James Street North Art Crawl
It has been way too long since I’ve Art Crawled, it seems! I couldn’t wait to hit the streets with my camera and explore. There is always an amazing energy at Art Crawl; there’s nothing like it. I tend to live tweet when I Crawl, so be sure to follow along @ihearthamilton.
My first stop was the Lister Block to take a look at Tourism Hamilton’s “Salute to Tourism” event which had been running all day. The food trucks lined up outside the building were quite the sight – I can’t get over how many keep popping up. You name it, we’ve got it! A new one that caught my attention was Rudy’s, the city’s first paleta truck. (A quick Google search on my part earlier that day discovered a paleta is a Latin American frozen treat, like a popsicle.) Now on my list to try!
Inside Tourism Hamilton’s space, I got to see firsthand yet another masterpiece by Cake & Loaf. I saw a photo of it earlier, but to see it in person, unreal! Another food sighting was Mezza Cafe. With a location in Ancaster, they are also set to open inside Lister Block. Grabbing a latte to go, I also ran into Anne from Cannon Coffee, whose band was playing that night.
From there, I wandered down James North with no particular destination in mind. I knew there were some shop openings, but I didn’t anticipate discovering so many. First, I came upon a sign that welcomed you into the Grand Opening of James North General Store. The storefront and brick walls peaked my interest right away.
Co-owners Setenio Borges and Mathieu Brazeau were outside, and as soon as I introduced myself, I got such a great vibe from them. They are so enthusiastic about the new shop and to be involved in the community. They welcomed me in and since I was so fashionably early, I was able to tour the space, take some photos, and chat with them about the city. Setenio is originally from Hamilton and the pair had been living in Vancouver recently, but they are excited to be back in Hamilton.
Being right across from Christ’s Church Cathedral where Makers’ Market was bustling away, it’s a prime spot for the General Store. It’s part boutique, part cafe. Living up to its name, it’s a true general store. There are knick-knacks, t-shirts, dresses, and some really unique necklaces. One was even made out of beetles’ wings (no insects were harmed, Mathieu added!).
General Store’s pieces come from all over the place, including some items from L.A., Etsy finds, and some garments were by a friend of theirs in Korea. As we chatted, several people came in and out, pausing to try on items. Everything was very reasonably priced. Next shopping day, I know I’ll be back!
Serving coffee, lattes, and specialty drinks, General Store uses local favourite Red Hill Coffee. There are also delicacies from Hotti Biscotti as well as other baked goods, including tasty-looking Portuguese tarts that Setenio’s mother makes. Keeping things local, there is also local art on the walls, including pieces by Kiki LeFont.
I learned that they completely changed the space when they acquired it, and as I complemented the decor, Mathieu said it’s about bringing new energy into a space. With their infectious, positive energy, they’re doing just that, to both the street and the city.
Friendly new neighbours that they are, Setenio and Mathieu let me know of a couple more shops that were having Art Crawl openings. That sent me off to discover some more, but I liked General Store so much that I made sure to circle back and check in with them again later in the evening.
With Setenio’s recommendation, I continued North, down to the brand new vintage shop, Love in the Afternoon. As their site states, the shop was founded by three women (mother, daughter, and friend) and their aim is to “bring romance, to you, the modern day girl.”
The shop is full of dresses, shoes, accessories, lingerie, and even household items. It was like being transported back in time to a past decade. There are so many treasures and there will be new ones every time you visit as the women add to the collection. That’s part of the fun, for both the owners and customers.
The change rooms are decorated with old trunks, picture frames, and luggage pieces, which are also for sale. Love in the Afternoon carries their own line as well as vintage items. You can also shop online through their store on Etsy.
My Crawl continued to Grand Opening number three – La Bichette. I was so early that when I first passed by, the shop’s windows were still covered up, shrouded in mystery. I made it back for the unveiling at 7pm and was one of the lucky first to take a peek inside.
I met owner Lauren Erickson and immediately loved her mint green dress, only to later spot it on one of the racks. She is super friendly and excited to be opening her boutique, which carries both vintage and contemporary pieces. She has displayed her collection previously at this year’s Vintage Marketplace.
Lauren popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. There were lots of treats and a cake with white, pastel pink and blue icing to match the shop’s decor, as well as the shop’s logo scrawled in icing. I sipped a spiked pink lemonade with my piece of cake (I never turn down cake, or spiked beverages, for that matter!). The place filled in quickly and it was nice to see so many friends and family there to support Lauren, as well as Art Crawlers.
You can also browse items on La Bichette’s website. One section I love is “Dresscapades,” an interactive idea for customers to send in a photo and story about where and when they wore one of La Bichette’s pieces. The most “magical” tale of them all wins a gift certificate to the boutique and your story will also be featured on the website. I also really like seeing La Bichette’s initiative to give back to the community.
Then it was over to check out session two of the “Raise the Roof” concert series at Dr. Disc, presented by Hamilton Magazine and I Heart Hamilton! Live music atop the record store’s roof happens every Art Crawl, May through October. This year, owner Mark Furukawa brought me onboard to help book the acts, which has been a lot of fun.
Because I was so busy with the festive shop openings, I missed the first two acts, Christopher Clause and Dawn and Marra, but I know they undoubtedly pleased the crowd with their folky tunes (I’ve been consistently listening to Dawn and Marra’s latest album, Teaspoons and Tablespoons – so good!)
I made it in time for the two acts I chose for this session. The Conservation Authority were just getting set to go as I arrived. It was also Dean’s birthday at midnight – party! I first saw the band back in March opening for Rah Rah at Casbah, and I instantly regretted not having my camera with me then, because they sounded so great. TCA impressed me again – it was lovely to hear their rich harmonies and instrumentation float into the breeze and down to the crowd who formed behind Dr. Disc. They ended their set with an impressive acapella song.
During part of TCA’s set, I ventured up to a secret spot, the very top of Dr. Disc, with Mark and the next performer, Matt Paxton. The band’s music was still loud and clear from up there. Matt and I took in the gorgeous view and waved to some people perched on a neighbouring roof. The view from the roof really epitomized the night. It was just so… perfectly Hamilton.
Then it was Matt’s turn to “raise the roof” and he stepped out with his guitar, ready to charm the crowd below. It was awesome getting to stand on the roof and watch the singer-songwriter in action. I later took a seat in the doorway to listen and watched as the sun slowly set. It was all very picturesque and suited Matt’s music. I was happy to hear him play one of my favourite songs he has written, “Harbour Town.”
Check out the next Raise the Roof on Friday, July 12th. Performers include The Safety Collective, Quails in the Nest, Redanda, The Monarch Project, and Ginger St. James. Details can be found on the event page.
This Art Crawl was a fantastic kick-off to the summer. Each time I go, I’m invigorated by the energy of the city and can’t help but wish it was more often than once a month! But, I did learn about a new event, James Street Jams, a Live Music Crawl, happening on the last Friday of every month. Several establishments along the street will be featuring live music as well as buskers on the street.
It’s going to be a fun summer!