Monday’s Update for March 31st, 2014

Posted every Monday, this is my weekly review of art related activities. Topics this week:

1.) Where’s the time gone? – learning time-lapse photography

2.) Demolishing heritage in order to save it – James Street Baptist Church

3.) Only famous when you’re dead – street photographer, Vivian Maier

4.) Learning to make a bomb – knitting class at HandKnit Yarn Studio

5.) Even Picassos are throwaways – the Four Season Curtain



Where’s the time gone?

Time-lapse photography is a great way to capture the sense that time is passing, particularly with storytelling. I had hoped to use this technique for a film project on the creation of Cork-town, but the project proved to be much larger than expected. One complication being the fact that the Canon 600D DSLR Camera (Rebel 3Ti) does not allow for interval photo taking (time-lapse), so I installed the Magic Lantern software that offers a whole bunch of extra features. Unfortunately, I have had some problems using the LED screen, particularly in bright sunlight. To solve this problem, I have purchased a remote control that permits time-lapse photography.

Here is my second attempt using the remote control:

Demolishing heritage in order to save it

Many heritage advocates have been concern that most of the designated James Street Baptist Church will soon be demolished because the developer believes the building is unsafe. The City’s heritage permit sub-committee agreed to the request to demolish the unsafe parts of the building and this work scheduled to begin this week. Starting with the inside of the building and then moving to the outside structure in the summer or fall of this year, according the media reports.

I believe the plans for the site are very exciting if you agreed that the building is unsafe and must be partial torn down in order to save it. However, I understand that no independent assessment of the building has been made with the perspective of saving the architecture. Others have also expressed concern that the Permit Committee decision was not ratified by the whole Heritage Committee or City Council.

As one person noted in the newspaper, since so few buildings get heritage designation, there should be an extra effort to review proposals that would involve demolition. While I am not a big fan of the architecture of this Church, I am concern about the standard this case sets for other heritage designated buildings in the city.


Only famous when you’re dead

Street Photographer, Vivian Maier, is becoming quite famous now that she is dead, according to the Saturday edition of the Globe and Mail (page R4).

Maier is this amazing woman who worked as a Nanny for a rich Chicago family and spent her one day off per week photographing the streets of the City. With no family, her few belonging were sold or given away. A local amateur historian, John Maloof, purchased over 30,000 of negatives from a repossessed storage locker. He had hoped to find images that might advance his work but soon realized the great artistic value.

Today, the people are much more aware of photography and the concept of privacy then compared to earlier times. Maier was able to capture many unguarded moments of everyday life.

Interestingly, one thing that is holding back her work from greater recognition is the fact that Maier printed hardly any of her photos and left no directions on how the negatives should be handled. With no direct connection between the hand of the artist and potential prints, most Museums are reluctant to accept her work into their collections.


Learning to make a bomb

On Thursday, I started to learn how to make a knit bomb or to be more accurate; I started to learn how to knit. At the recommend of Liz from “I love needlework,” I signed up for a 3 hour beginner session at The “Hand

Handknit Yarn Studio
Handknit Yarn Studio

Knit Yarn Studio.” The store is located at 4 Cannon Street East, around the corner from Mixed Media. It was a great evening and I learned a lot.


My ambition is to cover a several trees with yarn for my oldest daughter’s birthday. Knit or Yarn bombing is a form of craft street art-activism that is sweeping through the artist communities along the Pacific West Coast and England. Here are a few examples:

source - www.
source – www.


source -
source –


Even Picassos are throwaway

The owner of the Seagram’s building in New York City wants to remove Picasso’s 1919 Le Tricorne from the wall of the Four Seasons restaurant according to the Saturday’s edition of the Globe and Mail (Page R2).

The artwork is on fabric that has been mounted to the wall. The size and age of the work makes it impossible to move without a significant risk of damage. According to the article, the owner of the building claims there are structural problems with the building that need repair work to be done and hence the moving of the artwork.

Philip Johnson designed the four seasons restaurant and in 1993 was designated as a landmark. Unfortunately for the artwork, the curtain was considered to be detachable and, therefore, not coverage by the designation.

New York City has led the way on heritage issues and how the matter is resolved will likely impact heritage cases everywhere.

The organization that is fighting to protect the artwork is Landmark Conservancy; an advocacy group formed in reaction to the demolition of Penn Station. Today, Landmark Conservancy is funded by some of New York City’s largest corporations and is a leader in heritage preservation.

Monday’s Update for March 24th

Sorry for the delay and the lack of media.  Spent Sunday evening trying to do time-lapse photography of the James Street Baptist Church.  Media that goes along with the text will follow over the next several days.


Monday’s Update for March 24, 2014

A weekly update on my art related activities.  This week:

1.)    Artists should be seen but not heard

2.)    The ice cube that wouldn’t melt

3.)    Demolishing heritage in order to save it

4.)    Downtown Heritage Inventory Project goes to Council

5.)    Other art-heritage news reported in the media


Artists Should Be Seen and Not Heard

New Yorker Critic, Peter Schjeldahl, states that

“…one of the things I tell artists is I don’t want to hear them talk about their work.  I want them to shut up and I will talk.”

(For New Yorker critic, all art is contemporary, by James Adams. Globe and Mail, March 22, 2014 page R2)

In the article interview by James Adams of the Globe Mail (Saturday’s edition, page R2), Scheldahl goes on to say that the Artist’s “mind that produces analysis and explanation is turned off.”

Well, it is great if you get lots of reviews in papers like the New Yorker, Washington Post, or the Guardian, but for most artists, there is nothing but silence.  I wish artists would talk more about their art.  A lot of artists seem to prefer a cloak of mystery.  Somehow, I am supposed to divine the value of their art.

Why do you think the public is so uninterested in most art?  My answer is that we are putting up too many barriers, particularly if the art is challenging.

Once you know something about the artist and what he or she is trying to achieve then you can join the adventure together.

Stephanie Vegh, executive director of the Hamilton Arts Council, recently wrote that…

“Because the work behind art is rarely seen or heard, it’s all too easy to attach value to the creative product alone without considering the hours of training and toil that made it possible.”

(Being an artist is work. Really., by Stephanie Vegh.  Hamilton Spectator, March 14th, 2014).

I completely agreed with her assessment, but holding special events is not enough.  I believe, and the reason for this blog, you must invite the people into the process of creating art.  You need to provide a behind the scenes view of your work and your hopes and dreams.

With the development of the internet and social media, artists have the ability, like never before, to reach out and build an audience for their art.

Hamilton has some very talent people out there and they should be seen and heard.


The Ice Cube that Wouldn’t Melt


How do you capture the passage of time?  As an artist, I am always looking for a way to explore memory, history, and time with regards to architecture and landscapes.  Maybe time-lapse photography would be helpful.  Little did I know the pain and suffering involved?

Beyond the technical challenges of getting my Canon 600D camera to capture these photos and then turning them into a mini-film, this damn little ice cube would not melt!

After setting in a warm kitchen for over one hour, this ice cube seemed almost as good as new.  Next time, I will film a clock.


Demolishing Heritage in Order to Save It


Janice Brown, President of the Durand Neighbourhood Association, is questioning the process for granting the partial demolition of the James Street Baptist Church.

The Permit Review Committee of the Municipal Heritage Committee approved the partial demolition of the heritage designated building, but the decision was never reviewed by the full Heritage Committee or City Council.

Furthermore, public input into the decision-making process was also bypassed.  Given the significant impact on the structure, the decision should not have been left to City staff or to members of a sub-committee.

It was certainly my impression that the decision would go to the Heritage Committee and then be ratified by City Council.  I followed closely the meetings via Joey Coleman’s live-streamed and archived videos.

My concern with the process is the lack of an independent assessment on whether or not the building could be saved.  With that information, we could have had a debate about the options and costs for the future development of the building.


Downtown Heritage Inventory Project goes to Council

After a year of work, the Downtown Heritage Inventory Project goes to Council this Wed, March 26, 2014.

The goal of the project is generate a list of potential heritage designated worthy buildings but to design criteria for reaching that conclusion.

Prior to amalgamation, each community had its own rationale for what buildings went onto the current list.  This project will recommend one criteria for the entire city with additional information on the building.  This will allow Council to make informed decisions on whether a building should be designated or not.


Other News Reported in the Media

1.)    Developer is appealing the heritage designation on the Gore Park Buildings

2.)    Hamilton is looking at promoting the 1836 Chedoke House as a potential site for film production

3.)    The 1870s Gage Park House is to get repair work done

4.)    Council did not support a request to close James Street North to car traffic during the monthly Art Crawls.

The End.

Monday’s Update for March 17th, 2014

A weekly review of art related activities.

This week:

1.) Installing Magic Lantern on my Canon 600d DSLR

2.) Failure to complete my film project on the history of the Irish community of Cork-Town, located in Hamilton (Ont).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Cork-Town is known for being the historical heart of the Hamilton’s Irish community, but during the 19th century, most Irish lived outside its boundaries. So, why did Cork-town become so associated with the Irish? This is the question that I wish to answer with a film project entitled “tales of Cork-Town”.

Last year, I did extensive research on the history of Cork-town. It is surprising how little historical research is available on Hamilton. You would think that there would be lots of research available given the age, size, and importance of Hamilton; to both Ontario and Canada. If you read the history books, it seems only Toronto had any significance.

Another challenge is how much of the past has been demolished or reshaped beyond recognition. Even when you have photos, things have changed so much that it is almost impossible to place a building within the contemporary landscape.

Last year, I hoped to create a series of prints that captured various aspects of Cork-town. The perspective that I hoped to use was the arrival of the Irish at the docks in the 1850s-1880s. Unfortunately, the project never gelled, and I decided to move on to other things.

This year, I decided to use art and photos to create a film project. Each short film would be 1-2 minutes in duration and would tell a different story of Cork-town.

While I did not expect to have the project completed by March 17th, I did hope that the previous efforts would quicken the development process. Unfortunately, film-making is proving to be more challenging than I originally imagined.

For example, I needed to install the firmware, Magic Lantern. This should have been straight forward task, but it took over 24 hours to discover that the software only works on 32 GB memory cards when you are installing it for the first time.

I want to do time lapse photography, but the Canon DSLR 600D only permits intervals of 5 seconds. To do anything faster would require an expensive timer remote controller (for example, the Canon TC-80N3 for $200) or installing of special software. Since Magic Lantern is free and can be used for other film-making tasks, I choose this option.

My current 32GB card was partial filled with family photos, so I decided to buy a new card.

The office supply store had a 32 GB card priced at $99.00 (Lexar 32 GB SDHC 600x class-10 card), but you can get a 64 GB card for $120 (Lexar 64 GB SDXC 600x class-10 card). So, for extra $20, I could double my memory. Unfortunately, I did not realize that Magic Lantern does not support on 64 GB cards, unless you first install it on a 32 GB card.

So, I did want I didn’t want to do; I backed up my family photos on my external hard drive and formatted the 32 GB card. Once this was completed, I then installed the latest Canon firmware and Magic Lantern software on the card. I was then able to repeat the process on the 64 GB card.

By 3 pm on Sunday afternoon I was set to go, but exhausted by all the technological twists and turns. As a result, I decided to start preparing my weekly update.

As a friend noted, the Updates are created on Sunday and not Monday, but once the filming, editing, rendering, and loading are finished, I would run the risk of missing a Sunday deadline. So, the Updates are posted on Monday.

Next week, I will need to do my calculations for how often the camera should take a picture, then what should be the proper light exposure and film speed settings.

Once the filming is finished, I can then convert the digital photos into a format that is acceptable for my film-making software. This will complete the work on this aspect of the project.

I will do a test using time-lapse photography, likely a melting ice cube. I will post the results to the blog next week.


P.S., thanks you to everyone who provided feedback.  I am pleased to read that the sound on my videos is improving, and that the reflection in the Tim Horton’s window provides an interesting effect.

Monday’s Update for March 10th, 2014

A weekly review of art related activities.

This week:

1.) Expressing the history of Hamilton’s Cork-Town in art and film

2.) The aftermath of the 27 Bold Street Fire

3.) Learning how to sew with my daughter

1. Expressing the history of Hamilton’s Cork-Town in art and film

History tends to record the rich and powerful. Rich people who can afford to own land and construct significant buildings; and powerful people who can make decisions that affect history. If you are not rich or powerful, then you live your life in the shadow of others.

Hamilton House with Car
Hamilton House with Car

My family came to Hamilton as blacksmiths and lived in very small, detached, houses. Prior to the 1940s, these homes tended to be only four rooms: kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms – no matter what the size of the family. Given the confined living spaces, social life usually occurred  outside the home: on the streets; in the theatres; or at the bars.

As an aside, this is why I find the demolition of Hamilton’s historical buildings so sickening; not only are they destroying history, but they are destroying my family’s history.

Augusta Street
Augusta Street

Why I find Cork-town so interesting is because a bunch of people came from a distant land and settle into Hamilton.  They have very little wealth and were forced to make homes on lands that no one else wanted.  Despite the odds, they succeeded in making a new community that we still remember.

The challenge, however,  is to find a way to approach the topic. As with everything, there is a lot more information about Montreal or Toronto, then there is about Hamilton. Last year, I was seized with the idea of Hamilton as a port town in the 1840s and how the Irish arrived by sail or steam. Unlike Hamilton, New York City has these wonderful photos of the Irish from the 1850s onwards.

1855 Irish disembarking at NYC
1855 Irish disembarking at NYC

So, last year, I did a lot of research and worked up several sketches, but nothing gelled.

Port Hamilton - 1880s
Port Hamilton – 1880s

This year, I decided to create a short film on Cork-Town.

On Sunday, I traveled around the streets in Cork-Town and filmed various locations and buildings.

Since I have only been working with my DSLR for less than three months, the results will not be award winning. Nevertheless, I hope I can reveal something of history of Cork-Town, and particularly where things once stood. The history of Hamilton is so hard to grasp when the landscape has changed so much.

2. The aftermath of the 27 Bold Street Fire

On Sunday, I also took time out to visit 27 Bold and see how things are shaping up. The building looks worse in daylight.

Lots of people were stopping and looking at the building. While to my eyes it looks beyond repair, I believe the owners are going to try and save the building. Three cheers to property owners who care about history.


There continues to be fund-raising efforts to help the residents who were displaced by the fire. In addition to the First Credit Union and Jason Farr efforts to raise money, there are two events at local pubs. I also believe there is also a crowd-sourcing fund raising effort.

Over the past several days, I have been working on some rough sketches for a potential painting. Hopefully, I can devote more time to this project after I complete the Cork-Town film.

The blogger of Not My Typewriter wrote a nice follow-up piece on the 27 Bold Street Fire with some good photos. I recommend that you check out her posting.

3. Learning how to sew with my daughter

My 7 year old daughter is quite crafty, and she has expressed an interest in sewing. So, when I was experimenting with lino and woodblock prints on fabric last year, I came across the fantastic work of the Beehive Craft Collective and the James Street North sewing store called “I Love Needlework.”

This past Friday, I arranged for a private session for my daughter with Liz, one of the original members of the Beehive Craft Collective.

We had a great time and Liz treated my daughter with a great deal of patience and respect. My daughter is a frustrated dog lover (Dad has allergies), and Liz helped her create a dog themed pillowcase.

Now, my daughter knows how to use a sewing machine and is keen on starting new craft fabric projects.

If you are looking for something that is fun and crafty, then I would strongly recommend the I love Needlework at 174 James Street North.

Monday’s Update

Monday’s Update for March 3, 2014

Every Monday, I post a review of my activities for the past week. The goal is not only to provide an update, but to offer a record of my development as an artist. This week’s video was recorded on March 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm.

1.)    Making mobile videos and the continuing problem of sound quality.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the poor sound quality of my last video update.  As I have stated in earlier updates, I am committed to making my reports outside of the studio.  My art is rooted in the outside world, so I feel the need to capture that in my updates through videos and pictures.

Part of the problem with the sound is the environment; I am usually surrounded by glass and other hard surfaces.  Unfortunately, I have limited ability to eliminate this problem, but I will try to control it as much as possible.

Another problem is my inability to find a way to separately adjust the recording sound levels of the Zoom build in microphone and the external Lavalier microphone.

My goal is to do most of the recording work on location; to avoid as much post-production work as possible. Particularly, I want to avoid the obvious solution of creating a separate sound track and then matching it up to the video  in post-production.  These videos are supposed to be quick and dirty postings and not polished short films.

Getting these updates prepared are already time-consuming.  After recording them, I have to load them into Adobe Premier Elements 12 and do all the post-production edits.  After editing, I save (render) the video to the computer and then upload it to Youtube.  All this work can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on the length of the video update.

Today’s video took 45 minutes to edit and render; another 30 minutes to upload.  Writing the text and then posting the various elements to the blog can take another 1-3 hours.  As a result, you may notice some grammatical errors in the film credits and blog text.

Nevertheless, you should be able to hear what I am saying about sound quality.

One of my co-workers had a few friends over to his place and they happen to see one of my reports.  They were surprised that I would do this in public.  I don’t know if laughing also occurred or not.

2.)    Putting in studio time

My approach to art is to get into the studio every day; good days or bad.  This way I can consistently work through various challenges and projects.  Of course, this is not happening with the kids are around.  I am now trying to do early mornings, unfortunately it is not working.  They hear me go downstairs and they figure it is time to get up.  As a result, work on the Westdale House is taking more time.

Westdale House - 28 Feb 2014
Westdale House – 28 Feb 2014

3.)    Music in the studio

When I am in the studio, I am constantly listening to music.  One guy I really like is Ernst Burns.  He plays the electric guitar, and he is quite brilliant. The guy is also very consistent in his efforts to record and share his music on Youtube.  He has created almost 500 videos. Truly amazing.  The sound of the electric guitar is so retro and that it is modern; a refreshing change from most of today’s music.  He is someone you should check out.

Ernst Burns
Ernst Burns

4.)    Fund Raising Events for 27 Bold.

There are several fund-raising events occurring in the community for the residents who lost everything in the fire.  First Credit Union has set up an account that people can make donations.  There are also several fund-raising events being organized. Hamilton is such a great community.

Fund raising for resident displaced by the 27 Bold Fire
Fund raising for resident displaced by the 27 Bold Fire

5.)    Another Endangered Building

The Century Manor, on the Mountain, is endangered because of neglect.  This great building is one of the last surviving structures associated with the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane.  The main building was torn down in the 1950s and this structure used to house the criminal insane.  For many, this was the last place they ever knew.  I hope to visit the site in the next few weeks and film/photograph the building.

6.)     James Street Baptist Church

There were media reports that the partial demolition will start sometime in March.

My #HamOnt – How Bryan Prince saved Xmas

Pryan Prince Bookseller
Pryan Prince Bookseller

Foolishly, I promised my daughter that I would get her the Salamander Room by Anne Mazer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t check the book’s availability via the major chains.  If I ordered online, the $10 would suddenly double in price.  So, I hem and haw about what to do.  By this point, my daughter was asking daily “is it here yet?”

Ten days before Xmas, I decided to order from Bryan Prince.  Despite all reasonable expectations that a book from an American warehouse would not make it to Hamilton before Dec 24th, Bryan Prince pulled a miracle and delivered the priceless “$10” book two days before Xmas.  Thus allowing Santa Claus to place it under our tree.

Thank you to everyone at Bryan Prince.

Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
Salamander Room by Anne Mazer