WILDWOOD — Adventure Pier, home to scream-inducing rides such as The Great White roller coaster, will offer something beyond the usual this summer.
There will, of course, be music, food and screams from the extreme rides, said Jack Morey, but there also will be art.
And Morey, executive vice president of the amusement-pier operator, envisions all those elements not to clash, but instead to work in harmony.
“This is an environment that is very unique, but very comfortable in Wildwood,” Morey said after a large, green shipping container was lifted into place Thursday at the artBOX.
ArtBOX is a collection of 11 used shipping containers on Adventure Pier reclaimed and turned into everything from art studios and a museum shop for Exit Zero to a sushi restaurant known as Tokyo 4B (a nod to Wildwood’s parkway exit).
The target audience?
“It’s people that can appreciate Wildwood’s tackiness,” Morey said referencing the kitsch that the Boardwalk is known for. “We’re trying to take tacky to new heights.”
Morey has enlisted five regional artists, painters, glass blowers and more to set up shop, offering visitors a chance to interact with the artists and watch them at work.
Peter J. Bieling and his son, Peter C. Bieling, both from Florence, Burlington County, will each have their own shipping containers in the artBOX.
The elder Bieling is a painter and has worked with Morey for 25 years.
“We’ll see by the end of summer (how popular it is). I’m looking at it as more of an artistic experience,” he said.
The younger Bieling welcomes the exposure and a chance to meet his customers.
“I was working out of a small shop in Philadelphia, and now I’ll have an actual retail space,” he said of the glass pendants and other wares he makes.
The artBOX will give adults another option on the Boardwalk better known for its T-shirt shops and pretzel stands, he said.
“I’m also hoping it will inspire young kids, to be able to see the artist making it and connect with them, and make the connection between the artist and buying something special,” he said.
Philadelphia architect Richard Stokes designed the beachfront art colony after Morey returned from a trip to New Zealand. He had seen shipping containers repurposed for both retail and artistic reasons there.
“They always had shipping containers on the pier. They were junky and used for storage, so we decided let’s make it into a whole piece of art rather than trying to hide it,” Stokes said.
Last year, several of the containers were painted and this year the project took the next step.
“It’s an extension of the idea to bring in the artists,” he said.
The idea is to entice visitors who might wonder, he said, “Who are these artists down here? What are they doing?”
Joining the artists will be Tokyo 4B, a sushi restaurant operated by Tsong Lin, owner of several Middle Township restaurants, including Tokyo in Rio Grande.
Morey said it is traditionally the children who have pulled their parents along to the Boardwalk here.
“This pier, beginning with this project, is the beginning of parents pulling the kids along,” he said. “I think the Boardwalk does need a better place for adults.”
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