Something “Extraordinary” on Trumbull Street

popa_Ely_House
Photo by Iva Popa.

The John Slade Ely House on Trumbull Street is having a celebration of its “Extraordinary Facilities.”

“Extraordinary Facilities” is a new exhibition and the first of a series of three presentations that will take place throughout the year in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ely House, which was founded in 1961 as New Haven’s first arts-dedicated center. The exhibit opened its doors last Wednesday, and a public reception held Sunday afternoon was attended by more than 50 people.

“The theme of this first exhibition centers around the visual quality and excellence of [handmade objects],” said Paul Clabby, who has been the exhibitions curator at the Ely House for more than 15 years. “The next exhibits will be more about conceptual work and artwork in context, and the last one will have a more multicultural emphasis with participant artists from around the world.”

The house also hosts different events during the year, ranging from musical celebrations, to art exhibitions showing the work of incarcerated artists, to shows from graduate students of the Yale School of Art, Clabby said. He added that in this regard, the Ely House is more of a cultural center than an arts exhibition center.

The new exhibit features over 30 artists and more than 40 pieces, ranging from painting, drawing and printmaking to photography and sculpture.

Three New Haven residents interviewed at the opening agreed that the exhibit was well put-together — they noted that the artwork was selected and arranged thoughtfully throughout the gallery. Joseph Zagola, a Milford resident who attended the show’s opening on Sunday, said that he enjoyed coming to different events at the Ely House because of the mixture and variety of arts media highlighted by the house.

“What I like about contemporary art is that it is interactive,” Liz Barny, a New Haven resident said. “I can feel the energy around me. Some people try to figure it out, but I think it’s about experiencing it in the immediate moment.”

While the house normally welcomes new artists who are just starting their careers and looking for their first exhibition opportunities, the artists whose work is displayed in the “Extraordinary Facilities” show were all selected from previous engagements with the art center and are all regional artists, Clabby said.

Clint Jukkala ART ’98, the director of undergraduate studies in art at Yale whose work is featured in the new exhibition, said the show serves as a chance to see what artists in the local community have been up to with their work.

The exhibit will close on March 6.

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