‘Tis the season to visit these five Instagram-worthy murals in Hamilton. 

As we enter early December, winter is beginning to loom over us. This means the sun sets earlier, signifying the end of daylight-saving hours and our days are bleaker with dropping temperatures. Visiting these murals around Hamilton could be a way to brighten your day with their vibrant and unique art styles and interesting backstories as well as an excellent opportunity to explore Hamilton.   

Charlton Avenue 

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This colourful mural featuring a girl with a squirrel, raccoon and bird was designed by Robyn Lightwalker and painted by Natasha Rose, Anthony Haley and Felipe Encina over a four-day period. Lightwalker attempted to portray a version of how humans and animals could be living in harmony in an urban environment.  

Durand Coffee building 

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This mural was painted by Tyler Van Holst. He recently repainted this over his previous “Greetings Hamilton” mural, which has been weathered over the past several years. This new mural, featuring dogs and a cat, tie in more to the idea of what makes this neighbourhood a great place to live in and they hope that the mural will put a smile on everyone’s face

Concession Street 

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This mural was painted by Kyle Joedicke, a local Haudenosaunee artist who primarily focuses on Indigenous art, specifically Woodland-style art. This mural portrays the teachings of the seven grandfathers: respect, symbolized by a buffalo; truth, symbolized by a turtle; love, symbolized by a bald eagle; wisdom, symbolized by a beaver; courage, symbolized by a bear; humility, symbolized by a wolf; and honesty, symbolized by a sabe. Through his art, he wants to promote a strong sense of community and share his culture. 

John Street 

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This mural, created by local street artist Scott McDonald, is designated for Hamilton Tiger-Cat fans who adore Angelo Mosca like him. McDonald grew up watching every game with his parents and wanted to use one of his favourite childhood memories to represent an iconic Hamilton figure. He is a former graffiti artist who now creates mesmerizing murals

West Avenue South 

C/O Lester Coloma

This mural “Raise” was painted by a local brother duo, Norman and Lester Coloma, to represent an ambitious city. It illustrates men and women attempting to raise a giant hammer with the help of red ropes against a white background. In the piece, the hammer represents the city and Hamiltonians are working together to lift Hamilton, suggesting the city’s optimistic future

Overall, these murals are worth a visit and provide you a chance to explore Hamilton and its hidden artistic side. You will find local talent you may not have come across before. Studies have shown that immersing yourself in art will improve your overall mood and mental well-being. Immersing yourself in art is a great way to uplift your mood in the middle of the winter through Hamilton’s signature, bright art style. 

The City of Hamilton and the Downtown BIA are bringing Barton Village back to its former glory through local art installations. 

Hamilton is well known as a steel town. Back in the industrial days, most steel factories were located around Barton St. and as such it was quite a popular district. However, once factories started closing, many stores also followed and people began moving out of the neighbourhood and it became a street people avoided

Barton St. is currently going through a transition period where various projects and initiatives are changing tides and bringing the street back to what it once was. Among these projects, the City of Hamilton and the Downtown Hamilton BIA team launched an art project between Ferguson Ave. and Sherman Ave. in Barton Village. 

The art project features installations from 15 local artists in vacant storefronts along the street. Artists were selected based on how well they represent the artistic side of Hamilton using the people, places and history of Barton St.  

Currently the project features works from a variety of artists. Kayla Whitney, an artist and muralist who created a piece titled “Alive and Well” to highlight the legacy of Barton St. amidst its rough history. Allison + Cam, an illustration duo who aimed to portray their vision of Barton Street’s bright future through their art installation titled “Ring Out, Barton!”.  

David Trautimas, a multimedia artist who drew a large-scale Aloe Vera plant titled “Occupational Salve” to mirror Barton Street’s history and future as the plant is dependent on periods of rest and successive active growth. Edgardo Moreno, a composer and sound designer who filmed a video about the attempted revitalizations of Barton St. titled “A Fragile Balance.”  

Kyle Stewart, a visual artist highlights the theme of “Anything is possible on Barton” through his work titled “Sunnyside of the Street” which emphasizes the strong community in Barton Village. Gram + Laura, who are independent artists that collaborated to produce an art installation titled “Barton Bright/Barton Night” which aims to convey its quirky and vibrant night life as opposed to a street that should be avoided at night.  

Sunny Singh, an illustrator and cartoonist depicted a hazy memory (the past) or a dream (the future) in his piece “A Place to Play” to provide a sense of community and playfulness. Quinn Rockliff, an interdisciplinary artist who portrayed the unexpected everyday moments of tenderness and care that he encountered in Barton Village through his piece titled “Round Corners.” Chris Perez, an artist who created abstracted images using mundane objects in his mural titled “Everywhere you Enjoy.”  

Jordan Gorle, an artist and blacksmith who honoured Hamilton’s industrial heritage through his piece “steel IS art”, which brings steel back to Barton Village. Julianna Biernacki and Dayna Gedney (Hamilton Craft Studios), an artist duo who created a collaborative tufted rug installation representing Barton Village’s communal spaces changing over time.  

Sonny Bean, an illustrator who took pictures that highlight the past, present and future of Barton Village through his work titled “Intersect” which features a tiger, gardens, ladders that read for the stars and transformation. Andrew O'Connor, a multidisciplinary artist and designed who compiled Barton Street’s evolution from its celebrated industrial past to its hopeful future through his work titled “Our will to build and rebuild.”  

Par Nair, an interdisciplinary artist who wrote letters on silk sarees using hand embroidery to the “mother” in her piece titled “Letters of haunting” to represent the mute history of Barton Village. Anthony Haley, a visual artist who combined the revival and what is yet to come for Barton Street in his art installation titled “None of them knew they were Robots”. 

The team behind the Barton St. revitalization project hopes these pop-up window installations will help share the story of this community and foster a sense that it is a place that values art and culture.  

“We have a nice collection of small, independent businesses and we hope to grow that. We hope that your experience on Barton is much different than any of the other main strips in Hamilton,” said Jessica Myers, the Executive Director of the Barton Village Business Improvement Area

During the revitalization of Barton St., the team also wants to make sure they maintain the neighbourhood’s essence it had back in the day in Hamilton. 

“[Barton Village] has a grittiness that people do enjoy, kind of [like it] hasn't been scrubbed clean just yet . . . people like that original Hamilton vibe that's a bit lost in other neighbourhoods right now . . . and it’s what we want to maintain,” said Myers. 

“[Barton Village] has a grittiness that people do enjoy, kind of [like it] hasn't been scrubbed clean just yet . . . people like that original Hamilton vibe that's a bit lost in other neighbourhoods right now . . . and it’s what we want to maintain."

Jessica Myers, Executive Director of Barton Village Business Improvement Area

Moving forward, the City of Hamilton and Downtown BIA teams hope to attract more investors to continue funding projects aimed at creating a visually appealing streetscape for Barton’s businesses and residents. 

Julio Diaz / Multimedia Assistant

McMaster introduces new iArts program reflecting diversity among artists and the arts with the first cohort of students having started classes this fall

This fall, McMaster University launched their new Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Integrated Arts (iArts), a level I direct-entry program for students wishing to pursue the arts from an interdisciplinary perspective. The new program allows students to explore the history and theory underlying the arts, from visual arts to performance, media and design and it aims to bridge skills across the arts to provide students with a truly integrated and comprehensive fine arts education.  

The program is designed intentionally to explore diversity among people and how this is reflected in the arts by combining techniques, approaches, theories and practices from all domains of the arts. Upper-years in this program will be able to take courses in a variety of artistic disciplines to hone their craft, including classes in acting, devising, drawing, film studies, video production, contemporary art histories, curatorial studies, sculpture, ceramics, painting, mixed-media and printmaking. 

The new iArts program also emphasizes a collaborative approach on creating space for both individual artistic expression and exploration of issues in social justice as well as a layered approach to the meanings and histories of the arts on a local, national and international level. It hopes to prepare students for professional careers in the arts by also equipping them with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to enter this broad and competitive field.  

This program will allow aspiring artists to build a portfolio reflecting the diversity of their experiences and expertise in a structured yet flexible way, to grow and evolve with the artist. 

Students applying to iArts must meet the academic requirements for admission to the faculty of humanities in addition to completing a creative submission selection process. Creative submissions is an electronic submission of the student’s creative work compilation, featuring art they created or developed through their education, at home or in the community.  

The art submission may be likened to a portfolio for visual artists or an audition reel for performance artists, but it can also contain works from a multitude of disciplines, as it is not bound to one singular representation of the student’s capabilities. 

The iArts has been intentionally designed around the needs of its prospective students. The program’s first cohort of 40 students began classes this past September.

iArts hopes to further develop and expand arts education at McMaster, providing students with a well-rounded and comprehensive experience in a range of disciplines tailored to the student as an individual and as a collaborator. While McMaster is known for excellence in science and medicine, this new program is one that demonstrates the diversity and multi-faceted nature of the school and its students, both current and prospective, and may create more space and funding for the arts at McMaster. 

Exploring the implications of viewing dance as a sport versus an art for McMaster Athletics and Recreation

The recognition dancers receive in the sporting community is contested both organizationally and from the perspective of the general public. Some may view dance as solely an art or form of entertainment. Others might not associate dance with the physical demands sports such as football or basketball demonstrate.  

Members on McMaster’s competitive and recreational dance teams often get overlooked in favour of other university athletes.  These struggles can be summarized by their classification as a club as opposed to a varsity team under McMaster's athletics and recreation department.  

Maddy Arnott, president of the McMaster competitive dance team, acknowledged the artistic components of dance but she also underscored dance’s athletic intensity. 

“We encourage all of our dancers and choreographers to be really creative and express your feelings. . . but to an extent, we are very athletic individuals. We train lots during the week and train at a varsity level to an extent, so it definitely has a physical and sport component to it,” explained Arnott.  

"We train lots during the week and train at a varsity level to an extent, so it definitely has a physical and sport component to it."

Maddy Arnott, president of the McMaster Competitive Dance Team

Per Arnott, members of the McMaster competitive dance team are expected to undergo at least six hours of training a week, including a one-hour intensive group conditioning class. Dancers also have the option to sign-up and participate in extra dances, which can add up to double this mandatory time. 

In preparation for their three competitions in March and end-of-year show in April, extra weekend practices and dress rehearsals contribute an additional layer of responsibility for members.  

Even with the difficulty and commitment required by members, neither the McMaster recreational nor the competitive dance team are officially considered varsity teams by the university.  

“As a community, it can also be difficult not to have other sports communities or things like that regard you as unathletic or high intensity. . . I do think that it definitely can be discouraging not to have other people view you as an athlete when you do put in that high level of training,” said Arnott.  

"As a community, it can also be difficult not to have other sports communities or things like that regard you as unathletic or high intensity. . ."

Maddy Arnott, president of the McMaster Competitive Dance Team

This lack of recognition has significant implications not only for dancers and their identities but also their finances.  

The Athletics section on McMaster’s impact donation page allows patrons the opportunity to provide merit-based athletic financial awards for athletes across multiple different sports. Donors may provide one-time or perpetual gifts to various sporting team funds laid out on the website. Neither the McMaster Recreational Dance nor the Mcmaster Competitive Dance Team are among those listed. 

According to the McMaster Athletics Eligibility page for student athletes, dance is not officially recognized as either a U Sport or Ontario University Athletics sport. Accordingly, scholarships and financial support for athletes provided by the university are also only offered at the discretion of U Sports and OUA policies.  

Within both the OUA model outlining G1, G2 and G3 sports, as well as the Sports Model Framework developed by U Sports, dance fails to match their criteria to be considered a recognized sport.   

Currently, both teams primarily raise money through student-led fundraising events to cover their costs. Last year the team organized a Christmas bake sale, a Fun Run, and a sticker sale in support of both Mac Dance and the McMaster Children's Hospital Foundation. 

The lack of sponsorship or external backers furthers the funding gap between dance and other McMaster Athletics and Recreation sports. This lack of financial support results in increased payment fees for expenditures such as costumes, competitions and transportation. Alongside impacts to their personal identity, these financial burdens on dancers make their recognition as athletes a critical topic of discussion. 

C/O Centre[3]

Centre[3] is opening a new studio to serve the Hamilton arts community

In our learning and community spaces, we have an obligation to ensure our online and physical environments are inclusive of individuals with disability. Now, Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice is expanding their services in the Hamilton arts community with the grand opening of their new studio space, designed to be wheelchair-accessible and inclusive of disabled community members.

Founded by Colina Maxwell and Katherine Zarull in 2004, Centre[3] first started as a print studio. It was conceptualized as a space where artists could create art together, though later they expanded their services to include education, gallery spaces and a wider range of studio equipment.

As a registered charity, Centre[3] is an entirely non-profit organisation. The cost of membership and access to facilities are entirely donation-based, allowing all members access to traditional studio spaces as well as screen printing services.

The name Centre[3] represents the organisation’s three major mandates: art, education and community. The number [3] also represents the three floors in their flagship building at 173 James Street North. The upper floor houses a high school program called Nu Steel, an alternative education program for print and media arts run in collaboration with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The middle floor is where gallery spaces are held and the basement level is where screen-printing happens.

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The artist-run centre is led by staff and community members who are passionate about the arts and providing accessible services to the community.

“Centre[3] is unique in the fact that it is really trying to be accessible to everyone. We're not an exclusive organization but a community organization and I feel like art does bring us all together. When I drive around town I see a lot of graffiti and even that in a sense is bringing us together because it makes me think: who are these people? It’s really beautiful . . . and my wish is that artists come forward and have a place to be themselves and to be accepted,” said actress, producer and playwright Melissa Murray-Mutch, who currently serves on Centre[3]’s board of directors.

"We're not an exclusive organization but a community organization and I feel like art does bring us all together."

Melissa Murray-Mutch, An ACTRESS, PRODUCER AND PLAYWRIGHT, currentLy serving on Centre[3]’s board of directors.

The new studio space opening at 126 James Street North is a hub for three new studio facilities: audio, film and digital services. There is also a studio technician on-site, who can assist with recording, composing and more in the new studio space.

“Centre[3] is just thrilled to embark on this new journey of providing digital media services at our second location while ensuring accessibility. Colina Maxwell definitely made sure, thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that we received, that it is accessible for all, so anyone is welcome . . . It’s a very proud project,” said Jeannie Kim, a local artist and administrative and sales coordinator for Centre[3].

"Centre[3] is just thrilled to embark on this new journey of providing digital media services at our second location while ensuring accessibility. Colina Maxwell definitely made sure, thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that we received, that it is accessible for all, so anyone is welcome."

Jeannie Kim, a local artist and administrative and sales coordinator for Centre[3]

The new space was made possible in part thanks to the recent Ontario Trillium Foundation awarded to Centre[3]. After receiving the grant, David Hosten, one of Centre[3]’s board members, proposed the idea of starting a podcast but the organisation soon realized they lacked the proper space and resources to make it a reality. From there, the space at 126 James was conceived to address the organisation’s expanding needs and to better serve the community accessing their studio spaces.

“I'm especially proud of having a tiny hand in the podcast booth. I know a lot of people put together podcasts in their houses but there are limitations to doing it yourself. You've got to deal with sound and personally I have some equipment at home but I've had to deal with sound issues, family and all those sorts of things. Now people have a place they can go that’s super affordable,” said Murray-Mutch.

C/O Centre[3]
One of the areas inside Centre[3]'s new studio space

The grand opening happened on Nov. 12 during Art Crawl, consisting of a formal Ontario Trillium Fund recognition ceremony and opening to the public where artists were invited to try out the space for the first time. Donna Skelly, the MPP for Dundas-Flamborough, and Andrea Horwath, leader of the NDP party, were both present at the grand opening, The event was an opportunity for the public to experience the space and was held as a celebratory ceremony for the committee and studio members who made the opening possible. 

For students, the current annual membership fee at Centre[3] is $35, aiming to provide services at a price point accessible to students. Memberships allow community members to receive access to the Centre[3] studios and enjoy member benefits, including access and discounts to artist talks, workshops and more.

“Centre[3] is all about accessibility and our price points are definitely going to be a lot lower [than other professional studios] because we have this in mind,” said Kim.

As a non-profit centre run by artists for the community, Centre[3] is dedicated to being an inclusive community space for engagement, for both students and the greater Hamilton arts community. They hope to expand their services and better serve the community through the opening of their new digital studio space.

C/O @k33ping6

Keeping Six is destigmatizing drug use and homelessness through arts-based initiatives

With a worsening homelessness crisis in Hamilton and the recent prohibition of encampments and vaccine passports further increasing barriers to access for Hamilton’s homeless population, services seeking to help and provide a voice to homeless people are needed more than ever. From cleaning encampments to creative writing, Keeping Six is working to change the perception of people with experiences of homelessness and drug use by destigmatizing their experiences through awareness and providing them with a platform.

Keeping Six is the result of the need for advocacy for people with lived and living experience of substance use. Upon seeing the lack of service for those groups in the community, Jody Ans, Denielle Delottinville, Robert Etherington and Iain James founded Keeping Six to defend the rights and dignity of people who use drugs.

“[We’re] changing the perception of people who use drugs as not having any direction or desire, not having focus, when that is only one aspect of their lived experience . . . part of our advocacy was about destigmatizing drug use, and also giving an opportunity for people to have a voice,” explained Kelly Wolf, Keeping Six’s Arts Coordinator and founder of Open Heart, a Hamilton-based theatre company.

“[We’re] changing the perception of people who use drugs as not having any direction or desire, not having focus, when that is only one aspect of their lived experience . . . part of our advocacy was about destigmatizing drug use, and also giving an opportunity for people to have a voice."

Kelly Wolf, Keeping Six’s Arts Coordinator

The organization currently hosts a number of community outreach initiatives, with many of those rooted in harm reduction through the arts. Their current programs include dance classes, writing drop-ins and art supply grab-bags. By providing people with lived experience with homelessness and substance abuse an outlet for creative release, Keeping Six hopes to make Hamilton a better place for those who need it most.

Dance Classes

In collaboration between Keeping Six, the Hub and local artists, weekly dance classes were started as a community initiative to bring people together to stay active and release energy. Every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. at the Hub on 78 Vine St. Keeping Six runs dance classes taught by Jammy Lo.

Lo is a dancer and activist working in the Hamilton area and is a core member of Keeping Six. She finds her inner Britney Spears on the dance floor week after week to mixes of high-octane songs, like a soldier called to battle. 

“I know a lot of people who are involved in fights, people getting robbed, so part of it is to stay active and the other part is to build stamina in case anybody gets into that type of situation. I want to provide an adequate outlet for all that pent up aggression and tension and convey a good message,” said Lo.

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Meant as a space for community building and involvement, Lo hopes people leave the class with a positive attitude, confidence and the momentum for success.

“We wanted to emphasize that [the classes] are for all people, all bodies, all abilities. We also want all people to come out because part of our work is about people coming together . . . There’s an easygoing warm up and it’s always a lot of fun with great music, so that everybody can feel welcome. It’s not just for people who are marginalized; it’s for everyone,” said Wolf.

Writing Drop-In Sessions & Quarterly Zine

During the month of October, Keeping Six will be running writing sessions on Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m. at 140 King St. E. #10. The classes are run in collaboration with the Center for Community Engaged Narrative Arts at McMaster University and are open to anyone in the Hamilton community. Notebooks and pens will be available on site for those requiring them. 

“There will be a bit of freewriting at the beginning where you can share your writing and have a PhD student give you feedback on style and content if you want to improve your writing skills. There are people there to help you, but if you just want to freewrite and be with people, that’s okay too,” said Wolf.

Keeping Six also runs a quarterly Zine. Those attending writing workshops are encouraged to submit their work for publication, but submissions are open to anyone in the community, with an emphasis on those with lived experience of homelessness or substance use.

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Produced in collaboration with The Muse, a medical humanities initiative at McMaster, the Zine was created as an opportunity for people to share their experiences through art. Including poems, artwork, short stories, biographies and more, the Zine attempts to create space for artistry and storytelling, providing an artistic outlet to those who need it.

Furthermore, through distribution in the community, the Zine fosters understanding and compassion for those with lived experiences.

Art Supply Grab-Bags

Currently limited to people who are unhoused, Keeping Six offers take-away bags of art supplies at Wesley Day Centre. Normally, the organization runs drop-in art sessions for the community, but has had to adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grab-bags are their alternative in the interim, consisting of take-home art supplies that Hamiltonians can take and use from wherever they’d like.

“There are people who are fortunate, who can stay and make art in their home, but there are people out there who have no access to resources. And there’s not even anybody letting them know that it’s okay to make art. You feel like it’s all about survival, but what you want to do is create an environment where people feel valued, where they have a voice, where they can be heard,” said Wolf.

“There are people who are fortunate, who can stay and make art in their home, but there are people out there who have no access to resources. And there’s not even anybody letting them know that it’s okay to make art. You feel like it’s all about survival, but what you want to do is create an environment where people feel valued, where they have a voice, where they can be heard."

Kelly Wolf, Keeping Six’s Arts Coordinator

The goal of the grab-bags is to provide people with a creative outlet - the ability to produce something of your own. Additionally, Keeping Six hopes to empower people with experiences of homelessness and substance abuse. The organization seeks to help those with experiences of homelessness and substance abuse feel that their voices deserve to be heard. 

Through engaging in the arts, Keeping Six hopes to provide Hamilton’s homeless population with purpose, drive and inspiration. 

“When people do art, they relax. Creative endeavours are harm reduction. It’s good for morale and mental health . . . we need an art outlet for people,” said Wolf.

For students looking to become involved in Keeping Six’s initiatives, their dance classes and writing workshops are available to all Hamilton community members. Keeping Six is also actively looking for volunteers.

C/O Zula Presents

With a mix of music, improvisation and film, the Something Else! festival has something for everyone this fall

By: Sarah Lopes Sadafi, Contributor

At the foot of Harbourfront Drive, the Something Else! festival is bringing live performance back to the Hamilton area at Bayfront Park this fall. The festival is a not-for-profit initiative highlighting diverse, marginalized and unique voices in the arts, in an effort to fill the gaps in Hamilton’s arts scene.

Cem Zafir, the director of Something Else! festival, began presenting music as a passion project in the early 2000s while also working as a postal worker. At the time, he focused on jazz, improvised music and the avant garde. After being transferred to a post office location in Hamilton in 2012, Zafir started writing grants for the Something Else! festival in 2014. Seeing the prominent rock music scene at the time, he seized the opportunity to fill the lack of diverse and unique voices in the Hamilton music scene. 

“As [my partner and I] spent time in Hamilton, we felt like there were so many [styles of music] that weren’t being covered . . . For a local scene to grow, we need to be open to new ideas — from poetry to spoken word, to various forms of music. Anything that’s more adventurous and generally falls through the cracks,” said Zafir.

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Seven years later, the festival has expanded from jazz and improvisation to include film, dance and mixed and multimedia arts. Zafir’s not-for-profit organization, Zula Music & Arts Collective Hamilton, has now grown to a group of 15 people working to organize the Something Else! festival and associated arts series, Watch it Burn!

The name Something Else! was inspired by an Ornette Coleman album of the same name. Additionally, the name is reminiscent of the common saying ‘that was something else’, referring in particular to something off-center and apart from the norm—exactly what the festival strives to showcase.

Hungry for local acts, the Something Else! festival emphasises the importance of highlighting Hamiltonian voices in the arts. In order to feed Hamilton’s cultural fabric, Zafir holds that we need to amplify the unique talents that we have right here at home.

Ronley Teper and The Lipliners is a multi-genre local Hamilton music act that has participated in the festival since its conception in 2014, with a focus on improvisation and collaboration in musical expression.

C/O Saúl Lederman

Teper described feeling nervous prior to her performance at the festival on Sept. 11 for the first time in 18 months, followed by the joy of finally being back in front of an audience in a space with COVID-19 measures in place. She hopes the audience felt that range of emotions from her day at Bayfront Park.

“Joy and laughter are some things that I love to emit, but I also try to tempt the other emotions,” Said Teper. “People tell me that they love me or hate me, because you can’t hate without love. I always want people to feel something when they leave —i ndifference is dangerous.” 

As the end of September approached, there are still a few performances left to see before the end of Something Else! festival.

Brass Knuckle Sandwich is an improvisational duo of Nicole Rampersaud and Marilyn Lerner, with an upcoming performance at the festival on Oct. 8. They hope people walk into their set with an openness to experience.

“When being in front of audiences, being in the same space, learning and having an open mind opens up new connections and points of commonality. In an age of divide, divide, divide, we could all use some of that connection and an open mind can help make that happen,” said Rampersaud.

"When being in front of audiences, being in the same space, learning and having an open mind opens up new and points of commonality. In an age of divide, divide, divide, we could all use some of that connection and an open mind can help make that happen.”

Nicole Rampersaud, Brass Knuckle Sandwich Improvisional Duo Member

The festival operates in accordance with all provincial COVID-19 guidelines currently in place. It is run entirely outdoors with contact tracing for the limited capacity and staff and volunteers are masked at all times. Sanitizer, wipes and extra masks are also available at the venue.

Admission to the festival is granted on a pay what you can basis, in an effort to increase accessibility and ensure all arts-lovers have access to live performance. The suggested donation of $15-25 includes several diverse artistic acts, as well as a provided dinner.

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Zafir emphasised the importance of coming to the festival with an open mind.

“The choices we make are entertaining, intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving. If you come in without judgement, if you just let it wash over you and be present, you’ll walk away with something. Coming with an open mind and being present will lead to getting turned on to new things, new ideas,” explained Zafir.

The festival will be running every Saturday until Oct. 9 at Bayfront Park Pavilion.

“It’s just music. It’s not precious, but it’s sacred,” said Zafir.

The Supercrawl cancellation is another disappointment in the year of COVID-19 cancellations

Community events are an important part of fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion in cities big or small. These events bring together people from all walks of life. Community events are often where many beloved traditions and treasured memories are created. 

In Hamilton, one of the largest community events is Supercrawl. However, on June 17, Supercrawl announced that due to COVID-19 it would be cancelling the festival which had been scheduled to happen in early September. 

On social media, many have also expressed relief that Supercrawl is willing to do their part to keep the community safe. However, it is still disappointing as the multi-arts festival is near and dear to the hearts of many Hamiltonians. 

And I guess this should be Supercrawl weekend☹️.
I ❤️ Hamilton.

— Marie Zilik (@MarieZilik) September 12, 2020

For many first-year students, Supercrawl is their introduction to Hamilton and its art community, and an opportunity for them to connect with their peers.

“I went to Supercrawl last year, so in my first year at McMaster . . .  I found it to be a really great opportunity to get to know the Hamilton community and the art community. I feel like I got to see a lot of really, really cool performances and art pieces. It was just a really great opportunity to experience Hamilton culture . . . I think a lot of people in the McMaster community actually really love Supercrawl. I remember in my first year when it was coming up, a bunch of professors and a bunch of upper-years were really encouraging us to go,” said Andrea Chang, a second-year arts & science student.

I think a lot of people in the McMaster community actually really love Supercrawl. Like I remember in my first-year when it was coming up, a bunch of professors and a bunch of upper-years were really encouraging us to go,” said Andrea Chang, a second-year arts & science student.

Supercrawl’s organizers have opted to run a series of alternate events beginning Sept. 24, 2020 and continuing through to March 2021. When these events are scheduled to take place in person, there will be a cap on the number of attendees, who will all be screened prior to entry, expected to wear masks and instructed to respect physical distancing protocols. 

The first of these events, running from Sept. 24–27, is a ticketed concert series featuring Tim Hicks, Jessica Mitchell, Lee Harvey Osmond, Choir! Choir! Choir! and Skratch Bastid, among others. Supercrawl organizers will be setting up a temporary open-air venue for the event, at the top of the York Boulevard Parkade in downtown Hamilton. Both the concert performers and concert-goers are grateful and excited to still experience a little bit of Supercrawl.

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However, due to the academic year being entirely online, many McMaster students are not in Hamilton and will likely not be able to attend any of the alternate events. For students, the cancellation of Supercrawl reflects the much larger sense of community that the pandemic has deprived them of.

[I]t's disappointing to not have community events in Hamilton the same way anymore. But I also think that that kind of just translates to everything else that the McMaster community is facing. We're stripped of in-person community in a whole host of ways and this is just one of them,” said Chang. 

[I]t's disappointing to not have community events in Hamilton the same way anymore. But I also think that that kind of just translates to everything else that the McMaster community is facing. We're stripped of in-person community in a whole host of ways and this is just one of them,” said Chang.

Community is an essential component to wellbeing and has typically been formed through in-person interactions. In larger cities, community-wide events like Supercrawl, often play a key role in facilitating these interactions and connections. However, by causing events like these to be put on hold, the pandemic continues to isolate students from their communities.

Photos C/O Art Galley of Hamilton

 

Walking through an art gallery or a museum is mostly a visual experience, whether you're looking at a sculpture, a painting or a photo. This can be exclusionary for people with little to no vision. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is aiming to make art accessible to a larger range of people with their Touch Tours, monthly group tours which take visitors through a sensory exploration of the art on display.

The tours are run by Laurie Kilgour-Walsh, the Senior Manager of Education at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. In 2007, Kilgour-Walsh attended an orientation program at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, a program targeted at new museum and art gallery employees in order to acquaint them with the process of running a large museum. Kilgour-Walsh says that one of the orientation activities inspired her to begin the Touch Tours. A patron of the gallery, who had lost her sight late in life, walked the visitors through the way that she now experiences art.

“[S]he started talking about her interaction with the sculpture, how she sees it and how she encounters all the different facets of the artists making the work, what the work looks like, the personality of the piece, just through the sense of touch,” said Kilgour-Walsh.

“[S]he started talking about her interaction with the sculpture, how she sees it and how she encounters all the different facets of the artists making the work, what the work looks like, the personality of the piece, just through the sense of touch,” said Kilgour-Walsh.

The Touch Tours were specifically created for people with vision loss, but all are welcome to attend. In many ways, the tours enrich the art-viewing experience. Kilgour-Walsh says that the average time that a person spends looking at a piece of art is about 30 seconds. Art viewing is almost entirely sight-based, unless there is an audio component to describe the artwork. The tours slow down that experience, allowing participants to explore the art in new ways.

Over time, the Touch Tours have evolved to include the other senses. For example, during an Emily Carr exhibition, small salt shakers with pine tree and pine essential oil created the smell of the forest to accompany Carr’s work. 

“In other cases, when we have our public offering, sometimes people [attend] who are curious, who just want to have a sensory experience are coming and that is actually what we see most often. And so some of that is leading us to think more about tours that engage senses, rather than simply focusing on description . . . forming an image in your mind based on the words and feelings, and engaging hearing and sight and sound,” said Kilgour-Walsh.

The primary art medium that the tours display is sculpture. The benefit of sculpture is that it is, by nature, much more tactile than a painting. Running your hands over a sculpted apple is much easier to understand than a painted one, particularly if you’ve never seen an apple. Many of the sculptures that the tours use are made of bronze, because it is a fairly durable material, meaning that it’s unlikely to break or snap under pressure. 

“[W]ith bronze casting, the original work of art is often made in like, clay or wax or some very soft surface, and then cast later. And so feeling this work, you can actually find those spots of the sculpture where you can see how the artists would have used a finger to put in a curve or detail. You can actually follow those movements with your fingers,” said Kilgour-Walsh.

“[W]ith bronze casting, the original work of art is often made in like, clay or wax or some very soft surface, and then cast later. And so feeling this work, you can actually find those spots of the sculpture where you can see how the artists would have used a finger to put in a curve or detail. You can actually follow those movements with your fingers,” said Kilgour-Walsh.

Paintings are trickier to include on the tours, but they're such an integral part of our culture that the AGH has been working hard to include them in the tours. Paintings are much more delicate and easy to tarnish, and they are also fairly flat, with little texture, making them difficult to perceive through touch. The Touch Tours has adapted over time to include paintings. Now, each tour provides a posterboard version of the original painting that visitors can hold in their hands. The posterboard paintings are then covered in different textures of paint to illustrate the different sections, with raised paint being used to outline larger shapes. The participants are then able to experience the painting through touch, feeling their way through the art. 

The Touch Tours have also created materials that illustrate what the different aspects of the paintings would feel like. They’ve created small samples of fabric to demonstrate what is being portrayed in the paintings to create a more immersive experience.

“[A] lot of people who come don't know what canvas feels like, so we have blank canvas so you can feel the give of the surface and the texture. If we talk about images where there's a certain kind of fabric — we've had a couple of painting of really beautiful Victorian dresses — we can use something like this where we've got that silk fabric and we've got suede and we've got all of those different things to have a sense of being able to touch the fabric that is being portrayed,” said Kilgour-Walsh. 

They also have small samples of different paints, from acrylic to watercolour, in order to give an idea of what the painting itself feels like.

Touch Tours and other accessible options are slowly being integrated into more museums and galleries, like the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and even the Museum of Modern Art. These improvements not only help people with accessibility needs, but also anyone interested in experiencing art from a fresh perspective. 

For anyone interested in exploring the Art Gallery of Hamilton (123 King St. W.), admission is free for McMaster and Mohawk students with a valid student ID. 

 

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Photos by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

Exactly one year ago, I wrote an article on the minds behind HashtagAdamandSteve, Adam George and Steven Hilliard. Over this year, I have had the pleasure to hang out with the duo at their various events across the city. From Taco Belles at The Mule to hosting RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants at Absinthe, you’re always guaranteed a good time at an Adam and Steve event.

Within the past year, George and Hilliard have gone from planning two queer-focused events per month in Hamilton, to five or six events per month. One of their key events have included a show with Thorgy Thor in February 2019, marking the first Ru-girl within the city; the fourth annual Drag Wars; the first Hamilton Pride party at Absinthe; and the first all-Hamilton drag showcase, Hamilton Is A Drag.

“When we first sat down with [the Silhouette], we were bringing really awesome friends of ours from Toronto that were drag performers because there really wasn’t any that were well known in Hamilton . . . and now there is,” said Hilliard. 

The rise in popularity for Hamilton-based drag was a big deal for the pair. Their events provide opportunities for local Hamilton drag kings and queens to perform within their own city, instead of having to travel elsewhere to find a gig. 

Although my previous article referred to George and Hilliard as queer event planners, the duo hasn’t used this term for a while. 

“I feel like as we’ve grown, we take [advocacy] more seriously in knowing that we have a responsibility to do it right,” said George.

George and Hilliard have turned their focus towards filling Hamilton with safer spaces for the queer community. 

“For a long time, the idea of a safe space was like a bad word to some people. They thought going to a safe space was them hiding away from other people. I don’t think it feels like that anymore, because people are realizing that those spaces can exist and still be fun, open and not isolated,” said Hilliard.

Hilliard went on to explain that many of the city’s bars are opening up to the idea of becoming safe, queer-positive spaces. George and Hilliard did not expect this reaction from local businesses.They recalled a time when it was hard to get owners to host their queer events. Now they’ve partnered with approximately seven spaces across Hamilton including Absinthe, The Mule, and Arcade, to name a few.

This change in focus led the duo to remove  “event planning/party specialists” from their logo, as they felt those words did not fit their mission any longer. 

“Adam and Steve, I think as a concept, has evolved a bit more because we’re not just doing parties. Now, we’re part of the City of Hamilton,” said George.

George and Hilliard have partnered with Tourism Hamilton to sell their “Keeping Hamilton Queer” shirts with proceeds going to the Hamilton Aids Network. The pair believe that it is important to give back to the queer community, especially since they hold a highly regarded platform not just within the community, but also in the greater Hamilton area. 

They also were asked to speak at a training event for city staff in which George, Hilliard and others who formed a diversity panel, discussed how to make Hamilton a more inclusive city. George and Hilliard recognize that they do not speak for the entire queer community, but due to the platform they have ammased, they want to raise up other people’s voices. 

“As soon as we were asked [to speak at the event] we said very clearly to the organizer that we just wanted to be clear that we don’t speak for the entire community. We’re just one perspective and one voice in a very large [community] with our own experience. We would never pretend to [speak for them] because everyone has a different lived experience,” said Hilliard.

“As soon as we were asked [to speak at the event] we said very clearly to the organizer that we just wanted to be clear that we don’t speak for the entire community. We’re just one perspective and one voice in a very large [community] with our own experience. We would never pretend to [speak for them] because everyone has a different lived experience,” said Hilliard.

The future is bright for George and Hilliard. Due to the number of events they host, they have decided to change their name from HashtagAdamandSteve to the House of Adam and Steve. In addition, they plan to launch a new website to make learning about the Hamilton drag scene more accessible. The duo will also be hosting events in direct partnership with Tourism Hamilton. 

On a more familiar note, George and Hilliard will be hosting their next Ru-girl, Detox, on March 7 at Absinthe, and will be  starting their newest series, Dirty Drag Bingo with Karma Kameleon at Odds Bar (164 James St. South).

“Our parties might not be for everyone, but the point is that they’re for anyone,” said George.

The door to the House of Adam and Steve is now open for all those who are looking for a home.

 

This article is part of our Sex and the Steel City, our annual sex-positive issue. Click here to read more content from the special issue.

 

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