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Local Welder Turns Steel Into Art

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - It started 15 years ago, just about the same time that Domenico Belli moved into the log cabin on Hawley Road. He was watching a TV show about Italy when "something caught my eye," he said. "I went down to the workshop and worked for three of four hours making things up."

And so Belli, who works in the maintenance department of the Westchester County Parks Commission, mostly as a welder, discovered a latent talent. He creates metal sculptures from recycled materials, simply using a hammer, an anvil and a torch.

Belli displayed his first piece of metal sculpture at Pound Ridge’s annual October Art Show. He still enters the Pound Ridge show, but his horizons have expanded. Now he enters about 25 shows a year and sells about 100 sculptures, priced from $30 to $4500. One of his pieces is displayed at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, placed between the upper and lower parking lots. It is a sculpture of a turkey.

Most of his subjects are animals, flowers, birds, fish. “Sure, I take commissions,” he responded when asked, “as long as you like the way I do the work.”

People often stop by when they see the many sculptures displayed on his lawn. Belli greets them in the traditional Italian fashion, offering espresso or a glass of wine at the picnic table. Almost everyone ends up buying something.

Dominico Belli was born into a family of metalworkers in Patrica, Italy, 35 miles south of Rome. His great-grandfather opened a metal shop and it stayed in the family. When he was 14 his father gave him a choice: school or work. “Books were not for me,” he said, “so I became a welder.”

In 1975, when Belli was 18, the family left Italy and settled down in the Arthur Avenue region of the Bronx.

When he got his job with the County Parks System, he was eligible to rent the log cabin, which is actually located on Mountain Lakes Park property, at the Hawley Street entrance. It is the log cabin surrounded by metal art. Stop by -- have an espresso -- and admire the artwork.

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