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January 21, 2021

Local Baltimore artist pays homage to Tim Burton

By AKEIRA JENNINGS | October 17, 2019

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COURTESY OF AKEIRA JENNINGS

The Wishbone Reserve in Hampden hosted an exhibition centered on Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice.

Tucked away in the folds of Baltimore’s historic Hampden neighborhood, the art of Tim Burton and his 1988 classic film, Beetlejuice, came to life in the vintage, consignment and antique shop Wishbone Reserve.

The exhibit’s eclectic assortment is accredited to New York based artist Delia Deetz, a fictional character from the film. However, the true artists and designers behind the display of sculptures, paintings and furniture pieces are the Wishbone staff members and local Baltimore artist Alix Tobey Southwick.

As an homage to both the film and Burton’s heightened sense of expressionism and nostalgia, Ryan Haase, co-owner of Wishbone Reserve and designer, collected many of the exhibit’s eccentric design pieces from different antique sales and collaborative efforts with Milk & Ice Vintage. 

“I am 100 percent a Tim Burton fan,” Haase said in an interview with The News-Letter. “Everything is for sale to the public, so we tried to capture a subtle but Halloweeny feel for the exhibit with retro pieces from different auction houses or estate sales.”

The entrance of the store is lined with different antique benches and chairs that lead up to a retro table furnished with perfectly placed silverware and dining sets. Above the table hangs a hauntingly beautiful white wedding gown that flawlessly captures both 80s fashion as well as the cryptic seance scene from Beetlejuice. 

To the left, there is a detailed train and town display of the film’s small Connecticut town. And the walls are lined with vibrant yet seemingly menacing portraits of nature juxtaposed with human and animal subjects. 

For Baltimore native Devyn Robinson, the store’s Beetlejuice display was both an exciting and eye-opening experience into the world of shopping in antique stores.

“This was my first time here,” Robinson said. “It was awkward at first, but once I went in and really started exploring, everything was so interesting. It was definitely something new.”

As patrons stopped to admire the intricate Burton-themed sculptures and the grimacing faces on the portraits, many felt the overall spooky vibes the store owners intended to channel, with both the film playing in the middle of the store and the eerie decorations adorning the inside of the store.

“Even though the portraits are colorful, they definitely have a dark meaning or presence behind them, almost like a facade,” Robinson said.

The exhibit seemed to welcome deeper reflections and encouraged careful examinations of the strategically placed houseware items and art that celebrated both the past and Baltimore’s rich connection with the arts.

“There is a lot of support for Baltimore so we try to show that as much as possible,” Haase said.

As patrons walked beyond the front entrance exhibit, they began examining the many compartments and sections of the store to find unique antiques and pieces by other Baltimore artists.

Realistic still-life portraits rested alongside desks and coffee tables to compliment the furniture pieces around the room.

Fringe, a book by esteemed Baltimore photographer, Paula Gately Tillman, is also on display in the store. 

While customers are encouraged to read about Tillman and her achievements, her book of classic dark-room photography is also on sale, allowing Wishbone customers the opportunity to take home a collection of memories from the 80s and 90s underground fashion and drag culture in New York and Atlanta.

“I was inspired to start collecting art and vintage pieces,” Robinson said. “I like supporting Baltimore artists and they had so many things that I would be interested in buying and could actually use in my home. I will definitely be back.”

All of the pieces displayed for the exhibit are on sale, and on Halloween night, Wishbone Reserve will be playing Beetlejuice for guests. All are welcome to attend.

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