Artists and Elm City residents mingled Friday evening at the opening reception of City Wide Open Studios.
Amid an exhibition densely hung with works from CWOS’s participating artists, attendees ushered in another iteration of Artspace’s annual six-week exhibition series. Over the next few weekends, New Haven venues, including the Goffe Street Armory and the New Haven Museum, will host over a dozen events relating to this year’s theme, “dwelling.” Among the series’ scheduled programs is an event focused on homelessness, Artspace director Helen Kauder said, adding that another will welcome Syrian refugees to the city. Julia Hamer-Light ’18, who interned at Artspace over the summer, said that she thinks CWOS allows members of the community to share and experience artworks to which they may not have otherwise been exposed.
“There is usually an idea of the white walls of the gallery as being very exclusive,” Hamer-Light explained. “Artspace was approaching this as, ‘We are using the walls of the gallery to bring people together.’”
In addition to its strategy of using art as a tool for broader community-building, Kauder said CWOS gives artists an opportunity to build connections with one another. She noted that in the past, artists who met at CWOS have collaborated, married and even raised children together.
Kauder added that one of the exhibition series’ primary objectives is to support local artists by providing exhibition spaces and advertising.
“Our mission is to connect artists and audiences and resources,” Kauder said. “We find spaces for artists who don’t have one.”
Several artists and visitors interviewed echoed Kauder’s and Hamer-Light’s views that CWOS brings the broader Elm City community together and also strengthens ties within New Haven’s artist community.
Kyle Wilmoth, a New Haven artist, described Artspace as a “comfortable space” where people are able to share in the collective experience of art. He added that CWOS offers an opportunity for local artists to get to know one another.
“I know only about 10 percent of the artists in this city, although I have been living here for 10 years,” Wilmoth said. “Here you can discover new art, there are hundreds of artists exposed and that is great because you get to see people with similar ideas to yours.”
Ava Orphanoudakis, another artist whose work is displayed in the CWOS exhibition, said she has been a part of the project since its first two exhibitions. This year, Orphanoudakis contributed a painting from her “Many voices, one song” collection, the rest of which is on display at Yale’s Environmental Science Center.
Like Wilmoth, Orphanoudakis said she sees CWOS as an opportunity for people to participate more deeply in the Elm City arts scene, without the constraints of many other art shows.
“What is great is the fact that everybody who enjoys and appreciates art can get involved,” Orphanoudakis said. “Anyone can be in the exhibitions, there are no juried selections.”
New Haven resident Katherine Campbell, who attended the exhibition, said Artspace has helped her and her husband find a community in the Elm City.
CWOS events will continue through Nov. 19.