Concrete Canvas Art Festival returns to Hamilton

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If you’ve been driving around Hamilton, you may have noticed beautiful painted artwork on the side of buildings. But you may not realize that those paintings are a tribute to hip-hop.

They are part of a visual arts festival combining graffiti art and musical acts.

It’s called the Concrete Canvas Art Festival. While the hip-hop music festival is just this weekend, the graffiti is here to stay.

Pier 4 Park was transformed into a celebration of hip-hop, including art, food, workshops, and more. Eye-popping art and colour-infused murals were also part of the festival.

Artist Leon Robinson, also known as Eklipz, came up with the idea in 1995.

His love of hip-hop and art led him to paint graffiti on the side of Hamilton buildings.

Over the years he developed a partnership with the City and he now puts on this hip-hop festival along with guiding the artwork on downtown buildings.

“Graffiti is one of the elements of hip-hop so we have really changed the paradigm of what the City of Hamilton thought graffiti was,” Ekpliz said.

The one at the corner of James and Wilson St. was spray painted by Alex Bacon.

“You see this thing, spray can, it all started with this, and graffiti is an essential element of hip-hop,” Bacon said.

Bacon said he’s gone through about 300 cans of paint on this mural.

The artist has been painting for 30 years, and he said it’s expensive and time consuming, but said it’s a labor of love.

“I just hope that people enjoy the nice facelift on this old building and enjoy the artwork and the festival in town concrete canvas.”

To find all of the paintings and murals around the city, just check out the map on the festival’s website.

As for the art on the buildings, you can expect to see even more in the future.

“A lot of building owners are calling us saying hey, we have a building, can you put something on our building,” Eklipz said.

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