At one point the Akron’s B.F. Goodrich Tire Factory employed over 30,000 people, encompassed 165 acres of floor space and even had its own fire department. Things are a bit quieter as I ascended the six floors alone in a freight elevator on March 13. B.F. Goodrich sold the factory in the 1980s after it exited the rubber industry, but this building isn’t all silent. New businesses and individuals moved into the factory after Goodrich’s departure to give it a second life.
One of these individuals is John Comunale; an Akron native who has been operating out of the old B.F. Goodrich Factory, now known as Canal Place, since 1991. He has 3,200 square feet on the sixth floor from which he operates his business Comunale Sculptural Concepts.
You might be more aware of Comunale’s work than you realize. His pieces dot the Akron landscape from the metal Zippy Sculpture outside of the Exchange Street McDonalds, to the clock that hangs on the Everett Building on South Main Street. Some of Comunale’s other work includes the sign outside Bricco, the Mocha Maiden sign and even restoration work done on the urns at the Mayer Building.
Comunale says his most recent works really put his abilities to the test. “I was working for 450 hours in about 6 weeks,” he said. The works that required so much attention are two 7-foot high-heeled shoes, one green one pink, made out of Styrofoam and fiberglass. Comunale constructed the shoes for a Barbie exhibit called, “BarbieTM Life in the Dreamhouse,” currently on display in Berlin.
Comunale may be best known for his sculpture and sign work around Akron, but he does more than just that. He says that, “I’m Comunale Sculptures, but I don’t get to sculpt all that often.” Much of his time is spent creating custom railings for clients or on commissioned projects like the shoes.
In addition to creating railings, sculpture, and signs Comunale says he is trying to get the word out about his restorations talents. He says he believes there are a lot of people out there with worn religious icons and old statuary who just aren’t sure where to take it. Comunale said he began to think about this when he did repair work on an old plaster crucifix. “The owners told me they had a heck of a time finding anyone who could repair it,” he said. This isn’t the oldest thing Comunale has worked with either. He says that title belongs to a 7th century seated Hindu sculpture that had been marred by black paint.
Comunale’s wide range of work is testament to his talents. Living a life that has allowed him to create movie props, sculpture, and now even giant high heels Comunale says, “I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been able to develop my skills and get to where I am and stay in business for 20 years.” You can view Comunale’s work at www.comsculpt.com or contact him at 330-376-2247 if you have any interest in commissioning him for one of his many talents.
By: Michael Crossland