Megan Wolfe loves Horror Movies, Drawing and her tiny little dog Xiu. (Xiu is a chihuaha dachshund mix.) In this feature we’re going to...
Megan Wolfe loves Horror Movies, Drawing and her tiny little dog Xiu. (Xiu is a chihuaha dachshund mix.)
In this feature we’re going to introduce you to Bay Area artist Megan Wolfe. Megan is very special and has achieved mastery of her chosen medium, Drawing. Megan Wolfe can draw perfect photorealistic scenes down to the absolute finest minutiae, including even photographic effects, artifacts and haloing that can make most casual observers just assume it is in fact a photograph.
Megan is a independent artist and freelance photographer currently residing in Oakland California. She has been a Academic Fine Art instructor, worked, written, photographed for several galleries and websites. Such as Fecal Face and Warholian.
The big unifying theme in her work is consistently Birds, based on thousands of reference photographs she has collected throughout the years. At first glance the work may look “Pretty” but there is a seething foreboding horror lurking beneath the surface. These birds she is fascinated with are not meant as mere objects of beauty, they are meant to be somewhat disturbing, and to encourage deep thought often on societal or personal issues. (The titles are often a clue to where her mind was at when she was making the work).
Urban-Muse: “Here’s the big question. Can you tell us about the birds? How did that happen?”
Megan Wolfe: “So originally I was doing a lot of still life stuff. I was doing stuff in personal spaces and I started going outside and I kept finding these lonely little intimate scenes. I got to a point where I was reading a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and this is kind of when the horror kick started. This was after I graduated College. I was thinking a lot about Alfred Hitchcock and how things were captured and I wanted to find something that was kind of suspenseful. I was looking for something that was kind of fucked up. But not in your face, crazy morbid, weird. I just wanted something that was unsettling.”
As beautiful as they are the photorealism work had some severe limitations because of the insane amount of time some of them would take. One large gallery sized piece can take as much as 8 months to complete. This makes generating enough work for Solo exhibitions a time consuming proposition, and as a result the price of the work is very high.
Megan realized these limitations/constraints and decided it was time for a change, time to mix it up. Things were all quiet on the Megan front for awhile, she hinted that she was working on something new, until one day she made a blog post called “Life in Winter” with an entirely new visual style. Gone was the the super tight photorealism, and in it’s place was something FAST, BOLD, and AGGRESSIVE. Megan had taken her mastery of light, shadow, form, composition and draftsmanship and she created a very loose, deconstructed visual representation, while integrating abstract techniques.
She had done it. She had broken through. She had created something incredibly fast to produce, unique, iconic, very desirable, her key themes, with deep emotional resonance, that is just quite frankly… Badass.
Megan Wolfe: “The newer ones are definitely a lot more emotional. As much as I love the look and the feel of it (the old ones), there’s not as much emotion there as there is in the new ones. I got to a point and I went through a period where I had a lot of bottled up aggression. I just took that to the canvas. I was getting frustrated, I was like ‘Fuck I’m not drawing enough! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” And I just hacked away at it. I grabbed a pencil and went for it. So instead of just letting my emotion go I’m actually channeling it into the newer work.”
She even designed a secret methodology to creating the charcoal works, that we had never seen before or even heard of. She showed us the technique at her studio, but we both decided it was in her best interest to keep it a trade secret. (Here’s a shot of her drafting table/notes to give an idea of her methodical process.)
As a result of this breakthrough she was now able to generate a lot more pieces and keep the prices low. Now ANYONE can afford a Megan Wolfe original, YOU can as well…
So we saw all this and were very excited, but we wanted to keep digging further, and to see what makes this artist tick. We arranged a studio visit and spent a few hours discussing the current environment of the art world, books, music, games, movies, her pet dog Xiu, and of course Megan herself.
This is where it all began: (Megan Wolfe at 8)
Megan Wolfe: “I’m an Artist, I’m a Photographer, and I’m a Writer. To be honest, I’ve always been, since the time I was a little kid I’ve done all three. This photo right here, that’s me when I was eight. I took that photo myself. I learned how to set up the timer, and I did it myself. In that background I had set up my own little photography studio in my bedroom with my dog, and I was photographing my dog. It started a little before that when I was about seven, so I was always doing those things, and I’ve always tried writing novels. So around that time I was always trying to write a damn novel. I wrote one and finished it when I was sixteen and sent it out to publishers and it never quite went anywhere.”
Megan Wolfe has long been the kind of person who tends to put others needs ahead of her own, often writing wonderful articles about other artists, taking grand photos at other peoples openings, helping sell other peoples art at the galleries, and teaching other people fine art techniques. As a result Megan’s own world somewhat could feel dampened and shoved in the periphery. If she was a flower she would be in the corner not getting enough light and this is unnaceptable. And we feel that those days need to be over. It’s finally time for Megan to spread her wings and kick your ass!
When you enter Megan’s studio you are immediately struck but the division of labor. On the left side of the apartment is her living space, her Xbox, her immaculate kitchen, her art collection, an elegantly arranged and a very strong library of art books, literature, and movies. Then on the right you see her studio space, there are papers taped to the wall, the drafting table has copious notes and studies, supplies are at arms reach, the easel is set up, and there was a missing closet door that her landlord owed her.
This division we feel is very key to understanding Megan’s work and her as a person. Megan is a person who seems to enjoy her solitude. She lives alone and most of her time is spent alone at the drafting table or watching healthy amounts of Netflix movies which she enjoys sharing through Facebook, generally very late at night. But Megan is not a loner, she has lots of friends, in fact she is one of the most popular people we know, she knows everyone. Including some rather interesting blokes. Megan is good friends with three very well respected street artists we like: Hugh Leeman, D Young V, and Eddie Colla. They, like us, have taken a liking to Megan and offer her as much guidance and support as they can. They refer to her as “Little Sister.”
This again goes toward the theme of this entire piece Division. Megan recently moved out of downtown San Francisco, where she was literally surrounded by some of the biggest galleries on the west coast and countless other talented artists. She told us this could often result in a feeling of tunnel vision and made it difficult it to seperate her personal life from her artwork. By moving to Oakland she was able to achieve this division again and somewhat isolate herself from all the noise of the San Francisco Art art world while still being close enough to the scene so she can go anytime she wants.
Urban-Muse: “So you’re in Oakland now…”
Megan Wolfe: “You know, I think it’s good for me though, because the biggest problem for me living in the city was I was ‘too close’ to everything.”
Urban-Muse: “What does that mean?”
Megan Wolfe: “Well, like if you’re in the middle of everything all the time, it’s hard to go home and (make art). You go home and you’ve still got all the social bullshit and all the work and all the stress, and everything going on in your head. It’s harder to separate.”
Urban-Muse: “So it’s kind of like what you did with your studio here? You can kind of keep them separate?”
Megan Wolfe: “Yeah, because it’s really hard for me to shut them out. So, for me, I can go in the city and run around and visit with friends and check out the shows and stuff. And then when I come back over here it’s like ‘OK. I’m back in my place, in my space and you know I don’t have to think about it.”
Megan Wolfe: “I think it’s helpful for being open to other opportunities too. Because being in one particular area it’s easy to get tunnel vision on what exactly is going on in the art community and what people are doing. And so when you’re outside of it, at least this much you can be like ‘OK well whats going on here, and what’s going on there?’ It doesn’t matter so much because I’m not living in the middle of one particular thing. I can be whatever the hell I want to be.”
This again reflects the intense division between her chosen visual styles: The Photorealism and the Loose Hardcore Abstraction. These comparisons are fairly obvious but we believe it goes even deeper than that, to the very core, to what makes Megan, Megan. There is a famous saying “We All Wear Masks,” When you look at Megan you see a small, spectacled, cute, young female artist, she is polite and often soft spoken and generally unassuming. But this is only part of the story, the real Megan is someone who likely only she and people very close to her would know. We get to see the real side of Megan through her work. And what you will find is at the same time Chaotic and Serene, literally movies and themes of great violence juxtaposed against moments of deep introspection and meditation.
Looking towards the future Megan is pushing towards a slightly more commercial feel in order to generate enough income to survive and keep producing art. We see Megan’s work fitting very well as Album art likely for aggressive hardcore bands, or serene feminine vocals. We can see her monochromatic work translating very well into fashion and being vey successful. She has even mentioned she is going to be working on a massive scale mural in Downtown SF. She is continuing to push and evolve her body of work building towards more group shows and solos.
In the coming months we expect to see Megan continue to push her visual breakthrough and integrating it into her older photorealistic style creating a certain kind of very difficult to achieve hybrid, and from what we have seen is quite beautiful and satisfying.
Megan Wolfe: “I’m getting really into just having a blend of the two, because theres elements of abstraction that I really appreciate these days.”
Megan like the birds she draws can fly, she is soaring over a scorched earth, and where she chooses to land only she knows.
MAKE ART. PAINT THINGS. BE AWESOME.
You can keep tabs on Megan Wolfe and contact her through her website. http://www.MeganWolfeArt.com