Sunday, November 27, 2022

Walk Through A Free Art Gallery on the Pipeline Trail

The unusually seasonal warm weather at the end of October and November means that more people are walking outside and enjoying the last few rays of sunshine before the chill of winter sets in.

This is good news for an unusual free art exhibit, which opened on October 22 and relies exclusively on outdoor foot traffic. 

Running along the Pipeline Trail between Tragina Avenue North and Weir Street North is the Trail Mix Museum; a collaboration between the Red Tree Collective, The Hamilton Dialogues and Pipeline Trail Hamilton. The multi-disciplinary installation features contemporary and historical visual art, dubpoetry, and works submitted by youth artists, all part of an ongoing collaboration on art and community engagement in East Hamilton.

The Pipeline Trail follows a diagonal path northeast over an old city underground waterpipe, where the trail gets its name. With traces from London Street North (near Ottawa and Main), the trail is occasionally split up by streets all the way to the Museum of Steam and Technology and Woodward Avenue near Lake Ontario. The Trail Mix Museum, however, only runs a portion of the trail at this time- from just east of Edgemont Street North to Weir Street North. Imagery presented in the Trail Mix Museum and along the trail keeps this history in mind by establishing connections to the industrial and ecological history of the 6-kilometer long pipeline that has carried clean water since 1859.

Using the fences, walls of garages and sheds from volunteering property owners, murals, posters and more are curated and presented as a defacto art exhibit for trail users to enjoy. The collection along an established trail has created a landmark in the community, as well as a point of pride that is accessible 24/7. As the murals on the trail are mounted to private property, it does not require the permission or involvement of the City that other public art would require. 

According to a statement on one of the organizer’s websites, “the idea of museum quality art in public space was motivated in part by COVID-19 closures of galleries and museums, and in part by the fact that the lower city’s east end neighbourhood is not well served by any of Hamilton’s cultural institutions.” 

The October opening of the Trail Mix Museum isn’t the first exhibit to appear on the Pipeline Trail. In 2018, late labour artist and activist Leonard Hutchinson had his woodcut print entitled “Webster Falls” presented as what has become known as the “Mural Trail Head.” A temporary art installation series “The Last Days of Ice and Snow” was on display in 2020. 

The most recent exhibit includes contributions from Delio Delgado (on a shed east of Edgemont Street North); Shelley Niro (on a fence east of Province Street North); Dámarys Sepúlveda and Leonard Hutchinson (both on a garage, east of Crosthwaite Avenue North). To ensure their works were weatherproof, the artworks were enlarged, printed on vinyl and mounted on durable panels to be attached to fences and outbuildings lining the trail. 

Art Gallery of Hamilton Artist-in-Residence Nathan Eugene Carson and internationally renowned dub-poet Klyde Broox both submitted mixed media works that appear on a new structure between Tragina Avenue North and Weir Street North. Broox and Carson also led virtual workshops in collaboration with the Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association (ACCA). The result of these workshops is youth mural, entitled See What We Are Saying Here, installed in a parkette east of Tragina Avenue North.

In addition to the permanent exhibitions by youth and professional artists, a “Creative Commons Wall” will invite contributions by local youth. Two panels on the wall will be primed twice a year, so that youth may continue to add new ideas and contributions to the trail.

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