By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
FRANKLIN — A larger-than-life image of Donald Trump, pieced together from old auto body parts, has been drawing a lot of attention to the Toad Hall art studio on this city's Central Street.
Created by Joe Kildune, who two years ago started turning out sculpture art from the unlikely material, the Trump image went viral a few weeks ago when it was posted on Facebook along with smaller sculptures of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders beside it.
"It got hundreds of views the first day and people from all over were commenting about it," said Kildune."If I'd known it was going to cause such a sensation I would have put it up earlier, while Trump was campaigning in New Hampshire."
The Trump sculpture features an obviously angry orange-complexioned Trump looking like he's about to tear into an opponent and has the famous comb-over.
"I spent a lot of time on this, and from the reaction people have had, I think it got it right," said Kildune.
He's also happy with the Hillary Clinton sculpture with its smile and apple cheeks, but thinks he was off the mark with Bernie Sanders.
He says that it's kind of unusual, from his perspective, that the Trump sculpture turned out the best.
"I've always been a Democrat," he said. "That's part of my Irish heritage. The Kildunes came to Boston from Ireland in 1922.'"
Kildune, who grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is a graduate of the Montserrat School of Visual Arts and spent 23 years as a designer for General Tire and Rubber, 12 of those as art director. While there, he created six patents for the firm for manufacturing techniques in embossing and engraving that he invented.
He also designed auto interiors and interior decorations and wall coverings for hotels, banks, casinos and restaurant chains while working in New York City, and says that, after years as a commercial artist, he decided four years ago that he wanted to get back into the fine arts again.
And he thinks he has found the area that he wants to concentrate on, rescuing plastic automotive parts from the landfill and recycling them into art. As he sees it, those discarded parts which most people view as junk are really hidden treasures just waiting to be transformed into vibrant visual art.
He works days at AutoServ in Tilton and evenings at the Franklin art studio, and said he got the idea for creating the sculptures while at the car dealership.
"'There was whole pile of parts in a dumpster at the AutoServ collision center and I grabbed one of the bumpers and took it back to my studio in Gilford, where I hit it it with some heat and started reshaping it. I like working with the material. It's rigid but flexible and you can shape it into whatever your vision is and create really interesting works. My mind's eye sees flowing forms bent and intertwined, created in abstract but recognizable statues, no longer trash but now embodying a life of its own,'' said Kildune.
"A lot of thought, design and engineering created these parts, which are really something like the human figure, dynamic and symmetrical. The eye can see a resemblance in automobiles to life forms: insects, marine animals, a mirrored equal design, eye sockets which once shrouded running lights, a grille now a mouth agape, graceful turned forms finishing into refined wings,"' said Kildune.
He said larger sculptures attracted a lot of attention at his first show two years ago, including a one about 15 feet high, which he said was inspired by Pee Wee Herman's dance performance to the song '"Tequila."
Today, his creations fill the display area at Toad Hall and he's managed to attract quite a lot of attention from those looking for unusual art.
"I've made a few good sales of larger sculptures and that helps keep me going," said Kildune.
He describes himself as ''a free spirit'' who has had a fun life.
''We've got to enjoy it while we're here," he said. "One of the things I enjoy the most is talking about art with my daughter, Kailey, who is a graduate of the Parsons School of Art in New York City and does illustration and animation there."
Joseph Kildune stands next to his sculpture of Donald Trump which he made from recycled auto parts and is on display at the Toad Hall Art Gallery in downtown Franklin. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)