A week ago, my brother and I jumped on a bus in Hamilton to take a tour of Brantford artist Dave Hind’s work and studio. The experience positively blew my hair back. Dave is one of my absolute favourite artists, melding aesthetic, story, community, collaboration and makerly fabrication in his projects expressed through layered, riveted and abraded aluminum works. And he’s a helluva nice guy.
The results are eye-popping, richly rendered narratives like this 2017 piece, “La Landscape de Kanata”, completed as a collaborative public commission involving other artists and contributors, celebrating Brantford-born Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris, while being aware of this place and complete history.
Click through for a completely unreasonable number of photos from the day trip, but first let me give a shout out to Annette and Ned from Hamilton Arts Council who organize/host/make possible the art bus tours. Secondly…
Annette put me on to HAC’s Hamilton Rising app, that connects people with stuff happening in the community in a geo-aware, calendar-integrated way and can be found at all the usual app purveyors. I’m a new user, but it looks pretty cool. Love to see this in the tech-steeped Waterloo Region. Ok, on to the pics…
This must be the place to catch the bus.
Foreground: David G. White, painter, welder, photographer, fabricator, brother.
Seemed sort of funny to drive to Hamilton, only to get on a bus to Brantford straight away. But we made this pay off on they way home with a stop at Valentino’s for Italian food.
Where Dave met us downtown to talk about…
the aforementioned “La Landscape de Kanata”.
Lots of questions, lots of history behind the project. To me, this is fascinating. You can see a piece of art and appreciate it at some level. When you have the artist unroll the concepts, challenges, surprises, opportunities and execution of the piece for… well, that’s a whole deeper level.
Trying to remember when I first saw Dave’s work. I think I was walking by the Paula White Diamond Gallery in uptown Waterloo and saw his pop-riveted aluminum pieces through the window and it stopped me in my tracks. Pop rivets! This is for me.
Then I was doing a 2012 piece on some artist lightning talks at Glenhyrst in Brantford, and in addition to my friend Jack Jackowetz, there was also this fellow named Dave Hind speaking.
And a few years after that I was shooting the TH&B United show in Hamilton at the Cotton Factory and Dave is part of that collective, so he got caught in my lens again.
You may have very well seen Dave’s work in Kitchener, up on 1 Victoria if you’re driving northbound toward King. His stylized barn piece stands out.
And to Dave’s home and studio on a lot in the city so big…
that it includes a barn, beehives and a good sized workshop/studio.
For a fan of Dave’s work like me, this place was a cornucopia: pieces abounding.
It is as my friend Josh Bean (who worked in the arts in Brantford) described: Dave’s work is part of the world, out in the October sun like a visual smorgasbord. Not too precious, but instead, sturdy in its construction and accessible.
Not too far from it’s pre-transformation origin of reclaimed materials.
These pieces of painted or anodized(?) aluminum are abraded with a rotary tool to reveal shiny bits of the underlying aluminum.
I was curious how the bright silver finish was preserved, because aluminum oxide is quite a dull grey. The surprising and delightful answer: bees’ wax.
Going through the various tiles was endlessly interesting.
Some were harder to decode…
to the studio.
Dave described his shift from working in steel, with its inevitable rust patina, to working in aluminum. It was a serendipitous discovery when a family member (if I’m remembering this correctly) salvaged some shelving or cabinets that just happened to contain these test billets of painted aluminum.
That was the seed of the material shift.
Dave has continued to reclaim aluminum from a variety of sources to serve his practice. He described the challenges of more modern materials being plastic-coated aluminum (vs paint coated or anodized), which doesn’t lend itself as well to the same sort of drawing-with-a-Dremel. It was interesting to learn that some of the brighter hues of aluminum are more rare in the wild and used here with careful planning.
Tools! Too keep up with the volume of work, Dave has now hired assistants into the studio.
It’s a privilege to be invited into an artist’s studio. Invariably, I find these spaces to be an outward manifestation of the internal creative process undertaken there. A creative river delta, if you will, accumulating the talismans and charms important to the artist. Visually sifting through the studio, I find myself divining other facets of the artist. I think I first realized this with my brother’s workspace.
Gotta be a story behind this tiger cap.
A piece like this shows you Dave knows how to draw. For me, drawing is the litmus test. If you can cut a line just so to suggest underlying bones and tendons, get the planes right, model shadow in a believable way, then that’s a few levels up. Respect.
Someone in the tour group said this work was reminiscent of a wood cut print and asked if Dave had every printed from his aluminum pieces.
yes. This print was pulled from an inked piece that was never intended to print (note the reverse text). The detail is striking.
This square-holed coin, riffing perhaps on Chinese coins, reminded me of Dave’s journey to China to create art. Having followed along on Instagram, I had to ask what path led from Brantford to China. Dave told me it was a lucky series of connections with the right person who saw his work online and a desire to engage a foreign artist and the next thing he knew, he was having phone calls with China to set up the project.
Dave explained to his Chinese hosts that he would need to visit scrap yards in China to collect materials for his piece there. They assured him they would outfit him with brand new material and it took some negotiating to work out access to reclaim used materials and bewildering a few scrap yard operators.
Back outside: evidence of human life. Regular readers know handwriting in shops and on tools resonates with me.
The required industry of this art making is everywhere.
I could shoot this endlessly. Patterns, textures like fingerprints. Organic designs scraped out of metal. Delightful.
In the yard…
Dave turned us from visitors to participants…
Inviting us to contribute small designs to this new project “Between the Two Rows”. Right on!
Cleared some room for an impromptu work surface…
followed by a bit of an explanation. Draw out your design on these palm-sized bits of aluminum…
In fact, lots of designs from this crew.
Dave demonstrated the next step…
using a Dremel and tiny burr bit to remove the paint.
Then he put other artists…
in the driver’s seat.
to this. Incredible.
Thanks Dave to you and your family for having us all in. I think the best art changes us. Consider me changed.