Gulfport metal artist Frank Strunk III sat down for a casual and candid Catalyst Sessions interview Friday, in advance of the virtual opening of his latest exhibit, Pandemia, tonight (Saturday, Sept. 5).
The exhibit is a collection of 20 masks that echo the eerie, bird-like look of masks worn by physicians in times of plague. “My understanding of them is that many people though the disease was spread through odor,” the artist explained. “And so they would take these masks, and put various herbs and things that smelled good in the long snouts, to defeat this.”
A self-taught artist, Strunk talked about working with metal, and why as a medium he bonded with it (his earliest artistic attempts were as a photographer, followed by sculpting with wood and concrete, leftovers he discovered at construction sites).
“I’m not a certified welder or anything, but I’m a competent metal fabricator,” he said. “I was working on this construction crew in Tampa, we were just about done for the day. We were up on this roof, and I saw sparks flying four or five yards away. A crew of metal fabricators were installing a metal post for a gazebo.”
He asked if he could watch, they said sure, and he was fascinated. And he asked questions. And so the story of Frank Strunk III began.
“I don’t know who said it, but you have to be willing to be bad at something for a very long time until you can become good at it. And I was bad, for a long time. My welds were awful. But I wanted to learn it so bad, I just kept at it.”
View Pandemia here at 7 p.m. Saturday.
On the next Catalyst Sessions – Tuesday, Sept. 8: American Stage producing artistic director Stephanie Gularte.
Streaming weekdays at 7 p.m. on the Catalyst Facebook page. All episodes are archived on our YouTube page.