On August 23, 2018, Team Honeysuckle was elated to host artist and poet Jacob Wheeler’s showcase at the Jue Lan Club in New York City. The innovative body-as-canvas pieces that have become Wheeler’s signature – merging intensely personal words with sensually Gothic images, often featuring text inscribed right onto the human subject – fit right at home with the building’s own classically mysterious aesthetic. Jue Lan is housed in part of an historic brownstone designed in 1844 by architect Richard Upjohn; it was first an Episcopal church before gaining infamy in the 1970s as the most significant of the Limelight nightclubs. Andy Warhol, whose quotes now adorn the upstairs walls, was a fixture. And in 1996 the location symbolized an end to the Club Kids, when one of the movement’s leaders, Michael Alig, was arrested for the murder of his friend and drug dealer Angel Melendez.
But as the rise of Jue Lan has made beauty out of darkness, so does Jacob Wheeler’s art. Honeysuckle’s Jessica Bern discovered in her interview with Wheeler that his work initially started as a way to cope with childhood illnesses – now, he gives back one hundredfold. Sales of all his pieces during the Jue Lan show went to benefit children with cardiac issues. And, the artist notes, he is constantly seeking other nonprofits and good causes to help spread messages of hope.
As the festivities ensued, our guest Cheryl Dupris (an amazing woman and longtime friend of Honeysuckle) took social media followers on a virtual tour of the space and the artwork. If you can’t get to Jue Lan in person, where many of Jacob’s pieces will be on permanent display – or even if you can – enjoy this treat of sight, sound, and creative mystery.