While students may spend their weekends this October procrastinating in a variety of ways, either by watching a movie for the nth time or just sitting around, a slightly more cultural option will be available this weekend to those putting off schoolwork with the opening of Artspace’s 8th Annual City-Wide Open Studios.
The exhibition, which runs through the end of the month, features around 500 generally local artists displaying their art in permanent and temporary studios throughout New Haven on specific weekends. The studios are easily accessible in one of two buildings — with one featuring uniquely artists-in-residence — or in studios around the city, which can be connected by bus and bike tours.
Artspace designed the large-scale exhibition as a way to help local artists of all kinds have the opportunity to present their creations to a large and diverse audience that they might not ordinarily be able to reach.
“The idea of Open Spaces is a way for artists to connect directly with the public, to open the door officially and in a coordinated way — to bring people in,” said Helen Kauder, a co-founder of Artspace.
Open Spaces seems to have accomplished that mission in the past years, as it has attracted as many as 10,000 viewers, Kauder said. The project also gives the public a chance to interact with hundreds of diverse artists and explore their works over the course of only a few weekends.
“It’s a good opportunity to meet and converse with other artists and to get new information on art and galleries, and, maybe, to try something new,” said Mike Franco, a docent and high school student at the Educational Center for the Arts.
Franco and his fellow docents will be leading bus tours, bringing art lovers to the participating artists stationed throughout the city. Those with their own studios within New Haven will exhibit their work on the second weekend (October 22 and 23). Viewers will be able to either explore on their own or take free bike or bus tours to the different studios. This weekend will feature 90 artists situated in Erector Square, the largest studio complex in the city.
But Artspace also has made plans to accommodate artists who do not have their own studios in the area.
“Our unique contribution [as compared to other open studio events] is the Alternative Space for artists who don’t have a space here,” Kauder said.
The site, which will be open the third weekend, offers about 300 artists without local studios a chance to work on and display their work before and during the event. The location enables low-income artists or artists from other parts of the state to participate.
Since the landlord lent out the building to Artspace a few weeks early, some participants were able to be artists-in-residence and create site specific, even interactive, installations.
“Another thing that’s really cool at the Alternative Space is that there are about 20 artists doing site specific work,” said Johanna Bresnick, the coordinator for City Wide Open Studios.
Although this exhibition may seem a bit overwhelming for the casual art viewer, Artspace has devised ways to make Open Studios accessible to the general public. In addition to being able to take bus and bike tours of the separate studios on the second weekend, viewers can take mini tours of the art in the actual Artspace gallery through Oct. 30. The gallery features one piece by each artist, organized according to when and where the artist will be featured. Viewers can decide which artists they think they are interested in and schedule their weekends around their choices.
Many viewers opt to take advantage of the display during the opening reception, which will be held tonight and features all 500 artists as guests.
“Not only is it a celebration for the artists, it’s also a chance [for the public] to come in and check out the art they want to look at over the weekend,” Bresnick said. “It’s open to the public and absolutely jam-packed.”
This particular event in the exhibition emphasizes the significance of art in the community for Open Studios, said Clinto Jukkala, a lecturer at the School of Art whose work will be featured at Erector Square.
“There’s a pretty lively art community in New Haven and Open Spaces is an opportunity to be part of that,” Jukkala said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for people to see what’s happening in New Haven.”