Festival showcases local art

New Haven artists will display their work throughout the Elm City this month.
New Haven artists will display their work throughout the Elm City this month. Photo by Mansoor Razzaq.

Roughly 300 Connecticut-based artists will display their work at select locations throughout the Elm City this month as part of New Haven’s City-Wide Open Studios Festival.

The event begins tomorrow evening with a launch party at Artspace ­— the New Haven studio, exhibition space and gallery that has been organizing the festival for the past 16 years. This year’s theme of “reveille”, or awakening, captures the organizers’ intention to raise awareness about local art and allow painters, sculptors and drawers from the New Haven area to showcase their talents, said Helen Kauder, executive director of Artspace.

“This year, it is a very eclectic mix of works,” Kauder said, noting that artists will experiment with a variety of themes, materials and colors. The creations on display will range from a beaded tapestry delineating a conflict between Chinese military forces and Buddhist monks to a tuft of grass that should challenge the viewer to revisit preconceived notions of ecology and environmentalism.

Caleb Hendrickson, the festival’s coordinator, said that the diversity of art displayed will allow participants to engage in a creative dialogue.

“The idea for the artists is to start a discussion with collaborators and colleagues,” Hendrickson said. “That’s the main thrust.”

Visitors will have a chance to see the artists’ private studios, go on a bike tour of New Haven and explore the New Haven Armory, a previously deserted building that Artspace has renovated to host the studios of approximately 130 artists through October.

Artspace’s effort to “awaken” the Armory ties into the overarching theme of “reveille” as well, Kauder said. Hendrickson explained that the creative revitalization of unused buildings will benefit artists, viewers and the city, whose relationship with the arts will be reinforced by the “wide range of experiences” staged by Open Studios.

Some of the participating artists, such as Jason Noushin, hope to also challenge viewers’ notions of more specific topics. He hopes that his piece — a .45 caliber pistol on a burgundy canvas surrounded by real bullet cases that pierce through the background — will help spark a national dialogue on gun violence in the United States. Noushin began work on the piece in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting and said he is looking to use Open Studio’s creative space as a forum for further discussion.

“When you see art, it stays with you — it’s more arresting than hearing about it on the radio or reading it in the news,” he said, adding that the visual power of art, while pleasing to the eye, should also tease the mind.

Ultimately, Hendrickson said the main objective of the festival is “to expose people to art and to make it fun.”

The New Haven City-Wide Open Studios runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 27. at four locations throughout New Haven.

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