Entertainment and Sports

Say Hello To Hamilton Art, Hamilton

Each of us is an artist. Everyone is, and has, a body of art.

By Kevin Somers
Published July 18, 2016

Art is everywhere. Everything is art. Each of us is an artist. Everyone is, and has, a body of art. How do we present to the world? What's our significance? What do we contribute? Do you make the world more beautiful?

Art is beauty. Art is an accomplishment.

Art is subjective. Where I see beauty, others see abomination. The reverse is just as true.

Take the art of city building, for example. I think a sleek, community-minded LRT, sharing the road with cars, bikes, pedestrians, and scooters, would be a beautiful addition to Hamilton.

Others see beauty in city streets, designed and built in straight lines, with lights timed perfectly, for racing.

To each her own.

There's an art to living and an art to celebrating it. My friend, Phil, turned 40, recently, which meant, of course, a celebration. Phil has an artistic bend, and his party didn't disappoint.

We met at Serve, a new ping pong bar in the core, so we walked; beautiful. Serve was great; a large, open space, full of people eating, drinking, and having old fashioned fun. As is stated on their website, one of the reasons for creating Serve was "A love of downtown Hamilton."

The second-storey walk-up, where the bar's located, was once a warehouse or factory, I assume. With courage, creativity, good food, cold Beer, ping pong, friendly service, and cool posters of Bob Marley and Paul Newman playing table tennis, the lads behind Serve have transformed the loft: behold the art of the bar. (Unfortunately, like many other public houses in Hamilton, the washroom is stinky and I don't think there is wheelchair access.)

Phil's wife, Dr. Jennifer Thompson, was at the party living it up. In 2010, another friend, the late, great Florence Sicoli, asked if I'd write inspiring fitness stories for The Spectator. The first person who came to mind was Jen, then in med school.

Jen, who runs marathons, has triumphed over adversity like few others. The week after Phil's party, she became a full-fledged medical doctor, creating, from something less, a beautiful, purposeful life: a living masterpiece living a magnum opus.

My younger daughter, who aspires to entrepreneurialism, works part-time at Earth To Table Bread Bar on Locke Street. I tell her to pay attention during every shift, and behold, all around her, the art of running a business; the art of running a restaurant.

I am not a "foodie". Having to eat usually annoys me. On special occasions, however, when our family gathers, and we're going to Bread Bar, I look forward to the experience more and more each time. The food, service, ambiance... it's art; fresh, delicious art.

The Hamilton Fringe Festival, a feast of performing arts, is upon us. There's an art to putting on a festival and the growing success of The Hamilton Fringe speaks for itself.

Actor, costume, director, dramaturge, hair, make- up, lighting, producer, publicity, staging, selling, set, sound, venue, writer ... it takes a village to put on a show. There's art in harmony and harmony in art.

Earlier this year, I previewed Othella, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's classic. The show ran for four days in March in preparation for their current run at The Fringe.

We attended a performance and it was fantastic; a keen, unsettling, well-executed concoction of Shakespeare, Mean Girls, and an omniscient wireless internet connection with unlimited poison.

Othella is playing at The Staircase Theatre, another gem this city can be proud of. Whenever friends see something at The Staircase for the first time, they inevitably compliment the groovy spot. Quality art in an artsy venue, whose mandate is support local artists: win, win, win, win.

Another Fringe play, Anybody Else, which takes place in an Art Gallery, is on at Theatre Aquarius. Writer Ryan Sero plays Thaddeus Blume, who wonders what it would be like to be happy. Thaddeus, while visiting the gallery with his on-off girlfriend Josephine, runs into Sigmund Freud. Comedic, Anybody Else asks: What makes us happy? What makes us unhappy?

An interesting aspect of performance art is watching artists at work, rather than just seeing their work. I like watching people work, so went to an afternoon rehearsal of Anybody Else.

Finding audition space is often a challenge, so the cast - Sean Emberley, who plays Sigmund Freud Tiresias, and Remy; and Pamela Gardner, who plays Josephine Kael, Theban, and Thaddeus' Mom - met in Ryan's backyard, with director Tyler Brent.

Ryan, his wife, Jody, and their two young children live in the north end, not far from James Street, home of the Art Crawl. It was a perfect sunny day, and sitting, soaking it all in, I noticed his neighbour building a fence. It's a cool fence, with an artistic flair. Nice.

Another neighbour was growing tomatoes. They were perfectly staked with perfectly straight iron rods, in exact rows. It looked great. Garden art.

Looking up and north, I could see the top floor of the Witton Lofts, my favourite building. Architecture is an imposing and universally experienced art form, so make it great.

The actors were working hard, bouncing ideas around, and I look forward seeing them on stage this week. From Ryan's, I went down James Street, which models the art of urbanity bouncing back.

At Phil's fortieth Serve party, I said to him, "This place is great."

He replied, "I know. People say Hamilton is coming back... Well, I say it is back."

Agreed, indeed. Why not get out and experience Hamilton, a little more intimately, during The Fringe? When you see Art, say hello.

You can read the RTH reviews of Hamilton Fringe plays.

Kevin Somers is a Hamilton writer.

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