Opinion

Public Art or Political Art?

I don't think Frankie "Venom" Kerr would have liked a politician telling him the themes for his songs.

By Santo Barbieri
Published April 18, 2014

On November 19, 2013, Councillor Brian McHattie and City staff presented a project for a statue in Victoria Park to the Strathcona Community Council (SCC). The proposed art piece has a budget of $200,000, which was set aside for a Public Art project in Victoria Park in 2011 by Councillor McHattie as part of Ward 1 area rating monies.

The project is named The Frankie Venom Art Project after the late singer of Teenage Head. Die-hard fans may not believe this but many in this city don't know who Frankie "Venom" Kerr is.

Tom Wilson (the musician) and his daughter Madeline Wilson (his tour manager) presented the idea for the project to Councillor McHattie. Madeline Wilson is also the daughter of Ward 1 candidate Sandie Shaw. Councillor McHattie was kind enough to attend Madeline's stag and doe earlier this year.

According to the SCC president Jonathan Therien, there is strong support from the community according to his research as an employee at Rolly Rockets bar/grill.

Ken Coit (City of Hamilton, Art in Public Places Coordinator) wrote, "based on my work so far and the comments of the Focus Group he (Frankie) had a meaningful connection with many Strathcona residents and the park is at the Centre of the neighbourhood."

My first thought was, "Does that include the large number of Italians, Portuguese, Greeks and Asians who live in the area and who are also tax payers?"

I asked Mr. Coit to show me the research he used to support his statement. He didn't reply to my request.

I contacted Councillor McHattie regarding this issue and once again no reply. Tom Wilson was interviewed on CHML (scroll down to Scott Thompson files) by fan and host Scott Thompson this week and he had a great idea about health care for artists but failed to show the relevance to the statue expenditures.

He also failed to mention that statues like that of Stevie Ray Vaughan in Austin, TX were entirely paid by private money.

A focus group was formed by Councillor McHattie and the Wilsons with one neighbourhood resident who isn't on the SCC. Members of Frankie's family attended the Focus Group meeting and strong support for the project was the final result.

The SCC endorsed the project despite the fact they have no authority to do so on behalf of the citizens of Strathcona. The SCC claims to be the voice of the community, but it sounds like the voice of Brian McHattie to me.

The Victoria Park Public Art Competition - Strathcona Community Council Report states, "Frankie Venom rose to national and international fame" and "inspired a generation of national and international musicians" and "Councillor McHattie suggested a bike rack project honouring other local musicians."

International fame is just as questionable as, "Few are aware of this outside of Hamilton, let alone around the world. Yet Hamilton ranks with London and New York City as the Canadian city with the most profound contribution to one of the most significant, international counter-cultural movements of the 20th century," written by Ryan Moran (volunteer on McHattie campaign) in his Raise the Hammer article.

Wow! What a claim to fame. If few are aware of it outside of Hamilton, it may be because it's not true.

The same aforementioned report also makes mention that: "Two members of the SCC volunteered to be part of the project jury." I asked Ken Coit if I could be a juror and what the procedure was to be a juror. He didn't reply to my request.

Further, the Report concludes, "The group enthusiastically supported the proposal." The beginning of the Report by the SCC uses the term "proposed theme" and the Report ends, "It is anticipated that this work will be completed in early 2014". It started with a proposed theme and ended with a done deal.

Councillor McHattie stated in a Hamilton Spectator article, "The decision has been made. We are moving ahead. I can't see any substantive problems."

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who are footing the bill for the project didn't have a clue about it. The project came to my attention through an email sent by the SCC sent on December 20, 2013 for the project and was buried among other items with a link for more details. Why was the information sent around Christmas and a month after the meeting?

According to local artist and gallery owner Bryce Kanbara, "In no other of the City's competitions has the subject of the sculpture for a site been as predetermined. Notwithstanding Frankie Venom's contribution to Hamilton, there should be an open process where a range of possible subjects and themes could be presented and discussed. This is the way in which other public art projects have been coordinated - the criteria for sculptures are general to allow artists the opportunity to respond with creative ideas."

Again I tried to get a response from Councillor McHattie about this issue in February of 2014 and he refused to reply. So I started a door-to-door petition against the project for all of the above reasons. So far about 99% of those contacted have signed it.

Until the recent Spectator articles I estimate 95% of the residents I spoke to didn't know about the project. So far, I have gathered about 170 signatures in the neighbourhood.

According to Tom Wilson, those opposed to the idea "have no love in their hearts." I believe the SCC and Councillor McHattie were trying to keep a lid on the project to prevent the uproar which is now occurring. That uproar went viral when The Spectator first reported the story on this past Saturday. But an uproar had already begun in the Strathcona neighbourhood before that article.

Many who knew Frankie the man, not the musician, claimed he had few redeeming qualities as this article written by a veteran Canadian music journalist displays.

Presumably, after several emails and complaints which have stemmed from my petition, Councillor McHattie wanted to meet with me privately and contacted me. I refused his offer as I thought it would be unethical to meet in private over an issue which clearly needs to be discussed in an open and public forum.

The SCC and Councillor McHattie set a date for a public meeting on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Here was my response: "The date you chose for a public meeting falls on the same night as the Strathcona School Council meeting and the night beginning a long weekend. If you are interested in minimizing the turn out it's a great night. I prefer to maximize the turnout so you can get a fair idea of what people think of your proposed art project. How about the following week?"

Councillor Merulla in this Spectator article would agree with me.

Jonathan Therien, the president of the SCC responded, "Being the Thursday before Easter Weekend is not a conflict and it should not be presented as one."

The raison d'ĂȘtre of any community council is to help facilitate information between the councillor and the community. There is no mention about the meeting on the SCC website and they have ignored my request to help me with flyers to inform the neighbourhood.

Any citizen of Hamilton interested in adding their name to an online petition can do so.

Councillor McHattie has expressed that the Frankie Venom Public Art Memorial is to be the first of a series of statues honouring Hamilton Artists. I think the best way to honour Hamilton artists is to stop dictating the themes on which to base their art. I don't think Frankie "Venom" Kerr would have liked a politician telling him the themes for his songs.

Santo Barbieri is a stay home dad and long time resident of the Strathcona neighbourhood.

51 Comments

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 13:48:45

I find in many neighbourhoods local issues fly under the radar until something big blows up. I can think of something similar happening on Queensdale, up on the mountain, with bike lanes, which no one knew were coming until we got a flyer telling us that a trial project would be starting.

You're fortunate that you at least have a community council that seems to publish newsletters and have a website. I'm sure they try their best to report on what's going on, but it's probably run by volunteers, so I would try not to be too critical of them.

The only comment of yours I thought was odd was the refusal of a private meeting because it would be "unethical". People meet privately with their Councillors all the time to give them feedback on plans, and to discuss personal issues. I don't think you should view it as unethical. Often times a face to face meeting is the best way to discuss things quickly and resolve them amicably.

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By krist (registered) - website | Posted April 18, 2014 at 14:26:00 in reply to Comment 100433

Thanks for supporting volunteers Robert, your reply made my day.

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By krist (registered) - website | Posted April 18, 2014 at 14:24:47

Hello everyone, I am Krist Hayes and I volunteer to maintain the Strathcona Community Council website. I appreciate everything that Santo has done to promote the public meeting and how he has worked hard to ensure that our neighbours knew about the meeting. I would be the first to admit that I did not do my part to help promote the event as much as I could have. I have a passion for being an engaged member of my community, just as all my fellow SCC members do. Sadly, I also have to work for a living, and being a teacher, have been using my time lately ensuring that my students come first. What is great is that the SCC is proud to be a voice for the community. Living in a neighbourhood as large and fantastic as ours, this doesn't mean we are the only voice. I'm happy to see that it's led to so much enthusiasm in civic engagement. I encourage everyone who got so involved in this process to keep it up. It would be a shame if the passion was fueled by disappointment with a specific politician and shopped short of continual neighbourhood improvement.

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By ToddHorning2 (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:42:23 in reply to Comment 100437

Krist, the meeting wasn't even posted on the SCC website. Not on the SCC FB page either. I had to get my daughter to show me to use the search function to find the Frankie Venom statue info on the SCC website. that's not promoting an event. if you're a voice for the community, why didn't you fairly acknowledge the members of the community that had issues with the project? If people don't agree with you, does that make them non-members of the community and unworthy of the SCC's support? I like the town hall idea by Scrap. Can the SCC meetings be attended by residents?

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 16:55:08

As a resident of Strathcona, I agree that the SSC does a poor job of informing the neighbourhood of things it is doing. It would be beneficial if they held Town halls to give people the opportunity for feedback.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 17:40:30 in reply to Comment 100442

As a resident of Strathcona are you going to volunteer to help the SCC to plan a town hall? Call around and find a location (or do you have a location to volunteer)? Put out advertisements?

The SCC, and any volunteer neighbourhood organization, is only as strong as what people are willing to contribute. It's easy to sit back and complain it's not "good enough" it's harder to actually be willing to try and improve it.

If I were in the SSC, complaints like yours would make me feel underappreciated, and I would stop doing anything for the community.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 18:50:55 in reply to Comment 100444

Robert, I have done much volunteering thru the years, not at the SCC though. I did speak I believe at an AGM. So I find your comment out of line.I do believe I put my name down for email updates which have not been forth coming.I do not believe my comment was out of line, as it is undemocratic for say 9 people speaking or involved in decisions that the entire neighbourhood should at least know about

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 09:46:06 in reply to Comment 100450

Your original post was not complaining bout 9 people speaking or involve in decisions that the entire neighbourhood should know about. Your original comment was "It would be beneficial if they held Town halls to give people the opportunity for feedback."

I agree. It would also be nice if they could televise the town hall and have people call in, or if they walked door to door to get feedback from everyone over the course of weeks.

But my point was, you can't fault VOLUNTEERS for "not doing enough" unless you are willing to do something too.

I live on the mountain, and we have no neighbourhood organization. So count yourself lucky.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 17:19:04 in reply to Comment 100459

Is beginning a neighbourhood association something you'd be interested in doing? I'd like to see one for Centremount, too.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 13:47:50 in reply to Comment 100459

Robert, I know full well what is involved on planning a town hall event, as I have been part of that process.
Currently my health is a big factor in my involvement of things.

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 17:38:04

At that meeting last night both Tom and Madline Wilson very eloquently expressed the basis of their idea, Their concept if allowed to follow through would have in the long run boosted the economy, as well as commemorating some great artists, musicians that did put Hamilton on the map...weather you are aware of this or not...it is true...McHattie apologized for the way it all came out, but it was the press that mislead and misinformed the public as well. There is an art budget that is clear. I have read many slanderous and defamatory comments about Frank Kerr (Venom) that are based on here say,, bar room gossip. Specifically the domestic abuse charges...if you were privy to the truth of that situation you would not be repeating it...not all is how it seems. What this succeeded in doing was hurt people, enrage the ones that actually knew Frank as both the man and the musician. Teenage Head actually got a platinum album, not just gold but platinum.. They presented one to the City of Hamilton, a city at one time backed them. The choice for Frankie to be the first in a series was based on the fact that weather you know it or not..put Hamilton on the map. Playing to sold out shows across the country, making headlines and always stating they were from Hamilton. Books have been written about them and when Frank died people across the country, knowing him personally or not mourned. Those are the facts. Tom and Madeline's idea was to establish Hamilton as a Music Town, we offer and have always offered fantastic musicians and this was supposed to be the start and not the whole. The Victoria Park area was definitely not the best time in Franks life, I am wondering if the proposal had been put to the citizens of West Hamilton, particularly the Westdale area, if it not have been welcomed with more open arms. The members of the band are all from West Hamilton, they thrived there. But I believe all this controversy and actually disgusting and slanderous comments have just gone to show me, maybe this city doesn't really deserve it. It's a shame...the concept was good, it would have eventually been good for Hamilton...but hey let's not let anything like that happen...

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 18:08:00

One more thing to express a point about believing what you read and assuming...I read at the bottom of this little blog..that Santo is a stay at home Dad...should I assume he is on welfare, that my tax dollars are supporting him, no I should not. I have no idea if that is the case, but in print and gossip, it does become someone's truth...it's a shame, but it's apparently the way some people are.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 18:55:54 in reply to Comment 100446

Well written Joan.

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By Lillipu' (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 18:34:25

Sounds to me like Santo should be running for Ward 1 Councillor

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By sharonWilks (registered) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 18:54:52

Sounds to me like Santo should definitely do something more important with his time. Stop crushing other people's dreams and have one of his own.

Also, if you don't know who frankie is why the heck are you making a judgement call on his behalf?!

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By Bill Withers (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 21:48:03

Listen to "Picture my Face" by Teenage Head. It is comparable to any song by The Rolling Stones. Perhaps Frankie Venom is not as well-known globally as, say, Stevie Ray Vaughan, however his spirit and his artistry has helped to define this city for decades. This statue is a way to show some respect for his contribution to rock n roll. Just listen to the music, and then perhaps your position may sway.
-Bill

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By redmike (registered) | Posted April 18, 2014 at 23:50:21

My first thought was, "Does that include the large number of Italians, Portuguese, Greeks and Asians who live in the area and who are also tax payers?" does this sound as racist to others as it does to me? not "lets burn a cross on a lawn" racist. more of a "hey, i know a black family in barrie. the campbells? tom and linda? your black. do you know them?" type of racist.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 07:00:36

I'd love to hear more about your definition of the term racist. Sounds fascinating.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 10:04:57

Santo Brabieri says: "My first thought was, "Does that include the large number of Italians, Portuguese, Greeks and Asians who live in the area and who are also tax payers?" why would santos FIRST THOUGHT be that a strathcona resident of italian, portuguese, greek and asian background would automatically vote en masse against the statue only because of their ethnicity? racism. by his own admission, santos FIRST THOUGHT wasnt about the age, income level,educational background, duration of residency or any other factor of the residents consulted, just their ethnicity. racism. santo clearly feels and has clearly stated that ethnic, hyphenated Canadians in strathcona neighbourhood think and behave as a single entity BECAUSE they are of an ethnic background. racism.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 20:58:50 in reply to Comment 100460

That's not racism > not even close.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 02:30:30 in reply to Comment 100487

whats your definition?

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted April 19, 2014 at 11:33:05

Hamilton could use some diversity in it's public art, whether we're talking Statues or Supercrawls. It is not out of line to think of an area as ethnically diverse as Strathcona and question that aspect of what public art would mean to the community. This neighbourhood was hit with 1970 urban renewal to make York Blvd a nice entrance to the city, at the cost of the diverse ethnic communities who actually lived, worked and played along York. So yeah, racism. I am personally in favour of more public art, I think Teenage Head were important to Hamilton/Canada music, and I will still probably vote for McHattie. But when the perfect storm hit with all three factors at play, it was a disaster, in my opinion. I'm pretty sure most things said about Mr Kerr were public record (otherwise people shouldn't say things that can't be proven true about someone - which includes I guess the cheap shot at Mr Barbieri by Joan (Anonymous) - it has nothing to do with the discussion, and it also stigmatizes people who are on welfare.) Mr Kerr was the subject of a public art project, so his background is more relevant to that kind of discussion, whether you like it or not.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 12:22:43

"It is not out of line to think of an area as ethnically diverse as Strathcona and question that aspect of what public art would mean to the community. This neighbourhood was hit with 1970 urban renewal to make York Blvd a nice entrance to the city, at the cost of the diverse ethnic communities who actually lived, worked and played along York" true, very true. personally i attended sjam high for four years in the eighties. socializing, studying and partying with a very very ethnically diverse group of friends in the strathcona neighbourhood. these people i remember would be very open to a statue of frankie venom as they were proud of teenage head. they put us on the map as far as we were concerned. why is santos FIRST thought that the people in his neighbourhood of ethnic heritage wouldnt support frankie venom? cause only "white" people liked and respected teenage head?

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By sharonWilks (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 13:29:47

I attended the meeting and I have much to say. I am a dancer, an actor, a touring Canadian musician, a certified school teacher, a volunteer, and am also a first generation Italian-Canadian. So, my interests and concerns, of course encompass all these areas: the arts of all types, education and youth, as well as cultural diversity. I'd like to express my opinion directly to Santo and the other seemingly narrow-minded people who appear to quickly combat an idea that they simply have no interest in. Santo... what exactly does your quote about ethnic groups mean? To me, it appears that you are stating that ethnic-Canadians have no interest in the arts. Perhaps you didn't express yourself properly... similar to your vague, perhaps egotistical and not very eloquent arguments voiced at the community meeting. I understand and can see that you are upset that you and other members of the community were not included in the initial decision process regarding the statue idea. It was an idea, however. An idea that was accepted and believed in by McHattie and other members at City Hall. McHattie gracefully admitted that perhaps next time, the decision on public art should be taken to the community first. That is the quality of a great leader. My question is, were you so quick to jump on the bandwagon regarding the decisions on the bus lanes, or all of the other city endeavours? Perhaps you were. And like the Rolling Stones sang, "You can't always get what you want." You probably have never heard of the Rolling Stones though. To you and the others whose anger was focused on a statue of an infamous musician who perhaps you've never heard of, there are many statues and pieces of art that commemorate and honor people I have never heard of either. However, they bring awareness to a community about art and artistic individuals. These pieces of art make a bold statement and draw in tourists. We aren't going to always feel a personal connection with every piece of art that goes up in a city. Council cannot always appease every group within the community. Shockingly, I'm not a hockey fan, but if the community decided to mount a statue of Zac Rinaldo, I'd realize the importance of that and how it contributes to the development of community pride and national awareness. And if the amount of money that was to be spent on the development of the statue, paying the LOCAL artist to design and build it, etc... was the big problem for you, well could you not have suggested that perhaps less money was spent and not knock the idea completely? What are you really fighting... because to me it appears that you have a personal vendetta. By the way... I saw you with your phone to your ear for a large portion at the community meeting. Isn't this an issue that you feel passionately about? I find it difficult to see your passion on this issue when I watched you on your phone more often than not. Tom Wilson, Madeline Wilson, and Brian McHattie were focused, passionate, and truly concerned. Their hearts and minds were open and they had an idea. So what if you didn't agree with the importance of it. or know who Frankie Venom was? Many don't know who Glenn Gould is and there is a giant life size bronze statue of him in front of the CBC building in Toronto. I bet that gets residents, children, and tourists questioning who this is... and perhaps sends them on a quest to find out. It's about building awareness. Apparently, you'd rather live in a little box and not contribute to planting seeds in order for your community to flourish.

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By WHamilton (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 08:41:03 in reply to Comment 100464

You have to use paragraphs, or a post of that length is not very readable.

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By Jonathan Therien (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 13:35:32

To allude in anyway that the Strathcona Community Council is a tool for a councillor's political motives is a statement of selfish ignorance. Based on a series of omissions and misinformation by that individual.

The SCC is and will always be, by the efforts of its volunteers and its constitution, an organizational tool for all residents of the Strathcona neighbourhood. It is entirely free and open for all residents to volunteer their time to work as a team with other volunteer residents.

The SCC seeks to accomplish two things for the residents that choose to use it: 1) To gather and share information that concerns the neighbourhood, and, 2) To promote and plan activites that maintain and reflect the lifestyle of the residents of the neighbouhood.

It will always be up to those who choose to connect, stay connected, and work as a team to decide how these two tasks are implemented.

The interaction between Councillor McHattie and the SCC has always been based on sharing and respectful feedback. We have it understood that the councillor for Ward 1 is elected to represent the residents of this Ward in City Council and that communication with the councillor will be up to those residents to ensure they are properly represented. The SCC was created by the residents to ensure a relationship with that standard of communication exists. To this day that standard has been maintained by both sides. If any residents, like Santo, feel this is not the case then choose to get involved and stay involved to make our team stronger.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 13:51:11 in reply to Comment 100465

Could you give details as to the next meeting,when and where please.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 16:37:13 in reply to Comment 100467

You can sign up here for their emails to find out about upcoming meetings.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 18:49:54 in reply to Comment 100470

Thanks for the response highwater, however it should be noted on the website when and where the next meeting is, at least that is what I think. I f people want to get involved there is no info. It looks like a closed club, at least that is what it appears to be, not sayuing it is!

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By krist (registered) - website | Posted April 20, 2014 at 08:39:48 in reply to Comment 100476

Hi Scrap, We do have a contact page where you can email us, this is typically how we've got our members. It's actually how I joined. Anyway, I agree, we should be putting the type of information that you're looking for online. I agree with transparency, and will be bringing the topic to the group. Meetings and minutes public posted on the website will be a discussion point at our next meeting. Thanks for your feedback!

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 21, 2014 at 15:29:52 in reply to Comment 100494

Thanks so much Krist.

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 19:09:21

@rrrandy...it was not a cheap shot at all, it was pointing out that because something is said or read, does not make it true. I have nothing against Welfare, Disability etc. if you need it...you need it. Please re read what I wrote... And you will note that I say to assume...and no I should not. My point is Santo and several other people read articles or heard things without knowing the facts..and then repeated them as if they knew that they were true. I happen to be one of the lucky people that was able to call Frank a friend..I have known him since we were quite young..pre high school, I do happen to know some of the facts surrounding his personal life. Th

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 19:15:26

I hit post before I was finished...the whole point of this was to be about identifying Hamilton as a music town. It was supposed to be about what was contributed in that aspect...in my first comment, I pointed out some of, and definitely not all that supported the decision..to use the image of Frank, or Teenage Head as the first in a series, based on what was contributed musically.....that is all...as I said prior, it was supposed to be a start. Not the finish.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 20:37:01 in reply to Comment 100481

"a bike rack project honouring other local musicians"

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 19:31:00

By Joan, what you wrote was clear and well people tend not to really read the lines. It was clear that you wrote that it is nobodies business about a stay at home dad's source of income, nor should it. Stay at home dad is the same as a stay at home mom, at least that is what I think. What irks me, is that I have heard people complaining about taxes, yet, as taxpayers, we just paid for a state funeral for someone who destroyed many lives in this province, people died from the implementation of thier policies. Come on people, wake up, please



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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2014 at 21:07:48

So Santo, I wish that you have had updated info, however, you have not.

So as a so called journalist, it would appear that you have not verified your sources. I usually applaud those who delve into indepedent media.

You have not done justice to those who have worked hard to ensure that independant media is valid.

Anyone can have a view, however to present things as facts, you must be upfront, which you have not, sir.

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By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 08:45:02

Joan,
Great post! However, this counselor has dropped the ball again, he has conducted himself the same with other issues in our ward. The people involved (pro or con) in the current issue are all victims of this counselor and his inability to engage in public opinion, his public is a small circle of friends and followers who bark loud, make changes without consultation to the entire community, unfortunately with this approach error happens. I was a supporter however with this current issue I now realize we are dealing with a wolf in sheep's clothing!
I feel for Franks family, friends and other supporters of this project, unfortunately we are all victims of someones personal ideologies and political agenda.

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 09:45:07

By Ms Me...I get what you are saying, and it's a shame that it all went down the way it did. I did see the original proposal back in November though, I thought it was going to go forward from there..I feel you may be right. Speaking as a citizen of Hamilton, not the ward necessarily, I felt overall it would be good for the city, and now thinking more on it..Gage Park, possibly as that park always hosted musical events, but again it is too late. I have been reading links to other press articles written outside of the city of Hamilton, and I believe more than ever now, that it would have been really great for our city. Those articles seem to be more focused on the backlash that stopped the project, mostly citing it as a shame, and much less on the controversy surrounding Frank's personal life. It's sad that outside of our city, people are focused on the musician, get past the personal (and again I say are not necessarily what they seem) and seem to know more about the musical related contributions that he and the entire band actually did. I am afraid these articles make us a city look foolish. I say to those who didn't know him, and did not want to support it because of that fact, it appears a whole country did.

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By ToddHorning2 (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:31:41

That giant Glenn Gould statue was privately funded as most tributes to artists are (Stevie Ray Vaughan in Austin, Johnny Ramone in a cemetery in Hollywood, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc.). Take some time to look into this (too bad City Hall, McHattie and other supporters didn't). Frankie Venom's fans have all the right in the world to raise funds themselves for a public art project and then seek approval from City of Hamilton residents/Council as to a location. No one is stopping anyone from doing that.

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 12:38:37

Great idea, and that is actually being discussed amongst friends, fans, club owners, etc. Mind you though, it was supposed to be one in a series, doesn't really go with the original idea of establishing Hamilton as a Music Town, but it could be a start.

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By ToddHorning2 (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 14:33:50 in reply to Comment 100499

I don't want to offend anyone but have to ask this. Does the idea include honouring every member of every Hamilton band with statues? Ka-ching. that's 5 or 6 in Teenage Head I think. there's other Hamilton bands and solo artists. so are we looking at 30 or more $200,000 statues in this series? I'm definitely not in favour of that. that's why private funding is the way to go for statues. I'd rather see a music museum. Actually scrap the "museum" part. a building that pays tribute to Hamilton music. Musicians that are gone and even ones that are still vital. Interactive with videos, memorabilia, cool current stuff. Put the $200,000 towards that.Maybe some brainstorming is needed on this Music Town spending that involves way more people.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 13:54:59 in reply to Comment 100499

As far as a city music strategy goes, Hamilton was playing catch-up even before this item went before the SCC:

app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.ED27.2

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By Joan (registered) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 16:38:23

Seems we are always playing catch up, but that doesn't really matter. We can always catch up and surpass. Hamilton is stronger than people give us credit for. Private funding will probably pull this one through, it will be done with "heart" and "love". By no means was there to be any implication, that it wouldn't involve other talents of note, that contributed to establishing Hamilton within the ranks. I am lucky to know personally a lot of them, current ones that is, recently lost, etc...and ones prior I know about, just not personally...I am not that old Without the city and the residents of the city behind it with art budgets etc, I am not sure how far it will go. It then puts it into individual groups to work on and to get behind the rest of our talent and keep carrying it on. There already a lot of residents that want to see this happen. Once we start, we will make it happen, we will inform the public and they can help, or not it will be up to the individual at that point. I plan on making myself as active in this as the family and Tom and Madeline, etc want me to be. I can really foresee nothing but benefit for any neighbourhood, the business owners, etc of whatever neighbourhood..says yes, wholeheartedly bring it on! And then I wouldn't be expecting criticism if it only goes so far, without some sort of backing, we can only do so much..but it will be the best that we can. Seems like there are a fair lot of you on this posting that would be interested...so I will keep you posted when we get the ball rolling.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 18:27:39

I'm late to this discussion, but wonder what does this mean: "Madeline Wilson is also the daughter of Ward 1 candidate Sandie Shaw. Councillor McHattie was kind enough to attend Madeline's stag and doe earlier this year."

Relevance to the discussion about the worthiness of a Frankie Venom statue? No. Let's keep the personal attacks to a minimum.

Brian McHattie listens to criticism, takes it into account, and has the ability to change his mind, based on new information. That's a great character trait in someone who wants to lead our city into the 21st century.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 21:52:28 in reply to Comment 100504

Maximum respect to anyone willing to lead 2014 Hamilton into the 21st century.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 18:43:09 in reply to Comment 100506

Yes, I know it's the 21st century. I wrote it that way on purpose (e.g. we are barely in the 21st century in Hamilton).

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2014 at 22:22:08 in reply to Comment 100506

Ergo, let's focus criticism on the legitimate flaws to the Vic Park initiative without resorting to ad hominem sniping.

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By granny2 (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 13:10:20

McHattie and others are right that the process was handled badly, and unfortunately is now a setback for what is the kernel of a good idea. Celebrating Hamilton's contribution to music in public art is a great idea. Can we go back to that idea and consider a public proposal process by local artists? Is it too late to salvage a great idea?

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By WHamilton (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 15:12:01 in reply to Comment 100556

"McHattie and others are right that the process was handled badly"

It was McHattie who was handling the process...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 22, 2014 at 17:16:41 in reply to Comment 100557

Which he acknowledged and apologized for.

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By jessabun (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:20:23

I think a public art project commemorating local musicians and designed by local artists would be a great asset to the city, the art community and the economy surrounding the arts. If the first project was selected for Ward 2 instead, would Jason Farr be getting this much push back too? What if it was selected for Gage Park? what if the Arkells were selected instead? Not everyone knows who every Hamilton musician or artist is, and I don't think this has anything to do with ethnicity. Art is big business in this city and forms a large part of the local economy. As citizens of this city we should appreciate this.

I think that this project is far from political, public art is a key component of urban planning and projects are often representative of a local community. Perhaps this could have been handled in a way that is more inclusive for everyone with the understanding that every art project resonates differently with different people. Not everyone is going to be happy about every project, but every project will benefit the community and public spaces.

In any event, attendance at a stag and doe and the assumption that art projects depend on ethnicity of a community do not belong in this discussion. It was great of Santo to bring this into the light and make more people of the community aware, because after all, how can people participate in thoughtful discussion if they are unaware. However, it is unfair to blame the SCC for people not knowing about the meeting considering that the SCC is made of a group of volunteers, most of whom work full time and/or have families to care for.

Santo, since you did such a good job informing the community about this project (regardless of anyone's view point), why don't you join the SCC and volunteer your time to spread the word about future meetings and future projects. More community participation is needed to maintain successful representation, and though this is an assumption, I believe that much of strathcona is still unaware of the SCC's existence, and most people are not engaged the way you are.

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