It’s the ultimate compliment when the person you’ve done a portrait of acknowledges you. But when the person is a celebrity and over 100 thousand of his fans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram give their seal of approval as well, you find yourself thrust into an international spotlight you didn’t quite expect. And it couldn’t have happened to a more well deserving guy.
Allan Pachino Wallace (and yes, that is his legal name) normally challenges himself between being commissioned for various projects in his native Bahamas. His challenge last week was to create a salt portrait of Kevin Hart on his dining room table. After posting it to his Facebook page, his art took on a life of its own as folks shared, reshared and began tagging Kevin Hart’s celebrity pages to check out the piece. Eventually, the power of social media proved strong enough when pages with major followings began resharing the photo and finally, Hart himself gave him a shout out and thanked him for the work.
“Wow I’m just now seeing this….This artist is amazing. I can’t believe that he did this with salt….I’m blown away,” Hart tweeted.
“It was mind blowing,” Wallace said when friends alerted him that Hart shared it. “I felt really blessed. I am artist and I want people to like my work. I appreciate when people admire the work I put in. What made it overwhelming was that the subject of the piece (Kevin Hart) liked it as well.”
“Well I believe he is a brilliant artist,” Wallace said when asked why he chose Hart for his subject. “He is the topic of interest in barbershops, tattoo parlors, playgrounds, but more than that I am just a huge fan.”
Wallace added: “In one of Kevin’s shows he stepped to the crowd with a note from the heart; he was very emotional about the fact that he was among the elite few to perform in Madison Square Garden. Of course this isn’t anywhere close to that, but the feeling is the same. I’m an artist living my dream, doing what I want to do. It’s like one day I woke up and the ‘light’ is in my face, it feels good.”
Kevin Hart isn’t the only salt masterpiece that Wallace has done. He’s also created pieces of American President Barrack Obama, sports icon Muhammed Ali and entertainer Kanye West. However, Wallace decided to do a video showing various stages of creating his work on Hart.
“In the past, I have dealt with people wondering whether or not I do certain things,” he explained with a laugh. “I work in so many different mediums and it’s kind of like an insurance policy. It answers the questions of how did the work got done. Funny you asked that because after viewing some of the comments it received, I am happy I did the video because there were a lot of questions, like “Did he use black salt?”
Thanks to Hart fans, Americans are now getting a taste of what Bahamians have known for some time – that Wallace is a prolific artist who has been on the scene most of his life.
“Between the ages of two and three years, I used to sit and watch my uncle draw,” Wallace recalls. “But when I really knew I had talent was when I was in the first grade and I was asked to draw a boy on the chalkboard and everyone was surprised it wasn’t a stick figure.”
“To be concise, art is my life,” Wallace stated. “It is what I do. Bahamians know me as ‘the muralist’, because a lot of my artwork is in public spaces. Those who don’t know me by name probably know my work. They know me as the chameleon of art. I work in so many different mediums , forms and styles. I love to push the envelope. I just love to create. I love surrealism, impressionism and realism I love it all.”
Visitors to The Bahamas may looks at murals downtown, in their hotels and in the international airport and wonder if it is something created by Wallace. Chances are, they might by right. However, there are many opportunities to meet him especially his work is prominently displayed at the Central Bank of The Bahamas and National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB).
“Yes I do have works at both of these institutions,” he says. “I won the Central Bank competition twice and also my art was featured at several shows at the NAGB including their inaugural show.”
“About a week ago, I was chosen as their artist of the month,” he smiles. “I’m kinda having a good week. In addition, my work is displayed at the Government House, the airport, hotels and restaurants and in private collections.”
As for now, Wallace may be not be using too much of that Morton salt (which by the way is manufactured from salt ponds in the southern Bahamas). While his wife uses the dining room table for its original intent, Wallace will be busy on several projects.
“I am working on my art show titled ‘Vanity’ for December 11, 2015,” he says. “Then I have ‘Freestyle Outside the Lines’, which is a live art performance in aid of charity that focuses on getting school supplies for art students. This will be at Pompey Square downtown Nassau, on August 27, 2015, 11-7pm. Then I will be doing set design for the upcoming 20th Bahamas Annual International Culture, Wine and Food Festival and I have a live art performance at the AIDS Foundation of Bahamas, Annual Red Ribbon Ball.”
“If the opportunity arises, especially in light of your international publicity, will you consider doing live salt creations or even coming to the U.S?” I ask.
“Hell yeah!” he laughs. “Sure why not? I really appreciate all that is happening right now. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that my inspiration comes directly from God. That’s who I believe in. He directs my path. I have a very supportive family who has let me do what I do from day one. Also, I have the greatest partner and cheerleader in the world, my wife Kereen.”
As we conclude our interview, I have to ask Wallace to confirm what is suspected when people hear his name.
“Yes it’s my birth name,” he laughs. “My mother was a huge fan. I am a fan as well. I always get that question, but I’m not mad at it because he’s such a great artist. I mean come on… ‘The Devil’s Advocate’? Wow! But again… it is my birth name.”
Even though his website is under construction, Allan Pachino Wallace has been getting a whole lot of hits on his @allanpachino Instagram and Allan Pachino Wallace Facebook handles. Of course, there are very few critics saying they don’t think his portraits may not be perfect. But if the subject agrees the work is excellent, maybe those critics are just plain salty.