On Friday July 22, Happy Hour with Nieghbours takes on a new flavour. You have a chance to meet our featured artist for July, Nancy Benoy, you’ll have a chance to sample some of the finest craft beer in Ontario, compliments of Cameron’s Brewing and all of this to the swinging tunes of the Highnote Ramblers.

On the subject of craft beer, here is a well researched and well written piece from Raise the Hammer that all you craft beer lovers should read.

On the subject of great music, here‘s what one person wrote after the Highnote Ramblers’ last visit to the Heart of the Hammer.

Come on out for people, performers, paintings and perhaps a bevvie or two. I love it when it all comes together this way! See you on Friday.


Colour, texture, and experimentation are the forces that propel Nancy Benoy to paint. Primarily a self taught artist, Nancy also studied at Ryerson, OCAD and George Brown College. She believes that we are all inherently creative and seeks to unlock creativity as a potential for social change. Nancy works as an Artist/Studio Instructor at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and is involved in running monthly art workshops to promote restorative justice for women. You can read more about Nancy here.

Nancy’s art will be on exhibit at the Heart of the Hammer Cafe until the end of July 2011.

Zorica Krasulja‘s paintings and illustrations breathe life into colour, into cats and into our little cafe. A graduate of the Interpretive Illustration program at Sheridan College, Zorica has illustrated a number of books. She is an active member of the Women’s Art Association of Hamilton and an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists.

Letters to Meow is an ongoing project offering prints and cards of a growing repertoire of cats, eighteen breeds at today’s count.

Zorica’s work will be on exhibit at the Heart of the Hammer until June 30th and you can meet her in person on Sunday June 26th from 11am-2pm.

Ricardo Conte-Oro is both shy and courageous.
You can see the courage in his work.
You can feel the boldness of his choices.
But you owe it to yourself to meet him in person.
You can do that on the evening of Wednesday, May 11th.
The art is on exhibit till the end of May, 2011.
It’s happening in our neighbourhood. Make the most of it!

From Vancouver to Montreal to Toronto, from Rain Forests to Universities, the work of this young artist strives to evoke the wonder and struggle of growth. Her work is playful, evoking a sense of surprise and delight in the world around her.

Anna works primarily with water colours but has a soft spot for salvaged and vintage materials with all the history and memory latent in found objects. She keeps a blog at freeplaycraft.wordpress.com. It is about sprouty things and art. I like that she see the sadness implied in our facility with cynicism and our unfamiliarity with awe.

Anna Borstad’s art is on exhibit at the Heart of the Hammer Cafe from April 1-30 2011. She invites you to join her at the cafe on the evening of April 15th from 5-8pm; a nice chance to discuss sprouty things, art and awe.

The grass is not always greener. Hanna Kostanski, a Hamiltonian with a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design, is inspired by urban landscapes. Her textured paintings of the abandoned architecture of Detroit capture the feelings of our own steel town tremors; a sadness mixed with optimism, decay usurping grandeur.

Hanna Kostanski was born in Szczecin, Poland in 1983 and came to Hamilton with her family in 1988. She has nurtured “a lifelong relationship of active observation and interaction with my surroundings. My experiences with landscape have allowed me to distill my aesthetic choices and forced me to recognize the environment as fragile, volatile, and constantly changing. My current body of work references the role of memory in the amended landscape, exploring a personal retelling of the experienced environment.”

Hanna’s work, Still Standing: Detroit, January 2009 to January 2010 can be seen at the Heart of the Hammer Cafe until March 31st 2011.

Naomi Martin has been creating art for longer than she can remember. At the age of three, in order to raise money for orphans in Africa, she initiated a “Colouring Recital” where adults and children can make art in different media. Coinciding with her 4th annual Coloring Recital, Naomi’s own art will be on exhibit at the Heart of the Hammer Cafe, including pottery and a series of self-portraits.

Drop by the cafe before the end of February to support a local emerging artist, and if you fancy making art yourself, swing by her Colouring Recital on Saturday February 12th from 9am-12noon at Ryerson United Church, 842 Main Street E, Hamilton On. This year’s recital features live music by Kori Pop, Crystal Niemi and Amy Savin with visual arts by you, and the many other folks who are inspired by this young artist.


Community Christmas Ornament Exchange

Friends and neighbours are invited to create an ornament for the cafe’s Christmas tree. Make it, bake it, create it but bring it in as soon as possible to share with the neighbourhood. Then at the Christmas party on December 22nd, Santa’s own BJ Elf will be on hand to facilitate an ornament exchange so that you will have a different ornament to hang on your tree at home!

In addition, our featured artists have been asked to create original ornaments which will be hung on the gallery wall – and will be for sale!

We know there are a lot of very creative people in our city and we hope this collaborative art project showcases some of your talent.  Have fun!

Have I mentioned the Christmas Party? Stay tuned for a note about all the great stuff going on at the cafe this month!

“If you believe in the human spirit, that food cooked with love tastes better, that a hand knit sweater is cozier than a store bought one, that stories are important and that living consciously is important, then a hand made object is for you.

When you buy one of my pieces, you are taking over a story that starts with me; the maker.  I’m the mother of 5 year old twins, I’m a ceramic artist, and I’m the editor of FUSION: A Magazine for Clay and Glass.  In a nutshell, I make stuff, I edit stuff, and I look after two little people; not always in that order.

The story continues when you take one of my pieces home with you.  You develop an intimate relationship with the object; the mug, for example, touches your lips every morning (noon, and night, for some).  Because of this, each piece is created with thought and feeling.  Consideration is given to how the handle and the mug feel in your hand. Or when I make a vase, the design is influenced by the type of flower that it might hold.

When I’m making things out of clay the magical moment occurs when I crack open the kiln and see what my work has become in the transformative environment of extreme heat; it’s a bit like alchemy.  The pieces come out warm to the touch and tinkling in the cooler air, like Christmas ornaments.  There are always surprises, both good and bad, and I am always excited to see what emerges.  I really love making things out of clay.

From my hands to yours, I feel that a hand made object enhances the human connection.  Each piece is precious because each piece is unique and has its own personality, separate from all others…a bit like us.”

– Helen Rudin

Helen Rudin Pottery at the Heart of the Hammer, November 2010

Evan Orme received his Bachelor of Arts from Redeemer University College in 2010 majoring in Visual Arts and English. Evan is originally from Orangeville, Ontario, and has lived in Hamilton for the past three years. Evan is currently finishing his Bachelor of Education at Redeemer and plans to pursue a Master degree in Canadian art history.

“Tsukuba” represents the transformation from being isolated and alone to being surrounded by a loving and accepting community. Though Tsukuba is the name of a place in Japan where Evan underwent a transformative experience, I have a feeling this word is going to find its way into our vocabulary to describe that transition from alone to gathered.

You too can experience Tsukuba through Evan’s art at the Heart of the Hammer until the end of October, 2010.