Staff members’ creativity will be on display during City-Wide Open Studios

The annual month-long arts festival will kick off with an opening reception on Oct. 4, and the work of dozens of Yale-affiliated artists will be on view.

The annual month-long arts festival known as City-Wide Open Studios (CWOS) will kick off with an opening reception on Oct. 4, and the work of dozens of Yale-affiliated artists will be on view.

Yale is a major sponsor of CWOS, Connecticut’s leading visual arts festival, and part of this year’s event will take place on the university’s West Campus for the second year in a row. CWOS — now in its 23rd year — is hosted by Artspace, a nonprofit organization that champions emerging artists and builds new audiences for contemporary art. 

The Yale artists are among some 400 artists working in a wide variety of media who come together across various New Haven sites to show their work during several weekends in October and November. Every year, thousands of visitors travel to New Haven to see the exhibited works — along with special demonstrations, installations, and more. Some of the artists welcome guests into their home studios or their spaces in art complexes like Erector Square in Fair Haven. Hundreds of artists who do not have private studios share their work with visitors in the Alternative Space, the last remaining unoccupied building on Yale’s West Campus.

This year’s festival explores the theme “Older, But Younger” and will feature 13 commissioned projects “that mobilize intergenerational collaborations between artists who seek to explore a range of topics related to the questions of longetivity, renewal, where memory resides, and how it might be passed from one person to the next,” say festival organizers. Many of the commissioned artists are connecting for the first time through their projects, which “together offer strategies for celebrating life and extending our health-span, pollinating ideas across intergenerational divides, and strengthening our ties to the planet, passed ancestors, future progeny, and the unknown,” they add.

Festival kickoff

The opening reception will take place on Friday, Oct. 4, 6-9 p.m. at Artspace, 50 Orange St. One work by every artist will be on view in the gallery, and many of the artists will be on hand to talk about their work. These artworks will remain on view in the Artspace gallery throughout the festival. An official map and guide to CWOS will be available.

Opening night festivities will also include a tap dance performance called “Generations of Rhythm” — one of the specially commissioned “Older But Younger” projects — which brings together three generations of artists, 6:15-7 p.m. on the corner of Orange and Crown streets. The performance is choreographed by Alexis Robbins.

Guests can also attend New Haven Night Market, an assembly of booths featuring local makers and food venders, 6-11 p.m. on Orange Street between Center and George streets. Other events and exhibits will also be taking place in the Ninth Square neighborhood outside of Artspace.

Westville/Private Studios Weekend

Oct. 12 and 13 will feature artists in their private studios throughout New Haven, West Haven, North Haven, and Hamden. Artspace will offer guided bike tours to many of the studio locations (meet at noon at 50 Orange St.).

In addition, the weekend will feature artists who have studios in the Westville section of New Haven, a bustling community of artists working in media ranging from painting to graphic design to earthenware to puppetry, and more.

Studios are open noon-6 p.m. both days. Special events include a literary happy hour, a block party, a dance performance, and a Día de los Muertos Workshop, during which participants can help Guatemalan artist Pedro Lopez make kites, puppets, masks, floats and more for this year’s Día de los Muertos festival in New Haven. The workshop is one of the projects commissioned as part of “Older But Younger.” Kites, masks, and floats — along with photographs of the parade — will later be exhibited at Artspace Nov. 14-24.

Erector Square Weekend

Artists with studios in Erector Square — a historic complex at 315 Peck St. in Fair Haven that once housed an Erector Set factory — will invite guests into their spaces from noon-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20.

Alternative Space Weekend

The Alternative Space Weekend, Nov. 2 and 3, sets New Haven’s CWOS apart from other open studio weekends in the region by offering artists from across Connecticut, as well as those interested in creating site-specific works, a unique backdrop to showcase their talents.

Yale’s West Campus will host a record-breaking 230-plus artists, as well as school art departments and art collectives. The artists will be in Building 410, West Campus Dr. in Orange, noon-6 p.m.

In addition, the other commissioned “Older But Younger” projects will be featured. These are:

  • Creativity is the Key,” a project by a collective of 10 women artists (Concepts Group), ranging in age from 60 to 92, who were all students of Constance Kiermaier, one of the oldest living alumnae of the Yale School of Art. Kiermaier presented her students with an antique key that offered each individual personally crafted words of advice, insight, or encouragement. To pay this act forward, the Concepts Group is mounting a wall of keys that visitors may take, write upon, and gift to another artist they believe in.
  • The Body is an Archive,” a dance film and live performance by Angharad Davies that explores how memory lives in our bodies.
  • Strange Fruit,” a collaboration between Howard El-Yasin, program manager at Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Dymin Ellis, his junior by 40 years, whose installation and series of movement-based scores and experimental speech acts explore the questions: “What happens when someone or something is erased?” “Are people and their stories ever really erased?” “Where do these erased souls go?”
  • Memory Edit: I will never forget,” a participatory project and installation by Megan Craig, Ralph Franklin, Nick Lloyd, and Kyle Goldbach that invites four residents of the Whitney Center retirement home and life care facility to collaborate on the production of four quilts that tell their stories. During the festival, local quilters and visitors will work side by side to stitch these memories in place, evoking the histories of quilting and sewing bees.
  • •The War Experience Project.” Iraqi War veteran Rick Lawson invited local veterans from the West Haven VA Errera Center, as well as active duty officers and recent recruits, to tell their stories through a painting workshop on military uniforms. These will be on display, along with uniforms from past iterations of this project. Guests will also be invited to donate satchels of fabric, which Lawson will quilt into garment bags and hang alongside the uniforms. As the installation grows, it will symbolize a community coming together to support multiple generations of veterans.
  • Age of Life: Inhabiting the Fossil Record,” an immersive installation by Leila Daw and Alexis Musinski that will allow visitors to experience themselves within the strata of the Earth as part of the fossil record. The project is based on research conducted at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. 
  • Searching for the Foundation of Youth: A Feminine Perspective,” a collaboration between a multigenerational group of women artists who seek to cultivate a creative space for addressing the beauty industrial complex and aging. Among the project’s artists is Kate Henderson, program director in pathology for Information Technology Services. Yale scientists Anita Huttner, associate professor of pathology, and Morgan Levine, assistant professor of pathology, also contributed to the project.
  • Vagina Chorus,” a performance being developed by multimedia artist and Artspace resident artist Althea Rao. She will recruit participants for the chorus, whose members will produce a symphony of notes via the use of a bio-feedback enabled personal kegel trainer. The performance is meant to break down stigmas and social taboos surrounding pelvic and sexual health.
  • The Million-Petaled Flower of Being Here,” a writing project by author/artist Jacquelyn Gleisner, who will interview a range of artists from different backgrounds and ages to present a nuanced picture of how artists change over the span of their careers.

Another commissioned project for “Older But Younger” is “Land Acknowledgement,” a collaboration led by Artspace artist-in-residence Erin Lee Antonak to develop a “land acknowledgment” to commemorate the indigenous Quinnipiac people who lived on the land now occupied by Artspace. The land acknowledgement will permanently adorn the front doors of Artspace.

In addition, there will be an “‘Older But Younger’ Pecha Kucha,” an evening of 12 short shows presented by a group of local speakers who will address this year’s theme. This will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 6-9 p.m. at Long Wharf Stage 11, 222 Sargent Dr., New Haven.

Full details of events and offerings can be found on the CWOS website, which also features a directory of participating artists.

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