“Meet the art, then meet the artist.”
So proclaim the posters for City-Wide Open Studios, an upcoming exhibition that will span all of New Haven. The posters, which appear on Metro-North trains, feature work by New Haven artists Jessica Stockholder, Winfred Rembert and Robert Kaplan. Passengers this fall are being encouraged to expand their relationship with New Haven beyond the smooth benches of Union Station, all the way into the homes and studios of some of the city’s hundreds of resident artists.
The advertising on commuter trains is among the many efforts by Artspace, a New Haven not-for-profit, to bring art to new audiences during its annual CWOS festivities in October. As part of the program, 350 artists from across southern Connecticut will throw open their workplaces and fill abandoned buildings and public spaces with art.
Unlike in previous years, the event will be split between two weekends. Hundreds of artists will be on hand in their studios during the first, Oct. 20-21. The following weekend, Oct. 28-29, a cadre of artists without New Haven studios will take over and work out of alternative spaces throughout the city. The exhibit will also remain open daily from Oct. 15 to Oct. 31.
To help visitors narrow down the options, each participating artist will present one work at the program’s main exhibition at the Chamberlain Building, located at 77 Crown St. in the Ninth Square. Artspace will provide free maps that will illustrate where to go in the city to meet the artist and see more of his work.
CWOS will also make the city more accessible by providing guided bike, bus, walking and children’s tours led by local artists and volunteers.
Artspace organizes the program to help expose local artists to new audiences, and vice versa. The program also provides support to many artists. Last year, participants made $46,000 in sales over the weekend to some of the 10,000 estimated visitors. In its fourth year, the program is the third largest in the country and the only to include non-studio spaces.
Helen Kauder, president of the board of Artspace and an organizer of CWOS, said that over the program’s history, almost half of all of abandoned commercial buildings they’ve used have then found tenants — so much so that recently it has begun to complicate the organization’s plans. Last fall, the Strauss-Adler Building at the corner of Olive and Chapel streets — a former bra factory known for the “Smoothie” sign on its facade — housed large installations and hosted dances and bands. Since then, it has become unusable as exhibition space because it has found a tenant.
“Every year, that’s part of the challenge,” Kauder said.
New Haven’s open studios program is unique in the country because even those artists who do not have their own spaces can participate. Seventy such artists will present their work at 300 George St., 35 more at the former Yale Co-op building at the corner of Chapel and Temple streets, and 30 at empty storefronts like the American Discount store on Chapel Street others throughout Ninth Square.
Along with the expansion to two weekends CWOS has made another conquest this year — Yale has jumped on board as a major sponsor.