Meet the Creative Force Behind Asbury Park’s Transformative Art Scene

New Jersey Monthly

By Jon Coen - June 2023 issue

Known as the muse of Asbury Park, Jenn Hampton founded the Wooden Walls Project, which has grown to include ambitious installations and residencies.

Link to NJ Monthly Article

When Jenn Hampton, known as Juicy Jenn, moved to Asbury Park in 2003, the city was still famously deserted, poverty-stricken and crime-ridden, and the historic Palace Amusements was being torn down. But her idea to create murals throughout the city helped transform Asbury into a destination for the arts, and was a major part of the city-by-the-sea’s radical transformation.

She gravitated to Asbury Lanes, the 1960s-era bowling alley that reopened as a live-music venue in 2004. Eventually, she took on the role of booking the fringe acts it was known for—the punk bands, films, burlesque performers, DJs, visual artists—along with cheap drinks and famous tater tots. And as she is known to do, she poured her whole being into it.

In 2006, the city was feeling positive momentum when Hampton, now 48, opened the Cry Baby Gallery and then the Parlor Gallery, both on Cookman Avenue.

Jenn Hampton poses in front of a colorful mural in Asbury Park
“Art is educating people, making them comfortable,” Hampton says. Photo: Krista Schlueter

She was still managing the Lanes, which became an indie clubhouse for the Shore and Central Jersey region, helping to attract new visitors, and even residents, to Asbury. When the company I-Star bought up 70 percent of the buildable land on the Asbury waterfront, it included Asbury Lanes. But the development company rebuilt and reopened the venue without her.

“Music creates a certain community that feeds an art community. An art community feeds a music scene,” she says. “I had the best of both of those worlds. I didn’t need anything else. I was so heartbroken after I lost Asbury Lanes.”

She comforted herself by spending time by the ocean and came up with the idea to commission artists to adorn boardwalk buildings with art. “I thought that working with artists to inspire visitors might heal my broken heart,” she says.

Jenn Hampton strolls in front of a colorful mural in Asbury Park
Hampton’s Wooden Walls Project gives Asbury visitors a visual experience they won’t see anywhere else on the East Coast. Photo: Krista Schlueter

The proof of concept came when Hampton’s longtime business partners, Michael Lavallee and Brad Hoffer, painted an expansive mural in the boardwalk passthrough of the Casino building (which was recently closed indefinitely due to structural rust). In 2015, Carrie Turner, now executive director of the Asbury Arts Council, and Angie Sugrim, both former employees of Madison Marquette, which owned the boardwalk buildings, diverted funds from advertising to pay eight artists to adorn walls. “Art is educating people, making them comfortable. My brain doesn’t work in a way that is only driven to the profit. Your return on investment in art isn’t as obvious,” she says.

Today, Hampton’s Wooden Walls Project has grown to include ambitious installations and residencies, giving thousands of Asbury visitors a visual experience they won’t see anywhere else on the East Coast. She’s also worked to bring projects to the overlooked west side of the city.

But after 20 years of the transformation, Hampton is aware of the trade-offs. Facilitating public art helped fuel Asbury’s gentrification—but now some people who helped to pave the way can’t afford to live there.

“I try to tell our local officials that you wouldn’t want to be in this city if we didn’t have the vibrant music and art that we have,” she says. “That was why we were all drawn here.”

This government commission meets in a cutting edge art gallery

Tri City News - 2/23/23

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events covers the establishment of APAC.

Our beloved little city was destined to change from its DIY arts days two decades ago when a group of creatives pretty much could do whatever they wanted. So much of the city was vacant.

Now that an economic boom has come, that’s all gone now. Yet conformi-ty never took hold. Of course, with more money and people comes more mainstream. But Asbury Park is still holding to its promise of the most broad-minded and creative place in our region, if not in the state.

There’s so many examples of this. And here’s one of our favorites.

The Asbury Park Public Arts Commission is an agency of the city govern-ment subject to all laws and regulations. It’s made up of artists and artistic types and has its monthly meetings in Parlor Gallery, the avant garde ven-ue operated by arts leader Jenn Hampton and Jill Ricci.

TriCity just had to go and see for ourselves. This is so Asbury Park. Very cool.

Sure enough, it was probably the most fun governmental meeting we’ve ever attended. Cracked us up that they read the Open Public Meetings Act notice at the beginning — just as they do at every boring local government meeting.

But at no other local government meeting we’ve experienced has the room been filled with cardboard art. Nor has a 1980s New Wave dance club station ever been playing in the background.

Welcome to the annual reorganization meeting of the Asbury Park Public Arts Commission!

Appropriately enough, Parlor Gallery co-owner Jenn Hampton was elected Chair. Her role as an Asbury arts leader goes way back. It started as one of the brains behind the old Asbury Lanes music venue in the early years of the city’s cultural comeback.
The Public Arts Commission serves two roles: regulatory and arts promo-tion. Its regulatory function requires it to approve all outdoor art murals on buildings in Asbury Park. As for arts promotion, it does that by arranging art installations, such as the 12 acclaimed outdoor murals on the south side of the sewage treatment plant that were painted last year.

A main order of business at the Public Arts Commission meeting triCity attended was setting up another mural project at the sewage treatment plant. This time on the east side facing the ocean, with four panels avail-able. Artists will each be paid $1,000 for their work.

The tentative timeline for this new mural project is to get submissions in March, and then have the murals painted in May.
“The sewage plant murals really opened the public’s eyes to the possible,” said Public Arts Commission member Mike Sodano.

Hampton enjoyed seeing the interaction of people with the murals — on a sewage plant, remember. Of particular joy was watching brides get a photo there.

“I love seeing brides taking a picture in front of the murals at the sewage plant, and they don’t care what’s going on behind there,” said Hampton. “I really like this story of the sewage plant.”

There were other interesting arts discussions among the members. Hampton said she’d like to see the city revisit the possibility of a mural on the backside of City Hall facing the train tracks. There’s also tentative plans to have an art fair later in the year in the Springwood Avenue Park for local artists to sell their work. That’s being spearheaded by Matt Daniels, a musician and member of the Public Arts Commission.

There are various entities promoting public art in Asbury Park, aside from the city who’ll pay for the new sewage plant murals. Waterfront redeveloper Madison Mar-quette has backed Hampton on her Wooden Walls project of murals on boardwalk pavilions, as well as installations in the Casino walkway and Carousel house.
In addition, the Asbury Park Arts Council, a private non-profit entity that also pro-motes arts in the city, can apply for grants and funding that the city cannot. The Arts Council works closely with the Public Arts Commission to maximize resources for public art.

Hampton and Public Arts Commission member Michael Sodano noted that it’s a good investment to pay to get nationally and internationally known artists to the city because of the attention it generates.

“It’s very much akin to the music in Asbury Park,” Hampton said. “You have head-liners come in and you have the locals.”
Members of the Asbury Park Public Arts Commission are Michele Alonso, Matt Dan-iels, Mary Eileen Fouratt, Jenn Hampton, Shana LaBranche, Malcolm Navias, Amy Quinn, Marilyn Schlossbach, Angie Sugrim, Michael Sodano and Charles Trott.

Lisa Bagwell


Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Lisa Bagwell. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

For all of us who have love and respect for our magical and majestic Atlantic Ocean, seeing beach trash is heartbreaking. To walk along the shore seeing what the tide has washed up is sad because along with the seaweed, shells and driftwood is a lot of human plastic litter that will never break down. You can choose to pass by and keep on walking. If you brought along a bag, you can pick some up and toss the items in the recycling bin on your way off the beach. Or, if you are someone like Red Bank artist, Lisa Bagwell, you will collect it, clean it and make fantastical sculptures out of it!

Tell me about your art background? Art School or Self-Taught?
I am self-taught! A bright side to my parent’s divorce was getting the chance to visit my Grand Aunt Dot in Oklahoma where my Dad lived. She was a well-respected artist who taught physically disabled people handicrafts so they could earn money. She opened her studio to me and taught me whatever I wanted during our visits together. I learned a lot from her, she was extremely creative and I loved that.

What brought you to create the art that you make? 
I began working with trash in 2005 while working at a camp (Camp Oakhurst which is now Rising Treetops). I had a lightbulb moment and realized that building sculpture with trash would be a great way to combine my impulse to make things and draw awareness to how much trash humans create. I had become quite the environmentalist in college and was brought up not to be wasteful. Also, I like to collect things and do puzzles so it was sort of the perfect collaboration of interests. I have always admired creative reuse and collage art, so why not give it a go? At first, I made weird mobiles, robots and buildings. At that time, I was fortunate to show my work at the free art and music events known as, “The Big Art Show” that were happening in the old Howard Johnson (“HOJO”) and other venues in Asbury Park. I was thrilled that people were looking at what I made. I have continued building with trash ever since.

What is your process with your art making? 
It all starts with the materials I have collected since they inform the art most of the time and I consider how I acquired these items as part of the process. In addition to myself and my immediate family, there are about 15 people who collect things for me. Instead of throwing their dead pens and contact lens containers in the trash, it goes into a bag for me and I find that bag outside my door. People also gift to me their own collections that they had grand artistic plans for but were not able to follow through with.  I have collections of bottlecaps, corks, pens, straws, containers, cassette tapes, six pack rings, lighters, twist ties, old shoes and other odds and ends.  I sort and store the collections of things and then think of how I can use them in a sculpture. Alternatively, I might want to replicate a bird or animal and I will use a variety of materials in the construction. I get to purge my materials when I teach workshops like the annual Monmouth Arts Teen Arts Festival at Brookdale, which I have done for over ten years.

I also collect beach trash and work with those materials separately from the household trash items. The work I make from beach trash, I believe, has a certain resonance to it since it shines a light on the plastic pollution in our oceans and how imbedded it is in our environment. I work on a small scale with these materials since I could never keep up with processing the amount of plastic we pull from the beaches. I keep a selection of favorite and common beach items for my work. We now have a geographical layer of plastic on the earth’s crust. Plastic is filling the bodies of 90% of fish and mammals in the ocean and we even have plastics in our own blood.

How do you think the community can better support their artists?
I love it when restaurants open their walls to artists to display their work and when businesses host holiday market pop ups for people to sell their small handmade goods. Any creative way that presents itself for the arts to become more a part of our daily lives I am all for. We also need more spaces for free expression of music and the visual arts. It is important that there be spaces for people to come together to share their art outside of the money system. I love to see art that is not made to be sold, experimental stuff, it is art for art’s sake and we need to make space for that to grow new ideas.

What would you like to see happen in the Monmouth County art community?
I don’t want to make demands on the art community. I know it has its share of difficulties. The Arts are underfunded and grant money needs to be constantly chased. Brick and mortar galleries have rent to pay and are often run by volunteers that are hard-working and extremely dedicated. If I’m being idealistic, I would imagine there being more collaborations between galleries and the communities they exist in, more street art, public art, sculpture gardens, art fairs and working more with local schools and in the parks to promote environmental consciousness or social justice issues. Art should be accessible to everyone and not just within the walls of art galleries (the special places that they are!).

Lisa is an extraordinary person who not only is a passionate environmentalist working with numerous nonprofit environmental organizations, she is also the manager of Kula Urban Farm, Operated by Interfaith Neighbors Check it out!

You can find Lisa on IG: @lisa.bagwell | Website:

David Ross Lawn


Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist David Ross Lawn. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

If you spend time in Asbury Park chances are you have seen David Ross Lawn. David is known around town for his “cottagecore” style. David’s style videos are extremely popular on TikTok where he has over 450,000 followers and Instagram with 115,000 followers. What is cottagecore? Think Anne of Green Gables meets The Cure. Yet, there is a whole lot more to David than their linen cottage dresses and strawberry hat. Talking with David (who goes by “they/them”), is like peeling an onion with many layers to reveal. David is an Ivy League trained classical pianist, opera & musical theatre singer, has played Carnegie Hall and for Queen of England!

Tell me about your art background?
My musical journey started at nine years old in Scotland, sitting cross-legged at a light up toy keyboard while listening to the EastEnders theme song on BBC television. For reasons unknown at the time, I could successfully trace the melodic contour of the theme with one finger with no prior knowledge of the instrument. I quickly learned that I had a “very good ear” for music and started taking piano lessons. In my teenage years, I continued music, diving into oboe and singing, taking on any extra-curricular activities I could from jazz band to orchestra, chamber choir, church singing, and even forming a hysterical rock band with my peers. Music was always my passion.

I was accepted as an undergraduate into the University of Aberdeen to study music performance (piano and oboe as the primary study). I then got a scholarship into Westminster Choir College at Princeton University to pursue a Masters in Theory and Composition. During these years, I started working in music professionally from performing at Carnegie Hall, to singing for the Queen of England, being part of a Grammy Nominated choir and of course, creating music that eventually started being used in television and big media outlets.

What is your process?
When I am creating my solo piano music, the majority of my influence and inspiration comes from the architecture of the human condition. I like to dig deep into my feelings (such a Pisces) and then allow the music to flow from that. A lot of my work is based around piano improvisation. I’ve been fortunate to have some fantastic experiences with it, my most recent performance was in the same lineup as composers I look up to such as Tom Cipullo and Ricky Ian Gordon. I’m always so thankful to be at that “emerging” stage where my music can be recognizable as my own and I’m excited for what is to come.

What inspires you?
While I certainly attribute a lot of my artistic and musical abilities to my professors, a lot of my inspiration and passion comes from outside of academia. As a composer, I feel most inspired when I’m out in nature, surrounded by serendipity and moments that unfold when I’m not even thinking about them. I try not to allow myself to get stuck in the monotony of classical music ideals and what is “correct” and let feeling dictate my music and my journey. I don’t believe in walking in the shadows of somebody else when it comes to music. I believe in creating my own light and legacy and not being afraid of letting that shine.

How did the quarantine/Covid-19 affect you as an artist?
I found a lot of silver linings in my pandemic time, as I was fortunate enough to have my piano nearby. I started posting actively on YouTube and gained over 10,000 subscribers, I started posting actively on TikTok and gained, at that time, 300,000 followers and I released a piano album that ended up getting used in national television. I refused to allow the time to affect me in a way of becoming lazy or lethargic and while there were many moments of weakness and sadness (as well as fear, of course) I did manage to continue my journey as an artist during that time.

Tell me how you got started dressing in cottagecore style.
I love reading period dramas, like Anne of Green Gables. I was inspired by the straw boater hat, so I bought one. I could see myself as a gender fluid type person getting into cottagecore because of the whimsy and juxtaposition of femininity and florals with gothic dark Doc Marten boots, my beard and more masculine features. Growing up in a small town in Scotland, cottage core was familiar to me and comfortable. Then Taylor Swift came out with the album Folklore that she wrote and created in a cottage and it became popular.

What would you like to see happen in the Monmouth County art community?
I’d personally love to see even more recital series with artists that are under the classical music umbrella whether in the form of piano recitals, improvisation communities, or groups where folks of all ages and abilities can perform for each other. I think it would create a safe place for those passionate about classical music to be able to come together and enjoy and embrace the art. I do this with my students and I’d love to see it happen on a more community level.

Check David out on Instagram: @davidrosslawn, TikTok & Spotify: “david ross lawn” or on his website:

Pat Dunigan


Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Pat Dunigan. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

I pulled up to Pat Dunigan’s studio on Locust Point Road at dusk to a bright, colorful magical little hideaway. The building has been owned by the same family for over a hundred years, it was built in the late 1800’s. Her studio, a portion of the building had once been the Locust Point Road Post Office, one of several post office locations serving the area of “Oceanic” (later to be named, “Rumson”). With the door open wide to the main road outside on a lovely, late summer night in a room filled with colorful, whimsical artwork practically spilling out door, we talked ART.

Tell me about your art background? Art School or Self-Taught?

I went to Skidmore to study languages but ended up taking more art classes than language. I also went to Parsons School of Design to create my portfolio needed to work in advertising. I have worked in advertising since I was 23 all over the world. Many years ago, while doing a lot of long plane travel, I started filling notebooks with collage designs made from pieces of colors torn from magazines. I made about a dozen books, got busy with life and put them away for 20 years.

What brought you to create the art that you make?

Several years ago, I went back to those collage notebooks. I pulled them out and started looking through them and thought, “These are pretty good!” They were the inspiration for my art. They inspired me to translate them into paintings. I also make 3D sculptural versions of some of the designs.

What is your process with your art making?

My work is all about color. For the work I do that is based on collage and graphic designs, I start with cut out pieces of colored paper torn from magazines. I’ll make dozens of collages and photograph them. Then I enlarge them and they become the models for my paintings. These paintings are made with a more precise process of creating the hard lines and shapes. For my freeform and more recent work with flowers, I sometimes start with photos that I have taken of shapes – things I see on the streets of NYC or shapes I see in my garden. My process for making these paintings starts with a base color that is applied with large pieces of hard rubber (like a squeegee). I create several layers of different colors. I then start painting the shapes over them. I also work with oil sticks to add drawing elements to the shapes, which also adds texture to the painting. After all the base colors are applied and the flower is painted, the drawing happens – very fast and spontaneously. I’ll do a layer and then let it sit for a while before coming back with the
next layers.

What inspires you?

Color. Interesting shapes. Imperfect things. Years ago, I worked for many years with a film director in Australia, who was also a photographer and painter. We traveled all over the world, and I learned from him to really see things through an “artist’s eye”. To see connections between things, to notice colors, light and shapes in the most ordinary things.

If or when you get lost in an “art funk” (like writer’s block for artists), what helps you get back to creating?

If I don’t know what to do next on a collage-like painting, I get back to work on a flower painting. I switch back and forth between the two. Sometimes I jump to working with wood blocks to create 3D pieces and mobiles.

How do you think the community can better support their artists?

I would love to see landlords turn unused buildings into art studios.

You can find Pat’s work on her website: or on
Instagram: @patdunigan

Asbury Pod

Asbury Pod Interview

Asbury Pod welcomed Carrie Turner and Jenn Hampton from the Asbury Park Arts Council, to talk about the new mural project that is underway at the historic Asbury Park Sewage Plant, and other projects coming this fall.

Shana LaBranche

Shana LaBranche


Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Shana LaBranche . by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Shana LaBranche

I met Shana at a recent art opening at Over The Moon Art Studios where she and I had art on display.  As soon as I laid eyes on Shana and I saw her bright, friendly smile she drew me in.  She is one of those special humans who lights up a room with her energy and beautiful smile.  Shana is a Floridian who moved to Asbury Park ten years ago.  Listening to the story of how she came to Asbury Park was a series of events that sounds like divine intervention.

Tell me about your art background? Art School or Self-Taught? 

I come from a very big, creative family, I am one of eight children (#5 in the lineup) and out of my eight siblings, five of us have some type of artistic or creative ability.  My older brother, Hanson, who basically taught me everything I know was an artist, he passed away in 2012 at the age of 25 due to liver failure.

Most of what I know is self-taught except when I was younger I attended BAK Middle School of the Arts, for kids who had artistic capabilities.  I had to audition to get in, but that school was the foundation.  I explored sketching, printmaking, mobiles, clay art, different styles of art like the grid method, stippling, hatching and the list goes on.  We were encouraged to create and to carry a sketchbook with us at all times.  We were also critiqued by our teachers and peers.  I learned that art isn’t just one way or expressed the same and I thrived there.  I was encouraged to continue to the high school, but this was around the same time my brother was diagnosed with liver failure, I missed the chance to audition, but didn’t even care at that point.

What is your process with your art 

I usually start off with a sketch and an idea in my head of how I want the outcome to be, but I embrace mistakes.  Sometimes I’m painting and I do something that wasn’t in my head but it looks good so I keep it and use that “mistake” throughout the painting or take it with me in other paintings.

How did the quarantine/Covid-19 affect you as an artist? 

It actually inspired me.  Once we were all ordered to stay home all I had was my art and time.  It all started with my “Social Distancing” piece.  I painted the first of three paintings and I posted it on my Instagram story, which is only available for 24 hours.  I got so many compliments and comments from people saying they can relate to what I painted.  It inspired me how everyone could relate to how we were separate, yet connected.  That started my “Self Care Series”.  Covid affected my art in a positive way.   It gave me the momentum I needed.  Prior to Covid, I was so consumed with work and life and suddenly I was able to stop and create.

Tell me more about the “Self Care” series.  (These are the pieces on exhibit at Over The Moon Art Studios)

I was inspired by a digital artist (@morysetta) who created a digital picture of a girl on the moon that I saw on Instagram.  I decided to paint my version of a girl with a fro, homegirl in a bubble bath with a glass of wine in outer space, but also kept it “dark” because it was such a dark time.  I reached out to Morysetta to tell her she had inspired me and asked if it was ok to post my painting.  She wanted to see it and then she said, “Yeah, go ahead!”  People really liked it, so I continued on making more of them.

*How do you think the community can better support their artists?

More help with the business end of being an artist, as well as, opportunities to network with other artists, where we can share ideas.

*What would you like to see happen in the Monmouth County art community?

Artist to Artist Mentorships.  Having an established, professional artist mentor me so that someday when I am more established, I can “Pay it Forward” and mentor an up and coming artist who needs help.

You can view Shana’s work in-person at Over The Moon Art Studios at 808 Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park or visit her website:
Instagram: @shana_thee_creative  Tiktok: shana_thee_creative  Facebook: shana_thee_creative

Shana LaBranche

Art Journal Jam

Weekly Art Journal Jam starts at Parlor Gallery!

Weekly Art Journal Jam starts at Parlor Gallery! triCityNews Artist Interviewer, Tara Collins a.k.a. Twisted T, has formed the “Jersey Art Journal Jam”, a weekly group art journaling night at Parlor Gallery on Thursday nights. Whether you are an artist or a newbie, discover the many joys of Art Journaling! Allow your art journal to become your diary, scrapbook or art portfolio. Art Journaling is a way of documenting your daily life incorporating “pieces” of your day, a place to experiment and play with different art mediums, it’s inexpensive, portable and a therapeutic form of creative self-care. In our busy worlds, we need to “schedule creativity” to fit it in so come and get together Every Thursday night or when you’re available to interact with art journalers of all ages and skill levels. Bring your own sketchbook or art journal, some supplies including markers and scissors (basic art supplies will be provided), BYO refreshments or snacks.

Weekly sessions are $20 per person, every 2nd Thursday of the month will be DONATION BASED where journalers can pay what they can to join in.

    • Sessions are 6:00-8:00 pm OR 7:00–9:00 pm
    • Located at Parlor Gallery, 717 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park
    • Contact Tara with any questions at: or via IG @artoftwistedt


Asbury Park Arts Council supports Inspire Life!


Inspire Life Fine Arts and Technology Camp is a camp designed to expose young minds to creative artistry, basic musical theory, technology concepts, song composition and production, dance, vocal techniques, and all things STEAM! In addition to exposing young creatives to fine arts and technology, the camp is also designed to help kickstart their minds and prepare them for the upcoming school year. Self-empowerment, leadership skills, personal excellence, and mental health and wellbeing are central themes that undergird each activity and lesson.

Inspire Camp offers in-person camps for youth ages 7-17. These camps are held during school breaks (i.e. summer, fall, winter, and spring). Below are some of the course offerings within their camps.

  • Urban Farming at Kula Farm
  • Dance & Choreography
  • Music Production and Theory
  • Technology & STEAM
  • Photography
  • YouTube Content Creators

Music Mondays

Music Mondays at Springwood Park- Summer 2022

Look for the APAC table at Music Mondays, the free weekly music series produced by the Asbury Park Music Foundation in Springwood Park at the corner of Atkins and Springwood Avenues.  APAC is using this opportunity to meet residents in a casual setting to introduce ourselves and our goal of getting an Arts and Culture Plan created for the city.   The popular concert series kicked off its seventh season on July 4th and will run through the end of August; all performances are from 6pm-8pm and include one opening act and a headliner.  Attendance is often in the hundreds and is as demographically diverse as Asbury Park itself.   APAC is excited to be in the community and hear firsthand of how the arts is impacting peoples’ lives; we look forward to gathering valuable feedback that will help shape our community engagement efforts going forward.

For a full Music Monday schedule: