On Oct. 1, Artspace New Haven — a non-profit organization for emerging contemporary artists — launched its 23rd annual City-Wide Open Studios festival.
The festival is a month-long event which provides artists across Connecticut with a platform to exhibit their work and build connections within the community. This year, due to the pandemic, CWOS is offering both remote and in-person engagement opportunities. Viewers can schedule studio visits with over 200 artists through the CWOS portal.
“Our first priority has always been to connect artists with potential clients, curators, or programmers,” said Lisa Dent, executive director of Artspace New Haven. “In that way, I hope that moving to the remote even presents some advantages and offers greater opportunities for them.”
This year’s theme is based on political scientist Robert Dahl’s book “Who Governs?”. According to the Artspace press release, Dahl’s book serves as a “jumping off point” for artists to imagine public projects about city management and governance.
In the past, the festival took place throughout the weekends of October. Each weekend focused on a different neighborhood of New Haven, with audience numbers in the thousands. However, it was difficult to engage curators from all over the U.S. because of costs and traveling times.
Now, both artists and visitors are adapting to art appreciation in a digital setting. Because curators no longer need to travel to New Haven, CWOS now attracts artists that can host meetings over Zoom and Google Hangout.
Yet the main goals of CWOS remain unchanged.
Visitors who prefer in-person studio visits have the opportunity to do so, as long as they follow health and safety guidelines. They can use the website portal to book a time slot in advance.
Artspace has held its City-Wide Open Studios festival for 22 years, and most artists have continued to participate in this year’s festival despite its transition to a virtual format.
New Haven-based digital sketch doer Jason Ting found the festival’s virtual alternative convenient.
“It’s a great opportunity to share my artwork with the local community,” Ting said. “The online format makes it easier and more accessible for artists and viewers to connect with one another.”
Eoin Burke ART ’09 and his wife Tracie Cheng have been part of the festival for years and look forward to its continuation.
“It is always a wonderful space where we can bring our community into the work we do and connect with others making art in New Haven,” Burke said.
With over 200 artists, the festival features a wide range of art mediums, encouraging a wide variety of art to be featured. Ting, for example, uses coding techniques to create digital animations, while Burke creates his sculptures out of epoxy clay — a self-hardening clay used by crafters and sculptors. Ting plans to showcase 10 works capturing the visual range of his explorations.
The festival, a yearly tradition that gives involved artists the opportunity to showcase any art they’ve been working on for the past year, will run until Oct. 30. It is free and open to the public.
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Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect an accurate transcription of Ting’s statement.