There’s a gallery opening in New York City. Two thousand people have shown up to walk a miniature red carpet, sip cocktails and eat tiny hors d’oeurves passed around by tuxedoed waiters. Music blasts from the speakers of a DJ booth set up in a corner of the gallery, the perfect background to take in the latest from an up-and-coming artist. Sound intriguing? That’s what Madison Moore GRD ’12 thought.
ArtSpace Underground is Moore’s way of bringing some of that New York glamour to the New Haven art scene, specifically to the trendy and alternative ArtSpace gallery on Orange Street. The party, which will take place once a month, aims to increase patronage of the gallery, “especially among Yale students and the New Haven younger set,” Jemma Williams, director of communications for the gallery, said.
Moore, a sometimes-scene-columnist who is currently working toward his Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale, developed the idea for Underground last summer as a part of the Yale Citizens Public Service Fellowship. His mission: write a business plan for ArtSpace. “The problem was, I didn’t know what a business plan was,” he said.
What Moore did know, apparently, was how to throw a party, one that features live music and puppet shows set against a backdrop of contemporary art. But while the party has all the makings of a success, only time will tell whether the event will draw the crowds of Yale students it hopes to entice.
ArtSpace, located on Orange and Crown streets, is impossible to miss. Flanked by huge windows along the Crown Street side of the building, the galleries inside are visible from the sidewalk. Although I was tempted to take my time observing the art from the outside, a combination of curiosity and impending frostbite (along with the quickly approaching deadline for this article) compelled me to walk in after a few short minutes.
The space, which features the work of emerging contemporary artists, is divided into seven “galleries,” each with a different installment. Gallery 2 currently houses a group of what look to be sinister black slime creatures emerging from the ground. A giant sphere-like structure of wood and rubber takes up most of Gallery 4. Although I doubt it will be permitted at the upcoming ArtSpace Underground, my initial thought upon seeing the sculpture was what a sick cage it would make if Moore ever decided to bring in cage dancers for the party. I had some trouble finding Gallery 6. Turns out it’s in the bathroom.
Bottom line: ArtSpace is cool, but it’s empty. Moore is working to change that.
The first ArtSpace Underground, which featured live music from the band Gets the Girl (www.myspace.com/getsthegirl), a performance art piece by Laura Marsh ART ’09, two DJs and $6 drinks from 116 Crown (all attendees also received a coupon for a free drink redeemable at the bar after the event), took place Dec. 13 to a crowd of about 90 guests.
Moore, for one, was happy with the turnout. “I was totally blown away because this was an experiment that no one had ever heard of,” he said. “The Minibus kept asking why so many people were going to 50 Orange St.”
Ellis Ludwig-Leone ’11, one of the core members of Gets the Girl (the other is Allen Pate, a freshman at NYU — Niraj Patel ’11 also played with the band at the event), however, said that most in attendance were “grad students and young, artsy New Haven locals.”
“I think it’s yet to enter into the undergraduate awareness at this point,” he said.
Echoing Ludwig-Leone’s sentiments, students seem interested in Underground, though many commented that they had never heard of the event.
“Yeah, sure I’d go,” Erica Rothman ’12 said when asked if she would attend the next party. “I mean, if I don’t like it I can always leave after five minutes, right?”
Camila Panama ’11 added, “Sounds classy and sophisticated! And I could use the exercise, so heck yes I’ll go!”
The next Underground will take place Jan. 24th from 8 to 11 p.m. with live performances beginning at 9:30. The event will feature the Hartford-based band The Kings, “a psychadelic rock group,” a live, one-of-a-kind puppet show created by Kim Mikenis and “hipster dance music.” All ages are welcome and the dress code, according to the press release, is simple: “Wear something fabulous!”
For now, ArtSpace is optimistic about Underground’s future, and the event is currently scheduled to continue through June. “We’re hoping it will gain some momentum,” Williams commented.
And Moore is confident too. “I did a lot of research to see what Artspace could do. And honestly, who doesn’t like a party?”
Not I, Madison Moore. Cheap drinks, cool art, performance pieces and live music all in one little package? I’m so there.