Joseph Casalino, Jr.

Sculptor
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Joseph Casalino, Jr.

Joseph Casalino, Jr.

Joseph Casalino, Jr. was born and raised in New York City, N.Y. Both his parents had immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the early 1900’s. Art was an important part of his growth years, since both his parents were artistically inclined.
His mother, a painter and sculptor, taught Art in the New York City Public School System. His father, who had been apprenticed to his father, was a carver of fine wooden furniture. He went on to own and operate a large Plastics Injection Molding company in Queens, L.I., N.Y. Thanks to him, during his free times in high school and college, Joseph also learned a trade, Plastic Injection Moldmaking. This would come in handy later in his life.
Artistically, Joseph was a late bloomer and did not realize his potential until he took a required Art class at Hofstra University. From there, it was just finding the medium in which to concentrate. Two of the professors that were teaching Sculpture there, were well known metal sculptors. The first was David Jacobs, who was working in ‘sound sculptures’, a mixture of motion, sound and welded aluminum shapes.
The other was Jason Seeley, who employed scrap, chrome plated car bumpers to create his works. Both their mediums intrigued Joseph. He began spending his free time in the Sculpture Dep’t. At the same time, he was introduced to David Smith’s work in an Art History class and that solidified his choice.
He applied for and was chosen to be Undergraduate and then Graduate Assistant in the Sculpture Dep’t. This allowed him to both assist the instructors and delve deeper into sculpture. Since, both instructors worked in metals, there was a fully equipped metal/welding shop in the Sculpture Department. Joseph taught himself to weld. He was offered an opportunity to teach a Saturday class for artistically talented High School students during that time. He continued teaching that class until 1974.
He fondly remembers the first day that he went to a steel scrap yard near the college. The unlimited possibilities just piled there were mind boggling. Actually, he still gets that same feeling when he goes to collect his materials, today.
He began exhibiting in New York City in 1967. He received a commission from the Window Display Group at Bloomingdale’s Department Store. Due to the positive comments from that commission, he was invited to exhibit 6 of his sculptures in their ‘Fall Themed Windows’ and 4 pieces in the Furniture Department. In 1969, Joseph had a one man show at the Avanti Gallery in Manhattan, one of the sculptures shown there, was taken into Permanent Collection by Fordham University.
In 1970, he had another One-man show at the Firehouse Gallery of Nassau Community College. After completing the work on his Master’s Degree, Joseph had planned to pursue his sculpting while teaching. But, in the early 1970’s an Art teaching job was difficult to find even with a Master’s Degree. Luckily, he had his trade to fall back on. He went to work as a Plastic Injection Moldmaker. In 1974, Joseph met and married his wife, Miki.
She had graduated from the University of Utah with a Degree in Ballet and was dancing with Ballet West, at the time. They decided to move to Salt Lake City.
He had contacted a local Tool and Die Company before they moved and they offered him a job, which he took. A short while after they arrived here, Miki, opened her own Ballet School, Casalino School of Creative Arts. In 1976, Joseph was hired by Salt Lake Community College to teach Welding and Machine Shop, in their after-school program called ‘Project Cooperation’. This Federally Funded program was aimed towards teaching at-risk High School students a trade. He continued teaching there until the funding was lost three years later.
In 1978, he applied for and was hired as a Plastic Injection Moldmaker at Sorenson Research. In 1981, Sorenson Research was acquire by Abbott Laboratories. The Salt Lake facility continued as part of Abbott until 2003, when it was purchased by ICU Medical. In August 2008, Joseph retired from there after spending 30 years working in the same facility.
In the years between 1974 to 2008, he maintained his artistic talents in two ways. Firstly, the hands-on creativity required to build Plastic Injection Molds was closely related to his sculpting in steel. Secondly, he assisted in designing and building the stage sets that were required in the Spring Programs of Miki’s Ballet School, until she closed it in 1999.
During all the years that he was working as a Moldmaker, people would ask him “what are your plans for after you retire?” His answer- “return to my sculpture”. Fortunately, Joseph has reached that point and is now back to creating his Welded Steel Sculptures.
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