Niagara Falls comes alive with the Night of Art

The Niagara Falls Night of Art was a resounding success this year / Rounaq Chabra

On Thursday September 22, the  fifth annual Niagara Falls Night of Art took over the Niagara Falls Historical Museum and the surrounding area Downtown, and proved to be a resounding success.

The free community event provided those interested or involved in the arts in Niagara a chance to enjoy live music, food stands, poetry readings and visual arts, wandering freely around the space. The Niagara Falls Night of Art appealed to more than just the “high-feluton” and the connoisseurs, however, as it attracted many families and artistic tourists from the region.

When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find a familiar face on the stage outside the museum. Edwin Conroy Jr., one of the actors in Cabaret Angst last week, was rocking out on stage for the community. He sang and played acoustic guitar and his performance was a brilliant start to the celebration.

The next musical performance was by Sarah Beatty on vocals and guitar and Bill Simms on upright bass. Their set was really enjoyable and was a great soundtrack to our wonderings around the event.

Following Beatty was Joel Van Vliet who played piano and sang lots of love songs to the smiling crowd. I, like the night’s host, can not help but mention his sense of humor. After every song he cracked a smile, told a self-deprecating joke and made us laugh.

Lastly, Niagara Falls locals, Road Waves, took the stage. Their particular brand of funky experimental prog rock got the audience moving. While they were the most distorted and plugged-in band of the evening, they felt just right to finish off the night at the museum.

The Niagara Falls History Museum and its galleries were open to the public, displaying the striking “Faces: Portraits from our City” exhibition.

Also worth mentioning, especially for our Brock readers, is that the Museum is home to the ongoing “Gale Family War of 1812 Gallery” which includes lots of information about 1812, artifacts, and the oil-paint portrait of one “Major-General Sir Isaac Brock” by John Wycliffe.

During the Night of Art, the creativity wasn’t placed behind velvet ropes, as there were even interactive displays, such as a replica 1812 soldier uniform that visitors could try on for a very historically themed selfie.

On the second floor of the museum were lots more artifacts as well as some art vendors. Another creative interactive display called the “Communi-Tree Group Project” which consisted of a large tree on paper and lots of yellow and green construction paper and scissors.

The artists had cut out some leaves beforehand and gave the participants the option of cutting their own out. They encouraged passers by to decorate some leaves however they see fit and to attach them to a bare branch of the tree. Contributors had left messages, and drawings to create one beautiful community work.

Down the stairs and outside I found myself at “The Shadow Hustle Bustle” which is an interactive display put on by Brain Kite Co. Artistic Solutions. The piece was a small conveyor belt with velcro strips on which the users affix a number of different toys or cutouts, turn on the conveyor, shine a light on them and get a shadow scene on the wall behind.

I talked to Katie Webb, one of the members of Brain Kite and she told me that the piece was something that they had in mind for a long time. Projects like that, one’s that artists have been meaning to put together for ages but aren’t totally sure how, are good examples of what Brain Kite likes to work on.

As Webb put it, Brain Kite is a group of very skilled artists who have connections in the area and are “based out of Niagara Falls but [they] work all over Ontario.” They work with artists who have “any kind of art project that [they] want to do” and they get everything together to “make things happen.” They do all sorts murals and window paintings on businesses as well.

After Road Waves finished their set, the After Party took place at SRC Vinyl, a local and online record store. They had lots of food including veggies, fresh rolls, pizza, and chips. Their long shop building has the perfect back yard space to host events, they had very stylish wooden furniture outside, a cash bar set up, and of course live music by Gil Hicks.  The store itself was open, and I browsed records for quite some time.

The Niagara Arts Showcase had a big presence throughout the evening, hosting a silent auction for art pieces by some of their member artists, as well as a door prize draw and a sign-up sheet for local artists to get their work out there. Myself, and I think just about everyone else who walked through the door signed up.

The store was plastered with artwork, mostly by “Playdead Cult” also known as, “StuDead” from Toronto. Some of his work is printed media like t-shirts, much of it was painting on wood. His designs were also painted onto electric guitars and record crates, all of which were for sale.

Stu told me about his growing up as a “Queen St. Kid” in Toronto and a little bit about his arts background. He told me that he had “more of a music background” and that music was really his “first career.” He has a store/studio in Toronto where his work is available, and it often shows up in SRC for display, as well as sale.

I also had the opportunity to talk to Jenna Miles the co-owner of SRC Vinyl about the shop and the Night of Art. The Niagara Falls art scene is “growing quite a bit” she told me, especially compared to when they first moved to the Falls in 2009.

The Niagara Night of Art keeps SRC busy all night and it is a great opportunity for members of the community to get out and interact with artists and other members of the community.

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