C/O Mary Luciani
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Art Crawl returns from its long hiatus and brings back a sense of community
Artistry. Magic. Community. These are a few words that may come to people’s minds when they think of Art Crawl. After many months in lockdown and just in time for back to school, Art Crawl made its return to James Street North. On the second Friday of every month, public health guidelines permitting, restaurants, cafés and retail shops on the street, as well as artists and other vendors, will gather on James North to create a mystical event filled with food, music, art and handcrafted goods.
Art Crawl started years ago as a grassroots event by the vendors and artists on James Street North. It is important to stress it is not a single person who is behind the event but rather a melting pot of many creatives in the community. It was also this community that drew Mary Luciani, the owner of The Pale Blue Dot, to Art Crawl for the past 10 years and inspired her to set up her shop on James Street North.
Luciani began attending Art Crawl as a self-taught painter to share her pieces with the community. She was excited to connect with strangers and exchange stories with passers-by and other artists. Through these interactions, she felt she was able to form an authentic connection with the local community and the city. Today, she sells sustainable and ethical everyday items such as bamboo toothbrushes, compostable gloss, antiques and vintage clothing at the Pale Blue Dot. Students can also use code MACSTUDENT10 for 10% off at The Pale Blue Dot.
Luciani also started and manages the Instagram account on.jamesnorth which showcases the lovely shops and faces behind the James North community. The account occasionally organizes giveaways for supporters and shoppers as well.
Given all the love, enthusiasm and pride for Art Crawl, Luciani and other vendors and goers of the fair were delighted to see it come back in August for the first time since its closure in late 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I couldn’t even tell you how magical it felt just to see familiar faces on the street and see the community back. It wasn’t revived to what it used to be just yet, but it was such a beautiful start,” Luciani said.
The community missed it very much; the crowds were energetic and emotional. People were tapping their toes to the live music, enjoying the physical company of each other and immersing in the nostalgia and regained sense of normalcy during what has been an unpredictable and distressful year and a half.
“As a young artist 10 years ago, standing up on the street, there’s nowhere else that I would have the opportunity to do that . . . to showcase my paintings,” Luciani said.
Art Crawl inspires and cultivates the spirit of local businesses and the arts in Hamilton. For those who are living in Hamilton for the first time, it can be a great introduction to the pockets of communities that exist off campus. With the next Art Crawl event coming up soon, students can watch out for details on on.jamesnorth on Instagram and for more giveaways.
“Having a space where I could just come, show up and present my work . . .and connect with community members, I think it’s so wonderful,” Luciani said.