Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hamilton Just Got a Little Cooler

Design Annex, 
Art Gallery of Hamilton

James Street North, the emerging art district in Hamilton, just got a bit of street cred, and a lot of style.  The new Design Annex of the Art Gallery of Hamilton will open to the public on Saturday, July 7th, showcasing local and emerging artists, Canadian designers and edgy and beautiful things to buy.
It's a clean lean space in a heritage building, once a warehouse built in 1860, that was reserected by serendipity.  Tim  Potocic, founder of Sonic Unyon and the Supercrawl, knew of the building and dreamed of its potential, but couldn't afford personally such a big undertaking that the renovations would entail.

At the monthly Art Crawl, he was introduced to architect Bill Curran - "Tim, meet Bill - Bill, meet Tim - you two should talk".  They talked, discovered that they shared many of the same ideas and from that conversation, the purchase and renovation of 118 James Street North had its genesis.
Now it houses the offices of the CBC, as well as the new Design Annex.
"The Annex," explains Louise Dompierre, President and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, "is a new branch of the Art Gallery where people will be able to see experimental exhibitions and discover new products, many of which will be made by local artist and artisans."

It is a "Creativity Lab" where exhibitions will be mounted and intimate musical performances will be held. The Art + Design Store will feature products for home and office as well as rental art.

The inaugural Design Annex exhibition is a 30 foot exposed brick wall hung with poly curtains informed by the architecture of the building.  Created by the artists' collective WE-3, Grand Drape is comprised of curtains lasercut with a pattern inspired by the original tin ceiling.
I'm not crazy about it - looks a bit amateurish, particularly with the limpness of the plastic that allows the curtains to droop and thus makes the design problematic.  But I like the idea and the inspiration for it.
Have a look at it here, where Mayor Bob Bratina is delivering his welcome speach with the curtain as backdrop....
The works in the Design Annex shop are different and exciting, however, and this will be a perfect place to find gifts and design objects for the home that are unique.  This will also be a home for local artists and artisans to launch new works and for local and world music groups to perform.
It's a creative addition to the neighbourhood and one that will hopefully encourage more development on James.

Design Annex
Art Gallery of Hamilton
118 James Street North, Hamilton
Tuesday-Wednesday, 11 am-6pm
Thursday, 11 am-8pm
Friday, 11am-6pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10 am-5 pm
closed Monday
James Street North Art Crawl (2nd Friday of the month) 11 am -11pm.

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