Paul Cassidy grew up in southeastern Minnesota and runs his own excavating business.
About 10 years ago, he began to collect scrap metal, old equipment and other old parts and pieces that would otherwise be demolished and discarded. He believed the spare parts still had a useful life.
In 2008, he started crafting large sculptures from recycled materials. In 2012, Cassidy competed in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich., with his first entry, the sculpture “Scrappy Dick,” placing in the top 25 out of more than 250 competitors.
Last month, his first abstract sculpture was chosen by Art on the Ave. organizers for permanent display in Slatterly Park. He answered questions recently about his art.
What is your thought process when building a sculpture?
It’s my passion to recycle the mundane and ordinary into something creative and inspiring. Recycling old, mundane things into something cool that people appreciate is fun. I enjoy doing it. If you can take something like an old LP tank and turn it into a bench that looks like lips. Well, I enjoy it.
What kind of supplies do you use?
Anything metallic you can weld. I also use stone and plastic, whatever is available. I generally don’t buy new steel. I like to use recycled stuff that I have out here. A lot of times, you will have to take stuff apart to get the little piece you need out of it. And there’s something in that too, where you get to see the craftsmanship someone put into something. Whoever built the original probably never thought it would be art someday.
How big of honor was it for you to have your artwork chosen by Art on the Ave?
That was cool to have something that I’ve made, designed, to be permanently mounted in Rochester, in your hometown. I was all into that.
Do you remember the first major piece of art you finished?
The dragon at the end of my driveway. My son, Anthony, wanted to learn how to weld, and he was visiting back here from his home in Jackson, Wyo., and we didn’t have anything broke at the time, so we came up with an idea to build a dragon. It took us about a week to complete the original dragon and three months to finish the gate. That’s what got the entire thing started, my son wanting to weld.