Hacer is a sculptor originally from California. He creates larger-than-life colorful origami-inspired sculptures that look as light as paper but easily weigh up to four thousand pounds.
Hacer was raised by a caring foster parent Arnold Spargur until he was about seven years old when Arnold suddenly died. He was then shuffled between foster care, toxic living arrangements with his aunt and uncle, and a life-threatening episode with his biological mother’s second husband. His father was dying of AIDS in prison and lamented the rejection of his son but it was late for reconciliation. Despite a tough childhood, Hacer had learned how to make origami during his time with Arnold. Not only did he remember how to create origami, he also invented new shapes and forms. Adulthood came quickly for Hacer, as he moved out of necessity from his biological mother’s home when he was barely sixteen. He quickly found a job in food delivery and an apartment. Los Angles, at that time, was a difficult place to live with smog and pervasive gang crime.
He persevered, and he knew he wanted a meaningful life. He was looking for a sign and found it in art, Calder’s Four Arches. He knew then he wanted to make sculptures too. He loved Calder’s color choice of vibrant red-orange and he enjoyed watching people walk under and through the sculpture. He enrolled in Los Angeles Trade Technical College, where he studied welding, and his instructor Lisa Legohn allowed him to work on his art. While studying and making art, he met his wife, Ashley. After his studies, he honed his skills and worked on sculptures for Jeff Koons and Ellsworth Kelly as an art fabricator with Peter Carlson of Carlson & Co.
Fast forward to 2020, Hacer, his wife Ashley, and their children traveled from Los Angeles to upstate New York to pick up a recreational vehicle in the Albany area. While on the road, Ashley surprised Hacer with a visit to Alexander Calder’s home in Roxbury, Connecticut, and they fell in love with the place. I can understand why. It is picturesque, seasonally verdant, sparsely populated, and situated in the foothills of the Berkshires. After returning to Los Angeles, they still dreamed about a move to Roxbury. They landed in the neighboring town of Bridgewater. It is an attractive rural town with pastoral views, a quaint Lilliput downtown with antique buildings and homes.
Hacer proves that one does not have to come from a particular background to become successful. He has what matters: talent, foresight, an excellent internal compass, the willingness to shed one's past for better, determination, and love for his wife and children. His story is a testament to the importance of art education and public art.
Earlier this year, I caught up with Hacer at the Bridgewater Village Store and Bistro, and I had a chance to see some of his colorful sculptures in the sculpture garden at his home and a peek at Hacer’s extensive book collection devoted to Calder, his favorite artist. One such book was Calder’s Universe by Jean Lipman. I look forward to seeing a book on Hacer's sculptures in the near future. For now, let's learn more about his journey.
What was it like working on Ellsworth Kelly and Jeff Koon’s sculptures?
Helping Ellsworth Kelly and Jeff Koons fabricate some of their sculptures was a highlight of my life when I worked as a welder and metal art fabricator at Peter Carlson, of Carlson & Co. It was exciting to work on such sculptures, and it was also an intense, learning experience. I enjoyed working on the fabrication of White Curve for Kelly and the Balloon Dog and Rabbit for Koons. What I liked best about working on Jeff's sculptures was that he was always looking for ways to improve and make the sculptures better. It was a humbling experience. It made me look at my process and pushed me to do better.
Working with Kelly, I learned more about the artist in me. The craftsmanship of Kelly's sculptures is magic. You are not supposed to see how difficult it is to make something look simple. It takes a lot of confidence for an artist to say, hey, I want this clean curve. Kelly has explored this simple concept throughout his career. Working with Kelly gave me a fresh perspective, helped me fine-tune my ideas for sculptures, and I began to understand how an artist's mind works.
What was Kelly like?
I'm very grateful to have met Ellsworth Kelly. He was very generous in talking to younger artists and me in my role at Peter Carlson. He freely gave me advice on how to manage my life and how to maximize my career. I think the last time I spoke with him, he was ninety years old, and he was still ambitious, excited, and filled with energy telling me about his next piece, and he was still striving for bigger, and bolder.
What is your favorite part of creating your sculptures?
If I had to pick a favorite part of creating a sculpture, it would be the napkin sketch. It is when I have to sketch a new idea while still fresh in my mind. I enjoy the energy of this first step of the creative process.
What do you find beautiful?
I find innocent curiosity the most beautiful thing.
For example, when a young kid asks a question, not just about my art but about animals, cars, or anything.
What was your most proud moment?
There are a lot of moments to be proud of with my career but to have my first public art installation where I studied was a huge achievement. It is a sculpture of a Pegasus, titled Education Gives You Wings to Fly and it is situated just down the street from Calder’s Four Arches, the artwork that inspired me to study at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
How should sculpture be placed in a garden?
So, it feels like a discovery when one comes upon it. It needs space to breathe and to live well with its placement in the garden with trees, and shadows.
How are you enjoying living in Connecticut?
I’m really enjoying Connecticut. Moving here is probably one of the best decisions I could have made for myself and my family.