Adam Wallacavage Interview

Best known for his outrageous photography, Adam Wallacavage has jumped off the deep end and invited art lovers into his undersea world of massive sea creatures. The artist has created a series of stunning chandeliers modeled after octopi and suspended high above the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Each piece is masterfully designed and completely different from one another. On display until July 22, Wallacavage’s Il Lume Della Piovra is not to be missed. He’ll also be signing copies of his book “Monster Size Monsters” from 3 to 6pm that evening. Life In A Bungalo got a quick interview with the man a few weeks into the show.

Why the transition from photography to 3D art?

I don’t know if there ever was a transition. I’ve always done different things but this is the first time I really developed something so thought out and in a series like this for a gallery show.

Taking that idea one step further, please explain why you decided to make plaster octopus chandeliers? They are quite possible the most amazing creations I’ve seen in a while.
I was inspired by Art Nouveau chandeliers and specifically a glass jellyfish chandelier I saw in a book. I wanted to make something like that for my dining room but I only knew how to work in plaster.

Can you please explain the process for making the fixtures? Do you have molds for each one?
I start with sculpting with clay and then I make latex molds of all or the parts. I cast the plaster around threaded pipe and that gives strength and leaves room for the wires etc. I paint them and then coat them with a two part epoxy resin to give them that glassy look.

I feel your work really transcends the whole lowbrow art movement. These works could easily be hung over the dining room table. What are your feelings?
I like functional art. With my photography, I always felt strange trying to show it in galleries. I like putting something solid into a gallery. I like showing my photos in a book form. As far as lowbrow, I like the freedom in the “lowbrow” movement. Lots of artists don’t want to be associated with it, I personally could care less. I have been more inspired by people like Ed Roth and Von Dutch than anyone else in the art world. I like the idea of just making what you want and not caring what others think about it, basically not caring about some sort of meaning.

Why the use of Octopi? Was that what you were going for from the beginning, and are you a fan of aquatic life?
I intentionally set out to make my dining room look like something from 20,000 leagues under the sea. It just seemed obvious to make an octopus chandelier.

I noticed that they were hung using fishhooks. Was that also part of the design?
No, it wasn’t part of the design, I was just trying to be nifty. I bought them down the street at a tackle shop next to the infamous Chelsea Hotel in NYC.

What has the reaction been from people visiting the gallery? I won’t lie, that was the first thing I ran to when I walked in the door.

I’ve been getting good feedback. I’m really excited about this.

Let’s talk about your photography. You have been featured in Thrasher and Swindle, how long have you been shooting, and did you ever think you’d be doing it professionally?

I used to shoot for Thrasher a really long time ago I shoot a bunch for Swindle now. I’ve been shooting since about 1987 or so. I must have heard somewhere that photographers make good money. I went to art school with the hesitation of not making a living with art. I started working for an ad agency shooting commercial stuff and it paid really well, that gave me the freedom to do whatever type of art I wanted without worrying about trying to sell it. It’s easier to make money shooting photos than doing other forms of art

Do you find it easier to shoot action photos like skateboarding, or more fun posed shots?
I don’t shoot much skateboarding anymore but I like posed stuff mixed with action the best. I like the challenge of stopping a fast movement with a crazy composition of stuff in the forground.

Would you like to talk a little about your new book, “Monster Size Monsters?” I saw it for a moment and it seems to focus primarily on your photography.
It’s all about my photography. I’ve been shooting a random assortment of stuff for a long time. I love how the book is all over the place. Skateboarding, music, artists, goofy stuff, flea markets, it has been fun to do all that stuff over the years.

Where do you go from here? Are you going to continue to shoot photos, make glowing squids, or maybe try something new?
I feel like I go in cycles. I like working on my house in the fall, I like shooting photos in the spring and summer, in the winter I don’t know what I do. I’m really excited to keep doing what I’m doing. I hope to be able to start hiring people to work for me and to start making things on a grander scale. I have so many ideas for my house that I want to work on. I also want to start traveling more.

Author: George Koroneos

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