By Anthony Brancaleone

Utilizing abstract shape and form, self taught visual artist Daniel Cascardo works in bold, vibrant color, forever pursuing the child-like fantasies of his youth. Though, Cascardo’s work displays a certain amount of whimsy, he always begins with a thought, a purpose, rather than painting impromptu. Cascardo’s murals can be found in Dearborn, Ferndale and Taylor, Michigan, and on various walls of Chicago. In addition to canvas, Cascardo has worked with everything from the pizza box to the human form.

Brancaleone: Murals, pizza boxes, canvas and the human body – where do you most enjoy applying your brush?

Cascardo: The world is my canvas. I prefer painting on hard surfaces like wood, drywall, or canvas stapled to the wall because I can be aggressive with my brush, pounding the surface like a drum and feeling the energy from the vibrations of each stroke. Painting on non-traditional surfaces like pizza boxes or tight fitting body suits gives my work another level of appreciation. The work enters the world of the viewer making a connection to things that they are familiar with.

Brancaleone: Why the pizza box?

Cascardo: The pizza boxes came out of a conversation with the owners of Amici’s Pizza in Berkley, MI. They are fans of my work and wanted me to have an art exhibit in their gourmet pizza shoppe and martini bar. After looking at the venue I came up with a show called “Out of the Box”. The cardboard surface was great to work on and the possibilities were endless. The show was very successful, with plenty of sales and a whole lot of fun.

Brancaleone: Is sexuality intended when paint & materiel are applied to the human form?

Cascardo: There is definitely a sexuality and exotic element to apply paint and material to a human form. Sexuality in a beautiful sense, as an appreciation of the body, exotic, not erotic is my intention. The human form is transformed into a fantastic creation, not undermining the natural beauty of the body, but embellishing it and bringing it to a place where fantasy and reality exist.

Brancaleone: How does a canvas begin and when does it end?

Cascardo: The canvas begins when inspiration cannot be contained. Whether it is in painting, music, drama, dance or any other form of creativity there comes a time when you begin. Like the bud that all of a sudden blooms into a flower, my work begins when it is time. Before that there are many thoughts, feelings, and experiences that contribute to my inspiration. It ends when it ends. It is somewhat of a mystical thing how a work of art ends. Only the artist knows when their work is done.

Brancaleone: Influences in your work?

Cascardo: My work is mostly influenced by my life. I can look back on the many experiences and emotions in my life and know that they will somehow make their way into my art. My Italian heritage, my strong Christian Catholic faith, my spirituality, family, friends, travels and traditions all influence my work. I can relate to artists like Chagal, Miro, Dali, Picasso, and Kandinsky but my work stems from my life experiences. As a kid I was intrigued by the work of Walt Disney and always admired his accomplishments. Growing up in the sixties and seventies I got much influence from cartoons and animation. I love the imaginative power of the medium and often use cartoon images in my work.

Brancaleone: Any artists in Michigan we should keep an eye on?

Cascardo: I think there are many talented artists in Michigan most of which are not known by the general public. Those who are known are challenged to keep their name and art alive. I believe that Detroit is a dormant volcano ready to erupt at any moment. The economy, tension, diversity, culture, businesses, history, resources, and talent are all potent ingredients to spur an artistic revolution. The artists here have more character than any other place on the planet. They know how to survive. I would say to keep your eye on everyone.