Experience your own art staycation this summer

Experience your own art staycation this summer

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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POINT PEOPLE: Hammerhead’s Scott Forbes

POINT PEOPLE: Hammerhead’s Scott Forbes

by Aha Blume

At first glance, Hammerhead’s—located almost across from Tim Hortons on Ottawa Street—may look like just another take out fish and chips place, but there is more to it than just the fish.

Owner, Scott Forbes, has created a menu that will appeal to those of us with simple tastes (just a piece of fish and some chips for me) and for those who like to try a wider variety of seafood dishes, as well.  The place is small, but it comes with a big, neighbourly heart. Scott is a Crown Point resident who lives on Rosslyn Avenue North with wife, Jennifer Causey, their son, Arlo, and a great dog, Nina. Hammerhead’s is his first restaurant, but for Scott,  “It was Ottawa Street or bust”, he said.

Fish and Chips
Take out fish and chips from Hammerhead’s with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and really good fries.

“I love the comradely support among the merchants and their staff, the adventurousness of the clients and the determination of the residents of Crown Point to see Ottawa Street do well,” he explained. “You will be given a chance on Ottawa Street.”

The local love, though, flows both ways. In renovating the restaurant Scott reached out through social media for painting and tiles. “Crown Point Community (Facebook Group) was invaluable when starting up,” he said. “When I needed to hire someone, it was all done through that group. They, in turn, have been great, supportive customers.”

Chatting with customers as he prepares orders, the place is busy and there are stools for your comfort while your meal is prepared.  It is worth the wait. Hammerhead’s sources fresh, sustainable options and “If a customer is actually interested, I can show them a photo of who caught their cod”.

“Traceability is a key value of Hammerhead’s. Along with freshness,” Scott said, adding, “I have no problem putting a fish under the customer’s nose.  Or sending back anything that is sub-par. We fill our deep fryers up with sunflower oil which is superior to canola. Our kitchen is a gluten-free facility.  At Hammerhead’s we like to say that taste is subjective, quality is a fact.”

Open only a few months, Hammerhead’s has already attracted many return customers to the restaurant so the subjective part speaks for itself; it is delicious.  Located across from the historic first-ever Tim Hortons, you can get your fish and chips, and then go get your coffee and donuts and take it all home to enjoy. There are benches outside that are just perfect for an added table and Scott said he would love to have his customers sit outside in the nice weather enjoying his food.

Scott is continually making plans including “a small, fresh seafood counter.” He promises the freshest selection of seafood in the city.

Be sure to visit Hammerhead’s On Ottawa, Tuesday through Saturday Noon – 7 p.m.

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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Whose job is it anyway? Provincial vs. municipal jurisdiction

Whose job is it anyway? Provincial vs. municipal jurisdiction

by Tyler Fish

On June 7, Ontarians will head to the polls to elect a new premier. As political parties vie for votes and pitch their visions for the future of the province, it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of our provincial and municipal governments.

The wide range of provincial responsibilities, in many cases, originate with the Constitution Act of 1867. These include education, health care, labour standards, prisons, liquor sales, public utilities, control of certain natural resources, and road regulations. In recent months, provincial policies with regards to healthcare, electricity generation, carbon taxes, and the regulation of marijuana sales have been prominent in the news. These could look a lot different depending on which party wins the election.

With regards to taxation, provinces control the provincial portion of personal income tax, corporate taxes, and sales tax. When combined with other revenue streams such as tobacco and fuel taxes, profits from crown corporations and transfers from the federal government, the province had a total revenue of $140.7 billion last year.

In contrast, municipal governments manage the city or local region. Their responsibilities include parks, libraries, water treatment systems, waste management, local police and fire departments, local by-laws, local transportation, roadways, and land zoning. Decisions made by municipal governments can dramatically shape local neighbourhoods, illustrated recently by the Pier 8 Redevelopment project.

However, municipal governments are limited in how they can raise funds. Largely relying on property taxes, supplemented by user fees for certain services, municipalities in Canada are not allowed to run operating deficits. This generally prevents cities from entering a debt spiral such as the one that forced Detroit to declare bankruptcy in 2013. This does mean, however, that for large-scale projects cities must rely on provincial or federal investment, such as the $1 billion earmarked for Hamilton’s LRT system.

Despite the multitude of ways that the provincial government can affect our everyday lives, voter turnout in Ontario’s recent elections is at all-time low. The 2014 election saw only 52.1% turnout among the province’s 9.2 million eligible voters. Although this was higher than the 48.2% turnout in 2011, both numbers are far below the 64.4% turnout in 1990. Municipal elections are even worse, with only 34% of eligible voters casting a ballot in the last municipal election. Whether due to general apathy or cynicism for our democratic institutions, these low rates are not only cause for concern among many political commentators, they are also blamed for the rising political polarization as parties cater to special-interest groups with hopes to draw voters to the polls.

There are many parties and candidates represented in the Hamilton Centre and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ridings. By taking the time to cast your vote, even if it is just to spoil your ballot, you can ensure your voice is represented in Ontario’s next legislature.

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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Big Johnny Blue’s CD walks the line, mostly

Big Johnny Blue’s CD walks the line, mostly

by Sean Hurley

I was listening to Big Johnny Blue on his eponymous-named CD, trying to find words to describe the recordings, when I realized I was tapping along to all seven tracks. He had me.

Crown Point resident John Crawford, who is Big Johnny Blue, recorded his CD, he told me, at MCAudio Recordings on Concession Street, by plugging the instruments into the mixing board and just playing. With all the tools of the trade available to recording studios and music producers today, that may seem somewhat, well, retro. But it was worth it. I defy anyone to sit and listen to “PB & J”, the fifth track, and not turn it up.

Then leave the volume up for “In Amerikah”, an anti-consumerist anthem that would have been perfectly happy on Neil Young’s 1988 album, This Note’s for You. This is a seriously rocking song with a driving rhythm creating a wave of sound surfed by a lead guitar that knows exactly what it’s doing.  Despite its feel of a grunge rock anthem, “In Amerikah” captures the zeitgeist of the times we live.

I first listened to the CD in my car, in a hurry to get up the mountain to Hamilton’s hinterland and that did it no justice. I played it again on my home stereo and I’m glad I did. The drum work of Robin Houston and the bass guitar of Michael Gleseking are rock solid.  Big Johnny and Wayne Janus share guitar duties. Janus contributes what I can only describe as a mournful guitar sound on “I’m Hurtin’” and “Don’t Cry for Me”, two rocking blues numbers more on the heavier side but remaining firmly on the blues side of the fence. “Ramona Blue” and “You Drive Me Baby Blue” fit more into contemporary electric guitar blues—at home wherever the blues are loved. “Bee Bop Rocket” is that rarity in blues: a happy rocking song. It’s tempting to call this number rock’n’roll, but really it provides a pleasant musical insight into the roots of early popular music.

Because of (or perhaps in spite of) the recording method, this CD has a really great sound. The music comes across authentically and places the listener into the set. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close to live as one can get without being there. This is a sit-down-and-play-it-loud CD to really get into and enjoy this 35 minutes of tight playing.

Although “In Amerikah” is, in my view, a rock song, overall this is definitely a blues record. The remaining six songs represent a couple of the different branches along the evolution of American blues music. As well as appealing to long-time blues fans, this CD will also serve to introduce the genre’s versatility to blues newbies.

Get your copy at Crash Landing on Cannon just west of Ottawa Street North or catch Big Johnny Blue at his CD party, May 11th, at the Pearl Company.

Reflect, discern, vote…

Reflect, discern, vote…

by Rev. Shelley Smith

This month’s theme was challenging for this spirit writer…how do our spirits interact with something very political like an election? As I pondered this, I remembered an experience I had during my time as a ministry student working at the Kitchener shelter for homeless women and children back in 2000. The manager at the time was passionate about activism and politics. She firmly believed that the residents of the shelter had the right to vote in the election. Every effort was made to empower the residents to educate themselves about the candidates and to go to the local voting station on election day.  

I was asked to accompany the residents to the local polling booth. Four women gathered in the shelter lobby, each had a signed letter from the shelter stating that this was their residence. Identification and proof of residence are requirements to receive a ballot. I must admit, sheepishly, that I had not taken an interest in politics, or voting for that matter, so this was a learning experience for me as well.  

As we stood in line I became aware that the women were very anxious, apprehensive and excited since this was a new experience for them. The first woman gave her paper to the polling coordinator and was immediately told that the letter was unacceptable. I remember the women’s reactions: dejection, anger, defeat. They turned and looked at me and said, “See—we knew we wouldn’t be able to vote.” My response was, “Don’t move, we aren’t leaving until you vote.”

I quickly made a call to the director of the shelter and had her speak directly to the onsite manager at the polling station. After what seemed like hours, the manager returned to us and explained to the intake coordinator that the letters were valid and our shelter residents should be given their ballots.

I share this story because from that day forward I have never missed voting in an election. I learned a lot about myself from that experience. I learned that social justice is important—not only to me but also, and especially, to those who are marginalized in society. I learned that voting in elections is critically important and that it’s a privilege in our democracy that people in other parts of the world would love to have.

It is our responsibility as adults to model civic involvement for future generations. Voter turnout in Canada is very low which means that only a small percentage are deciding the fate of our municipality and province. So, to the people of Crown Point: please exercise your civic duty and vote on election day. Take this time to listen to the candidates and what they are saying. Read their pamphlets, go to speaking engagements, read their party’s platform.

Ask questions, then discern. What are the issues that are closest to your heart? What are the issues important to your community and city? Which candidate would best represent your voice at Queen’s Park? Make a conscious, deliberate decision. Then vote. No matter what the outcome, be proud—your vote acknowledges and celebrates the democratic privileges we have in this amazing country we call Canada.

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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Voting in the age of Google

Voting in the age of Google

by Bev Wagar

I’ve voted in every provincial election since I turned 18. So I was surprised to learn that my name was not on the voters list. It’s easy to find out if you’re on it. Just visit the Voter Information Service web site (https://voterinformationservice.elections.on.ca) and fill in the form. Within minutes the system will tell you whether you’re on the voters list.

Partly out of research for this article and partly because I wanted to reduce hassle at the poll on June 7, I wanted to get my name on the list, a.k.a the “Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario”. Once you’re on the list, you don’t need to re-register for subsequent provincial elections—you’re automatically included on the list of electors. As well, Elections Ontario will mail, by Canada Post, a Voter Information Card that tells you the location of your polling place and the hours it is open.

Getting on the list was actually pretty easy.  I googled “Ontario Election Voters List” and the page I wanted was the first result: www.elections.on.ca. A lot of care has gone into this website so far as usability and interface go. There’s no bafflegab and the layout is clear. I used my laptop but it works with all browsers as well as phones and tablets.

If you can’t or don’t want to register online, you can use regular mail. Elections Ontario will mail you the forms—just phone them at 1-866-714-2808. You will need to photocopy your documentation (proof of age and residency) and mail it back with your completed form.

The online form first asks you for your complete name, your address, and date of birth. Then it checks to see if you’re already on the list. This takes only seconds. If you are on the list you will receive your Voter Information Card will be mailed to you automatically.

If you’re not on the list you are invited to proceed with an online registration.  There are three prerequisites. First, you need to be a Canadian citizen. Second, you need to be 18 or older on election day, and three, you need to live in Ontario. There are identification documents required. You do not need government-issued ID as you can also use documents that show your name and address, such as a utility bill. Your name and address can appear on separate documents. Here is a full list of acceptable identification documents.

  • Ontario driver’s licence
  • Ontario photo card
  • Ontario motor vehicle permit
  • Statement of government benefits
  • Band council identification
  • Bank statement
  • Credit card statement
  • Loan statement or agreement
  • Utility bill
  • Cell phone bill
  • Insurance policy or statement
  • Hospital record or document
  • Residential lease
  • Mortgage agreement or statement
  • Cheque stub, T4 slip or pay receipt
  • School admissions letter
  • Transcript or report card
  • School tuition or fees statement

I used my drivers licence number for the online system but you can also send your documentation as an upload—either an image or a pdf. The process asks you for contact information (phone number and email) but this is optional. You’ll also be asked if you want Elections Ontario to share your information with municipal and federal election agencies, as well as MPAC.

Whether or not you are on the voters list, and even if you received a voter information card in the mail, you still need to bring ID with you to the polling station on June 7. Make sure your ID includes your name and your residential address.

If you don’t have documentation you may still vote on election day. You will require one piece of identification if you’re on the voter list or one piece of identification and a proof of residence if you’re not.

Get out there and vote.

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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