Open Studio Hartford: A ‘Twinless Twin’ Tribute Among Hundreds Of Artworks
Katherine Emely Gomez was born eight minutes after her sister Emely, and they grew up as close as identical twins tend to be. Then, at age 23, Emely Gomez died during an epileptic seizure.
Katherine calls herself a “twinless twin.” Emely lives on, however, in her sister’s art.
“All of my work is about Emely,” says Katherine, 28. “She is part of my life and part of my identity and part of who I am and who I have been my whole life.” (After her sister’s death, Katherine legally changed to add her sister’s name to hers.)
Gomez is one of the hundreds of artists from throughout Connecticut who will congregate in Hartford on Nov. 11 and 12 for Open Studio Hartford. The annual art-showing and -buying extravaganza, just in time for holiday shopping, has city artists opening their studios to guests and artists from outside the city camping out in the city’s arts hubs to show their work, too.
Gomez, a New York City native who now lives in Shelton, will set up her work in Room 307 at ArtSpace, 555 Asylum Ave., sharing space with collagist Robert Walker. One piece from her “Kindred Spirit” series also will be shown in the ground-floor ArtSpace gallery, as part of an exhibit featuring one piece from each Open Studio artist.
Gomez has two photographic projects. The first, “Kindred Spirits,” is made up of childhood photos of the twin girls, with color and image enhancements to create symbolic statements about loss, love, imagination and the unconscious mind.
“I want to make my world more dreamlike,” Gomez says. “I want to put myself into her mind and have the feeling of time standing still.”
Other photos are taken by Gomez herself, posing as both herself and her sister. She uses a timer to make self-portraits and then uses Photoshop to position the figures in metaphorical, mystical or sentimental ways.
In one photo, two girls face each other at a pottery wheel, as one girl’s arm blends into the pottery, as if she and the artwork are becoming one. In another photo, two girls do laundry, but one has a filled clothing basket and the other an empty one: One continues her earthly chores, the other has moved beyond them. In another photo, Gomez faces a wall and casts two shadows. Her sister is still with her, if only as a memory.
“This is a way for me to accept this as my new life without her,” Gomez says.
This year’s Open Studio Hartford event has more than 300 participating artists and a large number of first-time venues and first-time creative talents. Among those first-timers is Richard Max Gavrich, a photographer who recently relocated from New Orleans. He is filling the DIAL venue at 3580 Main St. — inside the Fuller Brush Building — with seven friends, primarily photographers but with one sculptor.
Rico Reyes of Hartford Art School is bringing more than 30 of his students into the city, to set up their work inside a section of the Colt building at 34 Sequassen St. In previous years, the HAS students have spent Open Studio weekend showing their work on campus in West Hartford. Reyes prefers putting them in the thick of the action. The Colt Building is the busiest hub of Open Studio Hartford, hosting about 100 professional artists, in addition to HAS students and teens from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.
“I want the students to be out in the community, to be among professional artists,” Reyes says. “It will give them a good sense of professionalism and how they want to present themselves at public venues.”
Another new venue, Spectra Wired Cafe at 5 Columbus Blvd., will show photographic Hartford cityscapes by Jack McConnell. The recently renovated apartment complex Capewell Lofts at 57 Charter Oak Ave. will jump into the fray, housing a handful of artists. And the Bohemian Arts Social Club, 275 Park St., will be a hub of alternative artists focusing on body art, nail art, hair, makeup, clothing and cakes.
Each year, Open Studios holds an Ekphrasis event, at which poets, musicians and dancers interpret images seen in artworks. Usually, this event is held the weekend before Open Studios. This year, it will be held the weekend after, on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. at ArtSpace, followed by a party.
As in previous years, Hartford Artisan Showcase at the Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd., has been scheduled for the same art-buying weekend. Although not part of Open Studio Hartford, the artisan showcase collaborates with OSH. The event will be Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8. Admission is $4 for those who have their programs stamped at three Open Studio Hartford venues.
OPEN STUDIO HARTFORD is Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11 and 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Locations are Oak Hill Art Studio, 120 Holcombe St.; Connecticut Historical Society, One Elizabeth St.; Elizabeth Watson Raphael, 176 Beacon St.; Hartford Weaving Center, 40 Woodland St.; Passages Gallery, 509 Farmington Ave.; 30 Arbor St.; Real Art Ways and Arbor Arts Center, both at 56 Arbor St.; Hog River Brewery & Gallery, 1429 Park St.; The Dirt Salon, 50 Bartholomew Ave.; Kempczynski Studio, 130 Washington St.; Bohemian Arts Social Club, 275 Park St.; Capewell Lofts, 57 Charter Oak Ave.; Colt Gateway, 34 Sequassen St.; Union Station Great Hall, One Union Place; ArtSpace Hartford, 555 Asylum St.; MD Robertson Photo Arts, 69 Myrtle St. C2; and The DIAL, 3580 Main St. (Fuller Brush Building #10). A free shuttle will transport people between venues. People may park at any venue and take the shuttle to other venues or drive to each. A group show at ArtSpace is up until Nov. 30. openstudiohartford.com.