Sanford Avenue School c 1932 in Hamilton Ontario

[video / opinion / photos] Historic #hamont school to be demolished – an artist & feminist rant against it.

Sanford Avenue School c 1932 in Hamilton Ontario

Sanford Avenue School c 1932 in Hamilton Ontario

We were feeling helpless and exasperated at news that the local school board had slipped through a demolition order request to level a heritage building – and this gets processed within 10 days! Apparently the obliteration can begin in January, 2013.

Ward 3’s Wever Hub community meeting called for Tuesday, 6m at Cathy Wever School! Chance to clarify, discuss Sanford Avenue School and show Tim Simmons and Bernie Morelli how the Ward 3 neighbourhood really feels. Please attend!

Please, especially Ward 3 residents, contact Tim Simmons, HWDSB Chair at 905-308-6832 to voice your concerns. Please do it now!

There is no or little chance of fighting it this at this point. But what we can do is document the moment by complaining on a cold, overcast and very windy day as we walk around the school. We can let everyone know, especially future generations, what happened here and who was involved in these decisions. We can present more viable options to demolishing heritage buildings – such as a senior home, artist live-work spaces or even condos. We also talked about related issues such as bicycle infrastructure and the onus of meaningful community consultation on our elected officials.


In Hamilton Ontario where we live many beautiful buildings get torn down and now one of the most historically significant landmarks of built heritage in the city core is to be quickly demolished and replaced with a soccer field with plenty of free parking. Sanford School was opened in 1932 and is the first 100% Canadian steel framed building.

Production Note: Apologies for wind noise in microphone. So cold my iphone kept failing and Jen’s is a lower quality device, so the editing got quick and choppy, with a lot of noise. We felt it was important to be on site to talk about this, and within the limited window for meaningful public discourse on this, we are working with the footage we obtained in these less than ideal conditions. It was also important to us to limit the entire production cycle to one day. Much of what we said was cut because of the wind noise but added back in as captions. Much was also cut because we said some inappropriate things or bickered about the cold.

It is meant to have a sense of humour thoughout, so we hope you found parts of it funny – though it’s mostly just sad.

The building is located at 149 Sanford Avenue North, Hamilton, ON

Here are the links to our sources for our rant and more about Sanford “School-Gate”, our Councilor Bernie Morelli, the HWDSB and the general history and current state of our neighbourhood called Barton Village.–sanford-school-demo-a-lesson-for-heritage-advocates-mchattie–the-barton-street-boondoggle


How to reach Bernie
Bernie Morelli
Councillor, Ward 3
Hamilton City Hall | Second Floor, 71 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5


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reminder: Oct 13th artist talk & tour 1pm @ Barton Village, Hamilton

Join artist Christopher Healey for a talk and guided tour of the project starting at Woodlands Park on Saturday, October 13th, from 1pm to 2pm.

“(Project)ions of Community” A augmented-reality mobile device art installation throughout Barton Village

[Hamilton, Ont] New media installation projects scenes and sounds onto neighbourhood from another urban village – Parkdale, Toronto. Artist offers free public talk and guided tour of the work starting at Woodlands Park on Saturday, October 13th, from 1pm to 2pm.

Using an internet connected iphone or android mobile device installed with the free app “Aurasma Lite”, certain areas and angles throughout this neighbourhood will activate a work by local resident and artistChristopher Healey. For example, standing on the north-east corner of Wentworth and Barton and facing west is a “trigger image” that will bring up a video overlay of Parkdale from a similar vantage point. The contrast between the two communities can be disorienting.

More about Aurasma technology can be found via this presentation at TED Talks. Though a mobile device is not required for attendance, those who want to participate fully in the experience are advised to download this free app beforehand from your App Store or Google Play.

Maps, trigger images, a video demo, download links and more information is available at

See the original press release here.

Media contact:
Chris Healey


projections of community invite
map of location auras

Storefronts of Barton Village

Photos from my iphone 4 on a walk through one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Hamilton, Ontario. This is where I live, and am interested in the notions of abandoned signs, blocked windows and unused doors within communities as formal compositions. These photos are research for my current studio practice, and one can’t help but think about the potential of this area for arts and culture. I think it would transform the area but is that what the current residents would want? I don’t know.

The Consultant puts a $ value on the Art Crawl: Performance art alarms, amuses

Photos by One Gus Eckstein 
Hamilton, Ont. June 11 | With recent community issues in the James Street North area involving gentrification and the arts community, a surprise performance art work at Art Crawl evokes a specter of speculation for these galleries and their public.

The consultant on James Street during the June 10, 2011 Hamilton Art Crawl

If you know your eastern Ontario art history, you may remember Ottawa-based The Consultant from series such as “How to appropriate real estate from an old lady and develop condominiums on it” and documentaries such as “How to effectively eliminate arts budgets for your city”.

Now, apparently, it was Hamilton’s turn to attract the critical and conservative eye of this artist (and in collaboration with One Gus Eckstein no less). Embarking on a valuation spree, The Consultant assessed galleries by 1) storefront visibility 2) quality of art and 3) suitability for redevelopment as retail and condominium space. Gallery staff were handed a valuation form at the end of the inspection.

Reactions varied but generally the gallery culture was confused, reserved and somewhat alarmed. One entrance caused two children to flee in panic and almost resulted a damaged art work. This effect was unintentional. One gallery administrator yelled afterwards “is this performance art!?”

This is the only photo of One Gus Eckstein known to exist.

The general public was more festive in their interactions with The Consultant, and a few clued in right away to the detached and aloof nature of the performance. There was some fear in the throngs looking for the quaint aspect of art as the two costumed men involved are over 6’4″ and combine for over 500 pounds of artist.

a random public collaboration with one of The Consultant's valuation forms.

A taunting fan of the performance earned a valuation form from The Consultant. The foppish young man responded by re-branding The Consultant as “Punch Bot” and re-purposing the valuation form as a collaborative public sculpture.

This is hopefully the beginnings of more performance art and costumes on the streets and spaces of art crawl.

10 reasons why artists should choose Hamilton over Ottawa

10. Junkies, prostitutes and dealers won’t complain to by-law officers that your treehouse blocks their view.
9. Traffic has not outgrown the street capacity and no one questions whether commuter trains are a good idea or not.
8. In further regard to trains – unlike Ottawa, Hamilton realized most traffic goes east – west, not north-south. You don’t need a car to get around and it take less time to travel from Hamilton to downtown Toronto than from one end of Ottawa to the other.
7. Many artists and curators work in close-by Toronto, but in Ottawa most artists and curators with jobs are from Toronto or Montreal.
6. No one is going to think less of you for having dirty hands and paint-splattered clothing. In fact, they will probably respect you more.
5. In Hamilton there is a scene and artists and ilk are moving there in droves – in Ottawa, there is a small, dull, iron-clad clique so artists and ilk move away in droves.
4. At least in Hamilton, you can lobby to the City Council because they are actually the city council for the city. In Ottawa, city council is a token and petty collection representing the u-shaped stretch of property around the downtown core and inside the green belt, and are mostly concerned with shopping malls and sports teams. The real power and money is the Federal Government and the National Capital Commission – neither of whom give a shit about local arts and culture.
3. In Hamilton, most crime is by desperate people on the street with real problems  – in Ottawa, you are robbed by fat cats in suits driving SUVs.
2. Studio space is abundant in Hamilton and cheap – in Ottawa, the only real industrial complex with artist studios is tightly controlled by Sunday landscape painters and tyrannical house-wives from the Glebe.
1. Hamilton is arguably the best (and last) place in Canada for the creative class to buy property – you can buy a house downtown for $80,000. In Ottawa, you’ll pay at least $400,000 for a house that is mind-numbingly ugly in the mind-numbingly ugly and evil suburbs of Nepean, Barrhaven, Kanata, Orleans or South Keys. You will never be able to afford a house downtown, and the stupidly high rent will keep you apartement poor for the rest of your life.

If you are intelligent, ambitious, creative and original do NOT move to Ottawa. If you are a prospective fine art student, do NOT consider either of the arts programs there. The diploma school is a bit of a joke and no one honours those credits (trust me) and the BFA / MFA program is very limited in scope and incorporates the worst aspects of a fine arts program at a university and rejects the best aspects of a college-based practical approach. Trust me again on that one.

If you have some money, you should move to the Parkdale area of Toronto or consider Hamilton if you need to make a little go a long way 🙂