An artist at work, for as long as he can

Published January 25 2018
Updated January 25 2018

Donald Gialanella dons a welding mask and stands on a ladder to join pieces of metal at his studio in Pinellas Park. A figure of a head takes shape as he maneuvers his torch, and the metal crackles and burns.

Gialanella, 62, uses discarded items, such as the gears of a transmission, to sculpt large-scale figures, animals and humans. His works are installed all over the country, mostly in public places. He came to Florida in November 2015, moving from California.

Months later, he was diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease, a neurodegenerative disorder with no cure.

Now, heís racing against the inevitable.

"If the time comes when I canít weld, Iíll figure out another way," he says.

He is inspired by Chuck Close, one of his painting idols, who continues to create despite spinal damage, using a paintbrush strapped to his wrist.

"With people like that in mind, itís possible."