James Street North Art Crawl

It was a lucky Friday the 13th – April offered one of our favourite James Street North Art Crawls to date. The weather was just warm enough to walk about comfortably in a spring jacket, or in the case of Avishka and I, a pin-striped velvet blazer and a leather jacket, respectively. We’re hip like that.

Our first stop was over to the funky shop Bodega at 220 King West to attend the launch of our friend Samille Janelle’s new artists’ zine, PAGED. Samille had let us know of her idea to start a print zine earlier this year, and wanted to feature work from all local talent, from painters, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, poets, writers, and more. As she puts it, the zine is, “An interactive portrait of the minds thriving in the Hamilton artists’ community.” I was really excited to see it all come together and get my hands on a copy! Bursting with colour, the art jumps off the pages, and is just gorgeous to look through. Artists who contributed to the first edition include Ashley Ince, Melissa Mostacci, Petra Matar, Abena Asomaning, and Samille, herself.

Samille Janelle’s work inside Bodega

Samille’s work was also on display at Bodega for the launch, which Avishka and I really enjoyed getting to see. I love the bold, rich colours she uses, along with the motif of sparkly stars that seem to twinkle right before your eyes. Copies of PAGED are available for purchase at Bodega, Mixed Media, and Grey Room Studio. With a limited run each time, be sure to get yours fast! Avishka and I were pleased to pick up our copies of the debut edition. Keep it locked to PAGED – May’s edition is up next, and be sure to contact them if you would like to have your work featured in the zine.

Inside Bodega with Samille Janelle and our copies of PAGED

From there, we met up with our dear friend and original Honourary Tour Member, Emily, to explore the Art Crawl. We immediately headed to the newly restored and historic Lister Block for its grand opening. The place was abuzz with people constantly coming in and out, not only to get a glimpse of the beautifully renovated Hamilton landmark, but to be there for the launch of Tourism Hamilton’s new headquarters. The grand opening had begun during the day and the festivities were still going strong, bringing in even more people during Art Crawl. Cake & Loaf had recreated the Lister Block in an absolutely stunning cake, a work of art, in itself. Although I didn’t get to see it in person, I couldn’t get over the photos of it that people were Tweeting.

Lister Block (taken with Instagram)

When we first entered the Lister Block, we didn’t know where to look! Avishka took note of the activities and classic Hamilton spots listed on Tourism Hamilton’s sign, picking out which ones we’ve done already and have yet to do. Walking about inside, I didn’t make it very far because I was too busy staring at the floor! I’m sure I stopped the flow of traffic, attempting to get a photo of it. Just amazing! One of the photos I took was also a first foray into Instagram (that’s right – I’m on Instagram now! Follow me @ touristmetaphor for pictures from the Tour.) We also wandered out into the hallways to take in more of the building. I can’t wait to have a proper look throughout the whole building – it really is something to see and is such a special part of Hamilton’s history.

The floors of Lister Block (taken with Instagram)

Avishka and I even did a little impromptu interview! Friend to the Tour, Michael Canton of Valleytown Media, handed us a mic and asked us a few questions, on behalf of NewsClipTV, about our impression of the Lister Block, Tourism Hamilton’s move into the new space, and of the James North Art Crawl in general. We noted that it has almost been a year now since our first Art Crawl (when we started the Tour in May), so to be here now at this time, and see how things have expanded even more, and the increased energy, is even more exciting. We also spoke of our hope that the restoration of the Lister Block sparks more initiative to preserve and restore other historic buildings and architecture in the City.

At the Lister Block’s grand opening and Tourism Hamilton’s launch

Avishka, Emily, and I continued on down the street on our crawl, making a stop at Hotel Hamilton to say hello to our friend Melissa Mostacci at Grey Room Studio. We love the bright orange studio and always like to see Melissa’s work, some of which was featured in the debut edition of PAGED, as noted. Just down the hall, Spark Society were having another jam session, and remembering how much fun that was to watch, Avishka and I told Emily about it and made sure to peek in the doorway to see them play.

After that, we made a quick pit stop to Makers’ Market, outside Christ’s Church Cathedral, to fuel up with some delicious snacks from Cake & Loaf (so good!). We also made stops in Hamilton Artists Inc., definitely a must on Art Crawl, or any time you’re in the James North area. There is always something exciting going on there. We popped in and out of as many galleries and shops that we could as we turned back around and headed back toward the direction of King William Street, on our way to a party at Baltimore House – the Sweet Ice Art Crawl After Party!

Sweet Ice Cones at Baltimore House

The girls of Sweet Ice Cones, Meg and Linds, were hosting a party to raise money to fix up their brand new trailer, so they can hit the streets this summer to deliver their delicious ice cones to all! Dubbing the event Operation Shasta, and being prepared to celebrate whether they reached their goal or not (but they did achieve it, and then some, thanks to all who supported the cause!) we knew we couldn’t miss it. We were happy to meet Meg and Linds and say hello, and finally try those snow cones. They offered their classic cones as well as a spiked snow cones, for that little extra kick. It was a party at the hot spot that is Baltimore House, after all!

Photo courtesy of Sweet Ice Cones

We hadn’t tried their snow cones back at kitestring’s Christmas Spectacular, so we were ready to try them now. We had three choices: The Apple Jack (whiskey), The Daiquiri (rum), and The Margarita (tequila). There was no question, here; Avishka and I didn’t miss a beat and chose The Apple Jack. How could we not, it was called JACK! It was meant to be. They were very tasty, we must say. Cones in hand, we sat down on a nearby sofa to get our picture taken by the Sweet Ice team for their blog. We love a good photo opportunity! We’re thrilled that the party was such a success for the girls, and we’ll definitely be seeing them on the road this summer for a refreshing treat during our tour stops.

It was a fantastic Art Crawl – we can’t wait for what’s in store this summer!

– Kristin

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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