|Helen Kauder, Executive Director|
Artspace is a contemporary art gallery and non-profit organization located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. Artspace's mission is to catalyze artistic activities; connect contemporary artists, audiences, and resources; and to enrich art experiences and activate art spaces. Since its founding in 1987, Artspace has helped nearly 3,000 artists in the greater New Haven area develop their careers. Artspace presents gallery exhibitions, outdoor installations, a major annual Open Studios festival, and a teen education program. Artspace has been recognized for its artistic merit by the National Endowment for the Arts, the LEF Foundation, and the Tremaine and Warhol foundations. The Artspace gallery, located at 50 Orange St., New Haven, houses 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of storefront in the Ninth Square neighborhood for exhibitions, workshops, and staff offices.
Artspace was conceived as early as 1984, by a group of New Haven-based visual and performing artists in response to the elimination of a promised gallery space dedicated to local artists in the Shubert, a prominent local theater. Convinced that local visual art and performance needed an alternative showcase, they created Artspace with a mission to nurture and preserve the arts, focusing especially on artists and audiences in the greater New Haven area. The name Artspace originally described the permanent space and black box reserved for local artists and performers that was promised but never delivered by the Shubert. In its next incarnation without a permanent home, the name became an umbrella for a variety of projects. Its artistic leaders (led from 1997-2000 by Marianne Bernstein who incorporated the idea of “alternative spaces” and envisioned the term “citywide," thinking of the entire city as an art space) loved the irony of using the name "Artspace" while operating without a space, appropriating found spaces as "art spaces," including factory buildings (former manufacturers of tires, rifles, corsets, cash registers, and Erector Sets), public libraries, public schools, public greenways, city buses, and old malls and storefronts.
Officially starting in 1987, it operated a lively exhibition and performance space in a new facility which it purchased and helped build at 70 Audubon Street, in the emerging Audubon arts district downtown. More than 120 major exhibitions were organized, many addressing social issues relevant to New Haven's urban community. Programs included an annual small theater festival, monthly showcases of musicians, poets, and performance artists, and a jazz series, which evolved into the region's first jazz non-profit organization, JazzHaven. The Summer Arts for Youth (SAY!) Mentoring Program for inner city youth paired local artists with high school students for a summer apprenticeship and exhibition. In 1998, the Artspace Board determined that the organization could more effectively reach the constituency it was intended to serve if relieved of the substantial costs of carrying prime New Haven real estate. The Board approved a plan to restore the financial stability of the organization and voted to sell the gallery and performance space to the Educational Center for the Arts. Until 2002, Artspace was again without a home. Now, it is back in a gallery space under a city subsidy.
In 2001, Artspace entered into a collaborative arrangement with the City of New Haven and jointly redeveloped a civil-war era furniture factory located in a historic but overlooked area of downtown. With the support of CT’s Department of Economic Development, the New Haven Development Commission, and the City’s Planning Commission, Artspace oversaw the renovation and creation of a flexible exhibition facility which includes areas for group exhibitions, experimental solo space, window installations, as well as an area for an artist in residence and Artspace’s offices. Artspace’s Center for Contemporary Art (“Artspace”) opened in April 2002, drawing both crowds and interest, and serving as an effective good-will ambassador for downtown New Haven. In 2004, Artspace also entered into a lease and agreement to develop the Lot, an outdoor space one block from its gallery, as a site for temporary public sculpture.
Artspace presents thematic group exhibitions, solo exhibitions in the Project Room, and selections from the Flatfile, a semi-permanent collection of 300 works-on-paper by area artists chosen from a bi-annual open call. The Lot installation rotates twice a year. Artspace runs a lively education program aimed at public schools students from New Haven, encompassing a docent program, a hands-on summer apprenticeship for 15 students to collaborate on a new work with a visiting artist, and vacation period printmaking and photography workshops. These programs are all offered at no charge to students. Each year, Artspace also presents City-Wide Open Studios, a month-long festival. Artists open their studios, and Artspace activates empty buildings as sites for temporary installations. A central exhibition at Artspace is mounted with one representative work by every artist.
Forced Collaboration II
This exhibition (May 10 - June 28, 2014) pairs 12 artists (6 collaborations) with wildly different practices. The artists are strangers to each other, selected by the curator (Jacob Rhodes) to exchange a finished work and to re-create that work by forcing themselves on it in any way they please. No preconceptions stain their attempts; no obligations of friendship or acquaintance constrain what they can or cannot do.
Featured artists: Chris Bors, Daniel Bozhkov, Ilana Harris-Babou, Kerry Cox, Oliver Herring, David Humphrey, Bridget Mullen, Mariah Robertson, Mandolyn Wilson Rosen, Jen Schwarting, Mark Starling, and J.R. Uretsky.
In 2007, Chris Doyle, a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn New York, challenged 45 artists to explore 45 rooms in hotels across the state of Connecticut. The result was a three-part, contemporaneous exhibition in Connecticut’s premier contemporary art exhibition spaces: Artspace, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, and Real Art Ways of Hartford.
50,000 is the approximate number of beds available to travelers in hotels, motels, and inns across Connecticut. Artists created short videos focusing on these rooms as sites filled with narrative potential. Familiar yet foreign, a hotel room combines experience of both intimacy and anonymity. The finished works, from fiction to documentary to a consideration of the relationship between travelers and hotel laborers, displayed a diverse range of artistic responses and themes. The buzz behind the exhibitions insightful concept even attracted the attention of the New York Times, as well as local publications.
Artspace paid tribute in 2007 to local children’s author and West Haven librarian Eleanor Estes. This exhibition featured 101+ pieces reflecting ideas of fashion in all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, digital art, and narrative texts. Contributors included local and national visual artists, fashion designers, and collectors.
Co-curated by Linda Lindroth and Denise Markonish, the exhibition opened on what would have been Estes’s 101st birthday. Estes wrote award-winning children’s books such as Ginger Pye and The Moffats, and the inspiration for the exhibition, The Hundred Dresses. This bestselling children’s book is a perfect example of how fashion inspires art, and the group of contributors extended that inspiration to explore and examine the countless other ways in which fashions tells stories of its own.
Sixty artists contributed to the exhibition including Mimi Smith, Zac Posen, William Steig, Maira Kalman, Yoko Ono, Laurie Simmons, Barbara Morgan, Robert Taplin, J. Morgan Puett, Rachel Vaters-Carr and Andy Warhol. One of Louis Slobodkin’s original illustrations from Estes’s book and an exact duplicate of Emily Dickinson’s dress from the Emily Dickinson Homestead and Museum were also on view.
In 2004, Artspace curator Denise Markonish sought to explore the intersection of art and industry. Inspired by an exhibition organized at the Art Center for the Capital Region in Troy, NY, Denise worked with local artists, New Haven’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Manufacturer’s Association to unite artists with factories in the greater New Haven area for a 1-3 month residency. During this time, artists and factory workers collaborated to explore how artists and factories share concerns for creativity, innovation, and problem solving. The artists became an integral part of the factory, meeting its workers, learning the company’s history, and creating works resulting from a sharing of ideas and inspiration.
The end result was Factory Direct: New Haven, an exhibition of artwork that captured the history, community, materials, processes, and products of the host factories through sound, images, video, and interactive installations.
City-Wide Open Studios
New Haven's City-Wide Open Studios, founded by Marianne Bernstein, Helen Kauder, and Linn Meyers, is an annual celebration of contemporary art, and is Connecticut's leading visual arts festival. Over the past 13 years, art dealers and curators from the region have used CWOS as a resource to discover new artists, plan upcoming shows, and buy art. One of the largest Open Studios programs in the country, CWOS unites hundreds of local artists with the greater New Haven community.
CWOS aims to: 1) Connect visual artists to the public and each other 2) Provide a forum for showing and selling artwork that is open to all artists 3) Foster community pride in visual artists and their contributions to a thriving city 4) Draw thousands of visitors from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and beyond to explore all that New Haven has to offer 5) Showcase vacant historic properties by using them as exhibition space, contributing to their revitalization for other uses
This three weekend event includes a main hub exhibition featuring a representative work by each participating artist at Artspace’s gallery on Orange Street; a weekend devoted to the studios at Erector Square, site of what was once the factory making Erector Sets; a private gallery weekend complete with bike tours and guided bus tours; and, finally, the unique factor that makes CWOS stand apart from all open studios festivals, the Alternative Space weekend. At the “AltSpace,” artists without access to a studio as well as artists from elsewhere in Connecticut show their work in a vacant historic properties that Artspace adapts into exhibition spaces, aiding in their redevelopment. Past spaces have included the Olin Metals Research Laboratory, the Pirelli Building, and the former Hamden Middle School. Through the Alternative Space project, CWOS connects artists and the public with different neighborhoods of New Haven every year. The site for 2010's CWOS was a vacant downtown strip mall and mid-century office building, currently being redeveloped by the COOP Center for Creativity.
“No other cultural event... brings the city so close together and involves the city so intensely.” - The New Haven Advocate
Artspace's education program has, since 2001, encompassed:
- An intensive summer apprenticeship program in which a master artist works with 12-15 students from city public high schools to create new work around a particular topic or methodology
- In-school residencies in which emerging artists collaborate with groups of high school students
- An after-school photography program, based on the award-winning Literacy Through Photography (LTP) Program. Artspace piloted the program in Fall 2002 with the help of LTP founder Wendy Ewald, in partnership with Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP)
- An after school teen docent program, training students to serve as exhibition guides and young curators.
Each initiative culminates in a month-long public exhibition, and is complemented by related gallery talks, poetry readings, and award receptions. Teens receive annotated portfolios of their work to use for school and job applications.
The Summer Apprenticeship Program (SAP) is the centerpiece of Artspace's work with young people and offers a unique opportunity for a small group of New Haven public high school students to work intensely with a master artist for three weeks each summer. In 2001, the program's founding year, Artspace partnered with famed Connecticut artist Sol LeWitt to create a series of wall drawings. The work, conceived by LeWitt and realized by the teen Summer Apprentices, was displayed at Artspace's gallery that summer.. Artspace's 2017 Summer Apprenticeship Program will feature acclaimed photographer Nona Faustine who will work with students to produce self-portraiture communicating the times we've found ourselves in now.
Past SAP projects:
- 2001: Wall Drawings with Sol LeWitt
- 2002: On the Day I Was Born with David Pease 
- 2003: View From Here with Lee Boronson 
- 2004: The Ball Project with Danny O 
- 2005: Organic Bending with Shih-Chieh Huang 
- 2006: Ensemble with Jean Shin 
- 2007: Victim with Larissa Hall 
- 2008: Hawaii with William Downs 
- 2009: Babel Collections with Carolyn Salas 
- 2010: Tag and Repeat x 2 with Cat Balco 
- 2011: Trellised Bench with Boris Chesakov and Ryan Wolfe 
- 2012: Occupy Main Street with Felandus Thames
- 2012: (Art)iculate alumni show
- 2013: Pop & Op with Erika Van Natta
- 2014: Mobile Museum of American Artifacts with Laurelin Kruse
- 2015: Arresting Patterns with Titus Kaphar, Aaron Jafferis, and Dexter Singleton
- 2016: Stages of Kingdom and Exile with Wardell Milan
- 2017: Project title forthcoming; with lead artist Nona Faustine
The Lot is Artspace's pocket park and public art space. It is located near Artspace at 812 Chapel Street, the site of a busy bus stop. Artspace has presented temporary art installations here since 1999, and redeveloped it as a dedicated art space in 2005 in collaboration with local and federal agencies.
The site is a square of about 90 x 90 feet (27 m), facing Chapel Street, with a short side passage connecting to Orange Street. The site is bordered by the sides of neighboring buildings. Around the site's perimeter, seven 25-foot (7.6 m) rigger poles support lighting and hanging hardware for artwork. The Lot is not gated; it is accessible to the public 24 hours a day.
The Lot began humbly as an empty lot. It was formerly the site of the Phoenix Building, designed by Henry Austin, architect of the Grove Street Cemetery gates and New Haven City Hall. The building was torn down in the late 1990s because of safety concerns, leaving a rubble-filled lot.
In 1999, Marianne Bernstein, the chair of Artspace's Visual Arts Committee and founder of Artspace's untitled(space) gallery, recognized the potential of this lot as a site for public art. She asked Mayor DeStefano for permission and organized the inaugural project in the Lot, "New Haven Labyrinth." A team of local artists led by Sharon Kurland created a maze, inspired by a Cretan labyrinth, made out of local river rocks painted by over 2500 local residents. In the two years that followed, Artspace continued to organize exhibitions in the Lot, including Line, a large group sculpture show curated by Deborah Hesse, and 365 Bales by Stephen Grossman. The latter installation, made of 365 fresh bales of hay, was deemed too "incendiary" by the Fire Marshall and was relocated to a field in Bethany, CT.
In 2001, a community charrette focused on the Lot was organized by Artspace, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas and Project for Public Spaces. There, artists and neighborhood residents developed ideas for renovating the site, including plantings, pathways, benches, and a new bus shelter. To realize the plan, Artspace worked with Bothwell Site Design, the Greater New Haven Transit District, the Town Green Special Services District, and the City of New Haven, with support from the Federal Transit Administration. Bothwell's design, anchored by benches of stone recycled from the Phoenix Building, was honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects.
When renovations were completed in 2005, Artspace announced an open call for proposals for temporary public art projects that would harmonize with the Lot's new function as an inviting space for residents, pedestrians, and bus riders to interact. Projects were selected by a diverse review committee, including Artspace staff, representatives from the sponsoring agencies, and other community members.
Exhibitions realized to date include:
- Christopher Fennell: Tree Dome (2005–2006), a contemplative space made of foraged lumber
- DeWitt Godfrey: Pamplona (2006), one of three projects in Public Art Moving Site, giant rusty loops of sheet metal filling the Lot's Orange Street gateway
- Micah Silver and Colby Brown: The Phoenix (2006), an installation of sounds found in New Haven
- June Bisantz Evans: Directions for Use (2006–2007), playful signs encouraging interaction
- Colin McMullan: A Lot in Our Lives (2007), interactive sculptures including outdoor libraries for books and objects This exhibition was home to McMullan's first Corner Library, a project which is ongoing at various locations in New York City.
- William Lamson: Long Shot (2009–2010), basketball court of massive proportions
- Siebren Versteeg and Paul Theriault, Particular Heights (2010–2011), a swing designed to measure joy
- Leeza Meksin: Flossing the Lot (2012) an installation featuring recycled printed spandex hung vertically against the walls of The Lot
- The Play House: Beyond What Was (2012) with Marianne Bernstein. Artists-in-residence worked within the transparent cube by day, interacting with the public. At night, the cube was wrapped and the opaque surface became a projection screen.
The Lot has also hosted two collaborations between esteemed artists and local high school students as part of Artspace's teen programs:
In addition to the sponsors and partners listed above, the Lot has been supported by United Illuminating, the Berkshire Taconic Fund/Artists Resource Trust, Urban Resources Initiative, and CT Transit.
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- Official Site of Artspace
- Early Lot exhibitions on archived Artspace website
- City-Wide Open Studios 2010
- Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism
- Galleries at INFONewHaven
- New Haven wins 7 NEA Grants