Jay Alders’ art career began in kindergarten when he sold transferable tattoos to classmates for pocket change. While other kids were hawking lemonade curbside, he was selling his art. By high school, Alders was engaged in projects for businesses, painting jean jackets, and doing caricatures and airbrushing at Six Flags Great Adventure near his Howell home. While attending Montclair State University in pursuit of an art degree, he formed his own company. Alders has been riding the wave since, honing his techniques as a fine artist, photographer, and designer, known for intricate brushwork, intense colors, and compositions that bring to life his signature elongated figures and stylized forms.
“My art began to take a shift towards the avant-garde and surrealistic in my collegiate years,” Alders said. “I became fascinated with the human body and my emotion fueled my subject matter.”
Among his many influences are Salvador Dali, MC Escher, Picasso, and Monet.
Today, Alders has gained a worldwide reputation and commercial success in the surfer art genre. His work is featured in galleries from Manhattan to California and Brazil, and he has been part of exhibitions in Oahu, and at the X Games. Emergen-C, Billabong, Endless Games, 9Fish Surfboards, and Ted Shred’s, among other brands, have licensed Alder’s art for their product lines, earning him the moniker, “The Artist who is Everywhere” from ESPN.
Alders’ tours and collaborations have connected him with many of surfing and music’s notable personalities, including American musician/surfer Donavon Frankenreiter, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and Reggae musician Mishka. Alders has painted onstage while Mishka performed, and his art appears on the 2013 Mishka album Ocean is My Potion. Named “Best Surf Artist of the Past Decade” by Brazil’s Almasurf magazine, and an Official Ambassador to Surf Aid International, Alders and his work have appeared in a slew of publications and television shows worldwide. In addition to supporting causes including the Surfrider Foundation, Farm Sanctuary, Surfers for Cetaceans, PETA, Red Bank’s Rebuild/Recover, and the ASPCA, Alders aided victims of Superstorm Sandy from Florida, where he lived near St. Augustine for over two years with his wife Chelsea.
“When Sandy hit, part of me was thankful for not being in the storm, but deeper than those selfish thoughts was a feeling of helplessness,” Alders said. He helped organize two donation drop-offs to send needed goods from the Sunshine State to New Jersey, generating local television coverage as he packed truckloads of items. He then created tee-shirt and sweatshirt designs, donating the $15,000 he raised through those sales.
“My friend, surfer/model Luke Ditella, was back home organizing relief efforts and founded Rebuild/Recover with others,” Alders recalled. “I partnered with them, developed the logo, and donated 100 percent of the profits, which helped a lot of good people get back on their feet.” Although he enjoyed surfing among the dolphins and being inspired by the tropical beauty of Florida, Alders and his wife decided to return to Jersey in 2013 when Chelsea became pregnant with the couple’s daughter, Summer Emerson, first settling in Belmar. The couple now resides in Brick with Summer (whose initials spell out S.E.A.), and newborn twins Greyson Dutch and Judah Kai.
Belmar will soon become home to Alders’ first gallery, the Sea Zen Art Gallery & Experience, on the first floor of the former home of fabled Freedman’s Bakery, and scheduled to open this summer. Alders chose the town for its energy, the renaissance of its downtown district, and the area’s new focus on arts and culture.
“I think Belmar compliments the surrounding towns’ offerings but definitely has a unique voice,” Alders said. “My business partner, Jason Soares, owns Stay Gold Café and Lounge across the street and the new Beach Haus Brewery is next door, making it an ideal location.” The gallery name, a play on “season,” was derived from his painting “Sea Zen of Tranquility.”
“Sea Zen denotes change and a new season of life,” Alder explained. “The gallery will be inspired by ocean, nature, and spiritually.”
Alders held several promotional events in advance of the opening (scheduled for July 10), including a sold-out live painting demonstration at the Stay Gold Café and Lounge at Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theater. At the opening, Alders will paint live as musician G Love performs.
“We are sparing no detail; the space will impress,” Alders said. “The gallery will be a cultural hub with regular social, artistic, and music events. We will host musicians, artists, and photographers from around the world, many who are friends from my touring and travels.” Paint & Sip events, Jazz Nights, and workshops will launch this summer. Artists from both coasts, plus Brazil, Hawaii, Tasmania, and Costa Rica are among those scheduled for opening exhibitions.