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How long have you lived in Brooklyn?
And in this studio?
Less than a year. We have kind of a volatile studio practice.
Do you like it that way?
I do, but other people that share studios with me don’t, hence why we move often. I make a lot of noise, weld fumes, use resin. I throw things a lot.
Where are you from?
California. I grew up in a small community in the north, in Humboldt County... It’s kind-of well known, it’s a brand. It’s embedded in Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang. Everyone in California talks about Humboldt even though it’s a small hick town. But a groovy hick town. They just grow a lot of weed.
Do you smoke?
I don’t. I mean, I have, but it’s just apart of the culture I grew up in, so I didn’t understand that that wasn’t what happened everywhere. There’s a radio station, KPIG, that would announce where the fed helicopters were. It’s definetly apart of the culture on the east coast as well, just in a different way. I think weed is an interesting tool. The idea of smoking it, thinking about things in a different way, and then cross-referencing them later with sobriety makes sense to me. I’ve utilized that before. But it kind-of just gives me anxiety. And I don’t have time to make mistakes these days. When I’m here everyday I have to make decisions. So if one out of every five times it’s fun and enjoyable, that’s great, But then there’s four other times that I‘m like, “I have other things to do.” And I have two kids now. I’m waiting for the perfect drug to come out. There’s coffee, alcohol, nicotine, THC. But I hate being hungover. Coffee gives you jitters and bad breath. And I don’t wanna die of lung cancer.
Let’s talk about your upcoming show. What’s up with the balloons?
I think a lot of the materials I use I’ve stumbled upon with general attraction. I like to follow instinctual guide with materials. Gold, things that are shiny, marble, balloons… things that are intrinsically appealing. I try to pay attention to the things I’m drawn to in a very sort-of knee-jerker gut wrenching way. I like the work to be as accessible as possible without catering to the lowest common denominator. Balloons are in everyones visual vernacular. There are connotations built in, and I don’t really have to explain a lot. We know what they are. Of course I manipulate them so there is an organic element to some of the forms. Balloons are the trigger.
Why do you prefer to have the figures deformed than stoic?
Despite the fact that I come from a painting background, the thing that drives me when I come into the studio; line, gesture, movement, they still drive me today. They’re kind of bi-products of the work but they are things that I’m still invested in and get excited about. That’s where all the movement and color and gestures come from.
Why The Iliad?
I think it’s interesting. But I also think sometimes it’s not necessarily the story but the way you tell the story, and it can be the same one over and over again just told in a lot of different ways. The Iliad is broad and permeated into western culture as far as war and love and adventure go. I’m able to make the work I want to make without it getting lost in ambiguity as far as what it’s about. It’s nice to have thematic strand to tell your story. If you think about your favorite novels or movies it is always the actors and the dialogue that guides you into appreciating that piece of work. The backbone that it’s built on is the story.
What is the best reaction you’ve gotten to your work?
I like it when people buy my work (laughs). I guess that’s my favorite. Because I like my work and if people buy my work I get to keep making it. Everybody has a different reaction and I like it when people like it, but I also like when they hate it. I think artists are kind of intrinsically narcissistic to think that other people would want to know and see what they have going on in their heads. It’s like posting on Instagram. You wait to see how many people are going to like it just for validation. It’s too bad we can’t just post things and be happy with them because we like them. Sales are validation, but it’s symbiotic because then I get to do it more.
Second show at The Hole. What do you like about the space they provide for artists?
Well it’s big, and they show my stuff (laughs). One thing I like is that they’re willing to take risks and that’s probably why they work with me and other artists. They do things that aren’t necessarily lucrative but more provocative and controversial, so I have a lot of freedom. I’ve worked with other people who are like, “What are we making? What size is it? Can we sell it?”, which is fine. It’s important not to forget that what we’re doing for the most part is a commodity, so these things are obviously relevant. But with THE HOLE it’s like, lets do something weird, lets do something crazy, what do you want to do?
So you share your studio. Does it bother you having people in your space all the time?
No, it doesn’t really bug me. Some people have different approaches; they like to have a really meditative environment. Do you play music? Sometimes. Sometimes I forget though. Ideally I would, but that happens one out of every ten times ‘cause I’m usually grinding and welding and I have the windows open so I hear the street. I cleaned up today, sorry. It gets dusty.
What is your ideal day not in the studio?
My very ideal day would be in Greece on vacation. Greece is cool. I would wake up and do touristy stuff like eat feta cheese and olives.
What do you actually do?
I don’t have any days off. I’ve worked everyday for like ten years. I also have two kids so a vacation is not a vacation either way. But I like that and I enjoy it. So there’s no chilling. I like my days.
How does being a dad with young kids impact your work?
Raising kids is cool. It’s not relaxing. You can’t have anything that awesome and not pay the price for it. I’m an artist and I’m in the studio all day and it’s hard work but then I go home to be with my kids. It’s hard but it’s fulfilling.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Maybe an ornithologist.
Yeah, I love birds. When I was a kid I thought that’s what I was going to do. Growing up in the community that I did, it’s very beautiful and isolated. It’s called the Lost Coast. There are no people there. It’s just trees and water and birds and weed. I’ve fed owls out of my hands. But you know how you see people with their binoculars walking around in groups with their bird book guide? That’s not what I mean. I’m here to see birds of prey, like, shredding rabbits. I mean it in a cool way. No binoculars.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Well I’ll be 49. I’ll have a 14 year old and a 12 year old. And I hope we’re not in the same apartment because we have a one bedroom. I would like to have things the same, a version of this. If I could have a version of right now for my whole life I’d be good. I would like to still be doing the same things and involved with the same people give or take.
I’m pretty happy with what I have and what I do and what I eat. I get to hang out with my family, I have breakfast lunch and dinner with them, I have a car, an apartment, I have a lot of time to do the things I want.
“How about a house upstate with a yard?”, Carolyn Salas yells from the other side of the room. Carolyn is an artist who shares the space with Adam. She’s also his partner. “Carolyn’s my baby mama. Yeah. We could do that.”