Artspace brings together music, art, hipsters

Artspace Underground, the self-professed “hipster dance party” to promote the Orange Street not-for-profit gallery and the arts in New Haven, is almost a year old.

Last Saturday saw the ninth in a series of Artspace Undergrounds, parties that seek to integrate the Yale community with the thriving community of young artists in New Haven. The parties are the brainchild of Madison Moore GRD ’12, a graduate student in American studies and a Yale President’s Public Service Fellow working for Artspace, who is attempting to expand the scope of artistic activity in the Greater New Haven area.

When Moore, who lives in New York City, threw the first of these parties, he said he was reacting to the lack of a space in the Elm City that allowed for art and music to meet in a social atmosphere.

“I thought there’s currently no venue for newly emerging bands to play in the same space as performance art in a cool, little style gallery,” he said. “Having been to parties like that in New York, I wanted to bring a little of that to New Haven.”

Moore added that he felt the intellectual stimulation achieved at art gallery openings in the Big Apple was a productive force and an inspiration.

Catering to New Haven’s art-minded, but financially limited student community, Artspace’s Programs Director Laura Marsh said the gallery hopes to make art collecting more accessible to students who are otherwise discouraged by hefty price tags. Less expensive works by local artists now adorn the walls during Underground’s parties.

“[Moore] has often pulled work that’s more inexpensive from the files because there’s this young demographic of people who are studying or have been in school for a long time and are interested in collecting art but can’t pay a lot,” she said. “It’s usually the aim of local artists to make their art seem accessible.”

And artists interviewed said they value the opportunity created by this space to showcase their work for a Yale community that otherwise has a paucity of connections to the New Haven scene.

Local artist Silas Finch, whose work was exhibited at an Artspace Underground in June, said Moore made his work more accessible to the Yale community.

Said Finch: “I like what he’s doing because he’s taking the aspect of the local community of Yale students who have the same interest as local artists [and mixing the two].”

Phil Lique, a visual artist from New Haven, performed last weekend at Artspace. His piece involved him “playing” a pair of skill saws via a powerstrip after the DJ set ended.

Lique said he felt people might not have understood his piece, which created a mood of uneasiness due to the loud sound and juxtaposition with dance music, but it was an important experience for him as an artist and an experiment that he hopes to continue.

“For me it’s fun and especially important because it’s a venue for me primarily as a visual artist to come out, to be invited to do something that’s a little out of my comfort zone,” Lique said.

The one-year anniversary party for Artspace Underground takes place on Halloween. Costumes, Moore said, are strongly encouraged.

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