Empire Copper: Artist Feature - Adam Colangelo

A huge thank you to my friends at Empire Copper for the feature. 

Click here for original article, or read below: 


By Elizabeth Fleming March 4, 2022

Hey Empire Community! 

For this month’s feature artist interview, we are in Ontario, Canada (virtually of course). Our artist this month is  Adam Colangelo. We have long admired Adam’s work and have really enjoyed getting to know him and we are sure you will too!

Adam creates incredible copper wall art in many sizes, styles and colours; the colour and depth of his patina’s are truly amazing. My personal favourite are his red’s and pink’s, of which we have selected for the feature image of this article. 

Now, let’s go straight to the source:

1. Tell us all about you…

My name is Adam Colangelo, I’m a self-taught contemporary copper artist living/working in the Niagara wine region of Ontario, Canada. I’ve always been a hands-on, experiential learner. Growing up, I enjoyed (and still enjoy) playing the guitar, wood working, cooking, gardening, and motorcycle restoration. I have a background in teaching/education; however, soon after graduating university, I redirected my skills and passions to creating visual art.

2. How did you get into working with copper and creating copper art?

One day shortly after my grandfather’s passing in 2009, I was tinkering in his workshop when I came across an old roll of thin sheet copper. I was inspired to create something from the copper as a tribute to him. I experimented with several thermal and chemical techniques to create various colours and textures, and the results intrigued me. I was excited because this type of work seemed to compliment many of my skills and interests.

3. What was the first copper piece you ever made? And how long ago was that? How long have you been doing this for?

I’ve been creating art in various forms for the past 15 years. The piece that kickstarted my copper art career was created in 2009. It was made from that old roll of copper I discovered in my grandfather’s workshop. I still have it in my collection. Looking at it now, you can see how my work has evolved over time.

4. What are some notable features of your work?

My most recent ‘feature’ project was a commissioned print run of over 1500 reproductions of my original “Take Them Up” for the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. (side bar: how insanely cool is this!?) I hope to visit one day and view each and every one of them.

5. Where is your workshop based? and where do you ship to? 

My studio is based in the Niagara wine region of Ontario (Canada). Most of my sales are within North America; however, I do ship worldwide. I just recently shipped two pieces to a collector in London, UK.

6. Is there anything you would like to say about you, your business, your art, the art world or even a favourite quote?

I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a way to make a living doing something I truly enjoy. It’s been a rewarding experience navigating the art world as an independent artist working with copper. There’s so much to learn when you first start, and you have to be prepared to work hard and wear many ‘hats’ in order to run a successful small business. But if there’s a will, there’s always a way.

If you’d like to see more of Adam’s art, you can visit his website or, if you loved what read, and would like to know more, you can follow Adam here, on Instagram.

Artist Feature “Adam Colangelo: Copper on Fire”

Many thanks to Lisa Scheid and the Copper Development Association Inc. for publishing this article in their June 2020 edition.

Adam Colangelo: Copper on Fire

By Lisa Scheid

There’s a sense of magic and destiny in the way Adam Colangelo describes how he began
working with copper. He found his first roll of copper in his grandfather’s
garage. It was as if it was waiting to be discovered, Colangelo recalls..
Somehow, he kept going back.

Artist Adam Colangelo with his work.

Maybe it was the opportunity to experiment and coax new
colors from metal. For this self-taught artist, learning is what fuels his art.

“I’ve always been a hands-on learner, and working with copper has been no
different,” says Colangelo. ”I’ve adopted an experimental, trial-by-error
approach over the years, and I’m still learning new things about the medium on
a regular basis. Not every experiment I conduct is a success, and this is what
helps me grow.” Colangelo grew up in Toronto, Canada, and currently lives and
works in Niagara’s wine country. With a mostly North American client base, he’s
exhibited internationally as well.

“Copper’s versatility always keeps me on my toes,” Colangelo says. “I often get
asked if I’m a painter, because I’m able to achieve patinas that look like they
came out of a paint tube. I like to think of copper as the underdog in the art
community, because its potential is endless.”

The Butterfly Effect, by Adam Colangelo.

Colangelo said he sees his art as therapy - for the client
or viewer and also for himself. “I’ve been fortunate to create site-specific
installations for hospitals in Canada and the U.S. It’s truly an honour that my
art can provide respite for people in need,” Colangelo says. “Whether art is
abstract or figurative, the beauty is that the user controls the narrative. In
this way, art is something for everyone. It can inspire, comfort, console, or
reawaken us.”

Colangelo’s discoveries aren’t limited to the medium. He has
also found insight into mental health through his work. 

“Working on one of my pieces includes a number of steps,
many of which are repetitive,” Colangel reveils.”When I first started my career
in art, the repetition could be tedious, but over the years I’ve found the
process meditative. A sense of calm emerges through the mindless, repetitive tasks.”
He said he challenges himself to create work that speaks to the viewer. 

My Heart to Yours by Adam Colangelo.

“This means being open to new ideas and re-inventing
myself,” Colangelo says. “It would be easy to create the same work year after
year, but trying new processes and styles keeps things interesting for me and
my clients.” In 2018, he was selected to take part in a public art project to
bring awareness to brain health. Called The Brain Project, it is an annual
initiative which funds research for dementia and Alzheimer’s at the Baycrest
Foundation, located in Toronto, Canada. “I was lucky to have been selected to
participate in the 2018 show,” Colangelo said. “Each artist is tasked with
interpreting themes like brain resilience and memory onto a blank,
brain-shaped, three-dimensional form using a medium of their choice. The brains
are displayed in public places around Toronto, with the hopes of sparking
conversations about brain health.” 

Colangelo’s work will be exhibited in July in the Toronto
Online Art Fair
. He shows his work in Florida, Ontario, British
Columbia and New York.

Patina Perfection

What is a patina? This term is typically used to describe the greenish or brown film on the surface of various metals such as copper, brass, and bronze. The colour and texture is produced by exposure and oxidation over a long period of time. Common examples are the beautiful copper roofs of churches and government buildings which have slowly transformed from their shiny new copper finish to the aged, iconic green or “verdigris” colour.

A large part of my artistic process relies on the oxidative properties of copper to create colour and texture. However, instead of waiting years and years to observe these chemical changes, I use stronger patinas to expedite the process. Some of these chemical concoctions remain a trade secret, while others are as common as household vinegar, and other mild acids. 

The copper in the image above has been left to oxidize in a well ventilated room for about a week using various chemical formulas. When I’m happy with the results, I seal the copper with a few coats of clear lacquer in order to preserve the colour and texture.

The result is a very unique patina. Rich in various blue tones, with a bit of turqoiuse scattered throughout. Almost glacial-like. 

Copyright Adam Colangelo ©
All rights reserved.
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