City Wide Open Studios 2010

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

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 New Haven and Open Studios

Where can you run into your high school art teacher & that stenographer you never wanted to see again? Where can you meet artists who’ve never exhibited beside artists who have shown things internationally? Where can you wander back home,  then stumble upon a swingset art installation in the lot on the way back to your bicycle? Only at an annual event called citywide open studios, hosted by Artspace, which expands the first weeks of autumn into three weekends of learning, seeing, sharing, and exploring. I asked 6 people and one artwork at Opening Night what they love about New Haven & what they love about City Wide Open Studios

Meg Herlihy


The cultural diversity. Here we have more art and music than anywhere else in Connecticut. It has the best scene.


Once a year the community comes together, it is open to lots of people, and representative of the diversity of scenes. It allows you to reconnect with people you wouldn’t see otherwise, it’s a good networking event, open to any age group, young kids, old people.

Ryan Cyr


We are close to the wilderness—15 minutes in any direction to the beach or the woods. But there is enough city action to also be satisfying.


Sharks and germs.

Danielle DeSanti Davis


It’s eclectic and down to earth.


It brings together a bunch of artists in one place, there is good energy. It’s a good place to get creatively inspired and excited about making things.

Detail from Ilona Anderson‘s Dwell


The interiors and their acceptance of colorful faux bois tree house art.


It’s a great make-out spot. All the exposure to artwork makes me want to reproduce.

Jennifer Stockwell




Helen Kauder, I can’t believe I’m saying that, I’m so glad she’s back.

Jason Bischoff-Wurstle


It’s small & large at the very same time.


They throw a great party every year, it opens up community at the right time & in the right season.
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Mary Dwyer


The mix of people and it’s history are why I love New Haven.


I love the democracy of open studios—not curated, just original.

Thanks to everyone who answered these questions! Please join the conversation and tell us why YOU love New Haven & Open Studios. We’ll be sharing your thoughts and pictures here and on the facebook, but we can’t talk to everyone! Take a photograph of yourself or a friend,  or a favorite artwork and tell us why (or they, or it) you loves New Haven & Open Studios.  You can e-mail your pictures to cwospics (at), or you can tweet them to @ArtspaceNH with the hashtag #CWOS.  One lucky photographer will win a CWOS tote bag!

Let’s share love for this place & the art that happens here!

(P.S. I’m fairly certain Open Studios loves you back!)

Your friendly inquisitor, Beth Anne Royer lives in a city, works in a city, and spends a lot of time thinking about why they do & don’t work.  She loves New Haven because she fell in love there once, and it will forever be all romantical to her in autumn for this reason.

Beth loves open studios because it is unexpected, and she loves being astounded, surprised, excited, and otherwise engaged in the world and art is good at doing these things.

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Thanking the greeks, and the fir trees and the pigments

Encaustic painting dates back to the ancient Greeks, when shipbuilders used wax to fill cracks in their ships. Sometime thereafter pigment was added to the wax, and repairs became restorative & decorative. Soon the art moved from ship’s hulls to other surfaces. Some encaustic paintings from AD 100-125 survive, depicting bust and head portraits set into mummy casings in Greco-Roman Egypt. Beeswax was used in many ways in this era—even as a kind of dry-erase board for conveying messages. So how do we travel from ancient Greece to the city of New Haven?

This year’s open studios features a variety of artist’s talks and demonstrations, and on Saturday, Maria Lara-Whelpley, an artist with a space in Erector Square provided a demonstration of the technique we can thank the Greeks & the bees & even pine trees for making possible. I’ve always admired the way that encaustic artworks I’ve seen seem soaked in a softness & semi-transparency. Maria Lara-Whelpley describes the feeling of looking at images created with encaustic techniques as akin to “looking through a semi-sheer curtain.”

If this combination of “bee sweat” or beeswax, damar varnish, (the crystallized sap of a fir tree) and pigment can create this surface seems like beautiful, ancient alchemy…well, it is.  But if one was also seeking an artform that might allow you to brandish a heat gun, a torch, and carving tools, as well as joint compound, well, you are also in the right place. One blessing of the modern age is that we can adapt the methods of the ancients, but order grade A beeswax over the internet from Illinois. Don’t say the future isn’t here. Don’t say heat guns aren’t awesome.

Lara-Whelpley demonstrated using the wax itself as a drawing surface that she carved into, imbued with pigments, and coated again with more wax. The wax used for painting sat upon a hotplate surface and was clear and shimmering. She also showed us a sheet of rice paper she’d printed on her home printer, which she affixed to the surface of a birch board treated with 3-4 coats of joint compound, which she praised for its roughness. Lara-Whelpley then built layers of wax over this paper. She also demonstrated methods for transferring photocopied images using the heat gun and wax.

You can mix oil paints with the encaustic medium as well, but it seems the ratios must remain at about 20% oil paint, 80% wax, otherwise the medium will not dry. I’d argue there is something magical and organic about the effect it gives, something that has always  drawn my eye into works done with it. At some point, Lara-Whelpley talked about the archeology of the work—and this seemed, to me, just the right word for the kind of patience and strangeness of the process. It was ancient and pensive, it was meticulous and forgiving, it and new and wonderful.

This isn’t the last demonstration of CWOS! Nor was it the first! Check out:

This year’s City-Wide Open Studios features more interactive demonstrations by artists, and the second weekend is no exception. On Saturday and Sunday, October 2 and 3, Artspace’s neighbor Project Storefronts will hold demonstrations in hooping, weaving, and reading knitting patterns from 1 pm – 4 pm at their 71 Orange Street location.

At Project Storefronts on Sunday, October 3, DETRITUS will host a chapbook-binding workshop from 3 pm – 4 pm; the event will be led by local authors Beth Anne Royer and Edgar Garcia. Also on Sunday, October 3, Creative Arts Workshop will host ongoing demonstrations in sculpture, painting, drawing, and printmaking from 12 pm – 5 pm at their 80 Audubon Street location.

Visitors can explore studios and demonstrations on their own, or participate in guided bike tours led by the Devil’s Gear beginning at 12:30 pm and leaving from their new location at 151 Orange Street, in the rear of the 360 State Street building. Studios will be open from 12 noon – 5 pm on both days, and a complete map and .pdf guide are available on the City-Wide Open Studios website

Related Resources:

A slideshow of the process:



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