Read Fran Kelso's blog on Peddler's Pack Gifts titled:
WELCOME LOU CACIOPPO: ARTIST, CARPENTER, ATHLETE, SONGWRITER
If you're looking for a piece to match your living room sofa, then you probably won't wind up with one of Lou's creations. If, however, your definition of art includes words like "thought-provoking," or even "shocking," then his work is bound to invoke a response. His pieces can best be described as wild, vital, and emotionally charged.
After honorably serving in the U.S. Navy, and with a strong background in creative art classes and some college, he began his career as a technical illustrator for a New York publications firm. It didn't take long before he advanced to Art Director. He later moved to California and illustrated for numerous publications while continuing his education by attending Northrope University.
In 1974, the writings of Jack London lured Lou to the ‘last frontier’ Alaska. In 1977, he opened Muskeg Magic, a commercial art studio. During that time, Lou designed many signs and trademarks for local businesses including the logo used by the City of Ketchikan. He continued his study of art and tool making with fellow artists. In 1979, along with friend and mentor, Tsimpshian Native artist Jack Hudson, Lou designed and completed the "Welcome to Ketchikan" archway which hung until 1996. His colorful background and adventurous spirit lead him to the boxing ring for several years. He boxed in 'smokers' held in the Frontier Saloon in Ketchikan. Sponsored by Barbara 'Mama' Bean, a Tlingit Alaskan Native and dear friend, Lou was adopted into the Tlingit nation, Eagle clan and given the name Zwash nah.
In 1987, through both the Alaska Arts and Humanity Council and private funding, Lou has taught in schools as an "artist in residence", and still continues to do so. He also privately instructs drawing classes for students of all ages from juveniles to adults. One of Lou's students has exhibited in Alaska museums and galleries, and a second is presently carving commissioned pieces.
Carved out of alder or cedar, many of Lou's masks/sculptures are then hand painted and/or airbrushed to achieve special effects. Additions include everything from feathers, fur and hair to computer circuitry or copper wire. Whatever it takes to make the piece speak. A collection of Lou's masks/sculptures represents an astonishing variety of themes, prompting one friend to say, "I think every time he blinks, he sees a different vision." Fortunately for the rest of us, Lou's artistic genius combined with countless hours of hard work, allows his visions to materialize in the physical world.
Lou has exhibited at galleries from Alaska to New York and in several states in between. In 1969, he had his very first one man show at Seacliff Art Gallery in Long Island, New York. Since then he has participated in showings in numerous Alaskan galleries including House of Kybor, The Gathering, Grundy's Gallery, Scanlons, as well as participating in a mask show at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle, and Objects of Bright Pride in New York. In 1990, KTOO television in Juneau, Alaska, featured Lou as a guest on "Conversations."
"Through portrait sculpture, in masks, I create visual links that portray the underlying feelings and emotions of everyday life. My art addresses changes in the modern world, changes so vast and rapid that man can scarcely adjust. The nature of one's whole context changing from week to week is a kind of stress not previously known to man and not acknowledged due to the masks we wear. We suffer for the need of instantaneous gratification, and we are losing our compassion and therefore our desire to physically socialize. We are moving towards individual isolation. Through my art I am striving to slow if not stop that direction."
Lou and his wife Camlyn now live in Gustavus, Alaska, a small community located at the threshold of Glacier Bay National Park. The couple designed and hand built a beautiful home completed in September 2000 closely followed by the completion of their studio gallery.
If art, music and carpentry weren't enough to keep me busy I was elected Vice Mayor in 2004 of our newly created city, Gustavus, Alaska, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. I had no idea the amount of work it would take to form a new city with its own ordinances. Like most small cities the council is elected and all members are volunteers. I served on the council from 2004 through 2013 and during the last year of my term I was elected as Mayor of Gustavus. That commitment along with designing and building a new gallery with a stage for music left little for anything else. It took me over one year to build my new sanctuary.
I picked up the guitar about 7 years ago and now have a new way to communicate my thoughts and feelings. Since then I have written about 50 songs. I have performed at my own one man art show, the Veterans for peace gathering, as well as in the 34th, 35th 37th and 39th annual Folk fest in our state capital, Juneau, Alaska.
In August of 2013, The Outpost, home of the new Camalou Gallery, opened its doors and was host to a wonderful performance by Tracy Spring, a very talented singer songwriter from Washington. I was fortunate enough to be able to open for her along with Kim Heacox on keyboard and Emily Mount on violin where we performed one of my songs “The River” which can be viewed by clicking here.