City Wide Open Studios 2010

Artspace's 13th City-Wide Open Studios – from a few angles.

Alternative Space

The final weekend of City Wide Open Studios brought me (and many others) to the Alternative Space on College Street:

I enjoyed seeing all the different ways artists used the space.  From simply hanging work to transforming it entirely, each artist offered something unique.

Here are just a small handful of favorites:

Margaret Roleke — I was struck particularly by the many layers in Roleke’s work.  I loved how the natural light added even more dimension to the above all black piece.

Roleke with “Tinkerbelle at War”

At first glance, not only did the work look two-dimensional, but I also did not even see Tinkerbelle lurking in the background!  On further inspection, the toy soldiers emerged and the piece reminded me of a giant game of Risk.  Finally Tink appeared, adding yet another layer.

Kelly Kapp — I enjoyed Kapp’s mobile-like sculptures of household appliances and other plastics.  Here too I had to look twice before realizing each object’s identity!

“The Peep Show” — In search of the bathroom, we opened the curtain slowly, unsure if we were really allowed in.  Low and behold, a small group of chairs and a projected video of break dancers awaited us.  The element of discovery here was great!

Janice Barnish — I enjoyed Barnish’s quiet installation: “Flight Assistance.”  Tiny plastic compasses covered the floor and brightly colored binoculars poked out of the blinds, perched on window ledges.  Birdbath-like structures stood empty.

“The Bough House”  — I approached this work feeling a little nervous, but decided after a few moments to just follow the direction and


As you make your way through the smashed hole in the wall and look around at the debris covering the ground, you get a sense of urgency and perhaps anger. Then you look up at the branches jabbed through the walls above you and notice they are actually carefully lodged in and almost intricately woven together.

Once on the other side,  you stand up to meet a delicate installation hanging from the ceiling paired with smashed oranges on the ground.  The natural light floats in from the open screen door adding to a sense of eery release.

As other bloggers have noted, many people wondered whether to crawl or not to crawl.  I sure am happy I did!

All in all, I had a wonderful time discovering the many artists at the Alternative Space and throughout this year’s City Wide Open Studios!

Thanks Artspace!  And thanks New Haven!


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Tim Nikiforuk

After walking around for a few minutes after the opening and seeing work by Tim Nikiforuk was definitely an artist that I enjoyed seeing. I didn’t get a chance to chat with him but his work was something I personally enjoyed. His choice of medium and line work inspired me as I walked into the door. Nikiforuk’s work involved intricate line work, bold saturated colors and a possible mix of medium. These organic forms twisted, contrated and expanded to the ends of the page, as if he were trying to connect these organisms to one another. 

Tim Nikiforuk exhibited drawings that I must say made me quite jealous. His talent for controlling graphite in order to creative such beautiful portraits. These portraits capture the viewer’s gaze, locking you in to capture every detail until you move around the structure of the face, where his pencil work loosens up relieving you to lock eyes with the next portrait.

Neighboring Tim Nikiforuk, was an unknown artist, who created this towering structure out of beer cans, from companies I have never heard of before. I think some of those can’s may have been older then I am. I wish I knew whose work it was.


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Artist for Sale?

I thought Erector Square was overwhelming. So much creativity and so many artists who opened their spaces and showed their work. Alternative space truly made a come back. I was great! Happenings and music performances took over College St in New Haven. Alternative Space is not just a place to see art, its where you experience it. Eric Iannucci sold himself or he had himself up for sell… and his work too. Iannucci created work that was constructed and assembled with bits and pieces from so many other things. Clock parts, gears, springs, instrument parts, frames, the list goes on. But the best thing was that everything was on sale!f his work reminded me of Willie Bester’s work. Both artists create work that is so detailed, that allows the viewer to be curious.

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Eat this art: Alternative Spaces and SERA

You have 5 more hours to enjoy the wonders of Open Studios—which are open tomorrow (Sunday the from 12-5 PM. The Alternative Spaces @ 196-212 College Street are host to a plethora of wonderment and surprises in storefronts you might not otherwise have a chance to explore. Spaces @  300 George Street and 39 Church Street are also open.

In an old liquor store, Eric Litke is showing polaroids in handmade frames. There is a series of images of the same cross, kids playing video games, diamond signage, and architectural exteriors. If you ask nicely, he might let you use the bathroom behind the bar.

In the windows of this same space are hand-painted signs by Gene Beery—a contemporary of Sol LeWitt who worked as a security guard @ Moma and offers messages like this:

And this:

A few spaces over, Margaret Roleke makes amazing constructions using toy soldiers and tinkerbell stickers. Robert Greenberg interprets history through a crocodile’s lens, and behind his space, you can crawl into a space behind a wall, provided you have a sense of adventure, good knees, and you look out for crushed oranges.

This piece was delightful in that it made noise (typewriter, powered by the artists) and smelled great. (Again, those crushed oranges) plus, there was something in the crawling that brought me back to a mental space I hadn’t inhabited since I was small. I like art that engages the senses in ways I wasn’t expecting. This piece makes you crawl under a thicket of tree parts suspended in the drywall, and you might miss it if you aren’t paying attention. Some folks asked me what was happening back there and I replied, “ART?”

Co-op students have transformed a storefront with paint and a visual vortex. Their enthusiasm and willingness to discuss the transformation of the space was excellent.

In SERA, a nail salon of pink and mauve profusion offers a selection of treatments, from an inner beauty treatment, to artist swapping services, manifesto massages, and nail treatments from an attendant behind a pink fabric wall. The place was swarming with photographers, which was slightly distracting, but Albert Municino led my friend Dawn & I through the inner beauty treatment, which was both technologically advanced (there was a powerpoint presentation) and utterly human all at once. We learned new words, imaginary words, and experienced an inner beauty treatment that reduced our fear & rage to manageable levels. I was wondering if I would feel cynical about the treatment, but in fact I felt better when it was over, like a person made open to the possibilities of imagination. Here’s a view into the space from the reception area:

On to the massage/manifesto portion of the day: here is a legit journalist and an artist discussing manifestos? Art? Massage? The wisdom of sharing a pillow with strangers?

I do not like the scent of nail polish, so I passed on that, but did get a totally amazing choose-your-own-manifesto massage from the man behind the installation, Ted, who read to me from the Situationist Manifesto accompanied by a found soundtrack of religious music/sermoning found in the salon at the time of it’s grand re-opening preparations. I tried hard to get an actual journalist Allan Appel to get a massage, specifically the cyberfeminist massage, but he wanted only to witness the experience. In talking about it, I realized it was indeed different from many other artworks I’ve experienced because I wasn’t using my eyes. It was engaging my nose (frankly, the pillow smelled very floral) my ears (manifesto & found Korean tape) my sense of touch (duh, the massage) and not my eyes at all. But of course, Ted said, he was using his eyes. I got my friend Mary to get a massage and we both confessed later to thinking Ted was grand—was it the manifesto that made us happy? Or just the magic of being touched? Did we actually absorb any of the manifestos? We all agreed that we wished we’d been able to tip our humble art servants like one does in an actual salon.

Before we left, we each took a crumpled note from the floor. That made us feel even better about ourselves and our salon experience.

Upstairs, Kim Mikenis displayed off her deliciously colorful artworks, puppetry scripts and outfits, and new work that incorporates the shadowpuppet figures from her shows into art pieces.

Down the hall, I stepped into a camera obscura room built by Colin Burke and watched Crown Street pass by upside down. I sat in the darkness watching the world outside gliding by, astonished and quiet.

I asked Burke if he had a camera obscura room in his house. “No,” he said, he didn’t have a spare room for it. I’d describe it as more compelling than a fish tank, and equally relaxing.

Kevin Van Aelst’s photographs of the mundane turned meaningful delighted a young biochemist on the second floor.  She loved chromosomes and his gummy worm visions of it.

A tower of beercans in another room were visually striking. Sadly I don’t know who to attribute these to. [David Coon – ed.]

I admired Harvey Koizim’s photographs of Farmer’s Markets and wished for an apple image in this season of apples. In another space, I enjoyed one of the other pleasures of open studios, free food. I ate a wee macoun and wandered back downstairs.

There, we chatted with Elvira Ormaechea about painting the lake—or ? I guess we talked about a method of preparing a wooden surface with layers of an ancient primer but it had a really exotic name and I wasn’t taking good notes at this point in the day. I really liked her work, and her name too, obviously. It too is beautiful. Whatever the process was called, we expressed our delight at the surfaces this meticulous process produced.

If you can, get over to the space at the Alternative Space before the weekend is over, I can guarantee you won’t regret it. You can feed your mouth, your eyes, your inner beauty, your muscles, your ears, your heart. That place is bursting with awesome. Here is the sun, bursting with awesome through the pinhole that makes the camera obscura work:

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Loving Open Studios: Artists in the Alternative Space Edition

Loving Open Studios: Artists in the Alternative Space @ 196-212 College Street

Eric Litke


It’s not Hartford.


It takes full advantage of the unique & active arts scene in New Haven.

Margaret Roleke


There is always a lot going on. It is fun, exciting, and you never know what’s going to happen.


It’s a unique opportunity to connect with different artists & the general public and there is a really good feeling to the whole event.

Robert S. Greenberg


Its history.


Advancing visual culture.

Kim Mikenis


People, places, things.


Meeting new people, being inspired by others, letting people know about the kind of artwork I create.

Elvira E. Ormaechea


The British Museum! The resources, it’s so close to New York but not New York. The culture, the art, the people. It’s wonderful and so close to home.


On the way to the bathroom you can have a tunnel art gallery. Anybody can show work. It exposes all the wonders from around us. Sharing the love.

Kevin Van Aelst


It’s pretty small, but there are still all sorts of things going on here.


A few weekends where you can forget about everything except how great the artists & art are here.

Colin Burke


I’m new to the area but lived in Boston for many years. New Haven is walkable—like Cambridge. I love the architecture, food, art & being able to walk around. New Haven has it all! And history too!


At City Wide Open Studios you get lots of people, lots of questions, people interested in art & the process. It’s a good experience for artists to know what people want to know about the work or the process.

As an artist, you don’t have a lot of feedback from people who aren’t artists. Feedback is positive, a chance for people to see what happens and to see what engages people.

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Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht, like Karen Dow and Christopher Mir, works out of a garage that’s been converted into a studio. (New Haven artists who work out of converted garages, raise your hands!) One of the best things about visiting a studio, I have discovered, is to see works in progress–to be able to visualize how the artist turns a blank canvas into finished work. Here is one of Hecht’s in-progress pieces, after just a few passes.

Here’s another after many more passes.

And here’s a finished piece:

Hecht explained to me (as he did to a previous poster) that in some of his paintings, like the one of the jacket, he’s interested in exploring the difference between fantasy and reality—the truth of what happened versus the stories we make up when we want to fill in the blanks. The jacket was his grandfather’s; he mentioned how difficult it was to square the reality that he’d served with the man he knew, and then to square that again with the image we have of what fighting in war is like. Thus the lighting—one source natural, one artificial. Illuminating things differently.

We can all relate, can we not? My great-uncle served on a destroyer in World War II; he said once he could see the face of the kamikaze coming for his ship. But I remember him in an easy chair, in the hospital. I once worked with a British man, too, who said he’d been a soccer hooligan, a soldier. When I met him, he was teaching conversational English in Japan. Hard to square. Less hard when he showed me one day that half his teeth were false; just flipped them out of his mouth, under some severe fluorescent lighting. But still hard.

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SERA Salon: Social Experiments Relational Acts

This weekend at the Alternative Space, City-Wide Open Studios hosts SERA (Social Experiments Relational Acts) Salon, examining the notion of art as service – in a vacant, fully-outfitted nail salon.

Artspace has cleaned the salon, but left its original trappings – magazines, customer autographs, nail polish tubes, manicure tables and pedicure tables – intact. From 12 pm – 5 pm on Saturday, October 9, and Sunday, October 10, visitors will be able to participate in a series of site-specific experiments, developed by various artists and organized by Ted Efremoff.

One such experiment is “IMAGICURE: an imagination exchange for creative alternatives,” developed by Steven Dahlberg. In IMAGICURE, visitors are invited to to contribute an idea about how to infuse more creativity in education.  In his statement to Artspace, Dahlberg adds that, “A salon is inherently a place of social interaction, where ideas are exchanged and community is built….This experience explores creativity in service to self and the community.”

Dahlberg focuses on applied imagination in search of creative alternatives. He is interested in how creativity improves the well-being and flourishing of those who engage in it. He directed an international creativity conference and currently heads the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination.

The project also includes the relational act, WAIT.  WAIT engages its participants through a “Take-a-Number” ticket dispenser “Take-a-Number” ticket dispenser, and other permutations of symbolic place holders, that only exist to allow access to a future experience or object.  This is a relational act intended to discover, or at least approximate what we are waiting for?   What are the philosophical existential implications of  waiting? When do we wait? What does waiting feel like?

WAIT has been developed by John O’Donnell.  O’Donnell was conceived on Halloween, born on his father’s birthday, and raised in Montana. He lives and works in Connecticut. He has exhibited at the Chelsea Art Museum, the International Print Center in New York, and the Seoul Museum of Art in Korea. John creates installations, videos, performances, prints and works on paper.

Also participating are PRAXIS, the joint project of Delia Bajo and Brainard Carey.  Among many other notable achievements and innovations, the pair have previously participated in the Whitney Biennial.

Please join us this weekend to celebrate this unique event.  Social Experiments and Relational Acts await you…


Photos by Adi Segal, for Artspace.  More can be found here….

Filed under: Alternative Space, arts, CWOS, new haven

Sunday October 3rd

This past Sunday, October 3rd, I spent the day perusing the new Project Storefronts on Orange Street, as they were open in conjunction with City Wide Open Studios.  If you have not seen them yet, I highly recommend checking them out!  I think they’re an amazing use of storefront space in New Haven, and a vital way to foster more of an art/creative community in a city that has seen decline in both art and commerce the past few years.  I love the idea of giving an artists a chance to help carve out part of New Haven’s identity, and felt enlivened by visiting the spaces.

First I headed over to Detritus for a workshop

Beth Ann Royer and Edgar Garcia conducted a really neat workshop in how to make chapbooks

The group made some really well executed books!

Beth, Edgar, and Detritus also provided a great selection of artist books to flip through and be inspired by

I really can’t say enough about how great Detritus is; what an awesome resource for New Haven!  My book Circles is now available there

I checked out some of the other gallery spaces in Project Storefronts.  They look great!

The Crosby Street Gallery, a pop-up gallery in Project Storefronts

Next I headed over to Hanni Bresnick‘s studio on Lyon Street.  Hanni used to run Grand Projects not that long ago, remember it?

This ice cube tray sculpture was one of my favorite pieces of the weekend

Paintings of sculptures or sculptures of paintings?  I like those wall sculptures.

After that I had to head home, a bit sad I did not run into James Franco at City Wide Open Studios. He is a big contemporary collector…

Where are you, James?  Take a break from working on your fifth doctorate to support New Haven!


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day 1 cwos bike tour

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Artists participating in the Alternative Space!

Tomoko Abe
Janice Barnish
Gene Beery
Barry Braman
Colin Burke
Mark Burns
Eileen Carey
Melanie Carr Eveleth
Dave Coon
Sean Corvino
Chris Cozzi
Steve Dahlberg
Robert Davis
Marion Doherty
Lanse Dowdell
Ted Efremoff
Jessica Fazzini
Rob Greenberg
Barbara Hocker
Marion Hunt
Aileen Ishmael
Eric Iannucci
Richard Kallweit
Kelly Kapfer
Harvey Koizim
Lauren Laudano
Eric Lidtke
Esdras Lubin
Kim Mikenis
Albert Municino
Tim Nikiforuk
John O’Donnell
Rebecca Paker
Rob Parkman
Margaret Rolecke
Tom Regner
Mark Regni
Martha Savage
Alyssa Scioritina
Cris Shirley
Robert Sibold
Suzan Shutan
Krys Swiattek
Kevin VanAelst 

Plus a team of Coop HS Students!

Filed under: Alternative Space, arts, CWOS, new haven

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