11 | From the Editor
An Interview with Contemporary Artist Dave Vescio
Contemporary artist and retired film star.
I am purposely blurring the lines of photography, painting, and sculpture into one.
Sloane: Please walk us through a typical day in the life of Dave Vescio the photographer and art business owner.
Vescio: First off, I don’t see myself as a photographer. I see myself as a contemporary artist. The reason why is because I am purposely blurring the lines of photography, painting, and sculpture into one. I purposely get up close and personal to my subjects with my macro/closeup lens so you can feel the texture of the raw, worn-torn materials that are covered in their own original painted color or the colors of decay wasting away on top of these objects. So, to most viewers, my abstract artworks feel like paintings when they are just photographs of urban decay. Then I print these painter-like photographs onto materials very similar to the materials that they were originally born on in the first place. So, if I photograph an object made out of metal, then I print it on archival metal. If I photograph an object made out of plastic then I print it on archival acrylic which is a type of plastic. Now, this will turn the photograph that looks like a painting into an actual sculpture. It will feel more like the object that I photographed in the first place. So, I am not your typical photographer who wants to play by the same old rules that 99% of all photographers all play by. No, I am turning abstract photography into something else. Something new, something different, something for the world to discover with their own eyes and with their own fingertips because my artworks are now interactive for the world to experience. That’s why I call myself an artist or a contemporary artist. Some may say I am a conceptual artist and they could be right as well. I am just purposely blurring away everything we know of photography into something else.
As for my typical day, honestly, we artists live very boring lives. The only time it ever seems exciting is when you may see us in the press or on red carpets or at celebrity events or maybe in our fake staged-looking Instagram and TikTok posts. But, otherwise, our lives are no different than anyone else’s lives. We wake up, we work, we go to sleep. It’s the same ‘ol thing every single day of every single year of every single decade. I create art, then I sell art, I create sell, create sell, create sell just like any other business on the planet. I just try to create differently that is. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work. But either way I am just creating and selling. Now, what may seem more interesting than most is that all my artworks are made in the American Southwest. Meaning, I travel anywhere from three days to fifteen days at a time out in the mountains and the deserts of the American Southwest to create my artworks. So, I’m almost always out in the middle of nowhere finding new truths to reveal to the world and camping every bit of the way in state parks, national parks, and sometimes in truck stops depending on what I can find around me when I’m out in the middle of nowhere searching for urban decay, ghost towns, remnants of an ancient past, to etc. Plus, along the way I’m constantly finding & studying ancient Native American petroglyphs that are anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 years old. These ancient Native Americans and including the ancient cave painters of the past were the original creators of abstract art. And since I create abstract art with a camera, then I want to study the original creators of abstract art. Learn from the first true masters as you may say. Plus, learn from the most current abstract painting masters as well, such as Basquiat, Picasso, Kandinsky, to etc. They all have something to teach me!
Sloane: Are you still keeping busy with your acting? What does a day in the life of Dave Vescio the actor look like?
Vescio: I retired from acting in 2018 to create international award-winning contemporary art instead. But honestly, my acting lifestyle was no different than my contemporary art lifestyle. Once again, create sell, create sell, create sell. The typical life of any professional actor.
We literally pushed filmography and videography into something else.
Sloane: I am intrigued by your work with Paul McCarthy, having starred in his production, DADDA. It would seem to be the ultimate in multidisciplinary artistic immersion. What can you tell us about that experience? How do you prepare and ready your instrument for such?
Vescio: Aww, yes, Paul McCarthy is a genius and after learning about his younger days as an artist, he’s always been a genius. Shoot, he probably was born a genius. The man just sees everything outside of the box. He’s always blurring the lines of art from his paintings to his sculptures to his performance artworks to even his photographs and with his immersive video art projects as well. I am very honored of being picked to perform in not only Donald and Daisy Duck Adventures (aka DADDA) but also Coach Stage Stage Coach (aka CSSC). These two immersive video art projects literally pushed the boundaries of filmography and videography into something new and different and because of this two-year artistic journey that I had with Paul, I literally hung up my acting hat and became a contemporary artist instead. I realized during those two years working with Paul that I can be so much more than just an actor for hire. I could be something new, something different, something that blurs the lines as well. So, that’s what Paul taught me over those two years that it took to shoot CSSC and then DADDA. I just hope one year or one decade soon Hauser & Wirth will allow it to be seen in full to the world. The reason they haven’t released it yet is because it’s highly controversial on so many different fronts, from sex to violence to politics to religion to you name it we talked about it in these two video art projects. We literally pushed filmography and videography into something else. Some people are saying these two immersive video art projects are Paul McCarthy’s ‘Black Paintings,’ meaning, they are just like Francisco Goya’s ‘Black Paintings.’ And we all know that those paintings by Goya were not released into the world until after he died. So, in the meantime, I’ll just keep on creating my own international award-winning contemporary art and patiently wait for CSSC and DADDA to fully come out as immersive video art projects and then I will do everything in my power to get the world to see it.
As for how to prepare for this type of acting… Haha, honestly, you just can’t prepare for this kind of project at all. You just got to fully let go in the moment and just be whoever it is that you’re supposed to be in that moment in time. Paul doesn’t create a script that you must follow to the T. Paul is huge on improvisation and there really isn’t that many retakes either. Shoot even when we did shoot a specific scene again and again, it always went in an entirely different direction because when everyone is improvising in a new way, well it is literally creating a new world for everyone to be in now. So, every take was like a new scene that no one was ever prepared for. That’s the genius of Paul McCarthy. He’s literally creating reality out of nothing. It’s like film, TV, theatre, and improvisational acting all rolled up into one. There are no rules, there are no boundaries, everything is free game, just like in real life if you allow it to be. Pure chaos but pure life-like reality because life is pure chaos if you truly think about it. We just try to not see it that way. We try to put it into a box instead. But every single day, very bad things happen to humans in every single town across the United States and all around the world. There is so much crime and violence from bullying to sexual violence to physical violence to cross violence that happens in every single town, in every single school, to every single person who has ever lived. We just pretend it doesn’t happen to us and pretend that the world is not chaotic at all when it really is. We have all been bullied, we have all been violently attacked (some sexual, some physical, some both), and some of us fought back which is cross violence. We live in a very violent world that disguises itself as being good when it is not, and that’s what Paul is trying to say with CSSC and DADDA, but it seems the world is not ready for these kinds of truths to be revealed just yet. The world pretends to be something that it never was and will probably never be, until they face the reality that we humans are very violent towards each other and we need to stop being this way. We need to stop bullying each other, we need to stop sexually assaulting each other, and we need to stop physically attacking each other. We are all the same race; the human race. We are not tribes, we are not states or political party members, we are not nations. We are one. But as long as we keep on cutting ourselves up into tribes, into political parties, into states, into nations, we will always see our fellow humans as less than us and if we keep on seeing people lesser than us, then we will always feel it’s okay to bully them, to assault them, to kill them or lock them up for being different from us. But they are not different. They are us. We are one, not we are many. We are all humans who live on planet Earth. That should be our tribe, our state, our nation. Until then, we will bully each other, sexually assault each other, physically attack each other, and some of us will fight back to try to stop it. We humans are a very violent race of beings. We need to learn to be better. To love to cherish to respect and honor each other otherwise we need to keep on creating art that Paul and many others have been trying to say for centuries now, wake up humans and smell the coffee, and evolve as a human race. Now, Paul may not be literally saying all of this with DADDA and CSSC, but this is how I saw the project, how I saw the violent characters that I portrayed, and what I want the project to specifically talk about as well. It’s why I became an actor in the first place. To reveal the hidden truths to the world, so, they’re not hidden anymore. They’re out in the world for us to talk about, debate about, and hopefully change our ways for the better. That’s the dream at least!
Sloane: Your performance in Hick was quite remarkable. I utterly detested your character. You have interviewed at length about your very colorful background, the experience of prison and your observations of depraved humans while in there that have informed your ability to play a villainous character such as that so convincingly. How are you able to channel and translate that personal material into such a genuinely authentic performance? What is the internal mechanism that makes this human expression possible – is it purely the innate talent to do so, lots of training, or both?
Vescio: I tend to see art as truth. What’re the actual truths of what my characters are doing in these specific scenes? Well, do that instead Dave. But I’m also a Method actor. Why pretend it when you can do it for real instead!? Because Hick is based on a real-life story that was first written into a book and then turned into a movie and Andrea Portes the writer (who happens to be the little girl character in this story because it’s about her childhood) was actually on our movie set as well. So, I knew that I had to tell the truth of her story as realistically as possible. Meaning, I had to do my own stunts as well. Because if we humans ever want to raise awareness for crimes against children then we literally have to show the realities of this world (without actually doing harm to our child actors as well) so the world can see the true violence that our children are constantly going through. Children are the only group of humans in the United States that do not have full rights at all, meaning, they are not fully protected like us adults are in the court of law or even in the U.S. Constitution. When you still have states that make it legal for child weddings. Child weddings are still legal in 44 states and 99% of all child molesters never see prison, well, then we literally have a major problem in the U.S. against our children. When we say that our youth is our future and we should protect them from harm, well, then we need to actually do that than. But we don’t, because we never want to talk about child molestation and we never want to talk about our kids being bullied in school or at home, and we never want to talk about the crimes most of our children see in their own homes when they are physically attacked by their own parents or whoever is raising them. Our youth are constantly being victims by us adults because us adults refuse to change the Constitution and the court of law to protect them at all. So, that’s why I chose to do films like Hick, The Odd Way Home, Wolf Mother, etc. To raise awareness for crimes against children. Because until we talk about this, out loud, in the world, then nothing will ever change, and it NEEDS to change for the better.
Sloane: What inspires you as a photographer? What draws you to the artistic work that you do? Why the exploration of this subject matter, urban decay?
All of my abstract art is talking about this life cycle.
Vescio: I just love discovering new things in this world and then presenting them to the world in a brand-new way. I live in a world that never wants to talk about death & decay and when we do see death & decay we literally try to look away from it all. But death & decay is a natural part of life. It is one of the four steps on the cycle of life — Birth, Death, Decay, and then a Rebirth. All of my abstract art is talking about this life cycle. I purposely look at decayed objects that 99% of all humans refuse to look at or even go near it. I purposely use my macro/closeup lens to discover a rebirth happening in all this death & decay, to show to the world that there is beauty, that there is strength, that there is an actual rebirth for us all to see and to experience. You may be scared to die and wither away, but in that process called death & decay, new life will be reborn out of it all. Life continues just in a new way, a different way, a magical and spiritual way that we could never imagine. So, that’s what my urban decay abstract art deals with. The magic of a rebirth and to get us all to look at death & decay for what it is and discover all the wonders of the world within it. It’s beautiful, it’s strong, and it’s super colorful. It is art. Very similar to art that you can see in museums or in art galleries or in history books. So, I’m trying to get everyone to see all the beautiful, colorful art that lies all around them, if they’re willing to stare death & decay in the face and see beyond the veil. To take that leap of faith into the unknown and see what it actually is. Birth & rebirth, birth & rebirth. So, that’s why I create artworks out of urban decay with my camera. To open us all to all the beauty that surrounds us constantly, if we’re willing to look at it that is. Are you willing to look? Now, that’s the real question of all.
Sloane: Any big plans on the horizon that you can share with us?
Vescio: I won eleven international awards in the past year and a half, and I would like to win around eighteen international awards by next summer, and I did all of this by shooting & editing all my photographs with an iPhone 6 Plus camera and an iPhone 11 Pro Max camera. I wanted to prove to myself and to the world that it’s not the camera or the editor that makes someone a good to great artist, it’s the person using the instrument instead. All my art is created with an iPhone and I’m probably the only mobile photographer in the world who creates what I create, shoot I know that I’m probably the only photographer in the world who prints the way I do, that’s for sure. As for bigger plans, you can read about it in the next answer.
Sloane: Where can we see more of your art?
Vescio: Anyone can see and purchase my art on my artist website: https://www.davevescio.com. But I plan on doing art fairs every single month in the near future and I may rent some gallery space as well. My plan is to have my own physical art gallery like Peter Lik and Wyland all have. But that may take a decade or so to pull off. Right now, I just want to do art fairs in all 50 states in the next five to ten years and then go abroad with my art after that. I would also love to get the museums to start collecting some of my artworks as well. So, that’s the goal for the next ten plus years because they say overnight success takes at least ten years of hard, smart work. So, it’s time for me to put in my 10,000 hours of selling my art in person in the physical world: at art fairs, in a gallery space, and eventually in my own art gallery. So, that’s the plan for now.
Editor’s Note: Dave has conducted some pretty extensive interviews recently, in particular, the three-part interview with The World Art News (see the interview here to learn even more about this exciting contemporary artist).