February 26, 2018 by Stephen Near


    The Internet” New Medium or Shear Madness?
    March 2001

    Are you online? Will something be passing you by if you’re not? It’s an anxiety that’s sweeping into the art scene especially when we we hear of its potential as the new media, the new form of international communication, and the new revolution. What can the Internet do for artists (or vice versa)? Many artists claim the technology is out of their realm of expertise and don’t know how to benefit from it. Those involved in Website design and distribution claim artists in communities like Hamilton aren’t interested. Others claim the Internet can revolutionize our perception of art and creative expression. WHat does it all mean? An exploration into the issue can be summarized by two trendy words: making and medium.

    For most artists open to new technologies, the Web has a practical use. It is a place to post images of art. Theoretically, the Internet can give you international exposure and it can reduce the cost of sending out portfolios or slides. Of course, there are some disadvantages. Currently, images on the net are no more than 70 dpi and that doesn’t always do justice to the work. Also, many curators haven’t embraced this method of Viewing. You’ll still need shoot slides. But you also need sales, and this seems to be the number one motivator for everyone to explore Internet possibilities. There are several organizations or people who specialize in getting artists on the Internet and often their offers come with the suggestion of income. Does this work? Do people actually buy art on the Internet?

    The answer seems to be not often, judging from Martin Nye’s experience. Nye is a painter living in Dundas who inherited the much-publicized Website. from his sone who expanded the project from a one-site city art Website based in Guelph, to a company responsible for so many art-in-various cities across the world. Nye has since turned the project into a non-profit organization dedicated to helping artists promote themselves on the internet. Curently, he has several sites active including the original;,, and several others including a Seattle-based site and one in London, England called

    Despite the international focus of the entire project, each site is community specific and Nye is continually looking for people interested, on a volunteer-basis, in running each of the 250 registered city sites. Artists who wish to be on a site pay $30 a year membership that includes three scanned images. Most of the works on the sites are original pieces, and most are paintings. But do any of the works sell through the Internet?

    “Not really” Nye states, “but it’s difficult to sell art anywhere. But some people bring the site and it brings them into the physical gallery. Most people want to see the actual pieces they are buying before they commit to purchasing them.”

    Nye also runs the Sunset Gallery on Sunset Avenue in Hamilton. Only artists who are members of art-in-hamilton Website may show at the actual gallery and this is one way he’s been able to attract artists onto his site. He explains that the Internet sites have become a PR tool to entice people to go to an artist studio in their area. “We’d prefer to get rid of the sales part altogether,” he states, “and channel people to where they should go - directly to the artist.”

    The sentiments are echoed  by Evelyn Myrie who runs the Eman Gallery in Hamilton. Her gallery specializes in African art, much of which is displayed on the Website: . She confesses that even though her gallery’s website is equipped for selling over the Internet, few sales are cone this way. “Our site was put up for credibility,” she states. “People take you more seriously and perceive you as a serious business and not a hobby [when you have an Internet site].” She says she has had some international queries about the artwork, but mainly the site is a PR tool designed to attract people from Southern Ontario to come into her Hamilton-based gallery. So predictable, we’ve discovered it’s hard to sell art, in Hamilton and on the Internet. For individual artists, cyberspace might be little more than another place to document work. Or is it? What about the Internet as art?

    The Medium
    More exciting is the potential for the Internet to be used as an artistic medium. Much like the difference between home movies of family gatherings and independent video art, Internet art utilizes the same technology - HTML coding and Javascript - as commercial Website but with a completely different intent. Internet art is supposed to be experienced as art - the site created is a cerebral creative experience meant to engage and stimulate the viewer, not simply to sell or promote anything. However, it’s a very new medium and one with a huge learning curve. There is no one site that can lead you to a plethora of works and few artists are exploring this medium in Hamilton.

    Montreal, Vancouver and to some extent Toronto appear to be the hub of this emerging medium - in Canada anyway, according to Mary Cross the programme director at Ed Video Media Arts Centre in Guelph and curator of digital me, a year-long exhibition of digital and Internet-based art.

    Cross states that she sees an amazing potential for the medium, particularly because the Internet is able to reach international audiences. “Now, it’s who can make it to your show [that gets to see your work], she states. “On the net, it’s who can surf your site.” In addition, she adds, what is unique about Internet rt is its interactive aspect. “Often viewers can add and actually participate in the development of the work.” That said the medium imposes a new set of challenges for traditional artists. In addition to being willing to invest the time in learning coding, artists wishing to work in digital must be willing to let go of some conventional notions of artistic expression. Web artists are aware that not only is the audience able to manipulate their works to varying degrees, but also rarely are the works experienced the same way twice. “Often, viewers are not flipping pages chronologically or watching a video from beginning to end,” Cross explains. “But they are choosing what sequence they want to look at the work. The meaning doesn’t evolve linearly but builds onto itself.”

    Images, sound and definitely text are currently components of digital art works, but how each viewer experiences each work varies and changes. This might explain why the medium is more likely to be embraced by performance artists than artists currently working in traditional mediums, or even video. Granted, the potential for any new medium is exciting, vast, even scary and highly criticized. But more than anything, perhaps what is needed now on the Internet is a bit of self-reflection, and this is exactly what art is equipped to go. Whether we like it or not, technology and the Internet has exploded into a powerful cultural force. It’s time we began to utilize the medium to ask some serious questions about the nature of technology itself.

    That is the beginning. In February, Ed video is presenting an Internet-based art show called Pace Maker. The show will utilize Internet technology to explore the nature of human relationships. The Internet, after all, is a medium we are using more and more as a means of relating, to each other, to society, and, eventually, to art. Maybe it’s time art had a say in the process.

    Telenko, Sherri. “The Internet: New Medium or Shear Madness?” Arts Beat, vol. 13 , no. 5, February - March 2001, p. 8






    February 12, 2018 by Stephen Near


    Canadian Independent Art Video the Next Frontier?
    February 2001

    The True North Strong and Free - and we’ve got it all on tape

    At a time when survivor and Temptation Island dominate television screens, it is easy to forget that video can also be art. But, as long as the medium has existed, there have been artists who have used it as an expressive tool. Against the onslaught of commercial television, video as art may be seen as peripheral, but that has not kept artists from exploring its potential as an art form.

    Not concerned with the then, poor image quality, artists’ use of video appeared alongside, and under the influence of, conceptual art of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Video’s placement as accessible technology and the immediacy of the cultural product it generated made it especially attractive to artists. In the years that followed the form underwent considerable change and was further influenced by concerns of personal narrative, drama, and social activism. In Canada, the network of artist-run centers has been the primary source of production and training for video artists. The existence of these centres has allowed for intense experimentation as well as access to expensive technologies. Unfortunately, for much of the last thirty years, artist-run centres were also the only places in which to see video art. In the last decade though, with the rise in popularity of film/video festivals, and increased participation of video within the wider art and cultural milieu, access to video art has increased.

    What makes working with video unique as an art form is that video artists deal with imagery taken from real life. Artists mediate this experience by interpreting and manipulating it. But at its core, it is a reflection of our world and our selves. A melding of the imaginative with the real gives video its intimacy, its power. Boundaries between high art and popular culture are rendered almost unrecognizable by the medium. It’s one of the reasons so many people have trouble seeing video as art. This clash of medium and message, so well hypothesized by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, continues to inform the interaction of video art and its viewers. “Any one of our new media,” he wrote, “is in a sense a new language, a new codification of experience.” Artists mediate this experience by interpreting and manipulating it, but at its core is a reflection of our world and our selves.

    Never before has memory and identity been so accessible in public domain. Video art, as opposed to the commercial nature of mainstream broadcast television, takes as its starting point the artists’ desire to create. Video tends to be an incredibly self-reflective medium, giving artists a previously unknown ability to direct their gaze at themselves. As well, the artist/machine relationship has also given cause for artists to turn their gaze toward our relationship with technology. This ironic, often sardonic treatment of television and mass media culture provides much of its humor.

    Identity too is played out visually and aesthetically. It is this personal and public gaze that characterizes much contemporary video art. It is also willing to take risks. And this includes risks for the artists personally, as they reveal intimate secrets about themselves, or politically, as they often risk offending or being censored. Ultimately, video art refuses to simply entertain.

    Compared to television, video is an ubiquitous presence in our lives. But the dominance of commercial network television has acted as a barrier to the viewing of video work as art. We have become so numbed to the formulas of commercial television production that is is hard for us to see beyond the narrow parameters of the mainstream broadcast format. Commercial broadcast television is seductive. We imagine that through television we can be anywhere, do anything and live vicariously through the lives portrayed there. Television is, despite many cultural critics’ statements to the contrary, an imaginative place. It does reside in a creative space, but it does so without respect to authorship or artistic intent. It becomes generic and homogenized. It is ‘memory-light’. Taste-less and less filling.

    Video art, however, forces the viewer to think and form opinions,  all without leaving room for commercials.


    Loft, Steve. “Canadian Independent Art Video The Next Frontier?” Arts Beat, vol. 13 , no. 5, February - March 2001, p. 9.


  • About ALERT

    February 8, 2018 by Claire Calnan

    Written by Micahel Kras & Sunil Puri

    ALERT (or, Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training) is a creative producing training program, hosted by the Hamilton Fringe, for young artists and administrators who aspire to be artistic leaders in Hamilton’s burgeoning cultural scene. Each year, a small pool of people is accepted into the program for intimate, hands-on training in a number of essential skills like grant writing, budgeting, community engagement, marketing & social media strategy, curation, fundraising, and more.

    For the past three years ALERT has brought together a diverse group of young people committed to making art in Hamilton. Presented here are the perspective and experience of two of this year’s members.  

    For Michael Kras it started in his third and final year of theatre school:

    I thought of myself as a Capital A Actor, making it through the whole conservatory training thing and preparing myself for what I was sure was going to be an immediate and fruitful career. But half of our final year of training wasn’t about technique anymore. It was about producing skills.

    We were told we’d need those skills. That the work wouldn’t always, or ever, come to us and we’d need to be prepared to make our own if we really wanted to keep doing this whole theatre thing after graduation. They were serious. I was dismissive. Of course I’d get hired out of school! I was a good actor and a good playwright, right? And good actors go to Stratford or Shaw Festival! Good playwrights get programmed by theatres of all sizes! FOREVER!

    Then I left school. And, surprise surprise, Shaw Festival wasn’t calling. Stratford didn’t mail me a contract. I found out it’s wicked difficult to get a theatre company to actually READ your play, let alone produce it. And all at once, I thought: “Damn. They were right. I’m gonna have to do some of this myself.”

    Sunil Puri’s relationship with theatre in the city began as a Fringe volunteer:

    I have always been interested by theatre, and by art in general but I do not have any professional artistic training.  While I had the opportunity to take a number of litterature classes in university that taught me to think deeply and critically, they did not give me any skills to produce my own form of creative expression.  

    I was first introduced to the Fringe Festival when I moved to Hamilton five years ago.  Looking to make new connections in what I considered then to be a “big city” I volunteered with as many cultural organisations as I could.  I was immediately struck by the community of excited and engaged artists that surrounded the festival, and the very capable leadership behind the production of the festival.  

    As I settled in the city I had the chance to work a number of administrative jobs for artists and arts organizations (including the Fringe Festival), all the while I hungered to create.  In partnership with a close friend, Jenny Vasquez, I began to put my creative ideas onto paper, but still lacked the skills and professional context to be able to confidently produce work.  

    That’s where ALERT comes in.

    Through the ALERT program a series of workshops are led by industry professionals and leaders in their respective fields. As a central, practical piece of this training, each member is tasked with heading a component of producing Frost Bites, the Hamilton Fringe’s site-specific sister festival that happens every winter. You not only leave with the theoretical training from workshops, but the practical skills learned and earned through working tangibly on a legitimate arts and culture event in the city. Furthermore, the program offers a place for each of the members to learn from one another’s diverse backgrounds and experiences.  

    Kras explains: When I studied at my particular theatre school, I didn’t realize at the time how lucky we were to get some producing and business training alongside our acting and creation work. In fact, my school is one of the only ones that actively teaches it. Many trained actors are shoved out of their conservatories with three years of technique worked into their bodies and voices, and told “Go!” without having the first clue where to start.

    From there, you face the reality of the theatre industry: you can have talent and drive to spare, but in an oversaturated and underfunded career field, major institutions only have so many resources and opportunities to give out. The reality is, if you want to work frequently in theatre, chances are you’ll have to make much of that work yourself.

    Frankly, in Hamilton, theatre has fallen way behind in the arts and culture boom. Programs like ALERT are there to train our city’s next generation of theatre professionals to help it catch up. It starts with working on Frost Bites (which is going to be loaded with awesome art invigorating Barton Village and you should come check it out), and, hopefully, moves beyond into the creation and nurturing of a robust professional theatre scene in our wonderful, scrappy city of Hamilton. We need a theatre scene that can allow artists to live here, make their art here, and actually make their living doing it.

    That’s a long time off, still. But the training ALERT offers to young artists who are planning to take the community by storm means that it’s far from impossible.


    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.