No more than a 10 minute bike ride away from central campus, ALL Arts + Literature Laboratory is just what its name implies: an open environment for artistic and literary experimentation. An elegant exhibition space and hub for artistic workshops, it aims to provide an outlet for New Haven-area creativity, a place where writers and artists can learn from each other and enrich the cultural life of the city.
ALL opened in June, and has been averaging about a show a month since then. All the while it has been cultivating its singular nature among the rest of the New Haven gallery scene, namely, its cooperative focus. It seeks collaboration between artistic types and the community at large, and relies on the “really wonderful energy [that] happens when people combine text and visual ideas,” or so explains Jolynne Roorda, president of the gallery’s board of directors, and designer of its stylish and informative Web site (www.allgallery.org).
This key element of the gallery is made evident in the latest show, opening today, entitled “fine ART fine PRINT,” in which artists and poets were paired to work together on a quirky and highly eclectic show. A pair of poetry-encrusted wings hangs in the window to entice passersby, enjoying their place as the most adorable element of the “fine ART fine PRINT show.” A particularly appropriate piece about moving out of a house sits firmly toward the back of the gallery, with cardboard boxes covered in drawings and poetry. The disarray was a comforting reminder of the knickknacks and curios I moved out of Durfee last spring.
In addition to the main room of ALL is a back room, reserved for smaller assemblages of work. Through this weekend, this room will contain the craggy, tortured canvases of Betsy Day, a New Haven-born artist currently living in New York City. Commemorating the anniversary of Sept.11, 2001, they are nightmarish visions in thick, gritty paint of firefighters, smoke and the warped steel remains of the World Trade Center.
Should seeing the projects at ALL awaken the artist within you, the gallery offers (for a fee) art and writing workshops, including advanced poetry workshops and instruction in the curious art of bookbinding. With the goal of unifying the arts always in mind, ALL organizers are seeking more student involvement in its workshops. With their stake in the intellectual community of New Haven, students are excellent candidates to bridge gaps between intellectual and artistic fields. As the secretary of the board of directors, Caryn Azoff, reminds us, artists and writers are “both very isolated groups,” and if their creative outlet is shared, perhaps ALL can contribute to making itself and the arts an “integral part of the community.”
Sally Greenhouse, a conceptual performance artist, is coming to ALL on Sept. 22 with her show “50.” Just the mention of it brought a gleam to Roorda’s eye, so we can only guess what sort of novel undertakings will grace 5 Edwards St. next.