Beginning the weekend of Oct. 12, Artspace New Haven will begin its 22nd annual City-Wide Open Studios festival, recognizing the work of up to 400 artists.
The three-weekend festival invited artists from across Connecticut to showcase their work in their own studios, at Erector Square in Fair Haven or at Yale West Campus. According to Artspace New Haven Curator and Gallery Director Sarah Fritchey, the festival is a time of “reconnection and rejuvenation.”
“An interesting part of [the festival] is that a lot of the viewers are the artists themselves,” Fritchey said. “We divide it into three weekends so that artists who are working in isolation get to see what their peers are working on, meet new artists and find collaborators that they might want to work with.”
Each weekend features different artists. During the first weekend, Artspace will offer guided bike tours to various local art studios and galleries. The following two weekends will include artists who reside outside of New Haven. Programming during the second weekend will be held at Erector Square, while programming during the third weekend will be held at Yale’s West Campus.
Executive Director of Artspace Helen Kauder traced the origins of the festival to the closure of several commercial galleries around 20 years ago. Kauder said that this left New Haven artists seeking new ways to connect with their community, motivating her to organize the festival. She drew inspiration from a similar event in San Francisco.
Artspace commissions 10 to 14 special projects for the festival every year that relate to a chosen theme. This year’s festival will explore the theme “Older But Younger,” featuring13 projects that involve the collaboration of artists across generations.
Fritchey said that the theme reflects the “intergenerational collaborative nature of art,” as it delves into how information can be shared across generations. She acknowledged the two-way nature of this collaboration, citing how older teachers pass on technical knowledge while younger artists deftly navigate digital media.
According to Fritchey, this theme was a result of a “longer conversation” in the studios.
“After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, the New Haven cultural scene went silent,” Fritchey said. “We had a lot of community gatherings where we talked about how we wanted to self-define ourselves and rise as a community.”
Fritchey added that the theme encourages artists to “share stories across generations.”
Kauder noted that the theme also reflects on the “ageist” nature of the art world. Kauder said that the festival celebrates the continued service and inspiration that elder artists provide.
Projects under this theme include one titled “Creativity is the Key,” dedicated to one of the oldest living alumna of the Yale School of Art: Constance Kiermaier ART ’50. Other highlights feature a depiction of military experience by Iraq War veteran Rick Lawson SPH ’16, an exploration of queer identity and black experience by Howard el-Yasin and Dymin Ellis and a musical performance using a kegel trainer by Artspace resident Althea Rao.
Fritchey said that Artspace was a place for “challenging” and “difficult” conversations.
“Artspace is a place where we are prepared to take on these projects that might be experimental or risky to take on in other fields or art spaces, and for supporting artists in all the ways they’re thinking,” Fritchey said.
The festival will end on Nov. 3.
Freya Savla | firstname.lastname@example.org.