by Kathryn Shanley
Hamilton is alive with art. I’ve seen Bertrand Russell’s Nobel Peace Prize and the last letter ever written by Albert Einstein. I’ve been surrounded by eclectic artwork in an old factory transformed into a beautiful and unique creative workspace. I saw these things and more right here in Hamilton—for free!
In June, I embarked on an “art staycation.” Being an art newbie, I felt a little intimidated entering these places of artistic awe, but I learned that art is for everyone. There are no dumb questions; artists want to talk and educate people about art. My brief journey only begins to scratch the surface of places to experience art here in Hamilton.
The McMaster Museum of Art is a treasure nestled in the heart of the university campus. It was here that I saw Albert Einstein’s last letter and the Nobel Peace Prize won by Bertrand Russell in a fascinating exhibit about the accomplished 20th-century philosopher. I found the two-channel video work March 5, 1819, by Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore, to be unique and thought-provoking. Education Officer Teresa Gregorio says the museum has a rotating series of exhibitions throughout the year. Teresa encourages everyone to “visit us this summer to see science and art mix in The Midnight Sun Camera Obscura Project, or maps that are 250 years old in Espionage and Maps in the Age of Napoleon.” Teresa says, “If you’re interested in a stroll outdoors, we have lots of art across campus.” Sculpture tour maps are available online. For more information, visit https://museum.mcmaster.ca.
Hamilton’s Central Library is an awesome place to explore art and it’s right downtown. When you enter the library, you’re greeted by interesting exhibits at both the York Street and Jackson Square entrances. You’ll find Gallery4 and Special Exhibits on the first floor and Gallery4 Annex on the fourth floor. I spent some time at the Unmasking Brain Injury special exhibit brought to the city by the Hamilton Brain Injury Association. The masks painted by survivors of brain injuries moved me to tears with the pain and joy expressed. Visit http://www.hpl.ca for more information about upcoming exhibits and events.
It’s hard to miss the iconic AGH sign identifying the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) located in the heart of downtown. Exhibitions on the second floor are free to the public, but on the first Friday of every month from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. the entire gallery is free! I was happy to see that the AGH is committed to featuring more work by female artists. “Women’s art is being more recognized now, but we still have a long way to go,” says Karen Logan, local artist and director for the Women’s Art Association that has a juried exhibition in the AGH until September 3rd—free to the public. Learn more about Karen’s art online at https://www.waah.ca/. The AGH web site is https://www.artgalleryofhamilton.com/.
Visiting the Cotton Factory is like taking a step back in time but with a twist. The former cotton mill at 270 Sherman Avenue North has been transformed into an amazing creative workspace full of artists’ studios, offices, galleries, and special event space while still maintaining its nostalgic charm, authenticity, and historic appeal. On the 3rd Saturday of each month, you can “Shop the Cotton Factory” from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “We invite the community here to share in the creativity and art,” says Laura Zeidler from the Cotton Factory. You can visit all six buildings, view or buy art from 30 to 40 artists, relax and sip a coffee, enjoy some food, or watch the kids do art for free in the kids zone. Learn more at http://cottonfactory.ca/2018/04/17/shop-the-cotton-factory-stcf/.
Art is “made in Canada” at Earls Court Gallery. The gallery opened in 2009 at its Crown Point location on Ottawa Street North. Though the gallery is a commercial venture, coming in to visit and view the amazing works of art by these talented Canadian artists is free. Andrea Jackman, the gallery’s curator, encourages people to stop by. “We’re creating an opportunity to educate people about art,” says Andrea. “We don’t want people to feel intimidated. We’re community friendly.” The gallery’s next show, Cold Front V: Inuit Experience of Then and Now opens August 2 and runs until September 8, 2018. Visit http://earlscourtgallery.businesscatalyst.com/index.html for more information.
I can’t pass by the All Sorts Gallery on Ottawa Street North without wishing for an occasion to buy something unique for one of my friends. All Sorts Gallery is a co-op art gallery and retail store featuring a diverse array of art by local artists and artisans. “It’s a journey through the artisan’s world of Hamilton,” says local designer and co-op member Anne Miller of OOps Bags who was there the day I visited. Her beautiful purses and bags are displayed for sale in the gallery. “From stained glass to pottery, recycled jewellery and textiles, hand sewn greeting cards, prints, and glass production, we have the work of so many talented artisans,” says Anne. Go to http://www.allsortsgallery.com to learn more.
Ben Navaee Gallery is a newer addition to the art galleries on Ottawa Street North. Ben Navaee has been in the art business for 17 years. Relocating from Toronto to Hamilton, Ben opened his gallery here in 2017. He features his own amazing work as well as the works of well-known and emerging artists. He too believes in educating people about art, its importance in our everyday lives, and its affordability. “Artists are very happy to have their work seen for its pleasure,” says Ben. “Parents can bring their kids in to discuss art and not feel they’re interrupting.” The gallery’s next exhibit is featuring Michael Winny’s work from August 3 to August 9, 2018. Winny’s opening reception will be on August 4 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visit http://bennavaeegallery.com for more information about future exhibits.
My art staycation was an amazing adventure! I’ve decided to continue my journey. People in the Hamilton arts community want to educate people about art and remove the mystique that often surrounds it. Make art a part of your summer staycation.
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