Kai Nip

The intersection of Orange and Crown streets was bustling last Friday evening as the Artspace festival kicked off the 20th annual City-Wide Open Studios series, featuring more than 350 artists from across New Haven and Connecticut.

Each weekend in October, the festival will move to a different part of New Haven. The Open Studios started in Westville last weekend and will move to the Goffe Street Armory on Oct. 14 and 15. Private Studios Weekend, a bike tour around different studios in New Haven, will occur on Oct. 21 and 22, and the festival will culminate at Erector Square on Oct. 28 and 29.

The theme of this year’s festival is “fract or fiction?” to highlight the “underlying hidden messages within art that can sometimes play upon fact and fiction” said Rachael McNerney, executive assistant at Artspace. Some artists have incorporated fracking and other environmental issues into their work, she added.

The opening reception on Friday featured works from each of the artists taking part in the festival throughout the month. Pieces ranged from ceramics to digital media and audio productions. Patrons were treated to cocktails by Xperimental Libations and music by DJ Dave Chambers.

“It’s a nice exhibition,” remarked Evelyne Touré, who was visiting from Ivory Coast in support of a friend whose work was on display.

Among the artists featured in this year’s festival is Amira Brown, a second-year participant whose ceramic piece “Broken/Strong” was on display on Friday. Brown, whose work will be on display at the armory next weekend, said the experience has been beneficial for her as an artist. She said she has enjoyed expanding her network and meeting new people through the festival.

Also taking part in the festival for the second time is cut-paper artist Marcela Staudenmaier, who will be an artist-in-residence at the Ely Center for Contemporary Art later this month. Her artwork will be on display for Private Studios Weekend.

“It is very enriching as an artist to see other artists’ artwork and also to produce new artwork for an event like this,” she said.

In addition to the exhibitions, City-Wide Open Studios will also hold several live productions of “Exchange,” an interactive, Civil War–themed performance by the theater group A Broken Umbrella.

“People should come out to City-Wide Open Studios because it’s important to be a part of your community and be outside while the weather is still warm,” McNerney said.

Artspace expects 10,000 people to attend the festival throughout the month.

Brandon Chambers | brandon.chambers@yale.edu