The artist's work will be displayed at an art festival in Colorado.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Township resident Tom Antonishak's basement is home to dogs, cats, wolves, birds of prey, the upturned feet of a small child and two 7-foot-tall men armed for battle -- just to mention a few inhabitants.
Each bronze or clay rendition in the sub-level art studio stands quietly in its own section of the room, caught in a frame of movement that usually speaks volumes about the person or thing it was made to replicate. Some point and stare at an unseen object in the distance, others are running or jumping, and still others -- as in the case of the upturned feet, exist without implied motion.
Antonishak has spent countless hours over the past several years creating the sculptures and paintings in his personal collection. Now the lifelong area resident and artist will take a small sample of his work to be recognized at what promoters are calling the world's largest outdoor sculpture show in Loveland, Colo., on Friday and Saturday.
Mahoning Valley residents have already been exposed to much of Antonishak's work. Two bronze children with open books next to a trickle of water outside Poland library were born in Antonishak's studio. Pieces throughout the library and a fountain in Mill Creek Park are also Antonishak creations.
One of Antonishak's latest and greatest creations -- 16 months in the making -- is the 7-foot rendition of two Polish generals who assisted the U.S. colonies in the war for independence. Poland was named in honor of the two men, General Thaddeus Kosciuszko and General Casimir Pulaski.
After he finishes the piece, at an estimated cost of $80,000, Antonishak said it will be placed somewhere in Poland Village. Village leaders have approved placement of the figure, but an exact location has not been determined.
Antonishak now enjoys the life of a full-time, self-employed artist, but he was moved in that direction by an economic downturn in the area. He was once employed as an art director for a local advertising company.
"When the steel mills closed, the loss of jobs eventually trickled down to me, and that is when I got into the finer arts. It was either that or leave the area," he said. "This is fun. It sure beats working on an assembly line."
Antonishak started painting in the mid-'80s and found his knack for sculpting about four years ago. He went to an art show in Pennsylvania with a lump of clay to create something on the spot. When he finished, a buyer was already lined up.
He'll do the same at the Colorado show, where he also plans to show about 12 of his finished pieces.
Antonishak said 80 percent of his work is now sculpting. His enjoyment of the art is obvious:
"This is something down and dirty that you do with your hands," he said. "What's amazing is that you put all this time and energy into it, but once they are metal they take on a life of their own."