The Happening = the heart of art in our community

By Bradley Turcotte – 

Wellington West and Hintonburg transform into a carnival of creativity May 3-6. The Happening ties together community, commerce and art; the annual festival features events staged at businesses sprinkled throughout the neighbourhood.

Happening co-founder and Hintonburg Public House owner, Summer Baird, planted the seed for the celebration in 2014 when she conceived a food and art event at Somerset Square. Summer collaborated with residents who had similar plans, including Character Creative’s Jamie McLennan, and the Happening blossomed into an annual, multidisciplinary festival.

Formerly named the “Hintonburg Happening,” the festival simplified its name to placate Wellington West businesses who take pride in their community’s unique identity.

The Happening’s mandate is to “raise funds for arts initiatives in the neighbourhood” and facilitate permanent and temporary art installations to make the area “more exciting,”” says Summer.

All proceeds from The Happening go towards artistic endeavours, including funding the festival’s yearly grants. Last year’s permanent art grant winner, Daniel Martelock, will unveil his piece, Tying the Neighbourhood Together, on May 3 at the Ottawa Bagel Shop and Deli.

Inspired by 1970s string art, Daniel acknowledges the word play at work in his piece. Festival-goers should look for a large wooden brick in the shape of Wellington West and adorned with strings leading back to the Bagel Shop, a Kitchissippi institution operating for over 30 years, in the heart of the neighbourhood.

Attendees of the unveiling are invited to stay and fashion their own heart and string creation for $10.

The Happening’s Park Party will take over Hintonburg Park on May 6 and promises a diverse palette of attractions. The culmination of the festival sees nine local crafters set up shop at the party in interactive kiosks. A multitude of children’s events pepper the day, including readings facilitated by the Ottawa Public Library, games with the Hintonburg Community Centre and dance demos by Flava Factory.

The Happening fuses artistry and community, just as mixed media artist and Happening participant, Tahini Moitra’s work amalgamates distinct images. Tahini’s collage esthetic is eye-catching and unique.

“I love to tell stories and to create work that has an impact and evokes a reaction,” Tahini says. “I want to create pieces that are shocking and witty and that cause people to stop and think about it.”

Tahini invites aspiring collagists to bring a stack of dog-eared magazines to terra20 on May 4 for a free workshop.

Artist Natalie Bruvels will be working on a concept piece titled Contact, an event Summer highlights for its originality. On May 5, Natalie will draw portraits of festivalgoers without looking away from her subjects.

“The whole idea is to maintain eye contact with the person she is drawing and seeing how the portrait turns out,” Summer explains. “I have an idea that it will be more of a how they are feeling as opposed to what they look like.”

Along with funding creative work, changing the face of the community through art remains The Happening’s intent.

“I live in the neighbourhood, I work in the neighbourhood, my daughter goes to school in the neighbourhood, and I love art,” Summer says. “It betters the neighbourhood and shows that people care.”

Summer reminds attendees that services at the Park Party, including food, beer and the art auction following the art throw down are cash only transactions.

For the full list of events, visit The Happening’s website at

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