Illustrated City Part 10

The Gallery of Shadows

Location, location, location!

For this urban photography project, I’m not just looking for street art and hardcore graffiti that I think is executed well, I’m looking to find them in places of real character and ambiance. Places that seem to help the street art to have impact either when you see them in person of through photography. Of course, I continue to wonder if the location of street art especially that, which is unsolicited, are always strategic moves to the people putting them there or just of convenience.

For this series, I’m finding pieces that I think are quite strong aesthetically, socially or politically because of their placement but not many. I’m still searching.

I have come across places in cities; even the one I live in, where I actually wish someone would put up a sophisticated mural or an elaborate tag just as I have come across places that I think should have been left alone (one blogger [Cardinal Guzman] aptly likens the latter circumstance to dogs marking territory).

9 thoughts on “Illustrated City Part 10

    • This is all new ethical graffiti from The Tivoli Theatre Off The Wall Street Art Project just last June. The Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble (CBYE) that owns the building, the Hamilton Police Service and the Beasley Neighbourhood Association teamed up to provide a legal outlet for street artists in the city of Hamilton. I wanted to capture the work before it fades or rival unethical taggers cross-tag over it.

      The history of the edifice is rather important too. The Tivoli Theatre is an old Beasley neighbourhood building that became a popular movie cinema. Originally built in the 1870’s with stores on the ground floor and a carriage factory on top, it was turned into the Wonderland Theatre in 1908, and then renamed the Colonial in 1909. In 1913, it became known as the Princess, and opened as a theater or vaudeville playhouse in 1924 under the name of the Tivoli. From then, movies began to be shown in it. The Tivoli was the first, or third, cinema in Canada to show films with sound. The first time I ever saw Star Wars was there.

      Famous Players Theatres sold the Tivoli in 1988, and the new owner ended film screenings there in 1989. The space had been leased to a number of theatrical groups in subsequent years. Hollywood actor/film directors Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez filmed part of their most unpopular docudrama “Rated-X” in the Tivoli back in 1999.

      At least one of the theatrical groups that leased the building sunk a lot of money into renovating the structure that they didn’t even own. That’s really something because the extremely wealthy music retail enterprise owner wouldn’t spend a dime to fix it up; even though he told the city he would when he bought the theatre from Famous Players. He even tried ways of getting the city to pay for it all.

      On June 29, 2004, a section of the Tivoli’s south side wall had collapsed. Fortunately no one was in the building at the time. The city found the remaining roof and supporting structure to be deteriorating and unsafe to the public. City Hall was faced with the decision to arbitrarily condemn and rip out the remaining weakened portions of the structure. Appropriately, so the story goes, City Hall stuck the owner with the $560, 000 cleanup bill. Indignant, the owner tried to sue the city, and was able to get most of what was left of the Tivoli demolished before the LACAC (Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee) succeeded in having the old landmark remnants declared as a Canadian heritage site.

      It’s roughly half to 3/4 of the original building that is left now, and the ruins became one of many lingering blights on the face of the downtown core for years. The non-profit Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble purchased the remnants, and began working to come up with the upwards of $12 million (eventually $15 million, and yet more as costs continue to inflate) needed to build a new theatre that is, at most, in honor of the old Tivoli.

      In 2008, the Heritage and Urban Design group prepared and published three optional architectural renderings for exploring the potential of site re-development of the James Street North portion of the demolished theatre. Each design featured old and modern aesthetics that complimented each other, and maximized space. It was presumed by some that the new owners would have to bring in other arts groups in order to rebuild the theatre, and keep it going.

      As the CBYE continues to own the property and pursue redevelopment for their use, they hosted the project for permitting the new street art to go up here.

      Nicely done!

      There’s much more street art there than what’s in the picture above. I may show more in future posts. I may even return there because there’s one or two pieces that I didn’t shoot, and am still interested in doing so under more favourable natural light conditions.

  1. I know how street art can be so expressive and can make an impression.
    To where I’m at, the sketches on the walls are more wholesome and light. A lot of which are related to the business of what the building ventures. While thoroughly love deeper graffiti, I also enjoy simple art drawings thst can also be illustrative.

  2. An excellent photo & inspiring as always. I have a holiday coming up very soon & rather than be the usual tourist I am going to try & get some themes going in the shots I take. One of them was street art like this. Lets hope I’m as fortunate.

  3. I thought the photo was great ; then, I read what you had written to nanoymango and found the photo even more captivating. The history is very interesting. A very nice description of what has been going on with this building. I hope you do capture some more photo’s. I would enjoy seeing them.
    Well done …

    • Update; Friday August 10 will be the third installment of the Off The Wall Street Art Project at the Tivoli, so I’m likely to shoot more work from that location.

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