Vevay Newspapers unveils new sculpture by Tony Catanzaro

398

The old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Vevay’s Tony Catanzaro has taken that statement to the next level, using the “trash” of others to create environmentally-friendly pieces of artwork for the enjoyment of everyone.

Tony Catanzaro’s latest piece is his first commissioned work, and is sitting in front of the Vevay Newspapers office on Market Street. The sculpture depicts a turn of the Century paper boy selling his papers on the corner on Christmas Day, the wind blowing his scarf as he holds up the day’s edition.

“It took me about a month to build, working six days a week,” Tony Catanzaro said. “It’s an early 20th Century paper boy out selling his papers on Christmas Day and making a living. He’s probably going to buy his mother a gift with the money he makes.”

The new statue has created a stir around the community, as cars slow as they pass the statue, which is located next to the business sign. Office manager Ginny Leap reports that some motorists have turned around and pulled in front of the newspaper office in order to get a closer look; and many people have come into the office in order to ask about the statue.

Not only is the statue unique, it’s also “green”.

“Most of it is made out of Randy Brown’s water heater,” Tony Catanzaro says with a laugh. “There’s also some roof gutter material and metal roofing in there. It’s partially welded and partially brazed. I’m pretty happy with how it came out.”

Tony Catanzaro says that he doesn’t normally draw out his works of art before beginning; choosing instead to just jump right in and start.

“I just ‘go’,” he says. “Basically when it’s coming along nicely, I know it’s coming along nicely. Other times I have to go back and change things. Like the paper boy’s shoulders. I must have done his shoulders three times just to get them just right. I softened his feet up, too.”

Trained as an engineer, art and sculpting have always been a part of Tony Catanzaro’s life. He said that both his father and brother were accomplished artists, and although his job took up much of his time as he and wife, Peggy, raised their family, he did sculpting projects whenever he could.”

His background also gave him an appreciation for reusing materials rather than working with new things. He recycles nearly every part of every sculpture, and you might be surprised where some of his materials originate.

“A lot of it I find down by the river,” he smiles. “Other stuff people just give to me. I reuse everything. The only new things I use are the welding rods and the brazing rods. Everything else is recycled.”

Tony Catanzaro also finds inspiration from talking with friends and family and members of the community. He said that an idea may just come to him, or someone will mention a particular thing while looking at one of his pieces.

And off he goes.

“Right now I’m working on some sort of mermaid thing,” he says. “Ideas just come to me as I hear people talk about things in general or about experiences from the past. It’s typical of about anybody.”

Tony Catanzaro figures that he’s created about three dozen pieces over the past three years, with items ranging from pieces of art to pieces of furniture.

“It’s non stop,” he says. “Sunday I sold two pieces to a couple from New Albany. I figure I’ve sold about half of the stuff I’ve created.”

The paper boy for the Vevay Newspaper office is, however, his first commissioned work, and he hopes that more businesses and organizations around the community will commission specific pieces to be placed around the community.

As he now enjoys his art fulltime, Tony Catanzaro also laughs about his memories when his art wasn’t as accepted.

“When I was in high school I wanted to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for sculpting, but they told me that I didn’t have any talent,” Tony Catanzaro smiled. “So I went about a mile down the street to Polytech and became an engineer.”

Tony Catanzaro said that he tried to go to Pratt again and do graduate work in 1975, but the school turned him down again.

“Can you believe that?” he laughed. “They still didn’t want me. But that was okay. I just did it on my own.”

As a single man living in Brooklyn (it’s not too far into the conversation that you know that Tony Catanzaro is from Brooklyn), Tony said that he used to make his sculptures out of wood.

His father, Gus Catanzaro, was also a talented artist, but – like his son – he also held down a traditional job to support his family.

“Dad painted mostly,” Tony Catanzaro said. “No teaching, just strictly talent. He was a fisherman by day and an artist any chance he got.”

Tony’s brother, Peter Catanzaro, was also an accomplished artist.

“Peter did a lot of visual work,” Tony said. “He did commercials. Did things for Macy’s. He also did a lot of special effects for horror movies back in the 1970s, before movie makers did all that stuff with computers.”

Peter Catanzaro passed away about 10 years ago; and Gus Catanzaro passed away in 2002.

Along with the art involved in his passions, Tony Catanzaro said that he also has to analyze the metals that he is using in order to construct the piece in the proper way.

He said that the paper boy for the newspaper office is welded as well as brazed.

Welding metal involves actually melting the two pieces together, and once finished the new piece is normally stronger than the two original pieces.

Brazing is more like “glueing” two pieces of metal together, according to Tony Catanzaro. Depending on the type of rod used, different colors and textures and appearances will result.

“I just have fun with it,” he says as he peers up at his latest work. “Something just comes to me and I go out and build it. I do all different sorts of things. I’m willing to try anything.”