written by Chuck Foster - February 2009
Thea Wolfe Photo by Lars Peterson
When I receive an e-mail about a new artist to cover, my heart begins to beat a bit more rapid fueled by anticipation. It's like getting a quick buzz from the realm of whip-its. Sometimes the high is short lived as not all artist are designed to be on the cover of The Sinner. Sometimes, though, the rush is endless. This was certainly the case with the works of Thea Wolfe.
While much of her work is a bit too complex, a bit too detailed for our simple news print, it's nonetheless intriguing to examine. The same can be said of her photos on MySpace – a wild, no-holds-barred, devilish, yet real kind-of gal. I asked Thea to describe herself, to explain who this elite soul captured on MySpace is. She said she liked the smell of rain, but disliked the taste of salmon, that she likes being alone and is "DEEPLY troubled by the endangered proverbial mustache." She also mentioned that her "non-art passion" is being the mother to her many adult children - "a devotional exercise in the act loving without expectation." She says that is something that she takes very seriously, that and her dream of building a carousel in the sky.
As "corny" as Thea says it sounds, her art is her life. Since graduation she admits to being a bit 'antisocial', as she spent most of 2008 drawing while she underwent a lot of changes in her life. Much of Thea's recent work was focused around mediums that she could produce from her home, only leaving her house once or twice a week over the past six weeks or so. As this project has ended Thea says she now feels "lightened and liberated", like she's "served a creative jail sentence."
Perhaps the most interesting part of Thea's recent work is her WEEN Coloring Book – yeah, that's right, a coloring book of the world renowned band WEEN, naked. "The project just happened so organically... I wanted to make Ween a really elaborate, funny, and unusual love letter. Most of what this book has been is beyond my vocabulary, but for lack of a better explanation, It was magic for me before I ever gave it to them."
The actual project began about a year ago, but Thea admits that she still gets "butterflies" when she thinks about it. It started when she handed WEEN's sound man, Kirk Miller, a copy of the book at a show in Honolulu. She thought little of it until she returned home to find an e-mail from Mickey (Dean Ween), saying that "he absolutely loved the book" and wished he had thanked her in person. Then he said he wanted to publish the book through Chocodog publishing to make it available to Ween fans. "Getting that e-mail is one of the most beautiful memories of my life because Deaner is (and has always been) my favorite artist in any medium. That man does things to his guitar that could make you pregnant."
This tale only gets more interesting as it goes. Thea says the "funny thing" is, she never met the band until she started working extensively with Mickey. "In fact, after a few shows the groups of people I was hanging out with went off to hang out with the band. Me... I ran away. Sounds lame, but I just wasn't sure I wanted to meet them." After completing the final touches on the coloring book Mickey, an avid fisherman, sent Thea an e-mail asking if she would do the graphics, logo and merchandise for his new fishing show. (www.brownietroopfs.come). She says this was the first big "step in terms of connection with them as people." Talk about dreams coming true!
As Thea's business relationship with Mickey continued to grow, it was never as easy as one might think. "You'd think that talking with Mickey pretty much every day would have broken the ice for me and made me more comfortable with the idea of meeting them in Paris. Sadly, that was not the case. I was so fucking nervous I thought I was going to die/puke/run away - but I don't like being fear's bitch, so I went, stood in the front like I always did when I was still invisible, and I danced my fucking ass off."
By this time she says that she had officially met everyone else in the band and crew, except Aaron (Gene Ween) who she still has yet to meet. "I did walk past him backstage in Germany but just said 'Great show', and kept on walking. He keeps himself pretty unavailable and I wanna respect that. I know I like my space and fuckin' hate having to meet new people when I'm not in the mood. As it stands, I'm happy just lovin' on and dancin' with him from the pit." That's about as real as it gets, even though Thea is convinced that they played "El Camino" for her in Amsterdam. She admits that those thoughts might may be purely delusional, but she's been screaming for it at the past five shows, so she likes to tell herself it was personal.
For upcoming shows featuring Thea, don't count on it. She says she doesn't work with galleries for a number of reasons, "namely because the whole paradigm of contemporary art culture feels pretty antithetical to my own relationship and understanding of art-making." However, she will have her newest series unveiled in Berkeley in a couple weeks. Other than that, you'll have to keep checking out the "shows" section of her website, www.theawolfe.com. And if you really want to get a feel of this gal's raw energy, check her out on MySpace at www.myspace.com/yourfaceisbacon. Yeah, your face is bacon!