The Quirky AF art fair is a chance to celebrate all things unconventional, quirky and weird this art crawl weekend 

As we head into November, many of us are beginning to think about the holidays and the gift-giving season again. Along with events like Hamilton Day and the BIPOC Market, the Quirky AF art fair on Nov. 11 and 12 hosted by Hamilton Artists Inc. aims to help the community with their shopping and support local businesses and artists this winter. 

Quirky AF art fair was first introduced in 2019 during an Art Crawl weekend on James St. N. The fair was created to showcase unique works by avant-garde makers and artists and to foster space for critical and challenging contemporary art practices addressing regional and national discourses. Attendees at the event able to find whimsical, experimental and overall quirky art, crafts and items.  

“The aim of [Quirky AF art fair] is to bring together crafters and designers from across the region, who challenge expectations and take risks with work that is unconventional, experimental, political or all-around weird and quirky,” said Rachelle Wunderink, interdisciplinary artists and a member of the special events committee at Hamilton Artists Inc., in a email statement to The Silhouette

“The aim of [Quirky AF art fair] is to bring together crafters and designers from across the region, who challenge expectations and take risks with work that is unconventional, experimental, political or all-around weird and quirky,”

Rachelle Wunderink, Interdisciplinary artist and member of the special events committee at Hamilton Artists' Inc.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, this November, after taking a break last year, it is finally back in-person and the team is excited to bring folks back into their space. This year, the fair will feature jewelry, prints, ceramics, toys, clothing, accessories and housewares from artisans and makers in Hamilton and the surrounding regions.  

“We are so excited to welcome students and the Hamilton community back into our physical space after [the COVID-19 pandemic]. . .We hope all students will come out to celebrate with us,” said Wunderink. 

Interested attendees can check out the Inc.’s Instagram page to learn more about each participating vendor. If any of the works or items interest you, this holiday season, get creative and gift something unique and bizarre by visiting the Quirky AF art fair on 155 James Street North this Art Crawl weekend. 

C/O Mary Luciani

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Art Crawl returns from its long hiatus and brings back a sense of community

Artistry. Magic. Community. These are a few words that may come to people’s minds when they think of Art Crawl. After many months in lockdown and just in time for back to school, Art Crawl made its return to James Street North. On the second Friday of every month, public health guidelines permitting, restaurants, cafés and retail shops on the street, as well as artists and other vendors, will gather on James North to create a mystical event filled with food, music, art and handcrafted goods.

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Art Crawl started years ago as a grassroots event by the vendors and artists on James Street North. It is important to stress it is not a single person who is behind the event but rather a melting pot of many creatives in the community. It was also this community that drew Mary Luciani, the owner of The Pale Blue Dot, to Art Crawl for the past 10 years and inspired her to set up her shop on James Street North. 

Luciani began attending Art Crawl as a self-taught painter to share her pieces with the community. She was excited to connect with strangers and exchange stories with passers-by and other artists. Through these interactions, she felt she was able to form an authentic connection with the local community and the city. Today, she sells sustainable and ethical everyday items such as bamboo toothbrushes, compostable gloss, antiques and vintage clothing at the Pale Blue Dot. Students can also use code MACSTUDENT10 for 10% off at The Pale Blue Dot.

Luciani also started and manages the Instagram account on.jamesnorth which showcases the lovely shops and faces behind the James North community. The account occasionally organizes giveaways for supporters and shoppers as well. 

Given all the love, enthusiasm and pride for Art Crawl, Luciani and other vendors and goers of the fair were delighted to see it come back in August for the first time since its closure in late 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I couldn’t even tell you how magical it felt just to see familiar faces on the street and see the community back. It wasn’t revived to what it used to be just yet, but it was such a beautiful start,” Luciani said.

“I couldn’t even tell you how magical it felt just to see familiar faces on the street and see the community back. It wasn’t revived to what it used to be just yet, but it was such a beautiful start."

mary luciani, the owner of Pale blue dot
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The community missed it very much; the crowds were energetic and emotional. People were tapping their toes to the live music, enjoying the physical company of each other and immersing in the nostalgia and regained sense of normalcy during what has been an unpredictable and distressful year and a half.

“As a young artist 10 years ago, standing up on the street, there’s nowhere else that I would have the opportunity to do that . . . to showcase my paintings,” Luciani said.

“As a young artist 10 years ago, standing up on the street, there’s nowhere else that I would have the opportunity to do that . . . to showcase my paintings."

mary luciani, the owner of Pale blue dot

Art Crawl inspires and cultivates the spirit of local businesses and the arts in Hamilton. For those who are living in Hamilton for the first time, it can be a great introduction to the pockets of communities that exist off campus. With the next Art Crawl event coming up soon, students can watch out for details on on.jamesnorth on Instagram and for more giveaways. 


“Having a space where I could just come, show up and present my work . . .and connect with community members, I think it’s so wonderful,” Luciani said.

“Having a space where I could just come, show up and present my work…and connect with community members, I think it’s so wonderful."

mary luciani, the owner of Pale blue dot

Hamilton is increasingly becoming known as a haven for artists. This is demonstrated in the street art that has taken over the walls of the downtown core. Several of these pieces were created during Concrete Canvas, a visual arts festival that took place this past July. Each piece was painted legally and with permission from the city. Take this map along with you and go take in some of the art Hamilton has to offer!

Click a point on the map below to see some of the art!

 

Stop #1: 126 James St. South, “Gateway” by Vivian Rosas & Vesna Asanovic

This vibrant street mural is located on James Street, immediately next to the Hamilton Go Centre (36 Hunter St. E). It depicts different scenes from around the city through beautiful splashes of yellow, purple and orange. Scenes include hiking the Bruce Trail, walking along Art Crawl and eating pizza. It replaced an older, faded piece and is made of aluminum composite panels so that it can last for years to come. 

 

Stop #2: 103 John St. South, Angelo Mosca tribute by @scottanddestroy 

Scott McDonald is the lead curator of Concrete Canvas. His piece commemorates Angelo Mosca, a Canadian Football League player and professional wrestler known as King Kong Mosca or The Mighty Hercules. Mosca was a player for the Hamilton Tiger Cats and is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He is one of only a few players to have played in nine Grey Cup games. The painting is done in black, white and yellow to reflect the Tiger Cats colours, and shows Mosca running down the field.

 

Stop #3: 75-77 Hunter St. East, piece by @burnttoastcreative

This painting was done for Concrete Canvas by Burnt Toast Creative, also known as Canadian illustrator Scott Martin. It’s visible from blocks away with its blue sky and unique comic style. It sits directly opposite from the Angelo Mosca tribute and has an image of a giant hand holding someone aloft. If you're interested in his art style, you can see more of Martin's work on his website.

 

Stop #4: John Street and Jackson Street, parrot by @scottanddestroy 

This painting was also done by Scott McDonald. It features a colourful parrot that brightens up the otherwise grim parking lot and bus stop nearby. It is offset slightly by the Kings Pizza logo located immediately next to the beak. 

 

Stop #5: Main Street and John St. North, piece by @jordan_war  

This painting was done by Jordan Warmington, a tattoo artist at John Street Tattoo (179 John St. S). It was also done as a part of Concrete Canvas. It decorates the construction plywood that has been sitting unadorned for several years now. 

 

Stop #6: 81 King St. East, “Home Grown” by @luvsumone, @javid_jah and @danilotheartist

“Home Grown” was also done as a part of Concrete Canvas. It is located on the back of 81 King St. E, in a small alleyway. It features a house walking forward wearing boots. You can read more about this piece on @luvsumone's Instagram.

 

Stop #7: King Street East and Catherine Street, “Emanating Flash” by Kristofir Dean

This public art installation was created through the combined work of Effort Group, Scholar Properties Ltd. and the ARt Gallery of Hamilton. Dean is a contemporary artist and his work deals primarily in bright colours which can be found on display throughout the country, most notably at the Vancouver Mural in South Granville. You can read more about the piece on the installation itself.

 

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By Nisha Gill, Contributor

Tucked away between bakeries and boutiques in Hamilton’s downtown core, Factory Media Centre (228 James St. North) is somewhat  isolated from the hustle and bustle. Housed within the artist-run centre, Hamilton-native Natalie Hunter merges photography, video projection and sculpture to create a space to reflect on questions  questions of memory, home, time and light.

A collection of photo-based works created over the last four years, “sensations of breathing at the sound of light” is different Hunter’s typical pieces. The artist’s work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States, almost always in well-lit, neutral-coloured spaces, contrary to the conditions that are present in the Factory Media Centre.

“Factory Media’s space is quite cinematic, and it’s a challenging space because it doesn’t have accurate lighting like most white cube gallery spaces. Working with [Factory Media Centre] coordinator Kristina Durka, we decided to work with the darkness of the space and curate works that create light, in addition to reacting with its kinetic qualities,” Hunter explained.

When viewers enter the Factory Media Centre, it is immediately apparent that the space is as much a part of Hunter’s exhibition as are her works. The visible cables and wires, the naturally limited and cinematic lighting and the openness of the space all compliment Hunter’s work. This interaction between the space and the work allows for the viewer to reflect on the work and the influence of memory and home, furthering the incredibly unique and immersive experience that comes with viewing it. 

“Allowing a photograph to become a physical encounter rather than a picture on a screen or in a frame. And I think “Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” really questions areas between screen space and physical space, and how they influence memory, the senses, and perceptions of time in the present moment. Stillness and motion can be experienced at the same time,” said Hunter.

Hunter’s pieces themselves are created using a combination of film, colour filters and lights that allow a moment in time to be captured not only as a photograph, but as something physical that interacts with the space around it.

“I think my work is different in terms of my consideration of materiality in image making and hybrid forms of sculpture and photography. Allowing a photograph to become a physical encounter rather than a picture on a screen or in a frame. And I think  ‘sensations of breathing at the sound of light’ really questions areas between screen space and physical space, and how they influence memory, the senses, and perceptions of time in the present moment,” said Hunter.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3IPsBtHZtJ/

Hunter described the exhibition as a conversation between her and Durka, but also as a space for conversation between herself and the viewers of her exhibition.

“An artist’s job is to provide the conditions for an experience so that a dialogue or conversation can exist between artist and viewer. A conversation that a viewer may draw meaning from or pose further questions, perhaps not immediately, but eventually, through the work. I hope that a viewer is drawn into the work for its visceral and emotive qualities, but keeps them there long enough to contemplate the nature of time, memory, and our relationships to the spaces we create for ourselves,” said Hunter.

“Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” interacts with the space it is housed in to immerse the viewer in the works and encourage them to reflect on important questions about the nature and perceptions of the time, as well as the spaces that we interact with.

The closing reception for “Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” will be on Friday, October 4, 2019 at the Factory Media Centre (228 James St. North) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hunter will be in attendance.

 

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Photos by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

King William Street is known throughout Hamilton for housing some of the finest restaurants the city has to offer. While the two blocks are great for a night out on the town, there is a lack of grab and go items. Husband and wife duo, Jason and Rachel Hofing, found what it would take to fill this gap. This led to the development of their own coffee/cafe brand. 

Before creating one of Hamilton’s premiere coffee roasters, Jason and Rachel lived in Oshawa. While Jason was working full-time at FedEx, Rachel stayed at home to raise their two small children. 

“What bothered me was how far away we were from our family and friends. We were on the wrong side of Toronto . . . it came down to quality of life. I wanted our kids to grow up with their cousins and grandparents, for us to feel connected because we are really close with our friends. How do I get my family into the Hamilton area? I saw that a transfer wasn’t happening [but] one of my pickups and deliveries was a coffee roaster in Kingston. So that’s where I started to understand the coffee,” said Jason.

Eventually, Rachel and Jason’s trains of thought intersected. 

“The timing was really interesting . . . Around the same time, I’m in Oshawa with the babies and Oshawa Centre would turn their parking lot into a farmers’ market a few days a week. We started caring a lot as a family about “If I’m going to buy vegetables, why wouldn’t I just get it from the farmers at the farmer’s market.”  If we’re going to get coffee, why don’t we get it from somewhere where they haven’t sprayed it and people got paid. What can we do that is wholesome, ethical and matters for quality of life for everyone — not just people we can see but right down to my kids — feeding them the right things,” said Rachel.

Jason and Rachel’s roasting brand began in 2008 as Red Hill Coffee Trade, bringing locally roasted, fair-trade, organic beans to cafés and restaurants across Hamilton. Through participation in monthly art crawls and festivals, they were able to develop relationships throughout the community. As a result, the Hofings were able open up a coffee bar in the Hamilton Farmers Market (35 York Blvd.) under a new name, Relay Coffee Roasters.

While the coffee bar was servicing the downtown area, the duo launched a larger coffee shop a couple years later on Concession Street that serviced the Hamilton mountain. Jason kept asking Rachel what was next for Relay, which ultimately led to the conception of their third location. 

In comparison to the other establishments on King William Street, Jason and Rachel felt that they could use their third location to create a more casual setting, one that would be welcoming at all times of the day.

Nearly double the size of their previous location, the newest cafe has a large kitchen for salads and sandwiches, made on-site, as well as a coffee roaster tucked away in a small room towards the back of the space. To the Hofings, this space is more than just a coffee shop: it is an experience.

“A compliment I just received from someone was that the environment that has been created here has reduced some of their stress and anxiety because they know that they are cared about and they are encouraged to do their best and it’s not just in their job,” said Jason.

While all of their coffee has come from their roastery on the mountain, Jason’s hope is that he can start roasting small batches of coffee within the King William space as an exclusive.  

Relay Coffee Roasters works with fair-trade and organic certified coffee, using coffee beans from approximately six different origins. Each different region gives the coffee a different flavour.

“We look for trusted companies and importers that share the same values that we do,” said Jason. 

The process starts off with roasting green coffee beans at 400 degrees fahrenheit. Colours will change from green, yellow, crimson and finally, to brown. At the end of the cycle, the beans are put into an agitator to cool them as quickly as possible and prevent further roasting.

The Hofings have created a warm, inviting space for late night study sessions or small get togethers with friends. 

“I think with McMaster, Relay can be a little bit of an escape or that it’s a sense of home,” said Jason. “We want to meet them, we want them to feel great about choosing McMaster and Hamilton and we’d love to get to know them.” 

 

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Point Of View

By: Matty Flader, Photo Reporter 

We’re taught from a young age that certain things in the world are constant. There’s a northern star in the sky, a brain in our heads and art for those who can’t use that brain towards “something more productive”. Yet, if you ask a group of people to take their own photos of the same thing, you’ll get a myriad of results. Suddenly, the illusion of some consistent reality is shattered. Our points of view dictate what we see and how we understand. It’s so easy to think that reality is a constant and tangible construct, but what can truthfully be said to be “real” without it first being filtered through the infinitely varying human perspective? Thus, reality can only fairly be understood as socially constructed through some sort of collective agreement. This is my visual recap of Supercrawl — the way I saw things. My contribution of “something more productive” to reality.

 

#unignorable

By: Cindy Cui, Photo Editor

Poverty, domestic violence, social isolation and mental illness. Sometimes, the most serious problems in our communities are the ones we don’t see. By ignoring these issues, we make it more difficult for those who are suffering to find and receive the help they need. Instead, these people  feel silenced, suffocated and invisible. As communities, we can help … but only if we recognize that these problems exist — only if we give them our attention. It's time that we make such issues, circumstances and stories #unignorable.

 

 

Photo c/o Christopher Mcleod

By Olivia Fava, Contributor

Democratic art. These are the two words that I would use to describe “EMERGENCY Pt2., Structures of Action”, a 2019 Supercrawl installation that built off of its 2018 predecessor to focus on the perspectives of the everyday person. 

Christopher McLeod, a McMaster studio art alumnus and the creator of this exhibit, was originally inspired by the general apathy he perceived from those around him. This informed part one of his project. 

“Looking at things that happen around us in our communities, our cities, our countries, around the world…I’d say to myself, ‘Is no one paying attention? What do people care about?’ I didn’t know,” said McLeod.

McLeod’s only solution was to ask the people exactly what they did care about. A tall “emergency” beacon invited passersby to share their greatest concerns on any scale, from political to personal. According to McLeod, he and his team heard from about 1,400 people over three days during last year’s Supercrawl festival.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2aNGk7n2-V/

The top three issues that were brought up in 2018 were safe streets, health and the environment. These formed the core of this year’s installation. While McLeod’s initial question dealt with what Hamiltonians were worried about, part two of his project asked a graver question: what are Hamiltonians willing to do about the core issues they had identified?

“Are we all just going to sit around and sort of watch what’s happening, or are we going to step up and try to make a difference?” asked McLeod.

This year, levels of action for each of the three issues were ranked one to five, from least to most involved. Like many others, I chose my level of action, signed my name on the corresponding colour of sticker, and stuck it to the beacon. Hamilton Youth Poets also performed spoken-word pieces on these issues, which were based on public submissions.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2Z2LWkHbi0/

A high degree of public involvement in this project was very important to McLeod, as a way of drawing in those who might normally ignore these issues.

“I’m like a tool for society…my role [as an artist] is not to dictate. My role is: how do I create spaces, opportunities and experiences that allow a community to come together to have these conversations in a non-standard way?” said McLeod.

As I observed my sticker on the overflowing environmental side of the beacon, voices swirled around me. Kids were asking about road safety and friends were challenging each other to volunteer for the issues they were motivated to address. McLeod’s beacon stood in the middle of it all, literally and metaphorically shedding its light.

 

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Graphic by Elisabetta Paiano

Most Hamiltonians associate the weekend-long street festival, Supercrawl, with live entertainment and art installations. Flying above James Street North were giant colourful flags reading “deviate”, “subvert” and “resist” with the word “exist” on the back of each. Attracting vistors from blocks away, Flags asks what it means to exist within the twenty-first century, specifically as a queer person in Hamilton.

Adrienne Crossman is a professor of studio arts at McMaster University, but their journey began after finishing a master’s degree thesis at the University of Windsor. Their thesis project consisted of 15 small felt pennant flags, each a different colour representing queer and trans flags with words like “exist”, “postgender” and “neither/both” across the front.

“I’m subverting the medium of these little pennants that are often used for tourism or celebrating sports and I put words like “failure,” “deviate” or “resist”. That was a larger series . . . the one that said “failure” specifically was like an anti-varsity flag or celebrating this idea of failure or positivity of queerness,” said Crossman.

A year later and Crossman became a full-time professor at McMaster. Although they had previously visited  Hamilton and recently moved for work, they had never exhibited any work in the city. They had an idea  that would not have been possible without the festival backing their work. 

“I’ve just been thinking a lot more about how to have more of an impact with my work. I’ve never done an outdoor installation before and I’ve never made work at this scale...It’s a new piece, new work, but also an evolution. It’s the second iteration of a similar concept. It also functions differently, there’s three flags, they’re much larger and they’re a different shape,” said Crossman.

“Flags” consisted of three different eight by five foot flags hanging from lamp posts. Crossman designed the colours, shapes and lettering, but hit the barrier that they cannot sew. They hired a seamstress to help with the task of putting together the large flags in order to debut in Hamilton for the weekend-long festival. 

The queer community in Hamilton has had a turbulent history. Hamilton was home to one of Canada’s most recent bathhouse raids in 2004.

The raid created an uproar within the LGBT community. Questions of safety arose and led to a decline in queer spaces throughout the city. Currently, no designated queer space exists; however, many local businesses are welcoming.

Recent homophobic protests have put members of the Hamilton queer community on edge, leaving many to wonder about safety, a question that seems to be prevalent across many communities across the globe. Crossman hopes that their work continues the conversation on the path to resisting the oppression that faces the LGBT community not just in Hamilton but across the country. 

“It’s just the continuation of a conversation. So the text reads “subvert”, “deviate” and “resist” as forms of resisting oppression but on the back where it says resist it more speaks to the fact that existing as a queer person, a visibly queer person or anybody that doesn’t suit the way that people might perceive as normal – just existing itself is a form of resistance which I think can be a very radical sentiment,” said Crossman. 

Although three large, brightly coloured flags may look inviting during Supercrawl weekend, they hold deep meaning. 

“A lot of my work has a trojan horse approach where you make something that looks fun but can spark or start a dialogue about something that is a little more serious,” said Crossman. 

For Crossman and many within the queer community, “Flags” is just the beginning of continuing dialogue against oppression faced daily by Hamiltonians and others around the world. Although Supercrawl is Hamilton’s premiere arts and culture event, they engage with contemporary social issues to ensure they are bringing a new perspective to the city.

 

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Photos by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

Mental illness touches everyone. For artist Ahmed Elfatih, intimate memories of his own life created the foundations for his art. From Sept. 7 to 16, Elfatih’s art pieces took over the walls of the Hamilton Audio Visual Node (HAVN) on 26 Barton Street East for “Mixed Matter”. This unique exhibit displayed Elfatih’s struggles leading up to his immigration from Omdurman, Sudan to Hamilton, Ontario. With a focus on his personal experiences with mental illness, each of his paintings tell a different memory from his life.

“These paintings are actual events; actual things that happened to me,” said Elfatih.

Elfatih’s mother was one of the main reasons why Elfatih was able to come to Canada. For five years, she worked to bring her family to this new country. Suitingly, all of Elfatih’s paintings are dedicated to his mother. 

Elfatih started making art as early as six years old when his sister began teaching him how to draw characters such as Mickey Mouse. With the support of his dad, Elfatih eventually picked up art as a way to cope with his mood swings.

“When I’m happy, I paint. When I’m sad, I paint. It’s actually a healing method for me,” said Elfatih.

“Mixed Matter” is an art show that highlights all the struggles Elfatih faced in the process of coming to Hamilton. Elfatih noted that most of his difficulties in Omdurman revolved around managing mental illness. He continues to paint because he hopes to start a cause or campaign to use art and music to heal. Art is how he kept his happiness and energy.

Elfatih’s compositions contain unique figures and scenery that may not make sense to the mind at first. But that’s a lot like what feelings look like - sometimes when you try to depict them, they just don’t make sense. They are beautiful, chaotic and tragic in their own ways.

Feelings are exactly what Elfatih wants people to get from his exhibit. He wants his art to touch the human mind and heart; to see if others can relate to his work. 

“I feel comfort when I find out that other people also go through those issues. What I’m trying to get is feelings. I want people to [leave the exhibit] with experience … That was what I was aiming for,” Elfatih remarked.

Elfatih notes that “Bell’s Curse” is one of his favourite pieces he’s done. “Bell’s Curse” depicts Elfatih in front of a patterned royal purple background. On the right side of his face, his features seem normal; if not a bit down-turned. On the left, his features blossom in different directions; almost as if they are sprouting out of his face and growing in their own way. 

What could be the story behind this painting? Recently, Elfatih was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles. As a child, this was something he had experienced temporarily.. Four months ago; however, it stayed. Elfatih says that the painting represents him. What he takes from this painting is that flaws are beautiful and that you should be proud of them.

“God hand picks you to have [flaws] … especially if it’s visual, it’s like hey, I’m gonna put this little gift on you; this pearl on you,” he said.

As you go through the exhibit, you can see both the hurt and the healing that Elfatih has gone through. This is evident  in each individual brushstroke, caption and story that his paintings retell. 

Mental and physical illnesses are difficult. His paintings depict that clearly. But sometimes, some good can come from the pain and struggle.

 

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Photos by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor 

By Rya Buckley, Contributor

Hamilton’s trademark multi-arts festival, Supercrawl, has grown to attract artists, entrepreneurs and audiences from across the globe. As a result, a local artist taking the stage of this event has become particularly special. Last weekend, aspiring 17-year-old Hamiltonian R&B singer-songwriter, Neena Rose, performed on all three days of the festival.

Having released a flurry of singles over the last 12 months, Rose has been generating a major buzz on the Canadian music scene. Her singles, including the recent release “(You A) Machine Gun”, are snapshots of her debut EP called 333, which is set to come out later this year. 

 

Rose’s recent buzz has been years in the making. She recorded her first original song, “Rock N Roll Lullaby” at the age of 12. In 2013, Rose performed for Oprah Winfrey and a crowd of 14,000 when the media mogul came to Copps Coliseum (now FirstOntario Centre). While the early success has been rewarding, Rose mentioned that she had fallen in love with music years before she began gaining recognition. 

“[T]he first memory I have of singing and realizing I even liked to sing was … at an anniversary party … for one of my aunts when I was maybe four. There was a pianist … and then she’s like ‘Hey, do you want to sing something … I’ll play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and you sing.’ I’m like ‘OK.’ So I got up there and I sang in front of all my extended family and everybody’s like ‘Oh my God, she can actually hold a tune,’” Rose recalled.

A couple years after the discovery of her talent, Rose’s mother put Rose in singing lessons. Rose remembers writing her first song around the age of five or six. She started to consider music as a career when she was 12 years old and attending a youth summer program. It was during this program that Rose recorded her first song. Attracted to both the creative process of songwriting and the ability to make a living by doing what she loved, Rose began to pursue music professionally. 

Amidst her budding career, Rose is finishing up high school. She hopes to go to university for business and perhaps also major in music. She continues to immerse herself in both the business and creative sides of the music industry.

Earlier this year, Rose was the youngest Canadian to participate in California Copyright Conference’s “Young Guns – Innovative and Thriving in the New World Music Order” panel. The California Copyright Conference facilitates discussions of copyright-related issues in music and entertainment. Rose was brought in to give her perspective as an up-and-coming artist navigating the industry.

Rose is drawn to the systematic nature of the music business. She understands the importance of being an artist with a coherent brand. Her passion for both the creative and business sides of being a professional singer will likely serve as an asset as she continues her career.

“I love when there’s something I can follow, like a pattern. And so like there’s tricks and stuff as with everything, but I like that you can learn how to actually function in an industry, in a business and make it work and still do the things you love,” said Rose.

For Rose, singing, and especially song writing, is an outlet. She pulls from everyday happenings in her life when she is making music. She hopes to one day be able to write songs for other artists as well.

In all the music that she creates, Rose wants her audiences to feel empowered. From her debut single, “Games”, where she stated that she doesn’t want to be pushed around, to the more recent single, “Mannequin”, where she encourages listeners to be themselves, Rose spreads messages of positivity and self-love through her work.

Performing at Supercrawl last weekend is full circle for this Hamilton native, who attended the festival when she was younger. She has seen the festival grow over the years and is honoured to have been a part of its lineup.

“I’m definitely inspired by people in my own hometown pursuing their dreams … [The Hamilton art scene] is booming. It’s definitely really prevalent. There’s so many things that are happening in Hamilton that people don’t even know about,” Rose said.

And just like her city, Neena Rose is blooming too.

 

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