Metal kinetic sculptures line Milford street
Metal kinetic sculptures line one street in Milford, courtesy of two local artists — Sonny Cardinali and Mike Galullo.
There is a metal robot and headless creature, which stood sentry outside Cardinali’s house at Halloween time, the perfect headless horseman; a metal fish, a spider, and a huge structure made of metal cups and metal poles that spins when the wind blows.
The two Milford men have been collaborating on their art for several years, and recently decided that if they wanted to display it, they needed the outdoors.
Because most of these pieces need wind to complete the artistic element they were designed for — and that is to move — Cardinali got permission from his East Avenue neighbors in the Bayview Beach section of Milford, to put sculptures on their front lawns.
There are nine pieces on display altogether along the street.
Both men have been working on their crafts for years.
Galullo has been active in Milford art endeavors for years, sometimes painting as part of public art shows; he actually emerged on the public scene in Milford not as an artist but as a man who spoke out about political matters — mainly land use issues.
By trade Galullo is a teacher at the Cider Mill School in Wilton.
He received his bachelor of fine arts from the University of Connecticut in 1981 with a major in printmaking, and then earned his teaching license through Southern Connecticut State University’s teacher certification program. He received a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University in 2001 and taught art at East Hampton Middle School before moving over to Cider Mill School in 1998.
Cardinali, who works at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport as an exhibit technician, said he’s been welding together pieces of metal for years, turning them into creatures, solar systems or whatever strikes his fancy.
He is self-taught, and according to his website, twistingsteel.com, he fell into art by chance after learning how to weld in his garage.
“Welding small pieces together for a local manufacturer, he started seeing other shapes in the metal,” the website states. “He would sit in his garage for hours, thinking up new ways to put the pieces together. After a few weeks, Sonny developed a love for art and has been creating sculpture non-stop ever since.”
He participates in local art exhibits, and has developed a following for his unique steel designs.
Cardinali finds the metal gadgets he’s looking for at junk yards, metal suppliers — and pretty much anywhere else — and he starts putting them together.
“The fish over there is made of a basketball hoop and a rake,” he said, pointing to one of the sculptures in his front yard.
Sometimes he knows what he wants to create before he starts looking for metal objects; other times he starts to collect pieces and sees where the art takes him.
“It goes both ways,” he said, adding that sometimes what he’s envisioned actually changes shape as he builds.
Cardinali also builds and restores motorcycles, so some of the sculptures are bound to have some Harley motorcycle parts mixed in.
Finding metal, cutting metal, bending metal and finally welding the metal are all parts of his craft.
His earlier artwork was constructed and finished with mostly rusted metal objects, that is until Galullo, who lives a couple of streets over, suggested the art might take on another dimension if Cardinali let him paint the pieces.
“It changed the whole look of them,” Cardinali said.
Color can even turn a piece of his friend’s art that Galullo wasn’t really thrilled with into his favorite. The piece called Conversation didn’t appeal to Galullo at first.
“As I was making it he said he didn’t like it,” Cardinali recalled.
But when the pieces were completed, and then Galullo painted them with a black on white pattern on one piece and white on black on the other, the opposing colors made the pieces work together in a different way.
“I like the relationship between the two pieces now,” Galullo said. “They look like they’re talking to each other.”
And because the tops of the pieces move in the wind, they almost seem to bow to each other as they converse.
Galullo gets hold of Cardinali’s creations when they are complete, studies them a bit and then decides on the color scheme.
“It’s like they speak to me,” he said, joking. “They tell me what they want.”
Cardinali adds, ribbing him, “And it takes him a long time to paint them. He must be arguing with them.”
The two men have work in numerous private collections around Connecticut. They also have worked together on very large pieces, including one outside the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, which measures 12 feet by 16 feet.
The art is all for sale, and prices range from $900 to $8,000. All the pieces can be seen in action at the Twisting Steel Productions website, twistingsteel.com.