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Oakland Artist Does Big Things For Bay Area Art World

Karen Cusolito creates larger-than-life figures out of salvaged steel; some 40 ft. tall and higher. It is what she has done for the Oakland art scene, though, that may be her most important work to date

By Garvin Thomas
|  Wednesday, May 22, 2013  |  Updated 10:28 AM PDT
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Karen Cusolito not only creates larger-than-life sculptures, she's a larger-than-life force in the Bay Area art world.

Karen Cusolito not only creates larger-than-life sculptures, she's a larger-than-life force in the Bay Area art world.

 Karen Cusolito grew up in New England. She says moving to California almost twenty years ago was like finally taking off a tight, constricting sweater. Karen, an artist, loved the wide-open expanses of the west.

That feeling of "bigness" eventually crept into Karen's art.

She is now famous for her 40-plus foot tall figures made out of salvaged steel. But it was her hunt for a space to create her larger-than-life figures that may be Karen's most important contribution to the Bay Area art scene.

In 2005, Karen walked into the vacant American Steel warehouse in West Oakland. The six-acre building was completely empty.

It is anything but empty now. More than160 artists are working out of American Steel Studios, creating fascinating (and sometimes flaming) works of art.

To see just what an amazing scene it is inside American Steel Studios, watch Garvin Thomas' story above.

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