Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

City-Wide Open Studios open thread:feel free to comment

I hope to write a bit about City-Wide Open Studios in the upcoming days (my main computer is still in the shop). But in the meantime, I encourage any readers to add your comments. What did you think of this year's Open Studios? If you are an artist who has participated in the past, how do you think it compared? With such substantive changes in the format, it would be interesting to know what people think of this experiment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I opted out of it this year. Even though it was an event that I really enjoyed in the past. Leslie at Artspace had every right to change the CWOS set up and I dont begrudge her one bit.

I was however discouraged by the fact that there was a lot of artist chosen more so of who they know instead of their art. I was also disappointed that when one posts on this blog as anonymous your info gets passed along anyways.

10:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried posting up a comment last night but it didnt go through. Are we screening the publics opinion ?

10:19 AM

Anonymous Sam said...

I could only go on Sunday and only made it to the downtown, Westville and Hamden sites... (I wish I could have toured Erector). The Westville AIRS site was a great show.
I love to see that Artspace published the handy little catalogue to document the NH art scene. I think its valuable for the artists and the community to recieve that pysical record of every artist involved and a quick 50 words about who they are and what they do. Its also good for out-of-towners such as myself.
Plus, excluding all of the kitschy floral photography, boat paintings and other tedium made it easier to continue trekking through everybody's studio. I'm in favor of an exclusive art world.
I definitely saw things I've never seen before from people I've never met or heard of, which is the purpose of such an event.

10:36 AM

Blogger Hank Hoffman said...

There is comment moderation on this blog. But I post every comment relevant to the subject. I instituted moderation because without it I kept having to delete spam for porn, pharmaceuticals, etc. So comments do not post immediately but they do get posted as soon as I check my account.

No one who posts as "anonymous" gets their info "passed along." I have no idea who the anonymous posters are--they are anonymous to me, as well--so I couldn't out them if I wanted to. Which I don't.

As I've noted before, I don't buy into the idea that juried artists were chosen on the basis of who they know rather than on the quality of their art.

10:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hank, you dont have to "buy into" anything. The truth speaks for itself. If anyone wants the truth all you have to do is cross refrence the "Airs" and CONNcentric artist to the Artspace staff listing and previous shows.

It would be great if you would do a write up on the "ties @ Artspace" The public deserves to know the truth

11:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the possibility that the sites and main show were chosen by a theme or some similar common thread? I know plenty of artists that I would consider "better qualified" that didn't make it into either of the two juried events. It could be entirely a case of personal taste, work not fitting into a certain genre, crappy looking entry photos, etc. I realize that one can make a lot of interesting "cross references" on various levels...but you're dealing with a relatively small pool of artists. Artists ARE going to know other artists, have worked with other artists, have studied under other artists. That's obvious....and as a fellow artist, one of my goals...I'm not one these people who sit in a studio and paint for MYSELF all day, while starving (not to assume the previous poster is, of course). I want my art to take me places. I think this weekend had MANY flaws, trust me...I was a participant, but in speaking with many of the folks at Artspace I really don't believe that there was much of a conspiracy going on. Coincidence makes for great gossip, but it doesn't equal "truth".

11:59 AM

Anonymous Michelle said...

I'm interested in hearing what artists and spectators have to say, and I'm hoping we can keep it constructive.

I was an artist at AIRS Hamden. We averaged about 20 visitors per hour during the weekend, for a total of around 400. (Around 40 of them were my guests; a sizable chunk of our traffic may have been friends and family of the artists showing.) This seemed to me to be about half, or even a third, of the traffic the old central alternative spaces got, but on the positive side, it was pointed out that these guests were spending more time looking at (and sometimes revisiting) individual artists' work instead of racing through in order to cover 300 other spaces on site.

There were also 4 artists in a space in our complex that Artspace had arranged as a temporary studio for them, and they surely got the same foot traffic we did. (There were originally 6 but 2 dropped out.) Even though artists were supposed to find their own spaces this year, apparently Artspace did end up making arrangements for artists who didn't get into AIRS or CONNcentric but still needed a spot. For the record, before getting into AIRS I was able to find 2 temporary spaces on my own and with a friend (and then found it almost impossible to find someone else to pass them along to, so I don't know that anyone who wanted a space was left without one); I don't know how much traffic I would have gotten in those spaces, however.

I would suggest, in future years, splitting the festival into two weekends: Erector Square one weekend, and then a second weekend for AIRS and individual/temporary studios. I'm guessing Erector Square was the de facto heir of the old alt space crowds, given the convenience factor and large concentration. It's where I would have gone first if I had had a weekend off to explore other sites. I did miss having the opportunity for large numbers of other artist/participants to view my work; the hundreds of artists at the old central alt sites--and individual and Erector Square artists who were free that weekend as spectators--were a source of some great conversations, feedback, and connections in years past.

By the way, the AIRS sites did not function as an elitist replacement for the old alternative spaces--these were themed, juried, off-site Artspace exhibits anchored in each of the five neighborhoods, and meant to lure visitors out to individual and temporary studios in the surrounding area. It was made clear to participating artists that this was not an "open studio" but a group show under the auspices of Artspace created to complement and draw attention to the actual "City Wide Open Studios." Whether or not this actually worked as intended is a separate issue. Artspace had nothing to do with the jurying, and my own inclusion was proof that you didn't need to have any connections to Artspace--or even much previous gallery experience--to be seriously considered based on whether or not your work fit into a given theme for a site. Because it was thematically based and not a "best of each neighborhood" show, anyone whose work fits into one of the 5 chosen themes next year could potentially be included (and participants this year have no guarantee of a repeat invite).

12:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, people, people...let it go.
The theories about participants in juried shows having connections has no merit, and you know it.

Unless you were in the room with each set of jurors you don't know how the artists for each show were choosen.

As for the quality of the AIRS shows I think they were each interesting as thematic exhibitions. I don't think they were juried as representitive of "the best of New Haven" but rather as a grouping of work that works along a specific theme.

Maybe some of you folks out there throwing mud will be choosen next year. Will you be out spitting venom in such force if that happens?

12:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the speculation about AIRS/CONNcentric artists getting in based on connections is unfounded. Also, the idea that the shows were based on a better/worse merit selection seems a little silly.

I certainly saw plenty of work at AIRS sites that I didn't find particularly interesting, but in the context of the other work they made sense.

I will agree that next year CWOS needs to be 2 weekend. Unfortunately the people in New Haven who go to see art are other artists. The community needs a two weekend event to really take it all in.

All that being said I saw a lot of really interesting work out and about and I was pleased with the vibe at a lot of AIRS sites and studios. CWOS is really what you make of it. If you go in with negativity you're probably going to come out disappointed.

1:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said....and I've spoken to a couple of jurors and Artspace reps, and they're very aware that some changes are going to have to made next year in the operation of the weekend(s). It didn't go as planned....but everyone knows that things seldom do. I'm usually one of the most negative people in the world, however even with my lack of sales, I felt for the price and time spent, I came away with some great new friends, ideas, and a fair amount of exposure.

2:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my only year since the Smoothie Warehouse that I did not take part of CWOS for only for personal reasons. However I visited Erector Square and a bunch of smaller venues in New Haven and West Haven. The crowed was very, very small for a Saturday. I talked to the exhibitors and more than half of them were disappointed in the show.

2:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the people that were disappointed...
Did you effectively promote yourself, your studio...?

We all have a role to play in CWOS. ArtSpace can provide space, promotion and an audience, but only up to a point. And it's not as if ArtSpace didn't promote CWOS. I saw promotion all over NH and beyond. TV, Radio, press, web...ArtSpace certainly did their part on that front.

All of the artists need to lend a hand in getting the word out about their work or work that they are passionate about. If you just plunk your work on a wall and expect the spotlight don't be surprised when you're ignored.

5:15 PM

Anonymous Jodiann Strmiska said...

JodiAnn Strmiska

I was one of the 12 artists exhibiting @ 14 Gilbert Street West Haven. My out-take on this years' CWOS is as follows:
(1. So Many Exhibition Sites/So little Time;-
(2. Location!, Location!, Location! IS(!!) Everything!!!;-
(3.ConnCentric?????;- You've GOT(!!) to be kidding !!!;-
(4. Missing Links: (a. exhibition of 12"x 12" artist-'thumbnails' @ ArtSpace;- (b. a CWOS/A.I.R.S. opening @ ArtSpace;(c. The Weinie-Wagon;-
(5.Artist-In-Residence OPtions:
If possible, it'd be great to have a series of A.I.R. create site-specific installations under the aegis of CWOS-sponsored curators at one building-site;-
(6.Democracy In Action:
I am of ( at least!) two minds about the 'tier' system used to jury & consequently, curate, this years' CWOS:(a. I feel that the A.I.R.S. sites I visited ( 122 Court St.& the whole spread in Westville..) , as well as 14 Gilbert St., W. Haven, offered strong evidence that quality over quantity IS the way to go! Less IS(!!) more, relative to the notion that good art requires 'breathing space' in order to be seen & appreciated.;- (b. RE; The 'Alternative' Art-Fair:
Personally, although I liked the energy & vitality of the 'Old' CWOS, I think it IS exhausting to have to seperate the 'gold from the dross' and view really GOOD art alongside of really BAD 'Mall-Art' & the like. I am inclined to be in favor of a 'tier' system of curating/jurying the different components of CWOS in the future;- but one which could also be inclusive of 'outsider' or self-taught sensibilities, as well.

The bottom line in all of this is creating and promoting an event which generates a community dialog between artists and the community-at-large.

I didn't sell any of my work this weekend, but came home feeling rich with a sense of peer validation;- which is always the 'Up' side of an event like CWOS.

12:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it was ArtSpace's fault in low attendance (except maybe it was spread out and not in one section). I think due to the economy, the fall of the stock markets, all the banks being bought out and our worries of this years election, people are not in a joyous mood. Yes, ArtSpace did a great job in advertisement and getting the word out and I'm sure some of the exhibitors did their best in also spreading the word too. But advertisement is not 100% guaranteed for a crowed. Most of the time, it's a crap shoot. Anything can happen. People have other plans, people get sick, weather, other activities...

1:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay so the results are that this Event drew in 1/4 of the normal crowd and there was still art displayed that shouldnt have been (humm......I must learn the secret handshake) and well the majorty of those that attended were disapointed.......

9:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jodiann Strmiska


My prediction?;- that 'CONNCENTRIC' will morph into a multi-site survey exhibition of cutting-edge CT. Art and will replace CWOS as THE Art-Event in CT. every October.

10:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that there was always tension between the artist that had studios directed to the Alt space artist. And I think that the happened is the studio artist complained to Artspace and Artspace cut out the Alt space part of the event to make the studio artist happy.

Yet Artspace had no problems taking 50.00 from the non studio artist....

10:28 AM

Anonymous Valerie said...

I showed in my studio at 441 Chapel Street, and we had good traffic throughout the weekend, although nothing like I had when previously showing at the Alternative Space.

I know that Artspace wants to motivate artists to form local groups and create other "Open Studio" weekends. I would certainly like to do this in my local Wooster Square, "East New Haven" area, maybe in the spring.

I didn't get around to see any other artists during the weekend because I was too busy at my own space. I would certainly encourage the "two weekend" set-up next year. I thrive on getting around to see other artists' work.

12:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, in response to the last poster.

The minimum participation fee is 25, not 50. The 50 gets you included in the Artist Directory, and also nets you a free copy of said publication.

The 25 got you listed in the Advocate take away guide and in all other publicity ephemera (with exception of the Artist Directory).

And, as far as I know, nobody at Artspace forced you, or anybody else, to sign up and pay the registration fee. You did that of your own volition.

As for the tension between Studio and Alt space artists...I don't know if that ever existed. I have participated as both an Alt. space artist and a studio artist. Both formats had their advantages and drawbacks. It's not as if the Alt. space was some sort of art mecca that outshined individual studios.

I think a number of people agree that the quality of work at the Alt. space was significantly lower then many of the home studios or erector square spaces.
While it may be more democratic, it was also overstuffed with tacky, poorly presented art.

I preferred opening my studio far more to showing in the Alt. space, where many people breezed through, rarely taking a moment to engage with much of anything.

I found that while I had less foot traffic in my own studio, the people who came through were more willing to engage with my work and me.
Most likely because:
A.) They made it a point to come see my work.
B.) They weren't trying to plow through the work to get to the next overhung room.

1:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello all,

First the good...the catalog. I like that a lot. In fact it's the main reason I opted in this year.

Now the bad...It's open studios...not open Galleries. The whole "juried in" thing is a joke. Curators, gallery owners and local Professors ARE NOT GODS! Quite frankly there opinion is exactally that, an opinion. And who cares what they think...not me.

Locations...way too many. People are going to go two locations max, on a single weekend event. All the Artists need to be in one location like alternative space. (Conncentric was sad. no energy)

Why most people are there...two reasons, to be seen and make some money. Where I was there were possibly 40 visitors, in a space with 20+ artists. In previous years there were hundreds of visitors. sales over three years went from 250, to 1,700, to 2,000, to this year...Nothing. I rely on this income. I had FOUR classes I teach at three different craft schools cancelled this fall due to low enrolement (economy). And now on top of that no sales at CWOS. Betwen the two situations I'm out a third of my income. I need it to survive, and of course to make work.

In conclusion I'm very saddened by the changes to a festival that was Brilliant and unique to New Haven. It was basically a useless event this year. I'm very sorry

2:04 PM

Anonymous Johnes Ruta said...

As an art-scout, independent-curator & rep, and curator for the NH Public Library (previously for the York Square Cinema), I've faithfully followed CWOS every year. But this year was a frustrating disappointment to me, and that feeling was strongly in the air.

Starting in August, I was contacted by artists, many unknown to me, complaining to me that they couldn't get in to Open Studios, or didn't understand or like the changes, or that they were inexplicably rejected from the kickoff (prev open to all) despite the quality of their work and their reputations.

Many who wished to apply did not have computers. Others told me that the on-line Application Site had crashed their Browser.

On behalf of these inquiries, I contacted the directors of CWOS, and received adamant replies that
"this is what artists said they wanted", "change is good," and that "this would attract NY collectors and curators" .... All three of these points now seem mythic at best. One art critic for the NH Advocate has stated his wish that the entire program be scrapped, which shows "real compassion" for the art community ... Let's just say that the creative voice, whether good art or not, is a voice from the heart and/or soul, and/or mind.

The overriding effects of CWOS were "reductionism" by the jurying of the ArtSpace kickoff and AIRS locations, leaving the walls in the former practically bare, and the "isolation" of artists who were effectively locked in position and de-mobilised from seeing the art in other venues. The attendence at ArtSpace appeared sparse compared to its annual crush of enthusiastic spectators, and the jurying here seemed "subjective" to me, along academic and simplified criteria, leaving this art-appreciator wondering what would have been present in those big gaps of empty wall space.

Hopefully we all have learned something from the negative aspects of this experience:

To the directors of CWOS, I recommend planning so that artists have the opportunity to circulate without missing traffic to their own studios or location, and would also remind them that reduction is not the same as "change."

To artists, I would say, "be careful what you wish for" ...

OPEN STUDIOS must continue to mean Open for all ...

10:36 AM

Blogger betsy q. bramble said...

I thought CWOS took a lot of positive strides this year, and had some mistakes as well. This is typical of any change, and understandable.

I loved being a part of one of the AIRS sites. Living in Hartford (which claims to have some sort of Open Studios weekend..but seriously...barely counts) showing through AIRS gave me a chance to be included in a "scene" that I am distant from, and a thriving one at that. I loved meeting the other people in my space, and seeing the connections that the jurors saw in our work.

While it did seem more like a gallery show than any form of open studio, I also thought it was an interesting combination. A juried show in what was basically a miniature alternative space. There are improvements to be made, and I like the ideas of giving it more than one weekend for sure. I also thought that the shuttles should have followed a route that stopped at many sites, rather than one shuttle per space.

I personally spent a good amount of time at my AIRS site, but a fair amount of the artists did not. That is something I really love about CWOS...the artists being there with their work is what makes it all different from a gallery show. This was the fault of the artists, though, and not Art Space.

So basically, being sort of a New Haven outsider, I really loved the chance to be involved. But perhaps this also made me more open to the changes, since it was only my second CWOS. I think this year served as a good step towards something different and better. A work in progress.

7:59 PM


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