Artspace showcased the work of more than 160 local artists last weekend at its 20th annual City-Wide Open Studios Event.

Artspace has been in New Haven for more than 30 years, catalyzing artistic activity in the community and connecting artists with resources. Artspace gives local artists the venue to share their work with the public during City-Wide Open Studios, a monthlong event that began with an opening reception on Oct. 6. From Oct. 14 to 15, Artspace held the Alternative Space Weekend at the New Haven Armory, a 150,000 square-foot building owned by the city.

“By having the Alternative Space Weekend in the Armory, we’re bringing attention to the neighborhood and creating a place where people can come and see what some of the creative minds in New Haven have been up to,” said Rachael McNerney, executive assistant of Artspace.

Artwork, dance, live theater and spoken word filled the Armory during the exhibition. Rooms throughout the Armory were used as spaces for artists to showcase and potentially sell their work in a gallery setting. According to McNerney, Artspace is expecting more than 10,000 people to come to the events over the four weekends in October.

Through corporate sponsorships, state funding and individual contributions, Artspace raised funds to hire artists for commissioned work for the event. Commissioned artwork filled the Drill Hall, a room about the size of two football fields. Each group or artist was given “urgent issues” as inspiration for their work. This year’s theme was “fRact/fiction.” From racial stereotyping in the media to the evolution of the Armory and its surrounding environments, 10 different artist groups were commissioned for a variety of topics.

Daniel Glick-Unterman ARC ’17, one of the architects of “garden pleasure,” a piece that explores modern social issues, said he believes the city would benefit if the Armory were “treated in a sensitive and well-informed way.” He said the Armory is locked and fenced-off during the summer, adding that more events could be hosted in the space during that time.

The City-Wide Open Studios Event not only offers artists the spotlight to show off work, but also gives local art enthusiasts the opportunity to see the work of the artists in the neighborhood.

“We like the vibe. It has a nice vibe of everyone here coming to see art. We don’t get that very often,” New Haven resident Candace Barrington said. “It’s not museum-y. Somebody didn’t say, ‘This was good. You should like.’ It’s more like, here’s a bunch of art, come see what you think about it.”

Her partner, Mike Shea, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University, said he liked the “communal spirit” of the event.

The next City-Wide Open Studios Event will take place on Oct. 28 and 29 at Erector Square.

Grace Kang |