‘Mini galleries’ of murals pop up around Hamilton for Concrete Canvas festival

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Published August 11, 2023 at 9:59 am

Burnt Toast is one of the artists featured at Concrete Canvas Fest in Hamilton. The event runs from 10 a.m. Aug. 11  to 10 p.m. on Aug. 13. COURTESY CONCRETE CANVAS FEST VIA FACEBOOK
Burnt Toast is one of the artists featured at Concrete Canvas Fest in Hamilton. The event runs from 10 a.m. Aug. 11  to 10 p.m. on Aug. 13. COURTESY CONCRETE CANVAS FEST VIA FACEBOOK

It all started as temporary wall art on the rooftop of Hamilton’s Jackson Square in 1995. 

Now, the Concrete Canvas Fest, which was founded by local artist Leon Robinson, has spread street art throughout the city.

Local and internationally acclaimed artists are painting murals live across the city while celebrating 50 years of hip hop, music, culture, and diversity at the Concrete Canvas festival this weekend.

The festival features break dancing, vendors and artist market, food trucks and a roster of live performances at Pier 4 Park at 64 Leander Dr. Some performers include Hamilton hip-hop artist and battlerap legend ARCANE and Toronto’s Alicia Cinnamon,  the only Canadian nominated for the “rising star” award at the Black Only Awards in Atlanta, Georgia this August. 

The event, supported by the City of Hamilton, runs from 10 a.m. Aug. 11  to 10 p.m. on Aug. 13.

In a similar format to Toronto’s NuitBlanche, the festival offers a self-guided tour using a map of the old murals and the new work that will be painted. This year, about 90 hand-picked artists will be creating their “collaborative and individual” graffiti and street art for people to see at 16 new locations throughout Hamilton.

“People are encouraged to walk around, check out neighbourhoods that they wouldn’t normally see, and just kind of explore the city,” said Scott McDonald, event coordinator and curator, in a phone interview with inthehammer.com. “Instead of having so many spread out in different areas, I’ve tried to create little pockets like little mini galleries of artists painting in small areas of the city.”

Wolfas will be creating her art at the Concrete Canvas festival this weekend in Hamilton. COURTEY CONCRETE CANVAS FEST VIA FACEBOOK

Wolfas will be creating her art at the Concrete Canvas festival this weekend in Hamilton. COURTESY CONCRETE CANVAS FEST VIA FACEBOOK

McDonald is an artist himself who has painted public art across the city.

“The community is interacting with artists and watching the artists paint it so they could feel a sense of ownership and pride in the murals that are being posted up in the city,” he said. “And it’s also to try and inspire younger kids to see how the process works, watch the artists in action.”

Those who prefer a guide and want to ride their bikes can join the Everyone Rides group, which will be doing a Concrete Canvas Mural Ride on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon. They will meet at the Corktown Park Bike Share Hub. The ride will be 12 to 15 kilometres.

McDonald said murals or public art used to be typically printed on vinyl, mounted on wood and placed on walls. But at Concrete Canvas festival, people can be part of the artistic process. 

“When you see an artist actually paint something by hand on a wall, it feels a lot more special,” he explained.

Artists have free rein to paint what they want (though private property owners can commission pieces) and they usually don’t require permits unless it’s for sidewalk closures, McDonald said.

“It’s all part of the culture,” McDonald said. “A lot of these kids, they just want to have a voice. We try to help steer that voice in the right direction through positive art. We support all parts of the culture, from graffiti to large-scale murals. It all comes from the same energy that started through graffiti. … it improves the whole feel and mood of the neighbourhood.”   

 

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