably expect things to get really interesting, but sadly, they did, except in a way that we weren’t expecting:
I know, NOT art-related. I apologize. But it has had some serious bearing on our output and our plans. Well, my plans, anyway. I’m thinking about a crowdfunding project involving a graphic novel featuring the anthropomorphic spirits of our two dead cats, Charlie and now Lucky.

Now, there is lots, and I mean LOTS of other stuff going on, but I’m going to stop here and give your ISP a break.

Comments are welcome. More news coming soon.


A Frank Apology

I’ve been trying to make time and find the energy to write my review of the most recent James Street North Art Crawl event in Hamilton, Ontario, but I’ve been so busy and, when not working, so wiped out, I just haven’t been able to get it together. I still plan on doing the review. I hope to start working on it some time today or tomorrow. But frankly, it’s starting to get cloudy in my head, so I’m not sure how it’s going to be.

To the artists and artists’ reps I spoke to on the day (you know who you are), I apologize for the interminable delay. Soon. I just hope it’s worth the wait.


The Spectacle of Playing At Art

Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton Place, rooftop,...
Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton Place, rooftop, downtown Hamilton, Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Dawn and I went to the Art Gallery of Hamilton last Friday (August 2nd, 2013)  to take in the new exhibit, ‘The Spectacle of Play’. It’s a pretty impressive and diverse array of materials and ideas. WE also got another good look at the Alex Colville ‘Horse and Train’ exhibit, and we took in Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins’ The ‘Collaborationists’ series. We didn’t have enough time to visit the second floor, or the split level gallery off the main lobby, so we missed those exhibits, and thus, I’ll only be talking about the three aforementioned exhibits.

There were a number of very different mediums used in this exhibit be a plethora of classical and modern artists. There was even an interactive element just off the central staircase, where you got to deposit coloured chips into individual boxes labelled with images from the different artists and exhibit sections. This exhibit took place in six of the separate gallery spaces, and covered everything from classical and post impressionist paintings, film, installations and sculpture globes, amongst many others.

The film, the title of which I failed to write down, was a black and white art film piece that incorporated chess motifs and a wider political backdrop in a war-torn country of indeterminate location (Beirut? Bosnia?). It was somewhat surrealistic, using live action with careful editing, props and costumes to express the more brutal aspects of the otherwise seemingly civilized game of chess, and juxtaposing these segments against a grand master chess match taking place in the war-torn outskirts of town. I won’t give away the ending, because it’s actually kind of powerful in its seeming ambivalence, but it is a sort of happy ending, in its way.

Probably my favourite piece of work from the Play exhibit was the installation, Roulette, which used a circle of elevated frosted glass panels with various expressions of pleasure and guilt etched in them, arrayed very like a roulette wheel and surrounded by sounds of roultette wheels and balls clattering around them. It isn’t so much that gambling appeals to me, but I enjoyed the cold, sterile treatment of the subject matter, which I think is very timely for Hamilton, in light of the Casino debate.

There were a number of other excellent pieces in this exhibit. I suggest you take it in if you have the time.

The Alex Colville exhibit is all about the one Colville painting in the AGH’s permanent collection, but it’s an excellent piece, and they’ve gone to a fair bit of trouble to exhibit the painting with its sketches and preparatory paintings. It’s fascinating to see the process Colville went through to arrive at his masterpiece. I haven’t read about the history of the piece since high school, so I can’t offer any scholastic insights into the piece, but I will just say that is is one of my favourite pieces of his work, along with a few of his portraits. All in all, well worth going to see, even if you aren’t interested in the other exhibits.

This was a relatively impressive series of large scale installations that utilized automation and various principles of composition and colour theory to express modes of communication. Sadly, while the scale and scope of the pieces is truly impressive, something about them left me a bit cold, though I did get a chuckle from the great googly eyes in the Steiner Gallery. The problem, I fear is with my profession as a graphic designer, which lead me to see the majority of the exhibit a little too clinically, so I utterly failed to be captivated by the (very impressive) Southam Gallery pieces, and there was something a little hands off about the sound exhibit in the Young Gallery.

All in all, I’m sure there is more to it than I managed to glean, but I suspect I won’t be back to work out the puzzles myself. Let me know if you gain any greater insights into those pieces.

On the whole, it was a pretty impressive set of exhibits that managed to evoke a spirit of ingenuity and innovation, which was definitely a plus, coming from the AGH, which has something of a staid reputation, these days. That said, I was left a little cold by the whole experience. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had dressed up and infiltrated the wedding party that was passing through, to enjoy some champagne before taking in the exhibits. I advise you to have a pleasant meal with some wine or microbrew, to help with your digestion of this interesting series of exhibits.




Alright, so I’m pretty so I’m pretty sure folks have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as I could. There are TONNES of new things happening on the Hamilton Creative scene, but I haven’t been able to cover a fraction of it due to that thing called Real Life. it’s an utter bastard. So I’m gonna keep posting as much as and often as I can, but as of now, I am opening the door to outside contributors.

The deal is this: I’m broke. This site isn’t making a thin dime. So this is entirely voluntary stuff. If that hasn’t scared you off yet, then here’s what you can do: write me to discuss what you would like to write about, and if we agree you’re a good fit for the site, I’ll set up a contributor account for you, and you can submit articles and interviews and fun stuff like that under your own byline. Sound good? Good!

The door is open, and it will stay open until I start thinking I’m getting too many contributors to be manageable. So let’s hear what you have to say. Hamilton (and HCC) needs you.


MANTA Gallery Gets A New Lease On Life

I don’t want this to turn into the MANTA Contemporary Gallery Fanclub or anything, but I have some great news, after the bad news of May; the MANTA Gallery has a new home, and they also have a shiny new online shop added to their website as well, but more on that in a bit.

First, the new location is at 22 Barton Street East, between James Street North and Hughson Street North, a few doors down from HAVN, the avant garde multimedia gallery that has been making headway into drawing folks away from the James Street North ArtCrawl.

Stephen and Melody were open for business at the last ArtCrawl, which Dawn and I unfortunately had to miss, but we stopped in to visit Melody a week ago to have a look around (and to sign the bathroom wall), promising to return to take photos for this write-up. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to get back there yet, but I’m figuring on taking the camera around some time in the next day or two, and will add the best photos afterward.

Now, as for the website, it’s HERE. They have a great new online shop where you can order their for purchase at the click of a button. If I weren’t a starving artist myself, I’d already have purchased a few pieces. There is some really nice non-digitally manipulated photographic art in the main gallery space (you have to see it to understand, as it utilizes a lot of time lapse photography and filters to achieve some stunning and highly animated visual effects), and a collection of fabulous paintings and drawings in the back room, where the semi-permanent collection is on display. If you could see the room, you’d know that those pieces are eager to find a good home, and many of them are quite worth the purchase.

So don’t wait for the next ArtCrawl to see some amazing and thoroughly contemporary artwork; go to MANTA, and tell Melody and Stephen we sent you.


It’s Complicated

So, the plan was for my wife and I to put on another Pop-Up Gallery show at Hamilton’s James North Art Crawl tonight. However, two close friends of ours are having birthdays, and we’re joining them for drinks tonight at The Corktown Tavern. If things wind down in time, we’ll stagger our way over to look at the pretty artwork and maybe meet a few new artists and such. However, there will be no Pop-Up Gallery showing. Hopefully next month, if we can get a better delivery system. That panel triptych is heavy!

Pop Up Gallery ArtCrawl 2013 06 14


June Art Crawl – Mini Review Coming Soonish

Dawn and I went spelunking down James St. N. to see all of the stuff we won’t get a chance to see tonight, because we’ll be staking up Dawn’s Pop-Up Art Gallery outside of Manta Contemporary tonight to show off/(maybe) sell some of Dawn’s work. I’ll do a write-up on what we did see today, as soon as I get a bit of time to put my memories together.

Meanwhile, here’s a preview of tonight’s showing:
Pop Up Gallery Test Run sml

And here’s something you WON’T get to see…

Tarot Aces 001

PS: I still have to finish writing and posting the review of the showing at Hamilton Artists Inc last month. And I need to figure out how to write about the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes art exhibit, as well. I may have to take a walk or two along James St tonight, with my trusty dictaphone in hand.


May ArtCrawl – a review

Note: This is not a formal critique. I have some art training, but do not consider myself an art critic. Nor do I have any interest in becoming one. This is strictly an informal report on what I saw and what I thought.

As this is the first of these articles I’m writing, it behooves me to (quickly) explain that I did very little in the way of photojournalism, because I was already feeling self-conscious enough about muttering inane comments into my digital dictaphone. Therefore, to appease those who wish to see something, here’s a picture of me with my blue sweater, badly-made HCC pin (next month’s will be far superior), and the tools of my trade:

HCC Editor
As you can see, I look just odd enough to draw concerned looks and questions from patrons, so I try not to make too much of a nuisance of myself, despite my muttering.

Now, let’s go see if my recordings are coherent…

…Hmmn… so much ambient noise and chatter in the background that I can’t easily erase might have to wing this one and start muttering louder in future episodes.

Okay, so, as I recall, I started viewing art at the Focus Gallery on James, because it’s the first open gallery I found upon turning onto James from King. The artists were photographer Hollander Maui and landscape painter Fred Franzen.

I was introduced to both (once again by Tracee Lee-Holloway), and was surprised to learn that Hollander was also something of an inventor. Hollander (whose nickname I’ve forgotten, sorry), uses a process of printing diffused photographs that give his compositions an almost impressionistic feel. One particularly vivid piece with autumnal colours really stood out for me, but sadly, the title escapes my recollection (it’s in my mumbled recording). If you get a chance to see his work, I’m sure you won’t get it confused with any of the others; it really was remarkably strong with reds and golds and browns, almost like Jackson Pollock painting after applying Gaussian Blur.

Fred proved to be a charming and approachable gentleman who took time to play with an infant boy that was visiting the gallery with his parents. He also took time to talk to me at length about some of his pieces, including one IIRC was called ‘View From Margo’s House’. It is a seascape in heavy matted hues of cool greens and blues on wood panel, with sections of embossed paint as if done using emulsion inks over some sort of bubbled paste. I didn’t grill him too much over his technique, and it surprised me that the piece grabbed my attention so much, because it looked so very little like the sort of thing that would normally grab my focus. Very interesting, almost naive painting style. Very relaxing and yet personal without being so specific as to lose its audience.

After this, I left Tracee and headed out into the rain to make my way to CBC Hamilton in the Lister Block building, where paintings done by artists with mental health issues were on display. I remember seeing a few pieces by one landscape artist that really caught my eye. Sadly, I’ve lost his name (I suck). The artwork was somewhat brash and stylized, but without the sort of polish that might have rendered his art pastiche. The other artists on display were charming, but felt a little underdeveloped, so I don’t believe I made many comments about them; I may have forgotten one or two pieces by the other artists that appealed; again, it’s on my recording.

I slipped next door to The Annex, where I was happy to learn there were a number of pieces on display by several artists. These pieces are of course selected in part for their pleasing colours and compositions, as the Annex specializes in selling art and artisan furniture for the home. I seem to recall one woman’s abstract pieces catching my eye, but sadly, her name too is locked in my inaudible recording. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise to find so many pieces on display there; previous ArtCrawl visits have had few exhibited pieces on display, and my past experience with the Annex when it was still in the AGH was that they have a catalogue of paintings from a number of local artists. I hope they continue this trend of sharing their catalogued pieces at future ArtCrawls.

I can’t recall if I had an opportunity to visit B Contemporary, as I don’t have any literature from that gallery. I do recall walking down that far, but I was pretty drenched by that point, and may have simply been a bit miserable and failed to notice if it was open or not.

I DID remember to visit the Urban Arts Initiative, where I spoke with Erika Morton for a bit, before visiting Studio 12 upstairs to look over a some fine art photography. I failed to visit Melanie Gillis’ studio, but I’ve promised myself to visit her in June if she’s open.

I fought torrential downpours (sans umbrella) to visit Barbara Cooper at the Hamilton Hotel studio, where I got to see two of her latest pieces, larger scale abstracts that seem to be challenging her (in a good way) to step outside of her comfort zone and work in larger scale. I’m eager to see how the larger of the two turns out, as it was unfinished, and looked like it was developing into something quite powerful.

I also visited Lester Coloma’s studio across the hall, where a few nice pieces were on display, but he looked as if he had either sold off or moved some of his more flamboyant pieces of the last year that I was hoping to see once more. Hopefully next time, something in his studio will catch my eye, as he really is a fine large scale artist.

I saw a room full of art by various artists, and came away with a strong impression of the portraits of Owen Masters and Helen Griffiths.

I saw the Road Sign Project series at Centre3. Very amusing, and I later was one of the pieces in person when I headed down King William, but more on that later.

I stopped into the new Julia Veenstra gallery, which she had opened up for a sneak preview of her grand opening this June 13th/14th. I saw a number of very impressive abstract nature paintings, including one canvas several feet square, which she insisted wasn’t done yet (too much red base coat showing). I may have irritated her slightly (sorry, Julia), but if that was unfinished, it’s going to be amazing when she puts the finishing touches on it.

I also popped in to the gallery next door to the space formerly occupied as the satellite showing for the Tiger Group, where Rick Cook’s work was on display. Seeing so much of his art in one place, you can really appreciate the continuing development of his conceptual nudes and portraits.

I did stop in to visit with David at Mixed Media, but the store was pleasingly packed, so I didn’t chat with him for long.

Finally, I elected not to walk through the rain to visit the Tiger Group proper, even though I really was hoping to speak with Eric Ranveau or Leslie Cordero, two artists I’m terribly fond of.

Instead, I made my soggy way to MANTA Gallery on King William and viewed the adaptive art of two artists who both have different takes on repurposing old still life and landscape paintings and adding interesting iconic/ironic imagery to make various statements. I wish I could say one or two pieces stuck out for me, but by this point in the evening, I just wanted to get home and dry off, so I waved to the preoccupied Stephen Seguin and headed home.

I stopped briefly on my way up King Street to take a short clip of the just-opened clothing store, ‘girl on the wing’, which was packed and looked for all the world like another art opening. I wish them well.

girl on the wing Grand Opening sml

I plan to follow this article up with another review series, this time outlining the art I saw at Hamilton Artists Inc this past Saturday at the Art Sale/Auction/Fundrasier. That will probably have to wait until tomorrow. To all of the artists whose art I failed to mention or name, I apologize; I’ll try to get these little hiccups worked out before the next ArtCrawl. Thank you for reading.


A blog for and about the Creatives of Hamilton, Ontario