Adam Wallacavage talks ingenuity, authenticity, and art in The Electric Theater

Adam Wallacavage talks ingenuity, authenticity, and art in The Electric Theater

- By Ramon Gonzales

Artist Adam Wallacavage details how he began his career as a specialty sculptor and how art can become pretentious if it's insincere.

Accomplished photographer and artist Adam Wallacavage sat in as the latest guest in the Electric Theater conversation series with clown of Slipknot. A chiefly talented creator, Wallacavage is respected as an ornamental plaster specialist, revered for his work crafting opulent octopus chandeliers.

As for what compelled Wallacavage to explore such a unique theme, he cites the beginning of his work with the purchase of an 1890’s Victorian brownstone home he bought in Philadelphia back in 2000. Explaining that the property needed plenty of improvements, the original idea was to restore the historic home as a backdrop for his photography work. In restoring the home, Wallacavage then took to restoring the detailed molding specific to the era. He became very interest in ornamental plasterwork, becoming self-taught in the medium.

As for octopus chandeliers, Wallacavage recalls more than a few instances of deep-seeded inspiration. He remembers seeing an old Charlies Addams comic Wednesday Addams with an octopus on her bed. Something about that stuck. The artist further explained the inspiration he drew from a book from Ernst Haeckel called Art Forms In Nature. The book featured a glass jellyfish chandelier called the ‘Medusa' that was being showcased in a museum in Monaco. Wallacavage said that visual blew him away. From there, his vision was set.

Determined only to complete the interior decorative detail of his dining room, Wallacavage crafted four octopi, one of each corner of the crown molding of the room, and one big octopus to hang from the center of the room. It was a labor of love that took the artist months to complete.

In terms of chronology, during the early 2000’s, the ornamental plasterwork was still a passion project second to Wallacavage’s photography work. Among the regular collaborators he worked for included renowned curator and art punk ambassador, Jonathan LeVine. Photographing all of LeVine’s exhibits, Wallacavage would ultimately be asked to showcase his modeling and plasterwork at LeVine’s galley that opened in Chelsea. It was Wallacavage’s first exhibition. He made seven octopi specific for the event.

It’s a passion that has continued to compel Wallacavage to craft 19 years worth of octopi. In fact, the artist talked about how he would always wonder why other artists could just stick to one theme without hitting a creative brick wall. It’s an obstacle that he hasn’t encountered yet as he still finds the work engaging, challenging, and creatively rewarding.

The conversation would steer in the direction of originality, authenticity, and pretense as it pertains to art. What Wallacavage would confide was that he was always in tune with his creative sixth sense. Taking a job a photo lab and snapping skateboarding photos, he would eventually transition into his role as a photographer for Thrasher Magazine in the 90s.

While his ambition was to eventually be in a gallery someday, Wallacavage explained that he felt forced creativity always translated as incredibly pretentious. When he finally found his [assion with his platerwork, things felt especially authentic because he never intended for this to be art, it was purely his means to soothe his creative itch. Wallacavage found creative fulfillment and never needed to sacrifice his sincerity in the process.

The kinship between the two creatives would become more evident as the conversation continued. Between Wallacavage's punk/skate background and clown's passion for compelling art, the exchange really drilled deep into the expression, influence, and battling the expectation that sometimes makes producing creatively become a chore.

Stream the complete conversation between clown of Slipknot and photographer/sculptor Adam Wallacavage in The Electric Theater and listen in on the moment that the two connect the dots and find out that clown actually owns one of Wallacavage's pieces and didn't even know it until the day of the interview.

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