Area artist Tyzo David Toccalino named to Sculptors Society

This has been a big year for sculptor Tyzo David Toccalino.

He is regaining his strength after a two-year bout with can­cer, he and his wife, Maggie, got married in August, and on Dec. 10 he will have his work on display at the Canadian Sculp­tor Centre in Toronto in a special show­ing. He was chos­en to join the centre – the only sculp­tor to be selected in 2008.

That exhibition runs Dec. 10 to Jan. 9. Because the centre was moving last year, Tocca­lino will be sharing exhibition space with the 2007 nominee, Bastien Martel, of Toronto.

And if all that activity is not enough, the access to his home on Grandview Drive in Fergus is being dug up, and visitors have to be selective about when they arrive – even though the road is supposed to be open to local traffic.

Toccalino’s home is filled with his work – and also with odd shaped and numerous cacti and other plants. He sculpts ex­clusively in soft steel, and there are a number of influences in his work. He also uses old bits of farm machinery and other bits of old metal to create unique pieces that can be stunning as well as decorative.

He has noted that he has always had a fascination with found objects, and he spent many of his formative years beach­combing the shores of Lake Ontario. Henry Moore was an early influence.

Toccalino was born in Oakville in 1950, studied art at Sheridan College there and then accepted an advanced sculp­ture program at St. Law­rence College, in Kingston.

In 1975, he entered four collages and one assemblage into a juried art exhibition a the Fergus Fall Fair, where the late Ken Danby was a juror. All five of Tocca­lino’s pieces were in­cluded in the final exhibition, and Danby offered to act and an esthetic reference for an aid to artist grant.

The following year, his work was accepted at the Tor­onto City Hall Art show.

Still, like many artists, Toc­calino was forced to earn a living outside of his media to support a young family, while still being determined to conti­nue with his work.

He entered a welder-fitter pro­gram and learned to weld metal and received his welder-fitter papers. He got more training and worked at the Bruce nuclear plant for three years, and met the strict stand­ards required by that industry.

He then moved to a com­pany that made manufactured compaction equipment and work­ed in the design, fabrica­tion, and finishing of those products, which turned out to be good training for his art.

From 1992 to he worked fitting and manipulating cast iron and aluminum molds cre­at­ing three-dimensional acoustic insulators for the automo­tive industry. His work can be seen on the hood lines of many cars produced between 1992 and 2002, including the Viper, Prowler, and most Chrysler and General Motors products.

During the 20 years in in­dustry, Toccalino continued to pro­duce metal sculpture, and was in the Fergus-Elora Studio tour a couple of years.

Two years ago, he submit­ted some of this work to the 8th an­nual Emerging Sculptors Ex­hibition and two of them were accepted.

“It was really quite validat­ing for me,” he remembered. He had submitted two very different pieces and they had been created nearly 20 years apart.

It was also around that time that he was diagnosed with can­cer, and he said those gruel­ling bouts of radiation and surgery left him weak.

“I’m still recovering from cancer. I’m still getting my strength back,” he said.

But, with his marriage in August to Maggie, and accep­tance by the society , things are again turning his way.

Dozens of sculptures are scat­tered through his home, some coloured, and others in a metal sheen.

“I do it, I love it – I hope the commissions will come,” he said of his work and his coming show.

He also laughed when he remembered that he took some aptitude tests in 1992 and out of 1,001 possible occupations, “it came up metal sculptor.”

Toccalino will sell  from his home, and people can obtain a viewing at 9 Grandview Ave­nue, off Elora Street. He asks, though, that they call first for an appointment – to ensure they can get through and the timing is right for everyone. He can be reached at 519-843-5472.