Letter from Adam’s Art Opening with Bandelion Theater Group

Hi everyone, 

I went to such an incredible art exhibit this weekend! It combined painting, dance, acting and music, showcased a diverse range of bodies of different ages, races, abilities, and was an incredibly inspiring example of how different arts can combine to enrich one another. 

You guys may have heard me mention my close friend and life partner in arts (creative and martial), the frustratingly talented Adam Caldwell.  

Adam Hunter Caldwell

Adam paints amazing paintings that often juxtapose contrasting imagery: playboy models with World War I hospitals, death masks with tattooed hipsters, abstract images with classically painted figures. 

painting of man sitting on lion statue with collaged elements
Adam Caldwell, “The Lion Waits,” 2014

To create these juxtapositions, Adam uses collage. He started out compiling his reference images by hand, cutting and gluing the different pieces into a painting-sized collage that became his model for the painting. Then he starting using Photoshop to create the collages, giving him more options of how to combine and interweave the various elements. 

But a few years ago, he tried something different: finding actual people to act as his collage. He found Bandelion , an interdisciplinary theater group. Their performances incorporate dance, music, writing and acting. They are so super-cool.

They did some theater pieces using backdrops Adam created for them. Adam would photograph the performances and then use those photographs as reference for paintings. Basically, he and Bandelion created a real-life collage of abstract painted backgrounds and figures in motion. Sometimes he adds additional elements to the final painting as well, such as figures or background details. 

painting of dancers
Adam Caldwell, “When Gravity Fails,” 2015
paining of dancers with added figures in foreground
Adam Caldwell, “Monument to the Fall,” 2016

And in return, Bandelion has used Adam’s paintings to illustrate and promote their work. The following promotional card features a painting that I own! (For now–it’s soon to be a gift).

Bandelion promotional card featuring painting by Adam Caldwell
Bandelion promotional card featuring painting by Adam Caldwell

For his show this month at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles, Adam took the collaboration a step further and invited Bandelion to perform at the show’s opening.  Bandelion did three performances, two during the opening itself and one the day after, right in the middle of the gallery. 

The performance had really beautiful music and dance. I particularly enjoyed the performance on the day after the opening, since it was easier to focus when everyone was watching, rather than with people walking in and out of the gallery on the opening night. I love the diversity of body types, with different ages, races, sizes and abilities represented. I also love how multitalented the performers are: dancers, writers, actors, musicians. 

The paintings featuring Bandelion are incredible. 

dancers playing with hoop skirt
Adam Caldwell, “Parachute,” 2016
dancer lying face-down
Adam Caldwell, “Down,” 2016
dancer in a box
Adam Caldwell, “Containment,” 2016
dancer on a platform
Adam Caldwell, “The Long Blue,” 2016
two dancers with interlocked arms, one waiving a feather
Adam Caldwell, “The Signail,” 2016

(Actually, even the paintings not featuring Bandelion are incredible).

Adam Caldwell, wall of portraits at Thinkspace Gallery, 2016


Many of these paintings are still available for purchase on the Thinkspace web page. Not this one, though:

Nils performs in his wheelchair, wearing a hoop skirt, brimmed hat and tiger costume
Adam Caldwell, “Chair,” 2016

It’s mine. I love the image of a man in a wheelchair performing on stage, in costume, all eyes on him. Depicting Nils (a dancer, singer, personal trainer and former wheelchair rugby player) in his role as a performer seemed different from many painted images of people with disabilities, a representation of agency and visibility. I asked Nils to pose with the painting so I can prove I’ve met the model. I think this documentation might come in useful someday when I go on Antiques Road Show. 

Nils with painting of Nils

Now that I know about Bandelion, I’ll be looking for their next performance, which I know will be amazing even if it’s not in front of a wall of paintings.