Crawling into community at the Hamilton Art Crawl

Submitted by 1000 Conversations on April 21, 2013 - 2:53pm
Art community in Hamilton living out a community conversation

In this campaign so far the majority of the conversations that have been collected have involved people sitting down together and talking.  But not all conversations are done through words.  Others are done through actions, a community coming together to form something beautiful.  This is the case with Hamilton’s Art Crawl.  On the second Friday of every month people from all across the city and from several other cities in southern Toronto coming flooding onto James street and partake in the many art installations and stores in the area


I had the opportunity to take part in my first art crawl this past Friday.  As I browsed the different stores and connected with the different local artisans, I was blown away by the deep sense of community that underlies this evening.


I had wondered how there could be a market to sustain such a large density of artisans in Hamilton.  As I spent the day talking to the many different local artisans, the answer became clear. Community!  The local artisans along with others in the neighbourhood have come together to help each other survive and flourish in what is often a very challenging industry.


A great example of this is the Makers Market.  Housed in front of the Cathedral Place Anglican Church on James Street, it is a mini market full of local artisans.  For many of these artists it serves as a space to help them get their foot in the door.  One artist I talked to who was selling soaps and pottery said that the Makers Market helped him get established and now he was opening his own store in the area.  Started by local parishioners of the church a couple years ago, it is designed to be an outreach program of the church.  They realized that church was much more then simply a worship service on Sunday, it involved reaching out to the community.  So they opened up their space for local artisans during the monthly art crawl.  With time the area in front of the church became full of art booths and instillations where local artists peddle their wares.  The church also opens their doors to local musicians during the art crawl giving them the opportunity to play in an amphitheater space that produces beautiful music.


As I talked to a couple local vendors about their art and also about this art community I realized that they were not only selling their own work but those of other local artists.  In essence they were all supporting each other.


Another great example of how the community of artist in Hamilton helps each other out was at the You Me Gallery owned by Bryce Kanbara.  I had been talking with Bryce earlier that day about community, as he is heavily involved in a couple of the local groups.  I returned in the evening to see the artists that his gallery would be profiling and found it to be completely packed.  As I a grabbed a cookie baked by one of the artists and started to mingle with the people there I came to realize that many of them new each other.  They were fellow artists who had come to support and cheer on their colleagues.  In many industries (including the community sector) there is often such heavy competition for resources that cause these groups shy away from collaboration.  Here once again was an example of how the art industry in Hamilton was different.  It’s truly a family.


Talking about community is important.  After all that is what this campaign is all about.  More important than talk though is putting it into action.  The people of James Street in Hamilton are doing this and the results are beautiful.  I encourage all of you to come down to James Street in Hamilton on the second Friday of a month this summer and see what community in action looks like.