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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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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A Fine Bunch: October 2nd and 3rd in New Haven

During City Wide’s opening weekend, I was unfortunately busy barista-ing. However, the buzz was sure a buzzin’!  I overheard many discussions of favorite artists and their work.  And while sorry to miss the Erector Square extravaganza, I thoroughly enjoyed this past weekend.

Saturday saw a journey to a handful of artists’ private studios.  Highlights included seeing Joan Fitzsimmons’ photography and Alan Neider’s sculpture at their studio in Hamden; chatting over wine and snacks with John Jessen at his studio in Westville; realizing that the impressive Gar Waterman taught me stone sculpture at Foote School and Gar realizing that (to his dismay) this was over ten years ago!  By the end of the day, I found myself inspired, energized and full of ideas.

That evening, I enjoyed Artspace’s Underground event, particularly, watching Silas Finch work:

The following day, I opened my East Rock studio.  I found that merely organizing my studio beforehand got me excited to share my work as well as to start new projects.  A good number of people came though, including the Devil’s Gear tour. a few friends and a few strangers. Highlights included my neighbor thanking me for keeping art alive in the neighborhood and the jogger who saw my sign and flew in 3 minutes to 5pm, happy to catch at least a small part of CWOS.

All in all, I felt the weekend was quite inspirational, motivational and just plain fun.  It’s certainly something to discover the massive network of talented artists living in your own hometown!  And how proud I am to be part of such a fine bunch!

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Karen Dow and Christopher Mir

Karen Dow and Christopher Mir are married and share space in their garage, which they converted into a studio. Three of Mir’s paintings look like this—

—and this—

—and this.

And two of Karen Dow’s paintings look like this—

—and this.

Nothing in common, right? Wrong.

Mir’s paintings start from collages he makes in Photoshop, from found images, pictures he takes himself (he had one of the collages out for spectators to see; sadly, my brain wasn’t yet functioning enough to understand that I should have taken a picture of it for you to see; people, please blame me). Why paint them then, I asked. Part of it was what Mir called a commitment to painting as an art form. But another part of it, he explained, is that painting the collages forced the eye to see the images first as coherent wholes, to take them in all at once. In doing so, Mir was able to riff on the surrealist premise that there is, after all, such a thing as the unconscious, and that there should be room to play, to get lost in a thing without having to impose meaning on it right away.

Dow told me that once she too had been a more realist painter, but over time, she grew steadily more abstract, more interested in form and color than in depicting images; part of the reason, it seemed, was the same playing with meaning. See a painting of a chair, you think, “hey, that’s a chair.” See a painting of something that’s harder to read, and it’s harder to know what to think.

And Dow, like Mir, starts from collages; from photographs. Here’s a photograph Dow was working from—

—and here’s the painting.

Another photograph—

—and another painting.

On the way out, I mentioned to Dow how my own taste in art was moving toward more abstract paintings. She said something casually about how she likes the way more abstract paintings work in a room, because a realistic painting is like a window to another place, while an abstract painting changes the place you’re in. I understood what she meant; she said easily what I’d been trying to formulate for myself. And I thought of how similar both Dow and Mir were—different approaches, but the same interest, in getting us to look differently.

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Artspace Underground

On Saturday, Artspace hosted a signature ‘Underground‘ party at the gallery, with some live art, music, and of course drinks.   I hadn’t been to the gallery yet (gasp!) to see the exhibition with everyone participating in City Wide Open Studios, so I was glad to have a chance to check out the show.

If you haven’t seen the CWOS exhibit you should check it out.

Live something or other being created before your very eyes.

Personally, I was a huge fan of the snacks.  Did someone make that guacamole live, too?  Delicious.

This is a piece from one of my high school teachers, Anna Broell-Bresnick.

If Jesus had Machine Guns provided monochromed angst.

It soon got packed!  It was fun to see such a diverse crowd at Artspace

More three dimensional offerings from the show

I wonder where the after party was?

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