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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art

51 Trumbull Street
203-624-8055

Mission & Origins of ECOCA

The Friends of John Slade Ely House of Contemporary Art, Inc. (Friends) was formed out of a crisis in 2015 to preserve an important and essential New Haven institution known as the “John Slade Ely House Galleries” (JSEHG) at 51 Trumbull Street. For over 55+ years it had served as the hub that generated New Haven’s art-centric identity as a cultural center and nurtured the start-up of many organizations in its large interior. It is well known to the region as generations of artists—young and old—have exhibited within its beautiful Elizabethan interior.

This gift to New Haven was the vision of Grace T. Ely whose testamentary intention was to leave her fortune in Trust to support a contemporary public arts center in her New Haven residence. The non-commercial- and non-commodity-based aspects of the JSEHG fostered a deep set of expectations, traditions, and practices for the local arts community. Its primary mission in the 1960s–70s was to present the art of local and regional art clubs and artists in juried and competition-based shows.

In the mid-80s under approval of the Trustees, new leadership proposed a revitalization and closer interpretation of Mrs. Ely’s testamentary wishes. A broader, more inclusive approach to address a broader cultural context of interests was initiated to present art in dialogue with challenging, conceptual, and provocative social issues with inclusive, interdisciplinary organizations. Curatorial practices exploring the human condition emerged and subsequently, at the time of its closing in 2015 and transition in 2016, its mission and Trust-supported operations had remained relatively unchanged though diminished due to real estate neglect and market forces. Branded as the Ely Center of Contemporary Art (ECOCA) in June 2016, the Friends seek to ensure the continuation of Mrs. Ely’s vision for the JSEHG by preserving its essential identity as a strong and vibrant arts center bringing together and collaborating with its community.

Now a self-governed and independent 501(c)3— positions previously unsanctioned by the Trust—ECOCA’s mission is to support and instigate social dialogues that explore emerging “i’s”: issues, ideals, and innovations—and to welcome the collisions inherent in this approach—by developing and producing art exhibitions and programming that contextualizes local and global issues of social justice and culture.


Recent News

Ely Center of Contemporary Art Weekly Newsletter - August 4, 2021

ECOCA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP SERIES Announcing a new initiative of professional development workshops designed to help artists hone skills needed to increase opportunities to present and sell work. Professionals will teach artists to…

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Ely Center of Contemporary Art Weekly Newsletter - July 25, 2021

Yvonne Shortt & Love’N Co Sunday, August 1, 2 - 6 pm Exchange hair stories with our Creative Collision Artist Yvonne Shortt as she shares her clay with you to create an afro pick together. Local band Love’N Co, fronted by our…

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Ely Center of Contemporary Art Weekly Newsletter July 11, 2021

UPCOMING EVENTS Free and Open to All ECOCA Annual Meeting Thursday, July 15, 5:30-7:30 Join us for our Annual Meeting on Thursday, July 15. We will reflect on this year’s challenges and accomplishments and share some of our…

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art Weekly Newsletter July 6, 2021

UPCOMING EVENTS Free and Open to All Jahan Nostra Performance @ ECOCA Sunday, July 11, 4 - 5 pm Come by ECOCA this Sunday, July 11, from 4 - 5 pm for a special performance from Stamford hip-hop artist Jahan Nostra. Rapping since he was…

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Greater New Haven’s 4th Annual Make Music Day Celebration

Make Music New Haven is a part of the international Make Music Day movement which brings free, community-wide, musical celebrations to hundreds of cities worldwide. Every year, the celebration is held on June 21, the summer solstice, in more than…

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News - June 15, 2021

WYBC Interview with Solos 2021 Artist Gordon Skinner Thursday, June 17, 3 - 4 pm Tune in to 94.3 WYBC Radio for an exclusive interview with Solos 2021 artist Gordon Skinner. Gordon will be discussing his artist practice, and current solo exhibition…

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Happening At The Ely Center of Contemporary Art This Week June 1, 2021

ECOCA will be closed for de-installation from May 31 - June 12, 2021. Visit us June 13 when we reopen for our summer Solos! UPCOMING WORKSHOP Save The Date! Sunday, June 13, 2 - 4 pm Free and open to all Come learn about Yvonne Short's…

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ECOCA Stitch Circle

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS Free and Open to All Join the ECOCA Stitch Circle! Thursdays from 1 - 3 pm Join ECOCA for Stitch Circle this Thursday! Bring your knitting, crochet, or other fiber art WIPs to ECOCA on Thursdays at 1 PM for…

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NHP and CC's 120th Annual Juried Exhibition and Reception

May 3 - May 30, 2021 Opening Reception: Sunday, May 9, 2 - 4 pm Join us for New Haven Paint & Clay Club’s 120th Annual Juried Exhibition, featuring artworks from NHPCC members as juried by Hollis Dunlap. Click Here For More…

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News - April 25, 2021

NHP&CC's 120th Annual Juried ExhibitionMay 3 - May 30, 2021 Opening Reception: Sunday, May 9, 2 - 4 pm Join us for New Haven Paint & Clay Club’s 120th Annual Juried Exhibition, featuring artworks from NHPCC members as juried by…

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News: January 23, 2021

Events and Programs Free and Open to All Sascha Mallon Wednesday, January 27, 4 pm Join us for another fantastic studio tour - this Wednesday, 1/27, sculptor Sascha Mallon will tour us through her creative workspace and latest artworks! …

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News: January 16, 2021

Click Here to view the The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News: January 16, 2021

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News: January 9, 2021

Click Here to view the The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News:  January 10, 2021

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The Ely Center of Contemporary Art News: December 19, 2020

Artist Opportunity ECOCA OPEN CALL 2021 Submit your artwork HERE to apply for a myriad of opportunities during our 2021 season, including an exhibition guest-curated by Krista Scenna. Deadline to apply is now Sunday, December 30th. Events…

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School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten

In this time of social distancing and mask-wearing, being outdoors has been deemed safer than being indoors. Back-to-school has become a hot-button issue with much debate about how to approach and assure the safety of children, teachers, and…

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ECOCA Announces an Exhibition 'The Daily' Curated by Sharon Butler

Curated by Sharon Butler The Ely Center of Contemporary Art (ECOCA) announces The Daily, an exhibition comprised of sixteen artists culled from our Open Call 2020, as curated by Two Coats of Paint’s Sharon Butler. The sixteen participating…

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ECOCA Announces an Exhibition 'Hong Kong in Poor Images' Curated by Zeng Hong

Curated by ZENG Hong (2020 Yale-China Arts Fellow) Ely Center of Contemporary Art also presents the exhibition, Hong Kong in Poor Images, in partnership with Yale-China Association. Hong Kong in Poor Images presents artworks that picture the…

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