Not ‘HEY! Hamilton!’, but ‘Why Hamilton?’

HEY! Hamilton! Columnist

The late summer of 2000 saw me take in Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Hamilton, Ohio.

It’s not what I planned. Seriously. Who ever heard of Hamilton, Ohio? If it weren’t for a cheesy ’70s sitcom, I barely would’ve known of Cincinnati, let alone anything to its north.

It’s at this point that I should probably be waxing lyrical about how I was instantly spellbound by the sights and sounds of Hamilton, how it’s Rockwellian charm had me transfixed as I strolled down High Street, drinking in the nostalgia of the middle America I had grown up to know only by television and movies.

But I wasn’t, so I won’t.

Some back story: I met a girl from the Midwest. We married and moved to Far Away. And when we were done there, we moved to another Far Away. But each chance we got, we returned, usually in the summer and just for weeks at a time.

The changes in Hamilton were small and they were subtle. To be honest, I probably missed most of them, if I was paying any attention at all. It’s not like I was planning to live here, right? Then in 2013, we came for an extended vacation, on our way to yet another, new Far Away.

I still wasn’t paying attention, but I did notice the changes. It was hard not to.

I get that it’s difficult not to sound like a complete schmuck with the phrase “I could live pretty much anywhere on the planet,” but it’s the quickest way to the point. And the draw of a wonderful extended family will only get you so far when looking to settle down and raise your child.

We came for family, but stayed for Hamilton. This city, this community with a new energy and attitude, whether stand-alone or in combination, had a profound affect on us.

I have been extremely fortunate to be involved in some incredible artistic endeavors during my career. But what I’ve never been a part of before is what is going on here in Hamilton, right now: Here is a city rebuilding itself, reinventing its purpose and driving itself forward in positive way, with an energized, engaged and enthusiastic community leading the way.

Something very special is going on in this city and we’re just getting started. The past is not ignored, but not dwelt upon either. We recognize the successes of Hamilton’s history, but more importantly we are now building towards the successes of the future.

An exclamation point on a map may garner you some attention nationally, I get that. But a city that develops well beyond that will certainly hold the attention of the most important people, those who live here, and I’m certainly glad I’m one of them.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Ian MacKenzie-Thurley is the new Executive Director of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. Previously he has worked in artistic, programming and administrative roles that include productions at the Sydney Opera House, the 2012 London Olympics Cultural Olympiad and also as a producing Artistic Director.

Hamilton’s Newest Work of Public Art (Updated)

Hamilton’s newest work of public art is now finished and a dedication is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

CLICK HERE for more information on the dedication…

The mural outside the Hamilton Parks Conservancy office on North Second Street, across from the YMCA, comes from the Art Strategy Committee, a collaboration that is moving the City’s Strategic Plan forward to make our city a better place to Live, Work and Play.

Artists on the project include Taylor Welch (Community Design Alliance), Jenn Acus-Smith (Fitton Center for Creative Arts), Brianne Thyen ( Miami University Hamilton student) and Stephen Smith (InsideOut Studio). It took them less than a week of painting to complete the mural.

Here are some photos of the work in progress, courtesy Stephen Smith, Jenn Acus-Smith, Brianne Live Thyen,  Carrie Mancuso and Ian MacKenzie Thurley:

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Free Sample: Jess Lamb to kick off RiversEdge Series, May 30 (second update)

Change of venue announced on RiversEdge Facebook page:

Due to rain in the forecast, Saturday’s Jess Lamb & The Magic Lightnin’ Boys concert will be held at RiversEdge Arena located on Market Street in downtown Hamilton under the McDulin Parking Garage. Free parking for the concert is available in the McDulin Garage (113 North 3rd Street). Attendees will be completely sheltered from the elements and may park in the garage and enter the concert venue without having to set foot in the rain. Food and beer vendors will be on site. Come party with us at this unique venue.

Jess Lamb performs “Get Out of My Mind” live at 3rd Street Music. Jess Lamb and the Magic Lightnin’ Boys will perform on the ODW/Liferay Stage at RiversEdge Amphitheater, Saturday, May 30. The concert will begin at 6:00 p.m.  RiversEdge Amphitheater is located at 116 Dayton Street, Hamilton, OH 45011.  The concert is free and open to the general public.

Jess Lamb, a native of Cincinnati, is an outstanding, well-established musician in both the local and national music scene.  Perhaps you’ve seen Jess playing at Japp’s in Over The Rhine or maybe you caught her jamming with Harry Connick Jr. on this season’s American Idol.  Jess Lamb is a staggeringly unique modern folk band with a rock & roll soul. This “3 1/2 piece” band features Jess’ haunting vocals that flat out mesmerize & hypnotize listeners. Brother Kenny’s impressive guitar work ranges from silky & subtle to savage & searing. Kasey’s magnificent bass/kick drum combo is not only singular in style, it’s pure musical genius. Together the three create originals that should steal top spots on every college radio playlist. They also twist a few covers here and there into something more interesting and emotional than the original artist ever intended, or possibly even imagined. A must see for all indie music fans, jazz fans & soul searchers. Think “jazz/folk fusion” gone radio. Marvelous musicianship coupled with powerful feminine vocals soaring with such soul they would make the late Janis Joplin either weep with joy or cry in envy.

The talent in this trio strangleholds their crowds. High praise from press, musicians and fans will no doubt slowly push this band to a national level. See them while you can at a local Cincinnati show because that’s where their performance shines brightest. Much like great jam bands, Jess Lamb’s dynamite dynamics are best savored live, up close and personal.

CLICK HERE to visit the Facebook event page for updates…


Pyramid Hill Welcomes New Management Team

The Board of  Directors of Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum is pleased to introduce its new management team.  Jeni Barton joins Shaun Higgins, newly appointed Director of Park Operations, as Director of  Programming and Administration.

Jeni has spent the past 10 years in the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs in Wilmington, Delaware, as Marketing and Special Projects Coordinator.  She is a dedicated arts administration professional with a record of success in developing arts initiatives and programming which strengthened the Wilmington community’s artistic and cultural identity.  Jeni holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Delaware.   Jeni is an experienced grant and media writer as well as an innovative arts marketer.  She is also a creative graphic designer, illustrator and photographer.

Shaun has served as Interim Director at Pyramid Hill for the past year.  During this time membership, attendance and financial support have grown.  Shaun was hired by Harry Wilks as the Assistant Director of Pyramid Hill in 2001. He left in 2005 and returned in May, 2014. After moving to Hamilton in 1986, Shaun worked in media for a number of years in Hamilton, Cincinnati, Dayton and Middletown. He also produced and hosted an interview program at Miami University Hamilton Downtown called “What’s Your Story”. More recently Shaun was a trainer in non-profit education curriculum at Community Development Professionals. Shaun has been involved with many community organizations and events throughout Hamilton.

Board President Bill Groth said, “We look forward to the future of Pyramid Hill under this new management team and the strong backing of the Board of Directors.”

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park is a 300+ acre outdoor museum that features over 60 pieces of monumental sculpture in natural settings as well as an indoor ancient sculpture museum that features Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan pieces. Pyramid Hill is located at 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Rd.

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Urban Gardening Series at the Hamilton Lane Library

Learn lots of great tips and techniques for your garden this summer at the Hamilton Lane Library during the Urban Gardening Series on Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

  • June 13 – Self-Watering Beds and other Techniques
    Save time, money and water! Learn the principles behind, and how to build and use, a self-watering raised box garden. Also, learn the basics of worm farming and worm castings. This session will cover making compost to feed the worms, raising worms, screening the castings and using the castings and making worm tea.
  • July 11 – Fall and Winter Growing
    Extend your garden season well into mid-winter! The session will cover what plants can be planted for fall and winter harvesting. Learn how to protect your plants from damaging frost and different techniques that can be used to grow indoors in the winter.
  • August 8 – Garden Fresh Cooking
    Learn to cook from your garden by making salsa with home grown tomatoes or southwestern corn fritters using fresh vegetables and herbs.

Registration is required. To register, call 894-7158. The Hamilton Lane Library is located at 300 N. Third St.

For more information about these and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call 894-6557 or visit the Lane website at


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Miami Regional Campus Visits set for June

Miami University’s regional locations will host Campus Visit Programs from 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16 at Miami Middletown and on Thursday, June 18 at Miami Hamilton.

Both mornings will feature presentations on admission, financial aid/scholarships, and the application process. Participants will explore college majors, including bachelor’s completion degrees offered at Miami’s regional locations. Current Miami students will serve as tour guides.

Check in will begin at 9:15 a.m. A pizza lunch will be provided. All are welcome at this event and reservations are encouraged.

Can’t make either of the Campus Visits? Then register for a Tour & Talk on Friday, July 31 from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at both Miami Hamilton and Middletown.

Fall classes will begin on Aug. 24; application materials must be received by August 1.

To register for a Campus Visit or Tour & Talk, log on to For more information contact the admission office at Miami Hamilton (513) 785-3111 or Miami Middletown (513) 727-3216. Miami University Hamilton is located at 1601 University Blvd. Miami University Middletown is located at 4200 N. University Blvd.

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‘The Kindness Diaries’ First Topic for Summer Book Series

The Hamilton Lane Library launches the 19th season of Reading & All That Jazz with a Brown Bag Book Review on Tuesday, June 2 at noon as reviewer Lori Rehmdiscusses The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives around the World  by Leon Logothetis. And don’t forget to join us the following week for the Summer Time Jazz Program featuring The Chris Comer Trio (piano, drums, and bass) on Tuesday, June 9 at noon.

This popular series of alternating weekly book reviews and jazz performances will entertain you all summer long, June through August. All programs, free and open to the public, are on Tuesdays at noon at the Hamilton Lane Library, 300 N. Third St.

For more information about these and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call 894-6557 or visit the Lane website at

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