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By Max H. Peters    Photos by Richard Springer

  Writing about Jeffrey Vulte there are many things to keep in mind, not the least being the Statute of Limitations. All joking aside, For those of us who know and love him, it is hard to see his art apart from his outsized life, but through the years all kinds of people have bought – and even stolen- his paintings and woodwork, knowing they were looking at something  one of a kind.

Jeff Vulte
Sculptor Jeffrey Vulte

  Growing up in East Haven and environs, Vulte spent four years in the Marine Corps, getting honorably discharged in ’64, just before Vietnam started. What happened was, the U.S. military decided that it couldn’t deal with Vulte and a new war at the same time. For the next two decades Vulte held a number of jobs and women, living in apartments in New Haven, Black Rock and Westport. He felt an irrepressible urge to do art and briefly attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and, sometime later, took painting classes at the Silvermine Institute in New Canaan.

Wood Nymph and Diver
Nymph & Roses
Stick Dance
Stick Dance
Vulte Diver
Whale TailWhale Tail

  Living as he did in neighborhoods that were stuffed with professional artists , Vulte never became part of any artistic group, never modelled himself on anybody.  Jeff has friends from all walks of life.  One friend he  made was the late designer and artist John Hermansader, best remembered for the iconic album covers  he designed for the jazz label Blue Note Records.  Hermansader saw something in Vulte and felt led to teach him some brushwork technique.

Wood Spirit Thin Man DickHead

Left: Wood Spirit

Center: Thin Man

Above: DickHead

  In the late ‘60s Vulte bought some land in the woods outside Keene, New Hampshire and, mainly with his own hands, built a two story house which he eventually moved into full time. It was here, in the early ‘80s, that he began doing wood sculpture. In the mid-‘80s Vulte and the love of his life,  his second wife, Inga, took off in a sailboat for the Caribbean, an adventure that ended up with them owning a convenience store in Key West  After Inga died in ’01, a heart-broken Vulte, who’d been renting his house out to old girlfriends, came back to New Hampshire and started doing wood sculptures again. When I asked him about his plans for the future, he said  ”When I see an interesting shape in wood, that’s  when I’ll do another woodcarving.”

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