“When I left the city in March I didn’t know what to do. I was trying to figure out how to get food and just figure out logistics,” says New York-based artist Simone Shubuck who decamped to North Fork. “I wasn’t being productive. I wasn’t baking bread.” Shubuck, who is known for her collage-like drawings and paintings of floral and fauna as well as whimsical ceramics, was feeling a lack of connection while sheltering in place. But when the child of a nearby friend was about to celebrate his first birthday, Simone felt inspired again. “Typically I would have a bought a gift,” she said but instead she drew a fantastical first birthday card and her husband (Adam Rapoport, the editor of Bon Appétit) baked a cake complete with edible flowers.
Meanwhile Shubuck had been talking to Janine Foeller, her friend and co-founder of Wifey, an alternative bakery and pop art space they created for their community of creatives—artists, florists, chefs—back in 2017 about what they could do to connect with artists during this time. With galleries and museums closed, the art world felt especially isolated. “Galleries are not open to sell the work and many less established artists have lost their side hustle jobs because of Covid,” says Shubuck. Last month as spring was approaching, the two decided to turn Wifey into a virtual flower shop, selling floral-inspired art works through the mail.
The goal was to invite different artists to make work that the could sell in a limited edition of ten and make it accessible—each work is priced at $100 dollars. “It’s going to be very organic. Artist inviting other artists to make work,” says Foeller. And it won’t be just limited to visual artists like Andrew Kuo, Karen Kimmel, and Cynthia Rojas (whose work goes up for sale on the site tomorrow) who have both sold works on the site, but also chefs and bakers like pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz and Argentinian chef Fernando Aciar. They will host one or two drops per week and artists can choose to direct some of the proceeds of their sales to the charity of their choice. Wifey is mailing all of the pieces through the United States Postal Service to support this vital service, which is very much under threat during this pandemic. “You can buy a flower and send it in to the mail like a bouquet to anyone you want—a friend, a healthcare worker, even yourself,” says Foeller.