• Nathan Carson at Oswald’s

    September 1, 2017 by Olivia Dudnik

    Olivia Dudnik is the Arts Outreach Assistant at the Hamilton Arts Council. She completed undergrad in Art History at McMaster University and is currently completing her Master’s in Modern Art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.


    Hamilton painter, Nathan Eugene Carson, opened his latest exhibition, May you always see the light at the August Art Crawl. This is his first show in Hamilton after completing his education at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) and spending several years exhibiting in Toronto (he collaborated with the Art Gallery of Ontario for, Now’s The Time, the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition in 2015). The show, on view at Oswald’s Gallery & Goods, consists of works on black paper, with figures and animals painted in oil, acrylic, charcoal, and other mixed media. Carson’s  work for this show is inspired by Hamilton, translating his personal observations into a visual language.


    Nathan Eugene Carson, May you always see the light, installation view

    Part of the artist collective at Oswald’s Gallery & Goods, Carson shares the space with the other members who  take turns exhibiting their work. The artists can paint the walls or change the space to how they want. This differs from showing in a cultural institution where curators are involved and curate the artist’s work. For this show, Carson transformed the gallery by painting the walls black, challenging the traditional white gallery walls, then tacked his works with a black background onto the black walls. Carson has been working with black backgrounds for the past several years.

    For Carson, this his first experience in an artist’s collective and he found it to be a learning experience. While Carson has a studio in his home, he was also able to use the gallery space to create seven of the works on view in the current exhibition.

    Hamilton artist, Nathan Eugene Carson

    May you always see the light incorporates music, creating a collaboration between painting and music. Seamus Hamilton, a musician who works with live, electronic loops, collaborated with Carson on this exhibition.  Hamilton and Carson created three tracks, which were played at the opening reception. A vinyl record of the tracks was cut, recorded in Hamilton and Toronto. For Carson music is essential to his practice, he is always listening to music and looking for new music. Music is an important tool, as it helps create an experience, it is both inspiring for the creator and for the viewer.

    Seamus Hamilton

    Each figure in the show has its own purpose, life, and story. Carson describes himself as a whimsical person and as an air element. His persona can be seen in his works and his figures tend to be using different gestures, none of them stand static. Carson’s favourite piece in the show is the figure of the boy dressed  as a bear (one of the first works that can be seen on the left when entering  the gallery).  For Carson, this figure is a protector, guarding him from the dangers and scary things in life.

    Work by Nathan Eugene Carson from May you always see the light

    Discussing his artistic process, Carson explains he works for long stretches of time, his “creative periods,” when he is constantly working and creating new pieces. Then he stops for a while, resting to absorb life and gather inspiration leading him to his next creative period. He is always working on something new, always moving to the next idea, never repeating something twice.

    In addition to art, Carson teaches meditation, practices yoga, and loves reading. He is currently reading a series of books on contemporary art practice. Inspired by life, Carson is interested in what other people are doing, and what is currently happening. He is also intrigued by what happens in the afterlife, and suggests this is perhaps why he works with a black background.


    Carson, as an artist, feels blessed and looks forward to meeting new artists and people.

    Nathan Eugene Carson, May you always see the light, installation view



    WHEN? August 11 - September 03, 2017; closing reception Sun. Sept. 3, 12-4pm

    WHERE? Oswald’s Gallery & Goods, 328 James Street North, Hamilton ON


    Nathan Eugene Carson:

    Seamus Hamilton:


    August 21, 2017 by Olivia Dudnik

    On Friday, August 11, the Hamilton Arts Council, in collaboration with the Seedworks Urban Offices, hosted the monthly Art Crawl Walking Tour. The guided tour, which was launched last month for July Art Crawl , is part of HAC’s new public program initiatives, along with the Art Bus Studio Tours, which made its debut on Saturday, August 19.

    The Art Crawl Walking Tour provides the opportunity for those who are not familiar with the Hamilton arts scene to become acquainted with James Street North’s galleries and collectives. The tour is also a great opportunity for experienced “crawlers” to enjoy the Art Crawl in a different way. The galleries along James Street North consist of artist-run centres and collectives, which are different from bigger institutions like the Art Gallery of Hamilton. These galleries and collectives showcase contemporary local art and provide a glimpse into what is happening now in the art world.

    [work from Vermillion Sands - Drowned World, by Jacqui Oakley and Jamie Lawson on view at The Assembly, photo by Olivia Dudnik]

    The tours meet at the Seedworks  (126 Catherine St. North), located a couple of blocks away from the hub of James Street North for refreshments and opening remarks about the history of James North and the Art Crawl. Participants then head out for the tour. The tour highlights different stops each month, as James North has too much to cover in one night. This also allows participants to join again on another tour.

    At the galleries, the artists or gallery owners give a talk to the group about the work on view. This month’s tour featured a variety of of media -- painting & collage (The Assembly Gallery), film (AGH Annex), performance (Hamilton Artists Inc.) and a collaboration between painting and music (Oswald’s Gallery & Goods). This variety of media reflects James North’s diverse artistic community.

    [Artists, Jacqui Oakley & Jamie Lawson giving a talk on their work at The Assembly, photo by Olivia Dudnik]

    Art Crawl is a great way to spend a Friday night. It is more than an “arts” event - it is a community activity, open to everyone and it makes Hamilton unique from other cities.

    [Annette Paiement and artist Nancy Benoy in the Courtyard of the Hamilton Store at July Art Crawl, photo by Rebecca Fera]

    Since I began going out to  Art Crawl in 2012, the distance of the Crawl has expanded. It typically ended just before Barton Street, now it extends past Barton with the relatively new collective, Oswald’s Gallery & Goods and the woodworking furniture store, Lea Wood Co. In addition to a vibrant arts community, many new restaurants have opened on the surrounding streets of James North -- King William is a bustling street of restaurants, the hip restaurant Nique, is located just off of James on Vine Street.The vast selection of restaurants adds to the Art Crawl evening. People can go for dinner first before hitting up the galleries, or can end the evening with drinks.


    Stay tuned for details about future Art Crawl Walking Tours! For further information, visit our Facebook page or contact Rebecca Fera, HAC’s Public Programs Officer at


    Olivia Dudnik is the Arts Outreach Assistant at the Hamilton Arts Council. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from McMaster University and is currently completing her Masters in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. Olivia, born and raised in Hamilton, coordinated and facilitated both the July and August Art Crawl Walking Tours. She is familiar with the neighbourhood home to the Art Crawl through her time at McMaster, and also through her sister, Amanda, an artist who had a painting studio at the Hotel Hamilton Studios (above Mulberry Coffee House).


  • Interview with Emma Rush

    July 6, 2017 by Bud Roach

    This week, Hamilton Arts Council Board member and Hammer Baroque Artistic Director Bud Roach presents the next installment of his new blog video series. This in-depth conversation features Emma Rush from Guitar Hamilton which hosts the 7th Hamilton International Guitar Festival & Competition from July 7-9, 2017.

  • Job Opportunity: Hamilton Arts Council Executive Director

    July 5, 2017 by Annette Paiement

    The Hamilton Arts Council is seeking an experienced and visionary arts administrator to lead the organization as Executive Director. The successful candidate will possess strong arts administration knowledge and report to the Hamilton Arts Council Board. A proven leader, the ED is responsible for the overall performance, impact and growth of the organization. Displaying strong financial, fundraising, administrative and project management experience, the ED will lead government relations, activities, develop and nurture strategic partnerships, and bring the strategic plan to life through incorporating the goals and objectives of the organization. Deadline for application submissions is Monday, July 31 at 4:30 pm.

    The Hamilton Arts Council has a vision to strengthen the role of the arts and culture in the City of Hamilton by making the arts accessible and relevant to the entire community. Our mission is to communicate, advocate and mediate for the arts and the role of the arts in the community of Hamilton. Founded in 1969 and incorporated in 1973, the Hamilton Arts Council is the second largest and one of the oldest community arts councils in Ontario and is an affiliate member of Artist-Run Centres & Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO).

    The Executive Director will possess strong arts administration knowledge and report to the Hamilton Arts Council Board. A proven leader, the ED is responsible for the overall performance, impact and growth of the organization. Displaying strong financial, fundraising, administrative and project management experience, the ED will be responsible for a $300,000 budget.

    As a strategic thinker, the ED will lead government relations, activities, develop and nurture strategic partnerships, and bring the strategic plan to life through incorporating the goals and objectives of the organization. Demonstrating a strong knowledge of the arts, the ED will demonstrate the highest professional ethical standards, inclusion and thoughtfulness while leading a team of staff and volunteers.

    Holding a degree in a relevant field and arts management experience, the successful candidate will have a passion for the Hamilton Arts community and the ability to manage multiple priorities simultaneously.

    To Apply:

    Attention: Hiring Committee
    Please send cover letter and resume in PDF.
    Closing Date: Monday, July 31 at 4:30 pm.
    Please email your application to: with the subject line “Attention Hiring Committee: Executive Director Application”

    Please be aware the selection process may involve any of interviews, test, and presentations or any combination thereof.

    The Hamilton Arts Council is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to inclusive, barrier-free recruitment and selection processes. Accommodations are available for all applicants with disabilities throughout the recruitment process. If you require accommodations for interviews or other meetings, please contact Interim Executive Director. We appreciate your interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be notified.

    Executive Director – Job Description PDF

  • Opera Returns to Hamilton!

    June 28, 2017 by Boris Brott

    (This is the third in a series of blog posts by the Brott Music Festival in celebration of the Festival’s 30th anniversary this year which kicks off in June.)

    Brott Music Festival has been performing staged Opera and PopOpera productions since 2004 as part of their nine-week summer festival, BrottOpera was officially founded on January 13th, 2014. The artistic mission of BrottOpera is to be the destination performing opera organization that entertains, educates and enriches Hamilton and its environs to be driven by both traditional and cutting-edge opera programming, grassroots partnerships which will stimulate new audiences and partner with other community organizations.

    Scene from Marriage of Figaro [Photo: Bob Hatcher]

    Following two successful years BrottOpera is now entering its third season. Each year has consisted of a PopOpera – an evening of favourite opera arias – as well as a fully staged opera; the past two seasons have seen performances of Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. This year will again include a PopOpera (July 6th) as well as a production of Bizet’s Carmen (July 13th) directed by Patrick Hansen, who is currently the Director of Opera Studies at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

    Set in Seville around the year 1830, the opera deals with the love and jealousy of Don José, who is lured away from his duty as a soldier and his beloved Micaëla by the gypsy factory-girl Carmen, whom he allows to escape from custody. He is later induced to join the smugglers with whom Carmen is associated, but is driven wild by jealousy. This comes to a head when Carmen makes clear her preference for the bull-fighter Escamillo. The last act, outside the bull-ring in Seville, brings Escamillo to the arena, accompanied by Carmen, there stabbed to death by Don José, who has been awaiting her arrival.

    Scene from Marriage of Figaro [Photo: Bob Hatcher]

    Carmen was a one-of-a-kind outlier of an opera when it was written. It shocked the French audiences with its onstage violence. It was also not an actual "opera" per se, because its form was really that of a musical: the story is told in both dialogue and in music. Formally much of it is Italian grand opera, but it is sung in French, set in Spain, and some of the music is based on Cuban dance rhythms (the Habanero, for example). Very advanced for its time! “It is the best example of "verismo" opera I can think of until Puccini comes along with La bohème or Leoncavallo's Pagliacci” says director Patrick Hansen. 

    This Carmen will be set in the 1930s Spanish Civil War - a war Franco eventually won. Carmen's story will be told through that lens of war, rebellion, the quest for freedom against oppression -- the very things that Carmen is all about! Carmen herself is 100% rebel; she fights against the status quo, she fights to be taken seriously as an individual and not just some gypsy who works in a cigarette factory, she smuggles arms for the war, she loves who she wants and when she wants. She and her gypsy friends are smugglers fighting in the resistance to overthrow the political structure in place and defend themselves against the coming Franco oppression. Oppression is everywhere in the opera. Don Jose, Morales, and Zuniga are all soldiers in the regime who simultaneously oppress the people but also want to be part of their culture (namely enjoying themselves at Lilas Pastia's place and the Bull Ring). Micaela represents the oppression that arises from the religious patriarchy -- (come home and marry a good girl, have a family, and forget everything else.) Escamillo represents the machismo oppression found throughout the culture. Carmen and her fellow gypsies represent freedom and liberty and superstition. Carmen's final outburst at the end of the opera sums it up well: she lives free and she will die free!

    Scene from Barber of Seville [Photo: Hugh Caughey]

    “As the stage director, I'll be looking for ways to show the oppression throughout the show, trying to bring out some of the more entertaining aspects of the show (to hit the tragedy at the end a little harder), and making sure the story gets told as clearly as possible. The update alters little, if anything, to the story -- it mostly changes props and weapons. Instead of swords and daggers we will use rifles, pistols and switchblades. Instead of smuggling contraband, the gypsies will be smuggling weapons. The other, oft-overlooked, aspect of Carmen is her belief in destiny and the tarot. This is integral to her belief system and I'll be striving to make it more a part of the story throughout the opera”.

    In addition to the performances, BrottOpera is a two-week program with a very heavy schedule for our emerging professional opera singers, which includes master-classes by some of opera’s top stars: tenor Richard Margison (July 4th 10am-12:30pm) and soprano Adrianne Pieczonka (July 9th 2pm-5pm). These masterclasses are free to the public and will be held at St. John the Evangelist Church (320 Charlton Ave W) in the heart of Hamilton.

    Scene from Barber of Seville [Photo: Hugh Caughey]

    “Very much looking forward to the Carmen production. We have a spectacular cast of first rate soloists chosen from 222 eager applicants. 10 of our best professional stars” says Boris Brott.  “You have a chance to get to know each of them individually singing their best chosen solo arias from different repertoire in our PopOpera program July 6 and then in their roles in Carmen July 13. Patrick Hansen is a brilliant director - we have worked together before at Opera McGill. He is imaginative and has a dramatic concept for Carmen which will delight you. Opera brings it all together - orchestra, chorus, lighting, costumes, sets, and you the audience- don’t miss it!”