Clarence A. Porter didn't think young people really had the attention span for art anymore.
“I had this view of young people that they just look at things quickly and move on,” said the 64-year-old burgeoning artist.
Instead, people in their 20's have been taking their time with his new exhibition, called Steel View. It's running throughout July at De Facto, the gallery at Mulberry Street Coffee House.
“I'm surprised that young people are analyzing my art — studying it and commenting on it,” Porter said.
They're not just studying it — he's sold three of the larger pieces in this, his second art show.
But Porter also owes the idea for the show to a relative youngster. His son, who lives in Toronto, was the catalyst for the whole thing.
“Every time he'd come over the Skyway Bridge, he'd talk about how incredible the view was,” he said.
And it was — but Porter had taken it for granted, seeing it every day. But because his son kept bringing it up, he started snapping pictures of the smokestacks and the industrial foundation of the city.
Through his son, he started to see things with fresh eyes. “I loved the combination of the hard angularity of the industrial side with the big piles of steam,” he said.
“Steel is the industry that made this city,” he said. “When you talk about Hamilton, you talk about the TiCats and you talk about steel.”
Considering the surge of art coming out of the city right now, it's an interesting position for an artist to take.Porter says his show explores the hard angularity of steel contrasted against a vivid colour palette. (Courtesy Clarence A. Porter)
“Art is the new steel” has become a fairly common adage to throw around in downtown Hamilton. Porter has managed to represent both in this exhibition.
But he agrees that what's happening in the city's art scene is more complex than that catchy phrase.
Rather than art is the “new” steel, art has become an extension of steel, borne of a city with an honest upbringing in the steel industry.
“It's honest art. It's fun to be around,” Porter said. “It's not a pretentious thing.”
That honesty is something he says undercuts both art and industry in the city, with “folks just trying to make a living and get along.”
“I'm glad that art and steel are taking two opposites and bringing them together,” Porter said. “It's great that there's this interest in making artistic statements about what built this city.”