fall crawl

October’s art crawl has come and gone but it just might have been my favourite one of the year.  With all the hoopla of the Supercrawl over it was nice to see this art crawl so chill and low-key.  It always seems like in the fall and winter the crawl crowd seems to mellow out, which I secretly kinda love.

During last week’s crawl I stumbled upon three new gallery spaces, one of which has become my new favourite Hamilton gallery.

Located at 27 John Street North, the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery just recently opened in the space that Wishart advertising agency formerly occupied.  It’s a great addition to the expanding Hamilton art and gallery scene.  It keeps me optimistic when galleries start reaching beyond James North especially onto this particular stretch of John (between King William and King Streets). I have big hopes for this little drag on John North -so much potential!

David Hind‘s metal work above the door of Nathaniel Hughson’s Art Gallery.

Another piece by David Hind inside the gallery.  I’m a really big fan of his work and of his collaborative projects with the collective the Aluminum Quilting Society.

There were many other fantastic pieces of artwork in the gallery from several established Ontario artist including local Hamilton artist Christina Sealey.  The works of art exhibited ranged from painting to sculpture, including functional pieces of furniture. It is definitely worth a visit, so add this to the list of galleries to check out at your next art crawl, or better yet take a looksy if you’re in the neighbourhood.

Next we popped into Manta Contemporary at 51 King William, which is another new gallery slightly off the beaten James North track.  I loved the playful exhibit From Cardboard that they had in perfect time for Halloween.

The exhibit consisted of wonderfully crafted masks made from none other than cardboard.  The idea behind the exhibit is to sell the pieces (masks, costumes and props) -for Halloween of course! The works that sell will be replaced regularly by new pieces that are being created on an on-going basis until October 31st.  Super fun! If you need a unique costume now you know where to go.

As we continued on King William I noticed this subtle installation projected onto Delta Bingo Hall‘s wall from Baltimore Café.  It was like a giant old full moon all soft-lit and glowy. Loved these surprise discoveries during this art crawl.

My big fav of the night was a 5 piece blues band (out front of Christ Church Cathedral) consisting primarily of elderly gents.  Their aged voices were just as fun and sassy as they needed to be to draw a crowd.

The last gallery discovery of the night was another newish space that we were lead to by a series of arrows chalked, taped and painted on the sidewalk leading off of James and onto Barton. I don’t remember the name of the gallery but it was quite non-descript with a fairly young crowd checking out the artwork. There was some electronic music and sound equipment set up, which implied that there’d likely have been a show, however we didn’t stick around for very long. I’m not 100% certain but I believe this space is called HAVN -”a multi-modal node for the development, exhibition, documentation, and dispersal of sound, images, and ideas” -sounds interesting.

Great to see the continued development and expansion of the art scene in Hamilton!

city motor hotel

When there’s a building slated for the demolition in Hamilton — and these days there have been a lot — I can’t help but reflect on the history, the architecture and the reminder of an era that is no more that is being knocked to the ground.

In the case of the City Motor Hotel in Hamilton’s east end, slated for expropriation and demolition, I get lost in daydreams of parties, banquets and cocktail hours when things were swinging à la Miami Beach-style some 50-plus years ago.

Back in the ’60s, car culture was hitting it big, highways were expanding, and cityscapes were evolving and sprawling to make room for the massive appeal, convenience and ever-growing popularity of the automobile.

With this, came a shift in how people moved from place to place, where they went and how they’d go about their business. Before personal automobiles became common, most people travelled to destinations by train and, when requiring a night’s accommodation, stayed at a hotel downtown, making use of the surrounding amenities to occupy their time.

But by the ’60s, downtowns were no longer considered a convenient rest stop for drivers on the way in and out of cities. People wanted to pull their cars directly up to the place they were staying and indulge in other new modern fancies of the era such as TV, air-conditioning and perhaps a luxurious outdoor pool. Thus came the growing popularity of motor hotels. In the ’60s these motels were affordable, modern and classy. Every city or town had at least one.

Growing up in Burlington, I remember the Town and Country Motel on Plains Road and the Riviera Motel over by the lake.

With the cityscape and land-use around them evolving, many of these motels are no longer on the edges of town. They often seem stuck in the past, declining in stature exponentially with every decade that passes.

These old monuments to the automobile’s golden age won’t remain forever.

Take for example the old City Motor Hotel on Queenston Road in Hamilton. It has most certainly seen better days and is on track to be expropriated by the city and demolished.

The City Motor Hotel has been notoriously labelled as a hot-bed of prostitution, drug-dealing, drug-use and other crime. Just the other day, I heard there was a stabbing. The owner sold it about 10 years ago, but is back in possession as the main mortage holder. At last report, the city is moving ahead with expropriation.

But I find myself fantasizing about a developer who might save the hotel, refurbish the kidney-shaped pool, and restore the hotel rooms back to mint 1960s vintage glory.

It could be a concept motel — a real throwback to the ’60s with Mad Men-themed parties, room rentals for fake proms, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and DJ nights with swinging ’50s and ’60s music.

It could be Hamilton’s little taste of an arty novelty boutique hotel similar to ones you might find in Palm Springs, Miami or L.A.

I know it’s a far-fetched idea, but what can I say: I love to dream.

Who knows what the fate of the City Motor is.

In the meantime, stop by, collect a memory or two, snap your photos and have a daydream before the hotel is no more.

 

This article was originally published in The Hamilton Spectator on Saturday, October 20th 2012. You can see the article here.

 

rock museum

When I was in my early teens I would often make my way to Hamilton from Burlington to shop along King Street; Deja Vu for vintage, Cheapies for CD’s and tapes and Rock N Tee’s for shoes and T-shirts. I can’t remember if I ever happened into Rock Museum back in the day, but boy was I ever happy about my rediscovery of this store in recent weeks.

Nearly twenty years later, having moved to downtown Hamilton I walk by Rock Museum about a million times a week without really giving it a second thought. Clearly taking for granted all that it has to offer as a classic neighbourhood fixture.

On occasion at a quick glance, a T-shirt in the window might catch my eye.  Like the one with kittens wearing cowboy hats, or one with wolves howling at the moon.  Sometimes I think I should go in there and pick one up -you know just for fun in that classic 80′s vintage T-shirt kind of way.

Well, the other day a friend was visiting from out of town and under her suggestion we headed on in to the Rock Museum. The store appeared to be relatively unchanged from the 80′s. It is quite a miracle that a store can stay so much the same when everything else seems to change so quickly. I guess that is what I found to be the beauty of this store.

The store is all T-shirts from wall to wall, and floor to ceiling ranging from hilarious slogans to classic rock t-shirts in the back.  For the most part the T-shirts are printed with kitschy pictures of unicorns, rainbows, wolves, cats, and even some shirts with those sparkly bubble letters.  All the shirts have that matte kind of gluey texture of the classic iron-on.

Yep, I did say iron-on. That’s how they do all their shirts.  You pick the shirt style and colour you want (or bring in your own shirt).  You pick the print or design.  Then they’ll iron it on for you.

In no less than 2-3 minutes your shirt will have a fresh and hot iron-on image bonded right on. So cool!

They’re definitely the iron-on experts as they’ve been doing it for over 30+ years!

I was so enthralled with the whole store and its infinite possibilities for hilarious and amazing gifts for friends and family that I was giddily spreading the word about my awe of Rock Museum to all those visiting us in Hamilton.

When my sister came down to visit she popped into the store and came out with iron-on letters of her name that she was going to put onto a shirt of her choice from home.  She advised that I should get my letters ASAP as they are in short supply mostly because the lettering is actually from the 80′s and they are running out of certain letters like for example the letter “I” which had to be craftily severed from part of a letter “H”.

So if you want your T-shirt emblazoned with your name in 80′s glittery rainbow lettering, you’d better hurry down to Rock Museum fast!

*Rock Museum/Klassy T-shirt (that’s classy with a “K”!), 101 King St. East, 905.525.5333

 

sew hungry

On September 21st I headed to my very first Sew Hungry.

Up until recently I’d never had a lunch hour long enough to check out the previous Sew Hungrys.  But being on mat leave, pregnant, super hungry and no longer having to worry about lunch hours it was pretty much mandatory that I headed down to check out the new and returning food trucks on Ottawa Street.

I loved the synergy of the food trucks, local shops, farmer’s market and restaurants all collaborating together and benefiting from the crowds of people that headed down to Ottawa Street.  Seemed like an all round success for ALL those involved in the event.  I’d hear that this particular Sew Hungry drew record number crowds in the thousands! Well done Hamilton!

My main mission for this particular truck rally was to go to The Dirty South food truck, which I had recently heard makes tater tot poutine -yeah I know -unreal!!

To be honest I was a little disappointed.  I was kinda expecting some hearty gravy and big fat squeaky cheese curds instead of plain shredded cheddar cheese. Despite the short fall the tots were served in large portion and they did taste really good (in that bad kind of way).  I had some regrets that I didn’t get their fried chicken and waffles, which looked super duper delicious.  I figured since the truck is local to Hamilton I’d have plenty of opportunity to sample their menu some other time.

I’d also previously heard about Poco Loco‘s taco chili salad in a mini corn chip Frito bag.  So as the lunch hour drew near and the line ups at the food trucks started to get too long, I opted to support this local Ottawa Street restaurant and got my first taco salad in a bag.  By no means was it gourmet.  In fact it was more of a novelty item that I can now I can say I’ve tried.  There is something a little strange about eating chili, beans, sour cream, hot sauce, and onions mashed into a brown hot mess from a chip bag.

What I really should’ve tried was the lobster roll sandwich from Buster’s Sea Cove (Toronto’s only seafood truck haling from St. Lawrence Market).  I’d later heard that this was the favourite of the day for many.

This next truck -Frittersons interested me.  I was gunning it over to the truck expecting sweet donut-like deep fried fritters topped with snow speckled icing sugar, ice-cream and berry sauce but alas the truck was a savory fritter truck not a dessert truck! I was intrigued by their “Thanksgiving in a bowl” -turkey with all the fixings plus potato cheese fritters. I love stuffing and I can’t resist anything deep fried in fritter form. My sweet fritter cravings will have to be serviced elsewhere, however I’d be willing to give these savory fritters a try for the next Sew Hungry.

One of my favourite trucks at Sew Hungry was the super adorable Manual Labour mobile trailer (aka “Frankie” -the 1969 Bailey Travel Trailer) coffee shop. I’d seen and heard of the mobile café serving up their Aussie inspired coffee specialities at events like the Junction Flea Market and The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic.

Co-owner Matthew Taylor and his partner in business and life are part of a growing community of people that have shifted from Toronto to the Hamilton area to set up shop.  Matthew -formerly a barista in Toronto’s burgeoning café and coffee scene saw the possibility and opportunity to venture for a quieter life outside of Toronto and to create a business that supports other local and surrounding businesses like Detour coffee (for their roasted beans), Hewitt’s Dairy (for their milk) and locally grown herbs for their teas from Country Herbs.

It was a pleasure to run into Shannon Stone of Best of Hamilton, who was a guest barista for the day helping fellow Aussie and co-owner of Manual Labour -Katie Browne.

Manual Labour does have merch for sale.  T-shirts for $20!

Thanks Shannon for making my delicious and beautiful first time ever “flat white“!

If you want to book Manual Labour for an event you can find their contact here, or follow them on twitter @MLcoffee.

 

omi

Nine months already seems like forever ago!

It’s amazing how much a body can change and transform to sustain and bring a little being into this world.

I’m happy to say that I’m no longer pregnant and that after much delay our son Omi made it safely out of the womb (no shorter than 12 days past his due date) and into this world.

Now how long will it be until my body bounces back, and more importantly, until I can fit into my fall boots again?

Omi’s happy (when he’s not bawling his eyes out) beautiful and we love him so very, very much.

We love you Omi!!

 

 

the waiting…

We’re all serious about being seriously overdue here.  Little guy just doesn’t want to come out.  

It’s official -I’m 1 week overdue.

Come on little one -you can do it!

In the mean time our sentiments expressed via Tom Petty and this song:

 

roller skating

Yep, there’s a roller rink in Hamilton!

I feel like things in Hamilton just keep getting better and better.

Let me clarify before you get too excited -this isn’t no Skooters or Roller Gardens roller rink -this is the outdoor rink down at Bayfront Park; ice-skating in the winter AND more importantly roller skating in the summer!

If, like me, you’ve heard rumblings of this roller skating thing but have yet to check it out, you still have time! I know summer is just days away from being over but lucky for you roller skating down at The Bay goes right into the crisp fall season -perfect for roller skating in sweaters and admiring fall sunsets and harvest moon rises.

To be honest early on in the summer I’d heard of this roller skating at Bayfront Park but for some reason it took me nearly all summer to get down to see what was happening on these “so called” roller skating nights.

We finally checked it out and MAN I had no idea what I was missing!  My mouth was hanging open in awe.  First of all there was a DJ that was playing old school soul and disco funk perfect for some classic roller skating.  And secondly, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before.  There were women in their 40′s and 50′s cooly gliding by with moves right from roller disco days of the 70′s (they must’ve been roller queen’s back in the day).

In my mind it all kinda looked like this:

People were speeding around the rink, doing tricks, some all laid back and others coupled up, some with super cool dance moves and glow in the dark wheels and everyone moving at a right whirling speed.

There were some fabulous skaters of all different ages and styles and I wasn’t even roller skating but was in heaven and loving every single moment of my existence spectating on the side lines. The super awesome skaters whizzed and danced by on the outsides of the rink while the slower folks familiarizing themselves with roller skating went by in the middle.

I hadn’t roller skated in 20+ years and figured now wasn’t the time to start up again but the rest of the roller skating enthusiasts we came down with rented their roller skates for $5 from the roller rental and made their way out (slightly nervous and a little unsteady) onto the rink.  Although growing up and roller skating in the 80′s everyone still felt a little rusty with their skate legs on and it took a few laps before regaining some moves and confidence.

For the fall season roller skating at the Bayfront is still on on weekends with the last weekend being October 5, 6, 7, 8. You can rent skates, helmets and protective gear at Pier 8 by the rink. For more details about hours, rentals and the concession stand click here.

I leave you with my two favourite roller skating anthems from when I was a kid.  I could never pass up skating to these two songs.

 

 

supercrawl 2012

Alas, I did make it out to Supercrawl, and I did not end up having a Supercrawl baby.  The baby has yet to arrive, but yet another Supercrawl has come and gone.  I missed Supercrawl last year so I was happy that over the weekend I was feeling pretty good and energetic enough to walk on down to James Street and check out how things have grown and progressed since the last Supercrawl I went to two years ago.

Here are some of the photos I took as I walked down James.

"Ghost Barn" John Haney & Carey Jernigan

En Masse Mural on the Sonic Unyon & Dr. Disc building. Local artist contributions from Jamie Lawson, Jacqui Oakley, Manny Trinh, Backy Katz, & Kearon Roy Taylor

"Carnival Commanders", Aluminum Quilting Society

"When the Bottom Falls Out", Brandon Vickerd

"Hyperbolic Crochet Reef", mostly built by Angelune Des Lauriers, Shannon Gerard, Kalpna Patel & Becky Johnson

I just have to say that despite the line up of many fabulous musical acts my absolute favourite band of all of Supercrawl was a band I’d never heard of before named Bombino! A friend we ran into mentioned that this band from Niger would definitely be worth checking out and as we were heading home we sort of stumbled upon the start of their set.  They were so worth sticking around to listen to and watch -a combo of disco, funk and West African music. Here’s a little clip of what you might’ve missed…

 


 

 

 

b-i-n-g-o

Ever since moving to Hamilton there’s been a part of me that has always wanted to stop into Delta Bingo on King Street.  I’ve never played “real” bingo, and I feel as if the days of bingo halls are somewhat limited -a dying sport -you know just one of those weird and random things that somehow carried its way through the decades into the 21st century but will likely not be around forever.

So here we are in the year 2012. I’m nine months pregnant and sitting in a Bingo hall. It felt in many ways somewhat fitting.

With some friends visiting from Pittsburgh (Hamilton’s neighbouring rusty American older brother), we figured it was as good as a time as ever to bingo it up and celebrate all that downtown Hamilton has to offer.

We made a stop first for a mandatory Hamilton classic Ghostbuster donut from non other than Grandad’s Donut -the one next to the bingo hall and not to be confused with the recently closed Grandad’s Donut on James north (sniffle -I shed a tear).  We travelled with donut in hand to check out this bingo situation.

Well it turns out bingo is dirt cheap! For just a $1.25 you can play four games with three cards per game and a chance to win upwards of $200!!

The bingo patrons and workers were sweethearts too.  I think everyone caught the drift that we were novices. They took us under their bingo expert wings -always checking up on us, making sure we were on the right coloured card and familiarizing us with all the bingo lingo (diamond, rotating kite etc).

I have to admit although bingo is cheap it can just suck you right in and before you know it you’ve spent an afternoon tossing away dollars and not winning much.  We left with our eyes red and in a haze, only to be coaxed back in by a bingo veteran who told us we needed to try for the $2000 jackpot -beginners luck right?

Well we didn’t win, but we did learn some good bingo tips.

1. Buy your bingo dabber before, from a cheap place like a dollar store. We bought ours at the convenience store two doors down for $1.5o each

2. Spend a limited and set amount of time and money that is predetermined before you enter the bingo hall.  It’s so easy to get carried away when cards are cheap and they give you change in Delta Bingo coins. Before sitting down to play inquire what time the big jackpots are throughout the day and spend a $1 on just the one card and sit for that one game and then skedaddle.

3. If you’re planning on spending a while at the hall bring your own snacks and drinks.  We indulged in some fries and onion rings from the Delta Bingo cafeteria.  They gave us a little needed energy boost but they also burnt an $8 hole in our pockets that could’ve been better spent trying to win a bingo jackpot or just hitting the road $8 richer.

4.  Too many bingo cards at one time means trouble.  You’ll see all the elderly (and more advanced) bingo players doing it, but don’t get too ambitious… honestly playing more than six game cards per round made my head spin. I couldn’t keep up and kept missing multiple numbers.  For all I know I could’ve won the $2000 jackpot. I preferred sticking to three cards per bingo round. I failed entirely when we had a sheet with nine game cards to play at one time.

I would go back to play bingo at the Delta on another special occasion. Perhaps for a bachelorette or a birthday pitstop before drinks, dinner, a movie or bowling.

When and if the Delta does close I wonder what that huge space would be repurposed for.  Perhaps another downtown grocery store? Or maybe an indoor roller rink? A downtown McMaster University building? We’ll just have to wait and see…

o’s clothes with i heart hamilton pt. I

On a lovely summer day, a short while ago, Kristin Archer from I Heart Hamilton and I had a rendez vous meet up for our second lunch at Appleberry Café.  Owner Opal Osiol was so sweet and cooked up an enormous amount of menu samplers for us to try out -so damn good!  If you’re in the King East neighbourhood, I would recommend stopping in for lunch for the BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, fried dumpling, or butter pan-fried salmon (those were my favs).  Yum!  You can also read about our first visit to Appleberry Café from I Heart Hamilton here and from me here.

However, I detract from the purpose of this particular post and meet up with Kristin…

We wanted to check out two stores on Cannon Street -the recently opened O’s Clothes as well as the bright and fresh Relish Vintage.

O’s Clothes is a sassy little addition to the corner of Cannon just a tickle east of James Street North.

We stopped in to chat with owner Oliver Knutton about his new business.  It was easy to strike up a conversation with Oliver -he puts himself out there and was happy to share his stories and thoughts with Kristin and I.

When considering what type of store to open up in Hamilton his first thoughts were to open a record store but knowing Hamilton already has its fair share (Dr. Disc, Cheapies, Schizophrenic Records, Books & Beats etc.) he moved on to examine what that missing “je ne sais quoi” might be.  Noting a gap in urban men’s street wear in Hamilton, Oliver told us he decided the time was right to take the plunge (like many other young entrepreneurs in the city) and open up shop.

I follow O’s Clothes on Twitter (@OsclothesK) and love the instagram feed of photos he posts of his customers and their purchases.  I asked Oliver if for the most part it’s his friends that come by to shop.  He agreed that when the shop first opened just about two months ago his friends did make up a large portion of his clientelle but he soon found young guys from the neighbourhood -high school kids were dropping in picking up T-shirts, shoes and the like adding to his client base.

You can tell the stores got an appeal for young guys.  I loved how when approaching the store the “sandwich board” (which is actually a speaker) was pumping out some awesome hiphop -for sure a nice pocket scene I haven’t seen the likes of in Hamilton.  In my younger days in search of something of this sort I’d have to have trekked it in to Toronto, to stores like Uncle Otis, Noise or Get Outside. Well no more… Hamilton holds its own!

Oliver mentioned that after a fashion feature in The Spec titled The Shopper and as word of his store spreads he’s had visits from folks from all over the city and of all ages.  Oliver told us of two recent sales to an elderly man (65+) who picked up a pair of funky-swish sunglasses because they reminded him of a pair of glasses he used to have in his youth.  Another senior aged woman came by and picked up a gorgeous colourful Fjällräven backpack for her travels. So I guess it’s safe to say that O’s Clothes with their quality goods and apparel has got an appeal to not just the young folk but men and women alike both young and old.

Colourful vegan friendly Borel belts to the right of the photo also come in dark green, grey, white and brown. I ask you -who else in the city carries vegan belts?

The lovely Kristin Archer from I Heart Hamilton modeling some goods at O's Clothes.

Oliver said that he’s making a special effort to carry local artist’s and designs in his shop.  Top left Kristin holds up a beautifully printed scarf by Hamilton local Rebecca Duyzer (she had a little vintage U-haul store at the August Art Crawl and also has an Etsy store you can check out here).  O’s Clothes also carries T-shirts designed and printed by Dave O’Connor like the centre image of the red Pizza Wizard T-shirt.

Unique to Oliver’s store, besides the brands and clothes he carries, are his custom made corrugated cardboard shelves that he designed (take note the next time you’re by the shop).  He says people often ask him about the shelves to see if they can get ahold of some -not only because they look super cool but also because they’re the perfect fit for storing a nice collection of vinyl.

Oliver’s store, his personality and open friendliness was all round awesome.  As Kristin and I checked out the goods friendly faces were popping in and saying their hello’s to Oliver.  In just a few short months of being open O’s Clothes already seems like a pretty solid neighbourhood fixture.

Had a great afternoon with Kristin from I Heart Hamilton chatting with Oliver.  Kristin looks amazing in those sunglasses doesn’t she? Looking forward to doing another meet up with I Heart Hamilton again -so nice to have a partner in blogging from time to time.

Don’t forget to check out I Heart Hamilton’s Post on O’s Clothes and Relish Vintage here!

*O’s Clothes,  8 Cannon St. East, 905.518.1455 , W-F 11-7, S 12-6, S 12-5, follow O’s Clothes on twitter @OsclothesK

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