Artist Jessie Wolf has ants in her pants and glitter in her soul.
“You never know what’s going to happen next,” he said of his career and life trajectory.
At present, his goal is to open the brand new Bunkhouse, a handmade / vintage split-level boutique and working art studio, workshop and gallery located at Schooner’s Wharf in Beach Haven. In a window hangs an illuminated emblem: a hand gripping a paintbrush soaked in paint that radiates beams of light, like the Statue of Liberty with its torch. It is a symbol of Wolf’s personal and professional mission.
“‘She wanted to save the world with a brush, but she got distracted,'” she recited with a laugh.
Wolf, short for Wolfrom, is a multimedia painter, digital artist and entrepreneur whose work has a local flavor, a brash outlook and an international appeal. His topics, sometimes mushy, salty or spicy, are wide-ranging and ever-changing – in his words, “illustrative and cute, but also beautiful.” Wolf’s recent oil paintings are saturated scenes of neon words, Mylar balloons, pool toys, flowers, fish.
At Bird and Betty’s in Beach Haven she recently painted her mural inside the women’s bathroom with the eyeball theme and added “Velvet Lounge” to the upstairs VIP area. She has a mural job scheduled at Farias Surf and Sport on Center Street in Beach Haven and another in the historic Wanamaker Building on Penn Square in downtown Philadelphia. Both are between 100 and 200 square feet in size.
At the Bunkhouse he plans to offer a schedule of lectures (for now weekends) and hospitality projects to satisfy the creative urges of passersby looking for a cultural experience.
“I have so many tricks up my sleeve,” he said, rattling off projects like bookbinding, cyanotypes and polystyrene prints for children.
She returned home to LBI last summer from Puerto Rico, where she opened and ran a retail store for about four years. (He holds a hand from afar.) Meanwhile, his art brand, Bunkerfish, is a growing empire of original fine art and printed clothing, décor, accessories, stickers, beer koozie and other products, all bearing his work. of art, recognizable for its hyperreal intensity and extreme detail.
He is currently working on a series of bouquets in beer cans. The thing about her is to juxtapose soft and hard, bright and dark, natural and artificial, and play with light and texture. Wolf’s work subverts assumptions about the feminine and the masculine as he celebrates both.
When she returned to the island and saw the space available for rent in Schooner’s Wharf, she said to herself, “I can’t not take that place” – and so she did. The opening of the Bunkhouse is a complete moment for Wolf, which allowed her to start selling her artwork of hers on T-shirts on the dock, from a kiosk she has affectionately called The Gypsy Wagon.
His partner in the venture is Tim Connor, a musician named Fourth Son, who has set up a recording studio in the corner of the upstairs studio-lab-chill space. The two are longtime friends who are now dating and collaborating on creative projects.
They think similarly and are “equally scattered,” they said. As artists, they both “get it”, the “it” is the itch of inspiration that needs to be scratched and the urge to put so much time and energy into realizing an artistic vision.
The Bunkhouse had a soft opening Memorial Day weekend, with friendly fanfare. The finishing touches to the gallery wall of original paintings and canvas prints are still in progress. “We should hang something nice here,” proclaims a lighted sign on the wall, mounted near the ceiling.
Indeed, many interesting things have already been hung up (thanks to “tall and helpful” Connor), spanning Wolf’s body of work, from old watercolors like nine avocado halves and a peekaboo cat, to the new work a la “Lunch. for adults “, depicting a coffee tray and an assortment of supplies: hot dogs, Little Debbie, gummy bears, can of Budweiser, box of Marlboro Lights.
When the guests arrive at the Bunkhouse, Connor said, “they’re getting into this girl’s brain.”
The layout welcomes visitors on a landing that goes up to the art area or down to the shop. Squid, the pitbull pointer and shop mascot, greets everyone with his loud but harmless bark before finding a toy and settling into a piece of furniture.
In the shop, Wolf and Connor have fashioned a countertop of poured resin mixed with “a load of glitter”, which shines in the pink glow of the custom Bunkhouse sign, made by Antwonn Del, Philly Rosso’s self-described “electropunk lighting expert”. , or ElectroRomantic. He also created his own art-save-the-world sign.
Elvis the axolotl lives in a tub inside a drained mid-century television.
Wolf is so fond of the process of finding vintage treasures on the Facebook Marketplace and arranging the interior spaces to look “intimate and weird” – like traveling through time to fantastic days of crushed velvet, rattan, macrame and needlepoint rugs. – wondering if his true calling is interior design.
“Hire me to make your house look like a carnival,” he joked. There is something “so special,” she said, about a warm, earthy color palette of oranges, ocher, browns and pinks.
Wolf recently made the leap from purely artistic mediums to digital illustration by using Procreate software to design T-shirts and other “things to grab” for the store, he explained. His dual intention with his product lines, he said, is to have small runs of items to keep the selection fresh and interesting and to offer easy gift solutions. Currently in stock, for example, are one-of-a-kind onesie and bibs made by Wolf’s sister Julia Crites … while supplies last.
In the second-floor education space, Wolf said it can seat about eight people around the table for a lecture or a quick-moving art project. He’s getting his “teacher” hat back, which he hasn’t done since teaching at the Foundation of Arts and Sciences in Loveladies years ago, so he’s working on distilling his creative process into easy-to-follow steps.
Likewise, she said, the exploration of digital art required her to artistically reduce and rethink an image in four colors, further perfecting her abilities to fit, simplify and streamline, as she grew as an artist and as a human.
“He put his life into this,” Connor said.
Find out more at @thebunkhouselbi and @bunkerfish on Instagram.
– Victory Ford