This past Friday I decided to go on an adventure. I had kept hearing about The Pearl Company‘s Art Bus but had never considered going. Finally I saw a post calling for “butts on the bus” and decided I would give it a shot! It was quite a ride and so I thought I would share it with you!
We were instructed to meet at The Pearl Company at 6:30pm and pay the fee of $15 ($10 for students and artists). We then received our itinerary for the evening. The itinerary is different for every tour so you can go numerous times and always see something new! The Art Bus runs on the first two Friday’s of every month – so you can even hop on the bus to hit up the James Street North Art Crawl if you want. I was told they stop off for an hour and a half for you to wander the art crawl at your own pace. Last Friday’s itinerary started us off at the Pearl Company which had a quaint display of local art, jewellery and graphic prints!
Then at precisely 6:40 we headed to our first stop – You Me Gallery on James North to see Harold Sikkema’s show ‘Landscrapes’. Harold creates “digital tapestries” using amalgamations of his own photography and environmental sculpture. His pieces are “hyper-detailed, digital composite images”. All of his pieces are fascinating as every time you look at the work you see something new. They are so intricately layered and so detailed you could stand in front of one piece for minutes and just explore it. I have decided to share a snippet from Harold’s artist statement so you have an idea of how he describes it in his words.
“I make digital tapestries. They are hyper-detailed, digital composite images under acrylic skin, or to put it another way; constructed contemporary amber, preserving ephemeral traces of life. To gather traces, I employ a camera, recording a dance of movement and rhythm. It’s a relentless ritual of careful looking.”
Careful looking. I like that. With each piece there was also a small written paragraph, poem or quote which was a part of the piece as well. Harold was at the You Me Gallery to greet us and answer any questions. It was nice to have the artist explain how he created his work. You can see a few samples of his work here but these photos do not do them justice. If you would like better images and more examples visit Harold online at www.nsitu.ca. He has also documented the show in video and you can find that here. Although I must say – seeing his work on the wall in full size is far more rewarding an experience than on your computer.
Our next stop on the Art Bus was the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (WAHC). There was tons going on at the WAHC last Friday night and we were glad to see the place so busy! First there was a book launchpremiering a book called ‘Boom, Bust and Crisis’ by John Peters. There was so much to see at the centre I did not have a chance to learn more about the book but I captured the display for anyone interested in knowing more. Secondly there was ‘The Spirit of our Movement’ which was a photographic show by John MacLennon. It documented in stunning photos the last decade of labour movement in Ontario including strikes, rallies, conventions, and direct actions. To compliment this show I also found a striking photo in a hallway called ‘May Day Parade’ from 1934 (see photos below). Upstairs we found a fascinating historical display called ‘Nine to Five: A History of Office Work’ as well as ‘Steel Town Views’ which is a collaboration between Centre3 and OPIRG. ‘Steel Town Views’ displays creative responses to Hamilton’s identity of “steel town” using a printmaking technique called collagraph. There was tons to see at WAHC and to top it all off there was a live performance in progress as well.
Next on the itinerary was a double stop. First we visited Nathanial Hughson Gallery, then we walked around the corner to see Manta Contemporary. Nathanial Hughson Gallery is a lovely gallery with a wide variety of different artist’s work on display. Their main show this month is artist Ryan Price with ‘Yesterday and Tomorrow’. Ryan creates stunning graphite and mixed media pieces on drywall. His work is very inspiring and detailed. Nathanial Hughson Gallery also had on display work from artists such as Tina Newlove, Christina Sealey, Stephanie Vegh, Laurie Kilgour-Walsh and Fiona Kinsella – among many others! It was wonderful to see such a variety of work. I also love the space at NHG – they have some beautiful bare stone walls that really give the gallery a unique feel. Here are a few shots I took there.
At Manta Contemporary we saw a show called ‘LoveLust’ by Charlene Chua. In sharp contrast to Ryan Price’s work, Charlene’s art is a “visual exploration of the two most prominent elements of romantic love… through stylized renderings of the female form.” Her work has a very strong illustrative quality and her illustrations played well with the physical and idealistic views of women. Manta Contemporary is a fairly new gallery and is quickly making a name for itself on King William.
At this point in the evening it was 8:45pm and I will admit I was starting to become tired. Everything I had seen was so inspiring and we had been going non-stop for two hours. After a full day of work its no wonder some of us were beginning to lag a bit. But we still had two more stops to make before the night was over. L’Arche was our next stop. L’Arche is an international family of communities for people who have learning disabilities and for those wishing to share their life with them. The L’Arche community in Hamilton was founded in 1978. We visited the L’Arche studio space where we had the honour of meeting two very important community members who gave us a wonderful tour of the space. Homemade cookies and hot apple cider were also quite welcomed at this point in the evening. The art on display was all made with care by those in the community with disabilities and we could tell just by looking at the work how much they love to create. This stop was inspiring for us in a different way – but it was inspiring none the less. Take a look at some of the art these lovely people created. All sale proceeds get put back into the L’Arche community.
Our final stop was Gallery 205 on Cannon. Gallery 205 is “in the process of re-claiming, re-energizing, re-tooling, re-inventing, renovating and incubating an urban arts corner in downtown Hamilton.” The space had everything a musician, performer or audio artist could need! They had a small stage in the front room for a cozy and comfortable jam session, then they had a party room in the back where they had another stage with tons of equipment. Finally in the very back there was an even bigger stage for a large concert, and open area for anything from a wrestling tournament to a filming gig – and a massive green screen and mic boom to boot. They were in the midst of renovating so we did not have the chance to see the place in all its glory but I could see them providing an excellent service to many film, audio and music artists in the community. Check out some of the photos from the tour (apologies for the quality!)
And that concluded the evening for us. We all piled back onto the bus and made our way back to The Pearl Company. We made it back around 10:00 to give you an idea of how late to expect to be out. It was an awesome night and I met some great people. All the galleries were SO glad to have us come by and some of the food spreads were awesome (I missed my dinner but was full by the end of the tour!). If you are considering hopping on the Art Bus I highly recommend it – but make sure you wear comfortable shoes! You can find more information about each individual Art Bus tour and where they will be going by checking out their Facebook page or finding them on Twitter (@ThePearlCompany). You can also check out their website to see all the other events the Pearl Company has to offer. They have something on almost every night!
Have you been on an Art Bus tour before? What was your experience like? Do you have any suggestions for where The Pearl Company might stop off on a future tour?