A couple weeks ago I met up with a few friends to partake in a Hamilton tradition, the James Street North Art Crawl. I’ve attended Art Crawl since I was in highschool and it has always been one of my favourite things to do in the summer – not so much in the freezing snow – but this night was probably the best yet!
The James North Art Crawl is a street festival that focuses on the celebration of art and local businesses. On the second Friday of every month, art galleries along James Street North open up their doors to welcome the public inside to view their exhibitions free of charge. Apart from the established galleries, live art exhibitions “pop up” on the street and artists of all ages and backgrounds set up stalls to sell their work. You can even participate in community projects where you can paint on the sidewalk or even the walls of an old building.
While you wander down the street you can visit local shops and restaurants and some even have sales for just that night. My friends and I decided to have dinner at one of our favourite spots, Charred, a rotisserie chicken house, and I got the amazing piri piri chicken poutine. Once we were completely stuffed we headed out to check out a few of the vendors.
Art Crawl is an experience, walking around you are thrown into an intense atmosphere that surrounds you in excitement and an energy of creativity. There are hundreds of people on one small street, all with individual identities and opinions on art and together they help to create a familial feeling. Art Crawl brings everyone together to support and celebrate the community in which we live, it really is quite magical. One of my favourite places to immerse myself in this feeling is the James North General Store with their secret art gallery in an alley behind their shop.
Live music is a must for Art Crawl and there is definitely no shortage, I spotted at least 6 different live bands not to mention the DJ’s and music playing from shops.
We walked around for a couple of hours and then ended up at the old Tivoli Theatre, which is now a community garden of sorts. As the sun started to go down we watched a dance off and shopped for vintage treats in an old camper van before topping the night off with a fire dance!
Art Crawl is one of my favourite events in Hamilton and it definitely sets us apart from other cities. As a community we have grown to appreciate creative arts and it is such a beautiful thing to be able to participate in. I always have such an amazing time and I can’t wait until next month!