February 5, 2018 by Stephen Near

    Arts Beat Throwback THURSDAY

    Sculpture for the Eaton Centre is Now Off the Drawing Board and In the Works.
    February  1992

    “A work of architecture, as a whole and in its parts, acts as symbolic statement, which conveys through our senses, humanly relevant qualities and situations….

    The cupola of dome may no longer specifically signify a religious image of heaven; but as an overarching and surrounding hollow it forever preserves an affinity with the natural sky and shares some of its principal expressive connotations….

    It is true that the spontaneous symbolism of practical experience has paled in our civilization, not only because of traditional foundation of philosophical and religious ideas has all but vanished, but also because physical activity and contact with nature have been so largely replaced by the handling of rarefied concepts, especially in buying and selling.”

    Hamilton Eaton Centre to House an Enthralling and Amusing Sculpture

    Cadillac Fairview has a team of designers and architects working on every project to ensure each of their buildings is as unique and beautiful as possible. The Corporation has also sought to enhance the various interior spaces with works of art. The new Hamilton Eaton Centre is no exception. The domed rotunda will soon be home to an original piece of sculpture which, if it works as intended, should enthral and amuse shoppers and sightseers alike.

    Karin Mills, of the Toronto-based corporate consulting firm Anthony/Mills Fine Art Ltd., explains that Cadillac Fairview is no stranger when it comes to commissioning works of art for public areas within its buildings. The Canada-wide competition for the Eaton Centre art work, held in 1990 and organized for the Eaton Centre by the Hamilton and Region Arts Council, generated great interest and a wide variety of proposals. The $100,000 commission was awarded jointly by the Centre’s developers, Cadillac Fairview, and the owners, Eaton Properties.

    Ms. Mills admits she is leery of such large competitions because of the real possibility of receiving a great deal of inferior submissions. However, she was very pleased with the “high calibre” of the 80-plus submissions received.

    Because of the technical constraints of the site, the selections committee was looking for artists experienced in designing and displaying large constructions in public spaces. Naturally, they were also looking for an aesthetic piece of high quality which would “work”. The winning proposal is a multi-piece sculpture by Toronto artists Susan Schelle and Marke Gomes. It is composed of bronze figures in various stages of suspended movement.

    Susan and Mark’s proposal caught her attention, says Ms. Mills (she did not sit on the jury), because it showed that they “understand the difference between public art and art in public places”.  Public art, she maintains, has to be able to “work on different levels”. It must attract the attention of the casual observer and hold some appeal for him, as well as stretch the interest and understanding of an art connoisseur.

    Although admitting he was “totally surprised” by the honour, Mr. Gomes, 42, says he had every confidence in their proposal. After viewing the site, both artists felt that a hanging piece was inappropriate. Independently of each other, they spent some time walking around the Centre. When comparing ideas later, they both had come to the same conclusion: the panelled rotunda with its domed skylight was the perfect site for a sculpture.

    As Mark explains, the area has an “historical reference”. Since the classical age, domes have been the favoured spot for works of art, especially sculpture. The domed skylight atrium area in the Hamilton Eaton Centre “was just waiting for something to happen!, he explains.

    This is only the second project for which they have submitted a proposal together, and the first one to be successful. Both artists have been working at their separate Toronto studios for almost 20 years. Mark, who is a graduate of Fanshawe College, exhibits his large-scale sculptures in the Isaacs Gallery. Susan, 44, a graduate of Sheridan’s School of design, started the Harbourfront Art Gallery (now the Powerplant) in 1977. She is also the founding member of the Cold City Gallery, where much of her work is exhibited.

    The Eaton Centre skylight, which is fifty feet above the ground, is surrounded by 16 panels with the whole area totalling about 168 running feat. The proposal calls for 95 bronze statues to be placed around the panels, each approximately two feet high. But these are not stiff, classical-looking figures in long flowing robes. These are wonderfully animated androgynous shapes. Indeed, the images as they appear in the artists’ submission, are reminiscent of the stylized dancing figures on an old Greek Vase. Mark describes them as not being truly abstract, but neither do they involve any great detail.

    The artists chose bronze as the primary medium not only because of its classical appeal but also because it is relatively maintenance-free. Each of the figures will stand out from the panel so that they will appear to float. Since each one depicts a movement - such as running, striding, vaulting, etc. the effect should be very startling.

    Some of the figures will hold letters in granite and bronze. The words “Nature” and “Culture” are in green and pink granite respectively. “Beauty” and “Humour” will be in bronze. As Mark explains, granite is an “organic material while bronze is a manufactured one. Humor and Beauty are also fabrications, subject to changes imposed by the "audience".

    The natural light as it pours in through the skylight will play an important part in how the piece is perceived. The “view’ should be constantly changing as the direction and intensity of the light varies.

    Susan Schelle notes that she particularly enjoyed working on this project as she is partial to “site specific” pieces. Works of art plunked down in front of a building with no reverence to it or the surrounding area are not for her. A piece, she says, has to be integrated with the site. She agrees that public art is a different medium; the artist strives to “take something familiar and take it to another level”. For Mark Gomes, the challenge in planning a piece of public art is meeting the criteria of physical conditions, use demands and expectations of the audience.

    The public will soon have its chance to determine whether their sculptured graceful figures “work”. There is no doubt that the Eaton Centre’s interior will be greatly enhanced by this exciting lively piece.

    Down, Trudi. “Hamilton Eaton Centre to House an Enthralling and Amusing Sculpture” Arts Beat, vol. 5 , no. 5, Feb 1992, p. 1 & 17.



    February 1, 2018 by Annette Paiement





    The Hamilton Arts Council European Artist Residency provides a mid-career level visual artist from Hamilton, Ontario, the opportunity to create new works in the inspiring artist studio provided by the Estonian Artists Association in Tallinn, Estonia over a four week period in September 2018.

    Application Deadline:  March 2nd, 2018

    Winning announcement will be made during Hamilton Arts Week June 2 – 8, 2018

    The vision of this residency program is to build and strengthen cultural connections between Europe and Canada by providing an opportunity for Hamilton artists to work in Europe and meet local artists in the vibrant Estonian arts scene. The program is a partnership with the Hamilton Arts Council, the Estonian Artists Association and is funded through the generous support of The Cotton Factory.

    What does the program offer?

    The residency provides an opportunity for professional and artistic development through access to facilities to create new work;access to local artists through the Estonian Artists Association; and includes the opportunity to give two speaking engagements in Tallinn and at Tartu University.

    The residency will provide a $500.00 Cdn ($327.51 Euro) per week stipend, accommodation in a live/work studio, travel to and from Tallinn, Estonia from Hamilton, Ontario, and a production allowance for material costs between $300 - $500 dollars.

    The Studio is situated on the top floor of Tallinn Art Hall, built in 1934.  The building is a major centre of Estonian art life and is located close to the old town of Tallinn, Europe’s best preserved medieval city.  In addition to the Tallinn Art Hall, the building contains several artists’ studios, the office of the Estonian Artists’ Association, Estonian Centre for Contemporary Arts, an art supply shop, art galleries, etc.  In the basement there is KuKu Club and on the first floor KuKu Café, both popular meeting places for local artists.

    The studio, containing working space and accommodation on two levels, is about 50 m2, (538 sq. ft.) and has a bathroom,shower, WC and sink.

    Who should apply?

    This program targets exceptionally talented mid-level career Canadian artists residing in Hamilton, ON, who demonstrate the potential to make a significant contribution to the legacy of the arts in Canada.


    To be eligible for consideration, applicants must: 

    • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Hamilton
    • Demonstrate a strong personal and artistic connection to Hamilton
    • Have completed formal training in visual arts
    • Demonstrate commitment to the career of a professional visual artist by having practiced professionally in their field for a minimum of ten years, produced an independent body of work, and held at least two public exhibitions in a professional context
    • Demonstrate they are able to work independently
    • Be able to communicate effectively in English
    • Be willing to give at least two (2) artists talks on their art, career and influences 
    • Become a member of the Hamilton Arts Council on or before the submission deadline date.


    Application Requirements

    1. Cover letter (500 words): Describe your work and connection to Hamilton. Describe your career goals, plans for future development and learning, why you wish to be considered for this program, and what impact it could have on your artistic practice.
    2. Artist statement (500 words): Describe the conceptual basis of your artistic practice and frame your work within a larger context. 
    3. Bio/project summary (100 words each): On a single page, provide a brief biography and a summary of your proposed project. These summaries will be used as a narrative for administrative and public use.
    4. Detailed project proposal and timeline (500 words): Outline your execution plan for the proposed project including a week to week timeline, description of medium(s) used, explanation of your specialized field of knowledge of these mediums, any specific processes, equipment and assistance required.
    5. Resource requests: List all requests for supplies and materials required to create your work.
    6. Portfolio: Upload five samples of your artistic work. Please include description of work, title, date created, mediums, and size. We require graphic files at 72 dpi to be attached to the email for the application.
    7. Resumé: Please outline your education and related experience
    8. References: Please provide the name, occupation/title, and contact information of two references that will each submit a letter of support on your behalf should you be shortlisted for the program.

    Please Send your completed application by email to:  Attention: European Residency by Email: on or before March 2, 2018 - No telephone inquiries please.

  • Throwback Thursday - Arts Beat February 2018 - 1

    January 29, 2018 by Stephen Near


    50 Years - 1941-1991 - Royal Botanical Gardens

    February 1991



    Hamilton-Wentworth has, in the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), a jewel of unparalleled price.

    Unparalleled because the value of gardens, parklands, and wildlife sanctuaries can only continue to increase. Land is the one commodity that is not being made any more. On the contrary, much of what there is being inevitably lost to the pressure of an expanding city and ever more popular municipality.

    The RBG is one of the biggest botanic gardens in the world, 2,700 acres in extent. That it exists at all is a tribute to Hamilton’s City Fathers of the 1930’s and to all those professionals and volunteers at the RBG who have ensured its continuity by establishing its international reputation. RBG celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and we look to the Regions  and the Provincial Government to ensure that its work and its reputation progresses with equal vigour for the next half century.

    This is a particularly opportune moment. At no time in the recorded history of this planet have the concerns of the environment been seen to be also the concerns of humankind. And, central to these environmental concerns is the world of plants: plants feed us, clothe us, provide materials for our shelter and, above all, by their mere existence, make animal and human life possible. Sophisticated man in a post-industrial society is as dependent on plants as were out prehistoric hunter-gatherer forebears with one significant addition.

    That is our use of the natural world and the plants that clothe it for our spiritual and aesthetic needs. Again, never has this been more necessary.

    The mandate of a botanic garden, and RBG in particular, fulfils all of these aspects by its scientific research, its educational programmes and by the beauty of its cultivated gardens and maintained natural areas. It is an unrivalled resource for residents of this municipality because it is in our very midst.

    But, it must be emphasized, RBG is an autonomous institution, with its own Act of Legislature - a provincial body, just as Ontario has no other botanic garden. Yet, there is a great danger locally of its being taken for granted, as if it were merely another public park, albeit, a big one (RBG is three-and-a-half times the size of Central Park, New York!). My majoy vision for RBG is coupled with my vision for Hamilton-Wentworth: that all parts of the community should take pride in RBG’s uniqueness and hence, take pride in what is here. No other community in Canada has this resource. Not even Toronto! In economic terms, combined with Hamilton Wentworth’s location and its other cultural attractions, (Hamilton place is best hall in the Province, Dundurn the best house, for 2 miles York Boulevard is the best entrance to Canadian city and so on), RBG brings in significant tourist dollars. At last this year, with the institution of visitor fees, RBG itself stands to gain from tourism.

    Paterson, Alan. “50 Years - Royal Botaniacal Gardens - 1941 - 1991” Arts Beat, vol. 4, no. 5, Feb 1991, p. 17.


  • Throwback Thursday - Arts Beat January 2018 - 4

    January 22, 2018 by Stephen Near


    Arts Hazards Follow-Up - Dirty Old Masters May Have Had Their Fingers in the Pot

    January 1990

    Craven, David. Aimless. 1975. Art Gallery of Hamilton. Virtual Museum. Online. January 2018.


    Quick - what did Rubens, Renoir, Dufy and Klee have in common?

    By Ted Rickard, Director of Health and Safety, OCA

    You probably will not have guessed that these painters may all have been poisoned by their art materials. So claims a research paper published recently by The Lancet, the prestigious publication of the British Medical Association (see footnote 1).

    Rubens, Renoir and Dufy suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, while Klee had progressive systemic sclerosis. The authors of the study analyzed randomly selected paintings of these old masters and compared them to paintings of contemporaries who did not suffer such health problems. They found that the four “used significantly more bright and clear colours based on toxic heavy metals and fewer earth colours containing harmless iron carbon compounds. These four painters may have been heavily exposed to mercury sulphide, cadmium sulphide, arsenic sulphide, lead, antimony, cobalt, manganese and chromium, the metals of the bright and clear colours, and exposure to these metals may be of importance in the development of inflammatory rheumatic diseases.”

    Then, as now, poor artists tended to live and cook in the same space in which they painted, and their food could easily have been contaminated by their paint pigments. Many of these were ground by hand in powder form, and ingesting or inhaling toxic powders are very efficient ways of poisoning oneself over a long period. Nothing was known about the dangers of certain pigments, and some artists were very sloppy in their habits. Furthermore, a heating stove would often be fed with paint-soaked rags and old paintings, thus producing toxic fumes from the pigments. The researchers point out that “Artists today ues less toxic pigments, tubes of paint carry warning labels and artists know that they should not lick brushes or burn colours indoors.

    This statement may be true for the researchers’ native Denmark, but I wonder whether it is valid in Canada. There are still a number of toxic pigments on the market today, tubes of paint do not always have warnings (and who reads fine print anyway?). Most artists have at some time licked their brushes or pointed them with their lips - haven’t you?

    While you may be using toxic pigments, there is no reason to panic if you are reasonably certain that you are keeping them out of your body. Stop and think about your studio practices, the amount of paint on your fingers after a day’s work, and whether you habitually put your fingers or brushes in your mouth. Realize that dusts and powders can be inhaled easily, as can mists from airbrushes and sprays. You can also add small but significant amounts of unexpected “flavouring” to whatever you eat, drink, or smoke if you persist in doing it in your studio, or with dirty fingers.

    Take a look at your collection of colours, read the labels carefully, and compare them to the table of toxic pigments below. Names and ingredients will vary sometimes and it is not intended to be a definitive list. For example, automobile paints and canvas primers also contain highly toxic lead pigments. However, when used with common sense and good housekeeping habits none of these materials should cause you problems: just keep them out of your body. The health hazards of solvents are an entirely different problem.

    Toxic Paint Pigments

    Alternative names are listed after the common name with the major active ingredients in parentheses. This table is adapted from McCann’s Artist Beware (footnote 2) from which more information on most of these pigments can be obtained.


    •  Antimony White (barium sulphate, antimony trioxide)


    • Emerald Green/Paris Green (copper acetoarsenite)

    Cadmium -  all pigments containing cadmium


    • Carbon Black/Lamp Black

    Chromium     - all pigments containing chromium including:

    • Zinc Yellow (zinc chromate)
    • - Strontium Yellow (strontium chromate)
    • - Barium Yellow (barium chromate)
    • - Lemon Yellow (barium or strontium chromate)
    • - Chromium Oxide Green (chromic oxide)
    • - Molybdate Orange (lead chromate, lead molybdate and lead sulphate)
    • - Viridian (hydrous chromic oxide)


    • Cobalt Violet (cobalt phosphate)
    •  Cobalt Violet (cobalt arsenate)
    • Cobalt Blue/ Thenard’s Blue (cobalt and aluminum oxide)
    • Cobalt Green (cobalt and zinc oxides)


    • Phthalocyanine Blue/Thalo Blue/Cyan Blue (copper phthalocyanine)
    • Phthalocyanine Green/Thalo Green/Cyan Green(copper phthalocyanine)
    • Scheele’s Green (copper arsenite)


    • All pigments containing lead, including Chrome Green, Milori Green (lead chromate, ferric ferrocyanide)
    • Chrome Orange (lead chromate)
    • Chrome Yellow/Primrose (lead chromate)
    • Flake White/White Lead/Cremnitz White (basic lead carbonate and zinc oxide)
    • Mixed White (basic lead carbonate and zinc oxide)
    • True Naples Yellow (lead antimonate)


    • Manganese Blue (barium manganate and barium sulphate)
    • Manganese Violet (manganese ammonium phosphate)
    • Burnt Umber (manganese dioxide)
    • Raw Umber (clay, iron, manganese silicates and oxides)
    • Mars Brown (manganese dioxide)


    • Vermilion/Cinnabar (mercuric sulphide)
    • Cadmium Vermilion Red (cadmium mercuric sulphide)


    • Lithopone (barium sulphate, zinc oxide, zinc sulphide)


    Pigments with Slight or No Significant Hazards

    Alizarin Crimson/Rose Madder
    Alumina (aluminum hydrate, aluminum oxide)
    Barium White/Blanc Fixe (barium sulphide)
    Burnt Sienna (iron oxides)
    Chalk (calcium carbonate)
    English Red/ Light Red (iron oxides)
    Indian Red (iron oxides)
    Ivory Black (charred animal bones)
    Mars Black (iron oxide)
    Mars Orange (iron and aluminum oxides)
    Mars Red (iron oxide)
    Mars Violet (iron oxide)
    Mars Yellow (iron oxide)
    Prussian Blue/Paris Blue/Berlin Blue/Iron Blue (ferric ferrocyanide)
    Raw Sienna (clay with iron and aluminum oxides)
    Titanium Oxide/Titanium White (titanium dioxide)
    Ultramarine Blue (sodium and aluminum silicate with sulphur)
    Ultramarine Red/Violet (sodium and aluminum silicate with sulphur)
    Venetian Red/Terra Rosa (iron oxides)
    Yellow Ochre (iron oxide)
    Zinc White/Chinese White (zinc oxide)



    1. Lisbet Milling Pedersen and Henrick Permin. “Rheumatic Disease, Heavy Metal Pigments, and the Great Masters.” The Lancet (June 4, 1988): 1267-1

    2. Michael McCann. Artist Beware. New York: Watson-Cuptill, 1979

    This article reprinted with permission from the spring 29189 issue The Ontario College of Art Alumnus magazine.


    Rickard, Ted. “Art Hazards Follow-Up - Dirty Old Masters May Have Had Their Fingers in the Pot.” Arts Beat, vol. 3, no. 4, Dec. ‘89 -Jan.1990, p. 13.

  • Throwback Thursday - Arts Beat January 2018 - 3

    January 15, 2018 by Stephen Near


    ArtsBeat Throwback Thursday

    Poems by Margaret Saunders

    January 1995

    Passing Season

    The summer sails
    of Lake Huron have set

    The lonely pier
    has half-wandered
    into shore

    Refreshment stalls
    have stopped yawning -
    have shuttered themselves
    against a cold wind

    The beach echoes those gone
    to hunch the city’s
    winter madness

    And shadowing the distance
    circling gulls lament
    the passing season

    Margaret Saunders 1994



    Grand Canyon
    she takes out her camera
    asks him to back up

    Margaret Saunders 1994


    Margaret Saunders (Scotland 1926 – Hamilton, Ontario 2005). Ms Saunders adopted Ontario in her twenties. She contributed to the development of haiku in the eighties by founding the quarterly WEE Giant and later the biannual Daybreak. She also published three collections of haiku, notably, A Flock of Blackbirds (1979) with Unfinished Monument Press.


    Saunders, Margaret. “Passing Season & Senyru”.” Arts Beat, vol. 7, no. 4, Dec. ‘94 -Jan.1995, p. 5.

    Belleau, Janick , “Haiku Women Pioneers from Sea to Sea - (1928-1985) -- Des Pionnieres du Haiku d'un Ocean a l'autre (1928 - 1985),” The Haiku Foundation Digital Library, accessed January 8, 2018,