• NEW Cotton Factory Artist in Residence Recipients Announced!

    November 2, 2018 by Stephen Near

    The Hamilton Arts Council is pleased to announce artists Nick La Rocca and Keira McArthur as the recipients of the Hamilton Arts Council’s newest Cotton Factory Artist in Residence Program taking place from December 2018 to February 2019.

    The Artist-In-Residence Program is a partnership between the Hamilton Arts Council and The Cotton Factory. It is a opportunity for emerging and mid-career artists to focus on their practice. Participating artists are encouraged to use their time to experiment and develop new ideas and skills in addition to forming ties with fellow artists in residence and The Cotton Factory creative community. The participating artists are invited to present their work during the final week of the residency.

    We are also excited to also announce a new partnership with the Women’s Art Association who have generously donated a $250 bursary, in support of their mandate and mission statement, Working to Advance Women in Art.  The bursary will be awarded to Keira McArthur to be put towards materials.

    Nick La Rocca is an award-winning artist and illustrator from Hamilton interested in sequential, conceptual, and experimental art. He graduated from Sheridan College and now works as a fine artist and freelance illustrator. Nick has had solo and group exhibitions in Hamilton, Oakville, Mississauga, and Toronto. Living his entire life in Hamilton, Nick enjoys encoding Hamilton subject matter and mythology into his work.

    Keira McArthur is a visual artist and performer whose exhibitions include interactive performance art, live music, and a synthesized re-interpretation of the whole process in book form. She has been in solo and group exhibitions across Ontario and been trained at such institutions as Wilfrid Laurier University, OAC/Royal Conservatory, Sheridan College, York University, and the Mary Schneider School of Fine Arts.

    Find out more about our new Residency program and some of the success stories that have come out of the artists involved HERE.

    Stay tuned to our website for the next call for submissions and download the PRESS RELEASE.

  • Call for Curators and Writers - Building Cultural Legacies

    October 26, 2018 by Stephen Near

    The Hamilton Arts Council is pleased to announce this call for curators/writers to produce feature sections to be included in the Building Cultural Legacies website.

    Building Cultural Legacies (BCL) overview:

    The arts have been a significant force in the shaping of Hamilton. Its current vibrancy owes much to the efforts of those who came before us, and yet this history is at risk of being lost or forgotten as individuals who lived and worked through these decades age and pass on. The Building Cultural Legacies: Visual Art digital storytelling website aims to build community knowledge, understanding, and pride, by engaging citizens from different communities and generations in the sharing of knowledge about the history of the Visual Arts in Hamilton.

    Key Project Goals:

    • To capture and preserve individual stories related to Hamilton’s visual arts history
    • To create additional public engagement and awareness of Hamilton’s rich artistic history          
    • To understand the pivotal role of visual art throughout the City of Hamilton’s history
    • To create digital stories to preserve and make accessible Hamilton’s local history
    • To ensure that stories from the Hamilton community are representative, inclusive and diverse.


    There are Three (3) opportunities in total:

    1) Call for Indigenous curators, artists, collectives, writers, researchers, and others interested in providing innovative research and critical discourses on Indigenous arts and culture in the Hamilton region between 1950 and 1999. The selected applicant(s) will engage with Indigenous-led projects and highlight their context within the visual arts during this period. The details of the research question to be determined by the curator. The final work, which can include still images, audio, video, links, and text, will be included as a feature section within the website.

    2) Call for curators, artists, collectives, writers, and researchers of colour to provide engaging research and critical discourses on the history of racialized artists in the Hamilton region between 1950 and 1999. The selected applicant(s) will work to give voice and to showcase ideas from underrepresented artists in Hamilton. The details of the research question to be determined by the curator. The final work, which can include still images, audio, video, links, and text, will be included as a feature section within the website.

    3) Call for curators, artists, collectives, writers, and researchers to provide engaging research and critical discourses on the history of LGBTQ artists in the Hamilton region between 1950 and 1999. The selected applicant(s) will work to give voice and context in showcasing ideas from this specific community of artists in Hamilton during these times. The details of the research question to be determined by the curator. The final work, which can include still images, audio, video, links, and text, will be included as a feature section within the website.

    The selected applicant(s) will receive a curatorial fee of $1500 for development of written and visual components for this featured section. Each selected applicant will also receive administrative and technical support from the Hamilton Arts Council as well as support from the Hamilton Public libraries Local History and Archives department.

    • Deadline for Submissions: Nov 30th. Midnight. 2018
    • Selected curators/writers will be notified: Dec14th, 2018
    • Completed projects due: March 15th. Midnight. 2019


    Materials Required for Proposal:

    • Brief letter of introduction including a brief curatorial vision of how you will pursue this project.
    • Biographies of Curator(s) (max 300 words) and CVs (max 2 pages).
    • Images/links to completed exhibitions/projects (max 5 total) that convey an impression of your curatorial approaches, achievements, and interests.
    • Image resolution of 72 dpi is recommended.

    Incomplete submissions will not be considered.


    Please address any questions to

    We define the term Curator to mean any person or group that is critically engaged in curatorial practice — meaning here the research, development, writing, design, and production of original exhibitions and other projects — including independent curators, artist-curators, curatorial teams, curators at institutions and other arts organizations, and more.

    This project is supported in part by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Hamilton Public Library

  • Cotton Factory Residency Success Stories

    October 5, 2018 by Stephen Near

    Earlier this year, the Hamilton Arts Council partnered with The Cotton Factory to host a series of year-round artist residencies. The Cotton Factory generously agreed to donate a studio space and the Hamilton Arts Council, would facilitate an artist-in-residence program. This partnership has providing a valuable opportunity for local artists from a wide range of disciplines and career levels, the unique residency program exists to build the practice of these artists and engage them with the flourishing hub of creative activity at the Cotton Factory. Over the past year, the Residency has hosted a handful of accomplished artists who have enriched their practice and furthered their careers in some key ways.

    Hamilton-based painter Kristofir Dean remarked that "the residency was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed working outside of my home studio over the summer." Dean also spoke about the community of creative individual at the Cotton Factory as "a stimulating aspect of working in the space... socializing with other artists and creatives became part of a regular residency day". It wasn't something he consistently was able to experience when he was working at his home studio and that was definitely a plus when it came to the Cotton Factory studio.

    Dean made a splash with his work on social media, too. In posting updates on Instagram, he caught the attention of a new Montreal-based gallery called Gallerie Bloom and secured a showing with them. And, he has just confirmed a featured exhibition in Vancouver at Ian Tan Gallery after posting installation shots from a recent talk he gave regarding the Residency. In this way, working at the Cotton Factory has been instrumental in Dean's outreach to curators across Canada which has been part of the goal of this initiative.

    For quilter and an artist Tania Denyer, being a part of the Cotton Factory Residency was a validating and pivotal change in her career as an artist. "I can now say “career as an artist” in reference to myself," says Denyer, "without feeling like a fraud." Before the program, Denyer describes she had been defining herself as single, working mother. "Of course I made things. I have always made things but to call them art? To take that a step further and call myself an artist? That was crazy talk."

    The pivotal change happened when she attended one of the Hamilton Arts Council's Art Bus Studio Tours. "Meeting Annette and visiting Albright Knox, where I had last been when I was 16 was the beginning of the shift. Annette told me about the [Cotton Factory Residency] program and encouraged me to apply. In fact her last word as I left the bus was "Apply!" Her daughter added fuel to fire when, on the way home, she said to Denier "you're are going to apply right?"

    Denier stresses the importance of having a "dedicated space to create". Calling it transformative, Denier says, "To be somewhere that I was known as an artist, that I did not have to explain that yes I make art, was the key.  If others saw me as an artist then it was only a matter of time before I did too."

    The Cotton Factory Residency hasn't just opened doors at other galleries or inspired artists to dig deeper into their practice. Indeed, for visual artists Danielle Roberts, the Residency has been key to accessing additional funding and opportunities that might never have been possible before. During her time at the Cotton Factory, Roberts was selected as one of the recipients of the Dean Collection 20 Award.

    The Dean Collection was founded by Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys as a contemporary, family art collection focused on the support of living artists. Supporting artists and cultural visionaries around the globe, the Dean Collection gives 20 artists from anywhere in the world $5,000 each to pursue their art however they wanted. The grants are unrestricted but there’s incentive for the winners to do something ambitious with their money. Roberts recalls there were "over 5000 applicants and a team of curators choosing the candidates"

    She says, "the grant is funding for me to complete the work I had proposed to do during my Residency and to host an exhibition of that work upon completion." Local audiences will get a chance to see this work in November when it opens at HAVN on Barton Street. "Right now", she says, "I'm in the process of contacting media outlets to get the word out."

    With space is now becoming a commodity in Hamilton, especially for artists, the establishment of a consistent and supportive residency for Hamilton artists speaks to the core of the HAC’s mission statement. With success stories like these, we’re confident that the Cotton Factory Residency is the kind of winning partnership that will continue and should be pursued by other arts organizations in this community.

    The next Artist-In-Residency Application is due on October 15, 2018. We are excited to announce that the Women’s Arts Association will be joining us in the offering of a $250.00 bursary for a woman chosen in one of the next jury selections.


  • Culture Guide 2018-19 Events Submissions Call!

    July 12, 2018 by Stephen Near

    The Hamilton Arts Council Culture Guide celebrates what it means to really live and play in Hamilton by reflecting our city’s distinct character and culture. Beautiful full-colour pages of original photography, artwork and feature articles will inspire and entertain
    readers with engaging coverage of Hamilton’s unique artistic landscape.

    This year's Guide will mark an important milestone as we mark our fifth anniversary so we're hard at work on several exciting features including a larger design and a more content-driven format to better represent the scope of the arts in the Hamilton. We'll also include original editorial articles highlighting what’s new and notable in the local arts scene as well as profiles on prominent and emerging artists.

    As before, the Guide will also feature a handy Culture Calendar highlighting major festivals, performances and productions for the coming year and that's where you come in. We're asking our members to submit their event listings for the 2018-19 Culture Guide to be added to the popular Culture Calendar at the back of the publication.


    To have your event added, your Hamilton Arts Council membership must be in good standing.

    (renew your membership by contacting or phone at 905-481-3218)

    EVENTS MUST TAKE PLACE BETWEEN: Sept 2018 - Aug 2019

    Please submit your event listings via emai or add them to the Google Form by July 27, 2018 (any listings received past this date, will not be published)


    Don't miss your chance to be part of this year's Hamilton Arts Council Culture Guide. We look forward to hearing from you and learning about your exciting programming this year


    July 3, 2018 by Annette Paiement

    Taillin is a coastal town in Estonia with a population of 413,782 people. The Republic of Estonia has been an independent state since 1918, shortly interrupted by a half a century long Soviet occupation after World War II. In 1991, Estonia’s independence was restored.

    On June 11, 2018, I arrived in Tallinn where I met up with Rob Zeidler from the Cotton Factory, Hamilton, Ontario and Elin Kard, Vice-President and founding member of the Estonian Artists’ Association.

    The Hamilton Arts Council, in partnership with The Cotton Factory and the Estonian Artists’ Association have come together to build an artist exchange and residency program.

       Dragon | Draakoni Gallery













    An artist and curator in her own right, Elin Kard is the founding member of EKKM (Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia), teaches at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn and curates for EKL gallery; Horse Head Gallery & the Dragon Gallery, in Tallinn.

    Our visit to Taillon was a step towards building relations between our respective organizations, and an effort to set the stage for the Canada/Estonia Artist Exchange taking place in October, 2018. 


    We were fortunate to have Kard as our tour guide for much of the day, she took us to visit the many galleries in the Old City. Kard is involved with the Tallinn Art Hall, where we attended the 18th Annual Exhibition of the Estonian Artists’ Association’s annual juried show “Jubilee Spring 2018”.

    The exhibition was dedicated to Estonia’s centenary and the 75th anniversary of the Estonian Artists’ Association.

    We could not have received a better introduction to the beauty of Tallinn. The day was filled with art, walks through the Old City, conversation, and stories about history, art and culture.    

    Jubilee Spring 2018 was sponsored by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Tallinn Culture Department and Estonia 100, and featured the artworks of 107 contemporary Estonian artists. This provided us with an overview of many of the artists currently participating in the Estonian art scene.

    MAARIT MURKA (1981) Mindroom 9, Oil on canvas, 100 x 130 x 20 cm, 2017

    Although it was the 18th spring show, it was the first time the Estonian Artists’ Association installed and presented works in the same manner as an art fair and featured the works of artists at varying career levels. 

    Kard explained that over the past 2-3 years there has been a trend with artists turning towards traditional drawing and graphic works. The resurgence of traditional techniques in drawing, painting and printmaking was evident in many of the works on view.

    “There is a move toward manual skills, leaving a trace of one’s hand. Less artists are working with video, desiring a more direct connection with the media they are working with.” explained Kard.

    This year’s exhibition marks the first time works displayed were listed for sale. This was done in an effort to encourage a new generation of art collectors.

    REIN MAGAR (1944) Time and Potatoes, Acrylic, watercolour, 145 x 95 cm, 2018

    “During the Soviet period, artists made art on a commissioned basis, galleries did not sell artist works.  And subsequently, galleries did not pay the artists.”

    LAURi, 100, Installation, 550 x 350 cm, 2018


    In 2011, as Vice President of The Estonian Artists’ Union, Kard led the way in an unprecedented move to compensate artists who exhibit artworks. This decision was made in an effort to make artists fees self-explanatory as is the case in other areas of culture.

    PEETER LAURITS, Rain News, Invisibly Rays, Diasec acrylic, 2017

    When asked about artists creating an income through the sale of limited edition prints, Kard explained this concept is currently unheard of in the Estonian art scene and considered unprofessional.  

    MARKO MAETAMM, I ONLY WANTED TO EXPRESS MYSELF, blue ball point pen on paper, 24x29cm, 2017

    MARKO MAETAMM, LION AND MAN, plastic, acrylic paint, 17 x 10x 9 (h) cm, 2016


    In Canada, artists prints are an affordable way for people to collect works of art. It also provides an artist with an additional source of  revenue for their work.

    TOOMAS KUUSING (1976), Poor Things Freeze on the Treetops, Linocut, 65 x 73 cm, 2018 (detail)

    Today the Association supports itself with the rental of artist live/work studios, commissioned art sales and memberships.

    After viewing exhibitions in the Old Town galleries, we walked to EKKM. (EKKM is an abbreviation for Eesti Kaasaegne Kunsti Muuseum meaning Estonia Contemporary Art Museum.) The Gallery is situated in the former offices for the Tallinn Heating Plant.

    It began as a squat in 2006 and has since become a not-for-profit, artist-run/do-it-yourself initiative.  

    The 17th Tallinn Print Triennial celebrated a half a century of traditional printmaking.  The exhibition examined the concept, “triennial”; how it plays in cultural history and the theme of tradition in the broader sense. Non-traditionalism in the art process of Estonia and other Baltic countries was integrated.

    There was so much to take in, and to process. The history of EKKM was as interesting to me as were all of the exhibitions presented in the gallery spaces and the architecture of the space.

    Our day ended with an exhibition opening by Liisi Eelmaa - Õrnalt õhus / Gently in the Air, at Hobusepea Gallery.  The event was sponsored by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and Estonian Ministry of Culture. 

    It would be the first of many exhibition openings I would visit in the coming weeks.