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Hamilton Art Circuit features four gallery openings in one night

Event will showcase the work of close to 50 artists of diverse styles, a pop-up exhibition space, and the new Crown & Press Gallery on Ottawa Street North.

An art circuit in Hamilton isn’t a new idea but it is a good idea and that’s why four galleries are teaming up for a cross-city art night.

What’s not to like in Friday night art, live music, good food, a few drinks, and an easy ride on a luxury bus between stops?

There are two established galleries taking part in the May 5 Art Circuit: the Paul Elia Studio Gallery at 1165 Cannon St. E., that is hosting 20 artists in the second Square Yard Show, and the Back Alley Gallery at 341 Herkimer St. (in the alley) that is showing an exhibit called Soundscapes.

There is also a pop-up gallery at 67 John St. S. that is featuring the work of three artists in a musically inspired exhibit called Memories Can’t Wait. Tania LaCaria and Andy DeCola are both abstract artists, while Clear Eyes Collective are muralists.

And finally, the circuit will feature Crown & Press, the soon-to-be officially opened gallery, café, event space, and studio by artist Julia Veenstra at 303 Ottawa St. N.

“The idea is that you can take in four different opening nights in one night. How can you beat that?” says Mary Flynn, whose Back Alley Gallery will show her work alongside the work of four other artists (Jack Grunsky, Laura Heaney, Alex Moore Gibson, and Jack Williams), along with the music of Bay Mud.

Flynn, who creates in many mediums including acrylic, encaustic, and collage/mixed media, opened her gallery and studio space in February 2020 in a former garage.

Elia’s first Square Yard Show attracted large crowds last year.

“The concept is that the artist has complete freedom but they have to produce their works in a three-foot by three-foot size. And all the art is shown in the same black frame. It creates such a striking presentation and brings it all together beautifully,” says Elia, who is known for his urban streetscapes.

The pop-up gallery is the first for property owners Sydenham Capital, says LaCaria.

“They are big art supporters and they want to do pop-up galleries in transition spaces.”

LaCaria will show various works from her Love Letters (To My Exes) collection, which are works inspired by songs.

“Art is a very sensory experience for me and music is closely tied into my visual expression. Hearing music can affect the outcome of a painting.”

Each art stop will feature a food partner: Power Pizza, Rosalynde Bakes, Berkeley North and Beyond Belief Biscotti, along with raffle prizes valued at $200 each donated by The Hamilton Store.

Even the bus rides will be entertaining, with hosts onboard talking about the city and its art scene.

“This project is so inspiring and exciting. It’s a true community effort,” says LaCaria, who moved to Hamilton in 2016. “I’ve travelled to 43 countries and lived in many places and I’ve never seen such a rallying around of community as I do in Hamilton.”

The large space at Crown & Press, once home to Woolworth’s, will be in a soft launch phase, says Veenstra, who has several co-owners in the venture, including her husband Doug, daughter Abi, son-in-law Justin Scholman and Juno award-winning musician Elias Dummer.

The gallery will ultimately feature the work of Veenstra and 20 artists from across Canada that she represents. Crown & Press will also be home to the Gilded Cage Boutique, an ethical fashion shop. The Art Deco-inspired café will feature a variety of coffee, espresso and tea drinks, beer and wine, an assortment of baked goods by Rosalynde Bakes, and savoury offerings.

The Crown in the name refers to the surrounding Crown Point neighbourhood, while press is linked to coffee, Ottawa’s standing as a textile hub, and a print shop next door that will allow customers to purchase art prints of any size.

“We really want to make art accessible to everyone here,” says Veenstra, who is best known for her impressionistic landscapes.

“This idea really bubbled up during COVID. We looked at a couple of school buildings but then we saw this place and thought, how much more perfect could it get?”

An Art Circuit bus will begin its rounds at the Back Alley Gallery at 7:30 p.m. and another will begin at Crown & Press at the same time. The last buses will leave those two locations at about 9:50 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to hop on and hop off the buses as they please.

Tickets to secure a place on a bus are $25 and are available here. Attendees will receive a $25 coupon toward an art purchase of $100 or more.