February 20, 2013

Stocking Up For Christmas

This Christmas, we had the pleasant arrival of a couple of really ginger little men who stole the spotlight in our storefront to compete in the 2012 Downtown BIA Christmas Window Display Competition.

Literally.  They stole it, along with a bunch of other things from Santa's warehouse.

Christmas is such a cheery time full of vibrant characters.  Take the elves for example, they must the be the most nimble and hardest working little workers around, just imagine how hard it must be to manufacture Nintendo games and iPhones by hand all year round in a chilly old workshop at the North Pole.  Or those jolly snowmen, who put on a smile no matter how cold it is and they hold their ground to bitter end, through the worst of sunburns.  Think of all the hard workers that bring the Christmas spectacle together every year.  Reindeer that can fly and haul millions of presents around the world.  The Abominable Snowman who runs a top notch security perimeter for Santa's village, who to this day has still prevented anyone from penetrating the secret compound.  Even Santa himself, that fat old man runs a scheduled delivery still unsurpassed by the best and most modern in the courier industry today.  But then there's one other group... those sweet little gingerbread men.  The ones that jump from your baking sheet as you pull them from your oven and make a break for the door.  Nobody really seems to know what greater Christmas purpose these guys serve.  In fact, from time to time their devilish acts seem to be against Christmas belief.  Some are beginning to wonder if it was the gingerbread men who put the 'x' in X-mas, creating a new generation of greedy kids who aren't even illegible for coal delivery to pressure their parents to shop for their gifts.  What a crazy concept!  Ya I know it sounds far fetched, but after what we've seen around here this year, I wouldn't be surprised if those gingerbread men weren't behind it all.

Well, in case you were wondering, I have the results for the display competition right here.

This year's 1st place prize was given to Downtown Dental for their retro-festive.ca lamp display.

The second place went to Laurenzo’s School of Hair Design arrangement of Christmas stockings. 

And in 3rd place, slightly saddened by our hard efforts to win peoples' Christmas spirit, our ginger little gallery sparkled with hope.

As for the other contenders, in alphabetical order, these were the remaining displays.


Crazy Bill's

Downtown Bike Hounds

 E. Fusaro's


 Nathaniel Hughson Gallery

Sonic Unyon

TriOS College

YMCA Careerworx

Also, HECFI was listed as a contender but we couldn't find any of their Christmas decorations or display windows to photograph.

Although BIA polls are closed we still encourage our viewers to let us know their favourites.  Send us an email and tell us what you think.  If you have ideas for next year send em this way too!

Partially cooked gingerbread men on the loose.


Have you ever wondered what it would look like if you were trapped in imaginative storybook world constructed of your wildest childhood dreams?

A brief look at Tara Krebs new collection of paintings will submerse the viewer in a creative fantasy world like stepping inside pages taken from your favourite childhood story.  However, upon looking a little closer you will find yourself in the company of several bizarre hybrid animal characters in a variety of eerie settings.  Witnessing these paintings are like observing another dimension through a keyhole.  You will likely have no idea who or what you are looking at, but will certainly wonder what is going on.

Each piece is never unaccompanied, and the characters always have a striking resemblance to various opposing but recognizable animals.  Furthermore, you will notice reoccurring little girl who restlessly continues to explore and take part in the events unfolding in various pieces.  Inevitably, you will be left alone to put together each piece of a larger narrative.  Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure novel.
Every viewer will find themselves in a different world.

To see more of Tara Kreb's Tree Wolf & Other Stories collection, visit her exhibition page on our website.

January 30, 2013

Addiction Is The New Steel

The road to success!

Ya you heard it right, a group of smart little cronies high up in city hall have found a foolproof market in Hamilton they can tap into for a little cash flow.


Yes, addicts, the easiest damn group of people to cater to.  They will literally pay whatever it takes to get their hands on what you're selling.  Ask you local drug dealer if he/she ever has a problem trying to get return customers.

Well, anyways those thoughtful ol' folks figured a department store sized bingo just doesn't cut it anymore for our growing city and came up with a whole new game plan.  A flashy new casino.  As long as it is carefully placed near the racetrack or better yet, downtown by the bingo hall, they will have torn a brand new hole in the already saturated addiction market to stick their shiny little heads through and snag some bucks.  Bucks that could have left town for Niagara, or even worse... to Toronto's new gambling hole!  Ugh.
Imagine another city taking our hard earned gamblers' cash.  It's ours!

But with such a brilliant plan creating millions of new jobs that will make us all well-off, why stop at gambling addicts???  Perhaps, the city of Hamilton should consider a municipal brand of cigarettes or a nice whisky aged in the finest Hamilton steel drums for a unique metallic aftertaste.  Or better yet, the most loyal customers will always respond best to a heroine fix.  Think of how sustainable this industry could be, think of the jobs.  Think of the children!

Peep the full proposal here and pass it on to your local councillor for some immediate approval.

What d'ya say?

January 25, 2013

Halloween: The Saga Continues

If you happened to spot a human sized squirrel, raccoon, skunk, giant pumpkinhead, bobble-head George W, a humungous skull, Bill Lumbergh look-alike, or a crazy cardboard box robot on Halloween night in Hamilton, then there is a good chance you caught the remnants of a MANTA celebration.  Celebrations at MANTA often cascade into the streets late at night in search of warm and exciting new retreats to eat, drink, and eventually expand onto a dance floor.  Although scary in costume, this parade is harmless and full of candy, like pi├▒atas.  In fact, if you ever get close enough, you will likely be greeted with a whole box of candy.

Sugar taking its toll.

On October 31, 2012 the Raise the Dead exhibit came to a close with a gathering of friends and costume makers to celebrate Halloween for Halloween's sake!  Initially meeting at MANTA, everyone then decided the best route to wander and the parade begun.  Packed with candy and loot, no one with a good costume was passed without a reward.

Packing loot boxes for costumers and lucky Halloweeners.

Thanks to all who got involved and submitted costumes.

Free sugar!

Join us October 2013 in costume and we'll do it all over again!


January 16, 2013


What the #$@! happened to Halloween?!?

There is something to be said about Halloween these days, but I won't say it, somehow I think you know what I am talking about.

It's all too easy to go with the flow.  People are basically told what is new and cool and how to be hip.  Is anyone ever questioning who is calling the shots though?  Who is determining what colours are going to be 'in' this year?  Do you fear your reputation is at risk if you dare to be different?  Do you think the people dictating the latest fads are afraid?  I think we can all easily classify two types of people here: there are those who ride the waves and those who make them.  If the latter group appeals to you, I might just have something to whet your appetite.

I want to propose something.  I want to try and bring something back this Halloween.  Actually, make that every Halloween.  Lets try to revive this quasi-holiday spectacle that was once a single day of the year devoted to the creative pursuit of scaring people and getting loot.  I have listed a few points I would like to change.


No more prejudice against 'overage' trick-or-treaters!
Despite the greater culture of fear telling us stories of older trick-or-treaters attacking homeowners, a larger presence of responsible parents and young adults taking part in the festivities will only strengthen and help self-govern unsafe behaviour in our neighbourhoods.
News and media sources have scared people stiff in the US where some states have made it illegal for children over the age of 12 to take part and limit looting hours from 3-6pm during daylight. 

Nothing is scary about a bunch of rugrats dressed as princesses and superheroes sprinting through your gardens after school to get their grubby hands on some candy.  Halloween can be the one day of the year you can truly turn the corner on a dark street and run into the grim reaper (hopefully).  Regardless of how scary the costumes may be though, Halloween in the daylight is out of context and should at least start at sundown.

No more handfuls of generic bite-size candy for everyone.

Next year, try this:
1. Reach for the unpopular hard little sugar candies (preferably licorice) but also buy some nice big juicy chocolate bars.
2. Lay them out on a table in your front hall and have a seat.
3. Rehearse your favourite reality talent show host's lines and then welcome in your costumed neighbours.
4. Look each costume up and down and deliver treats accordingly.

Good candy = Great, original costume, lots of character, scary yet polite, and maybe sparks a little jealousy.
Crappy candy = Mediocre attempt at buying/wearing something, impatient, with grubby/scratchy hands.
No candy = No costume, bad attitude, complains about not getting the good candy.

If we all institute a little operant conditioning, we will receive a much better Halloween experience.
A store bought Spiderman or Cinderella surely don't deserve as much candy as anything homemade. 
And a scary homemade costume definitely deserves a bonus!

If people get great rewards for making their own costumes, I am sure better and better costumes will be made every year.  And for the ones who don't ante up and make something, well they won't have much candy to look forward to.  It's like survival of the fittest.

With all due respect though, many working people don't always have the time and money to put something together and might as well just grab a cheap costume on the run.  Now before you had over to the 'Made in China' isle, let me propose a more creative idea...

Try your best at creating something that will make people scared, or even just laugh at you.
If creating something isn't your thing, or you just don't have the time, try heading downtown to see what is 'Made in Hamilton' and you might be in for a surprise.

 Raise the Dead by day

...and night

Each year for the month of October MANTA Contemporary will host a costume sale at the gallery right up until Halloween.  You won't find any flimsy plastic molds here.  Every costume and/or mask is made by hand by local artists and professional costume designers and they are all completely unique.  It's like buying a clever piece of art... that you can wear.

It will make you so much more popular!

Don't you wish you could be this cool?

If you already have a costume, come on over and try ours on anyways, it's fun.  Get your photo taken, and score some candy too!

Don't you want to be this happy?

Look out on Halloween 2013, we will Raise the Dead again!