Just hours after the announcement of Wildwood’s Summer Slam Music Festival, the Wildwood Boardwalk was home to the unveiling of yet another exciting venture for the island. Morey’s Piers is embarking on a new artistic journey this summer with the introduction of artBOX, a 10,000 square foot interactive artists’ colony crafted from 11 re-purposed shipping containers. “artBOX celebrates what Wildwood is, but also what is was all in a contemporary style,” expressed project visionary Jack Morey.
It all began with his glimpse of two very unique shipping container projects while visiting his son in New Zealand. Jack “fell in love” with the concept. But it wasn’t until his friend and mentor, architect Steve Izenour, faxed Jack a memo encouraging him to “embrace what Wildwood is” that Jack’s ambition was ignited. “Rather than try to make Wildwood something that it’s not, we wanted to embrace the unique, whether it’s pretty or not,” explained Jack. artBOX is a realization of Jack’s vision to “take tacky to new heights” in order to nurture and develop the quirky culture of the Wildwoods.
The June 20th grand opening event featured the artBOX colony’s five handpicked local and regional artists whose collections of paintings and homemade crafts were on display in each of the artist’s respective storage container “stores”. Professional speed painter Ed Peahota described his great gratitude to Jack Morey for involving him in the project. “It’s just a great opportunity for my wife and I,” expressed Ed whose wife Hong Peahota is also an artBOX featured artist. “It’s good exposure and great to do something like this together,” stated Ed. Ed and Hong attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia and have spent the last twenty eight years together.
Ed demonstrated his acclaimed speed painting skills to the music of live performers Satellite Hearts at the grand opening ceremony. With more than 30 years of experience as a pictorial billboard artist, Peahota entered the speed painting world about four years ago and his demonstrations and YouTube videos have since attracted thousands of spectators. Ed, who has played the drums in a number of bands, enjoys speed painting because “it’s kind of like show biz.” Vietnam-born Hong Peahota displays her unique line of beautifully hand-painted glassware and jewelry in the container store she shares with her husband. Her portrait work is particularly striking.
In the neighboring container, David Macomber’s work space is filled with his surf and Jersey-inspired mixed media handcrafted pieces. Macomber shoots his own original photos to be incorporated in each piece and does all paint work by hand. With a distinct urban feel, each Macomber canvas reflects David’s south Jersey roots and his college years spent in California. He has worked professionally as an artist and designer for the past ten years and his photos have been featured in Eastern Surf Magazine and surfingmagazine.com.
Up one of artBOX’s several steel spiral staircases, father and son Pete Bieling Sr. and Pete Bieling Jr. feature their unique paintings, sculptures, and glass pieces. From Burlington, New Jersey, the Bielings have been a part of Morey’s Piers for years now and are responsible for the artwork on a number of the piers’ amusement rides. Pete Sr. specializes in the use of polyurethane foam in his traditional seascapes. When dry, the foam very closely resembles the texture of coral. Pete Jr. specializes in glass blowing and hosts a number of live glass blowing demonstrations for Morey’s patrons.
As part of the opening celebrations, 11 year-old artist and child prodigy Autumn de Forest will visit artBOX and Morey’s Piers on July 2nd to unveil a tribute painting created to honor the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy. Coinciding with Autumn’s exhibition at Ocean Galleries in Stone Harbor, NJ, this charity painting will be auctioned off with 100% of the proceeds going to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund. A giant replica of the commemorative piece of art will be unveiled on the outside of artBOX’s only vertical shipping container standing 40 feet tall on July 2, 2013 at 2:00pm.
Through the School of Rock Performance Program, guests will enjoy live, nightly entertainment by young aspiring performers starting late June through August. Located on Adventure Pier at Spencer Avenue and the Boardwalk, the shipping container colony also features the Exit Zero Museum Shop and Tokyo 4B [the ART of Sushi], a café serving a variety of fresh sushi. Serving as Director of artBOX is Jack Wright, publisher of Exit Zero Publishing. As owner and operator of the Exit Zero Museum Shop, Wright has curated amusement artifacts, nostalgic memorabilia and an eclectic mix of retail merchandise. For Wright, the glimmer of the Wildwood Boardwalk has always been a “magical” memory. “I’ve always wanted since I was a little boy to have a shop in a shipping container,” expressed Wright. That dream has become an enchanting reality.
artBOX is open to the public daily from 4:00pm to midnight. For more information on Morey’s Piers, visit www.moreyspiers.com.
By Megan Kummer