Artist Jay Rolfe
Painting, Sculpture, and 3D Mixed Media

Jay Rolfe Bio

I grew up in a small sleepy town outside of Philadelphia and became a lawyer because people told me I couldn’t make a living as an artist. But I was always looking for a way to express my passion. I traveled the world and visited over 250 museums looking for inspiration to help me develop a unique artistic idea.

Meanwhile I had acquired major carpentry skills renovating an 1860’s house in the Adirondack Mountains of New York with my wife in a kind of homesteading experiment. I tried my hand at script writing and novels but I found my personal passion when I discovered the works of Piet Mondrian, minimalist paintings featuring bright primary colors, and Ellsworth Kelly, whose paintings broke out of the rectangular mold and also often used bold bright colors.

So I began creating complex wood structures in 3 dimensions, representing important and widely recognized cultural symbols, like hearts, peace signs, Adam and Eve, stiletto heels, sports cars, and more. These wood frameworks often take many hours to conceptualize and even longer to construct, employing as many as 67 specially cut pieces of wood, 140 saw cuts including 53 curves and angles other than right angles, 236 pilot holes for 236 screws, and 12 bolts and nuts and 24 washers to assemble the various parts into the completed shape. I use a variety of tools to create this framework so it is not only strong, but lightweight. Then I evolved techniques to stretch artist’s canvas over these unusually shaped internal frameworks. Then I choose carefully the right colors, shades, and textures to enhance the meaning of the symbol and engage and excite the viewer.

The work can be tedious and frustrating, but the end result gives me the creative satisfaction I have craved all my life.

I've since moved on to smaller works that are easier to hang in a normal home, rather than a very large home or a museum. I'm still obsessed with color and shape, but on a square or rectangular canvas. And I still use bright colors to nourish my soul and express my joy and desire to uplift myself and others.

I've been fortunate to apply for and get a studio at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, DE, near my Pennsylvania home. The facilities are great, and I am very productive there.

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