Artists grow garden area in downtown Hamilton: How they’ve done it

Art, flowers and festive things are blossoming in the area surrounding the Artspace Lofts in Hamilton’s downtown.

One recent day, artist Laurana Wong, who lives in the lofts on High Street that were built with artists in mind, was working with great care to dig out the ground to place flat stones in a garden.

In the area next to the Artspace Lofts, and behind the Rotary Park at High and Second streets, people have planted a vegetable garden, and there were sunflowers there. At the end of last season, Wong took some seeds from those flowers and distributed them in a nearby area that she calls the Art Garden.

“They took,” she said about the seeds. “Sunflowers are super-hardy.”

The area is flourishing, thanks to the artists in the lofts. They recently adorned the space above a nearby alley with white light bulbs that beautify it and also add security, keeping late-night troublemakers away from the illuminated area.

And on Saturday, artists — many of them living in the lofts or elsewhere in Hamilton — will host a “Paint Bash” from 6-9 p.m. across Market Street from the small garden, beneath the city’s McDulin Parking Garage. On Saturday and Sunday, artists will paint several murals beneath the parking garage, which is located between 2nd and 3rd streets.

The murals will be partially financed by $2,500 from Hamilton’s 17Strong micro-grant program. The total cost probably will be $7,500 to $8,000, according to David Stark, property manager of Artspace, and also director of the non-profit Strauss Gallery and gift shop located there. Stark has been seeking other ways to raise funds for the party and murals.

Wong’s art takes several forms, including dance, sculptures, art installations and use of natural materials, such as branches.

The Art Garden also has a round sculpture called You Are the Art Frame, in which people enjoying the area can go behind it and be photographed by someone, with the circle creating a “frame” for them, making them a piece of art.

“It’s still a work in progress, but it’s meant to showcase the people who come and sit,” she said. “It makes them the art.”

Hamilton has been thriving with art creation, particularly with the Fitton Center for Creative Arts and the Streetspark murals program, which is not connected to the murals being painted beneath the parking garage.

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