Creativity can be contemplated and watched in action in nearly every corner of New Haven during the multi-weekend City-wide Open Studios (CWOS), the annual celebration of art taking place during the month of October.
For many artists, the festival — hosted by Artspace and co-sponsored by Yale — is an annual opportunity to showcase (and, in some cases, demonstrate) their own work publicly. Yale faculty and staff are among the nearly 300 artists who participate in the event, now in its 16th year. Some of the exhibitors have made art their professions, while others are new to their mediums or create in their spare time. They work in a range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation art, photography, drawing, collage, textile arts, ceramics, and more.
“During our City-wide Open Studios festival, New Haven hums with the creative energy of a community fully engaged in the production of, and the enjoyment of, art,” writes Helen Kauder, executive director of Artspace, in this year’s program.
The festival takes place over four weekends, beginning with an opening reception 5-9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 at Artspace, 50 Orange St. The reception also marks the official opening of an exhibit at Artspace featuring one representative work from each of the artists participating in CWOS. The exhibit will remain on view through Oct. 27. There is a $5 suggested donation for the reception.
During Erector Square Weekend, Oct. 12-13, the public is invited into the private studios of artists who work at Erector Square, 315 Peck St. in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven. Erector Square once housed the factory that made Erector sets, and is today the city’s largest concentration of art studios. Artists’ studios will be open noon-5 p.m. both days.
In addition, curator-led preview tours artists’ spaces will be offered on Friday, Oct. 11. Tickets for tours are $15 and include admission to a cocktail party before the tour, and dessert and conversation following. Tour guides include art directors and curators from various museums and art venues.
Artists’ private studios — at sites or in homes throughout New Haven and neighboring towns — will be open to visitors noon-5 p.m. during Passport Weekend, Oct. 19-20. Maps are available for those doing self-directed tours of the studios. The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop will host free, guided bike tours of studios; riders of all levels are welcome. Tours will depart from Fitkin Plaza on Orange Street in New Haven’s Ninth Square between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Curator-led preview tours of private studios will take place on Thursday, Oct. 17. Tickets are $15.
The final weekend of CWOS, Oct. 26-27, features artists — numbering in the hundreds — showing their work at this year’s Alternative Space, the Goffe Street Armory at 290 Goffe St. in New Haven. The Alternative Space is open noon-5 p.m. Food trucks will be outside the building throughout the afternoon, which also will feature musical performances.
On Oct. 26 at the Alternative Space, there will be a livestream of the Creative Time Summit, during which artists, activists, and cultural producers explore issues of wealth inequality throughout public discourse. Titled “Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st-Century City,” the summit asks: “What new forms of civic participation and engagement are artists integrating into the built environment?” The keynote presentation by critic and writer Lucy Lippard takes place at 1:50 p.m.
The theme of this year’s CWOS, “Reveille” (a bugle- or trumpet-call wakeup mainly used in the military), was inspired by the Alternative Space. New Haven’s marching Foot Guard musical unit once rehearsed and stored its instruments in the Goffe Street Armory. The name also “captures CWOS’s mission to awaken a new imagination in New Haven and to provide artists a platform to promote and sell their work,” notes the CWOS website. Participating artists have been invited to incorporate this theme into works displayed in their studios or at the Alternative Space.
A closing party for artists will take place on Oct. 30 at the Yale School of Architecture.
Following are the names of just some of the Yale-affiliated artists, arranged by where they can be found during CWOS:
Erector Square (Oct. 12-13)
William Hilliar Anderson Barnett (Hill Anderson), associate research scholar at the Law School — Erector Square. He describes his focus in his CWOS artist statement: “I am a storyteller because I believe that the road to knowledge is paved with fabulous tales. I enjoy telling stories that challenge the common expectations of narrative. My hope is that where I am successful you will find stories visible in my photographs.”
Chris Mir, a museum technician at the Yale University Art Gallery — Erector Square. “My paintings are intended to evoke hallucinatory or visionary states,” Mir writes in his CWOS artist statement. “I work from digital composites, but the process is always primarily about the physicality of paint on canvas and the history of art.”
Debra Simon, a senior administrative assistant in the Animal Care & Use Program — Erector Square. “I am a new artist; I only started painting recently,” she notes in her artist statement. “I thought it would be a good experience for me to participate in Open Studios and meet other artists.”
Private studios (Oct. 19-20)
Martin Kersels, associate professor and director of graduate studies in sculpture at the School of Art —14 Gilbert St., Studio M, West Haven. Kersel’s body of work ranges from collaborative performances with the group SHRIMPS (1984-1993) to large-scale sculptures. His interest in machines, entropy, sound, and dissolution has produced work that examines the dynamic tension between failure and success, the individual and the group, and the thin line between humor and misfortune, according to his faculty biography. Kersels’ objects and projects have been exhibited at museums both nationally and internationally.
Alternative Space (Oct. 26-27)
Megan Czekaj, a curatorial assistant in the Department of Prints and Drawings, Yale Center for British Art. Says Czekaj in her artist statement: “I am interested in harmony — this is mainly what I am attempting to create. I have been looking at motion in nature demonstrated by swarms and other large groups of animals and have been experimenting with different ways to convey this type of motion.”
Terry Dagradi, photographer for Photo + Design, Information Technology Services. For her CWOS artist statement, Dagradi quotes from the book “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland: “Many people first respond deeply to art — indeed, respond deeply to the world — upon finding works of art that seem to speak directly to them .... Finding your own work is a process of distilling from each of those traces that ring true to your own spirit.”
Rob Rocke, a client support specialist for Information Technology Services. In his artist statement he says, “For CWOS this year I will be featuring my second attempt at taking a photo a day for a year (2012). My first successful ‘photo-a-day’ for a year project was back in 2010. This year I tried to open things up a bit media-wise to include videos and sound clips as well as still photos.”
Alison Walsh, an exhibitions coordinator at the School of Architecture. In her artist’s statement for CWOS, she writes: “My work is highly influenced by the environment I find myself in. I am interested in the intersection of man and nature, suburbs and city, freedom and confinement, reality and fantasy. I believe the emotional effects of the environment can be represented by a physical object.”
In addition, numerous CWOS artists are Yale alumni.
A complete list of the artists and events, and further information about the festival, can be viewed on the CWOS website.