the hammer

There’s something quite humorous about wielding a hammer in “The Hammer”.

I recently renewed my annual membership at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and couldn’t help but notice this great installation by Hamilton artist Simon Frank.

The hammer, with an embossed pine tree, is hung on the large wall of the front entrance of the AGH.  You can swing it as you like into the drywall.  The overall effect is the creation of a forest of hammered out pine trees, or as the title of the work states View (from the escarpment). I love it!

 

i love fall

One beautiful balmy Sunday morning we headed on out for a gorgeous fall walk at Dundas Valley Conservation Area.  It was just at that perfect moment in time when you can see the full range of fall foliage from green to yellow, rusty oranges and red all at once.

We were all set to go; baby in the carrier, fall apples for a snack and a Detour coffee in hand to give us a kick start to the trek.

We’ve cycled to the conservation area before and biked the main loop trail but this was my first time doing the loop on foot -a little ambitious as it was only week two after having a baby, but it felt amazing to be out of the house enjoying the fall air and all the smells of the forest.

I love when the trail comes upon the old Hermitage ruins.  The Hermitage is an old estate that is over 170 years old.  It served as a summer house for a wealthy Irish-born Scottish immigrant named George Gordon Browne Leith.

According to the historic plaque outside the Hermitage the limestone summer home was destroyed in a fire in 1934. Leith’s daughter built a smaller home within its ruins in which she lived until her death in 1942.  The ruins are all that’s left of what is said to have been a lavish estate. The Gatehouse, previously home to the Leith’s gatehouse keeper and his family, is now an operating museum that houses artifacts from the Hermitage as well as the details and history of the Hermitage and the Leith family.

My other favourite spot on the trail is when it opens up onto an old apple orchard.  The trees are all gnarly and twisted, and the apples have long gone wild.

I love seeing remnant glimpses into history like this old orchard.  I wonder about how the land and life would’ve been like when the orchard was well tended. Perhaps this was part of the Leith’s estate?

 

*Dundas Valley  Conservation Area, 540 Governors Rd., Dundas. $9/vehicle, free to enter on foot or by bicycle

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…

 


 

 

 

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