Laura Marsh remembers the exact moment she and her husband, Phil Lique, knew it was time to leave Daggett Street Square studios. While in Maine with her mother in mid-March, she got a call from Lique, who said that a neighbor alerted him that their studio and living quarters had been broken into by the manager, the landlord, and Livable City Initiative (LCI), whose inspectors had been alerted to dangerous living conditions violating the city housing code. The two hired movers, drew out a plan to leave half of their supplies and work there, and snapped “into emergency mode.” They were out in four days.
The most important thing they lost, Marsh says, wasn’t specifically the work, or their time, or the money they had put into the property for renovations. All of that mattered, but were trumped by a trend she had been seeing already, since graduating with her MFA from Yale’s School of Art in 2009: artists weren’t just scattering to different parts on New Haven, Fair Haven, and West Haven. They were moving away to Philadelphia and Chicago because they couldn’t find affordable housing and studio space.
Located at 195 Park St. next to the Bubble & Squeak laundromat where Art Plus Studio used to be, No Pop is a work-live space where the couple plans to make, teach and exhibit art “that relates to everyday experience.” In other words. Marsh said in a recent interview, it’s an incubator that will show artistic process, and where anything — within the realm of artistic reason — can happen.
“Much like our Pop ancestors, the studio provides the climate for production and collaboration. We provide a bridge between artists who are in dialogue with Yale and New Haven’s many communities,” an invitation to the opening reads.
For its opening tonight, that will mean installations by Aude Jomini, Michael Queenland, Lique and Marsh that “explore the relationships between wall, floor, and ceiling by protruding, expanding, and suspending forms.” Jomini’s Ceiling Meadow will boast flag-like cutouts that viewers must move through, challenging their perceptions of dimensional space. In Marsh’s Femme Irrésistible, installed in a back corner, viewers will come literally face-to-face with female stereotypes, a mannequin looking out with its impenetrable eyes as bright, Lichtenstein-esque images and fragmented sentences threaten to crowd her — and perhaps the viewer — out. Lique’s X-MF Jesus MF-X Series “combines a variety of religious and popular culture references in installations that expand off the wall” while Queenland’s Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders, an ongoing work, will bridge the artistic and the everyday with its interrogation of form.
The message of the space, they are hoping, will go much farther than tomorrow night’s opening. After all, No Pop is one of the first examples — legally, at least — of realistic live-work housing in a city that, excepting artist Titus Kaphar’s plans for affordable “post-master’s” housing, has absolutely none.
“Yale thinks that it makes art and makes culture, and I’m proud of that,” said Lique in an interview. “But I think that Yale students don’t stay here because New Haven doesn’t offer them a way to subsist. You’ve got one of the greatest international universities in the world, in the center of your city, and the city can’t keep these smart, creative forward thinking people here to make things happen. Something’s wrong with that.”
“We all want to be spokespeople for this because we’re really worried that young artists will leave New Haven,” said Marsh. “For me, Daggett ended up pushing me out and helping me talk about the lack of space for artists in New Haven ... [but] I still think New Haven has a real lack of space. It’s hard to find people who are sympathetic to the arts. If in any way I can produce a place where artists feel comfortable, embraced and accepted and can see more experiential things ... I think that would just be really good to push. So often you see art in the institution or you don’t see the art at all.”
“Sometimes you have to go after what you want to do, hit it hard, and see what the response is,” she added.