Late last week we were walking by the Design Annex and decided to stop and hug its windows. It was love at first sight. Little did we know, there was an entire staff inside busy preparing for its opening and likely thinking we were bonkers. Fast forward a few days and The Art Gallery of Hamilton unveiled the much anticipated Design Annex to media today on James Street North. It is simply stunning. Built in the 1860s, the building intitially served as an industrial warehouse before housing Dominion Furniture and later the Friendship Gift Shop. The building is currently owned by partners Doug Mckerlie, Bill Curran and Tim Potocic who approached the Gallery last year to partner as tenants of the building. In addition to CBC Hamilton and the Design Annex, the revitalized building houses an architecture firm, a marketing company and animation studios.
Last August when the Gallery announced its plans to expand with a storefront in the James North arts district we were thrilled that they were embracing the positive changes happening on the street and establishing a presence there. The new location will be sure to enhance the creative vibrancy of the street and contribute to its revitalization. Described today as a creativity lab, the Design Annex is a combination of an art + design store and versatile venue. "Here people will be able to see experimental exhibitions, and discover new products made by local artists and artisans," said Louise Dompierre, President and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, "Musicians will break new ground and people will be able to enjoy the space as a backdrop to their own functions." Well friends, mark your calendars. We 've been long looking for a space to celebrate two years of Beaux Mondes. So we simply have to throw a party here right? In all seriousness the Design Annex is an ambitious move for the Gallery, and we're certainly looking forward to the cultural exhibitions, exciting programmes and intimate performances it will host.
The Art + Design Store embraces quality design and offers furnishings, lighting and accessories for the home and office. You'll find pieces by established Canadian artisans like Brothers Dressler and up-and-coming designers like Dane Broe of Broe & Co. See that orange wool sofa designed by Brothers Dressler below? It's made of reclaimed white oak and would look perfect in our office.
The Design Annex is also showcasing twelve emerging and mid-career Ontario-based artists as part of the opening. With the street level space we feel the the Design Annex provides an approachable atmosphere for art lovers to begin building their collections at affordable prices. In her remarks at the opening, Filomena Frisina, Chair of The AGH Board of Directors explained, "The Design Annex enables The Art Gallery of Hamilton to embark on transformative growth that will be self sustaining and create a solid financial foundation for the Gallery as it evolves." She also described how it will create new ways to involve visitors in meaningful experiences with art.
With over twenty featured artisans, designers, jewelers, and other vendors, the Art + Design Store also offers a well curated selection of handcrafted goods by local talent. We adore the Canadiana pillows by Nicole Tarasick (below). And in keeping with the theme, we too like the Canadian Creatures cards and notebooks by Artistry Cards.
Claire Madill crafts beautiful ceramic pieces out of her Vancouver based studio like these cast porcelain Crown jars and porcelain wooven baskets (above).
Quirky ceramic coffee mugs and bowls by Hugo Didier (above)
On view until September 1 is Grand Drape, an exhibition created by the artists' collective WE-3 who created the site-specific piece informed by the architecture of the building. The 30 foot long poly curtain panels were lasercut with a pattern inspired by the tin ceiling original to the building. We recommend you check it out. Here's a glimpse of the work posted on our Instagram. We're also really looking forward to seeing Terra Lightfoot and Samantha Martin perform in August in the intimate setting of the Design Annex. This acoustic performance is part of the Annex Unplugged music series.
At the opening, Louise Dompierre remarked, "The Art Gallery of Hamilton is proud to be a part of the James Street North arts district, excited about working with our neighbours and looking forward to what's happening on the street." We're certain the presence of The AGH on James Street North will inspire further transformative growth on the street, and we're proud to see them there too in the midst of the emerging arts scene.
118 James Street North