Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Creations Underway: a Q & A with Artist Susann D’Antonio

Susann and Bob D’Antonio, partners in life and in art since the 1980’s, are widely recognized for more than 25 years of fabulous 3D Fantesy Fest costumes. This year they bring their talent and vision to the May 6 Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade in the form of Ben-HER.

Creative rebels and rabble-rousers take note— Key West Art & Historical Society wants you now! The 2nd Annual Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade is ready to roll through downtown Key West from 12:00PM-1:00PM on May 6, and like any good parade, the more registrants, the merrier! The family-friendly cavalcade of art-inspired, human-powered, mobile sculptures and art bikes promises a kaleidoscope of kinetic conveyances that celebrate imagination, innovation, and the clever sense of satire and recycled metal sculptures of pioneering folk artist Stanley Papio.

This year’s parade promises a plethora of spectacular registrants from the community at large and select entrants who applied for sponsorships and scholarships—school groups led by Kinetic Coaches, a Grand Marshal we’ll all recognize, and more than a dozen Papio Ambassadors, including long-time islanders and creative favorites Susann and Bob D’Antonio.

The couple met in the Keys in the early 80s and have been a creative powerhouse since— Susann creating and showing her mixed media work at Frangipani Gallery, Key West Art Center, and Artists in Paradise, Bob creating steel sculptures and music, and running their custom frame shop Framing in Paradise on Big Pine Key. Together they have built spectacular kinetic Fantasy Fest “costumes” on wheels for more than 25 years—Bob building the steel framework and Susann covering them with fabrics, sequins, and anything else she can find to bring the creatures to life.

This year, they bring their talent forward as Papio Parade Ambassadors with “Ben-HER,” a gladiatrix in a chariot pulled by seahorses and some Papio-esque political commentary. KWAHS caught up with them as they prepared their creation for this year’s parade to help offer you some inspiration in getting your own entry started!

KWAHS: How do you weave in the Papio mindset of recycling, social commentary, and wit with a kinetic twist?

Susann D’Antonio: This piece is recycled bits from a past Fantasy Fest entry. We did Ben-HER many years ago and still had a couple of the seahorses which will be redone for this version. A chariot will be built on top of an old three-wheel bike. We have not begun construction yet, but will be pulling from our stash of materials to create this Ben-HER. There will be some natural material used as well like fan palm fronds. There may be a bit of political commentary here too, which was a large part of Papio’s work. Women as champions and heroes is certainly the underlying theme.

KWAHS: What do you think about Stanley Papio?

Susann D’Antonio: Though we have both lived in the keys since the 70s, I don’t remember Papio or his Art Yard from that time, but I do remember the opening at Fort East Martello when the pieces had been acquired by the Art & Historical Society. Bob did visit Papio’s yard in the 70s and specifically remembers the chrome woman sculpture that is in the Custom House. They are all amazing creative pieces and it is great that they were able to be preserved, displayed (at Fort East Martello) and cared for the way they deserve.

KWAHS: Do you have a favorite Papio piece?

Susann D’Antonio: I have always really liked the woman piece at the top of the stairs at the Custom House. I think it is a perfect location for such a stately lady, the grand dame of Papio’s work. But the Rabbit and the Preacher are amazing as well; it’s tough to pick a favorite since they all have so much creativity and humor, and I think that’s what the Keys are all about.

KWAHS: What did you like about last year’s parade and what inspired you to do this year’s?

Susann D’Antonio: Unfortunately we were not able to participate last year, but not because we didn’t want to – we just ran out of time. But we did acquire the bike we will be using last year from someone who was getting rid of it. This is a fabulous concept – I love everything about it, the creativity, the homage to a unique artist, a parade and an excuse to get silly and have fun, what else could you ask for!

It’s not too late to make your own kinetic sculpture float or art bike creation—register online now or at the parade. For Parade registration information, event schedule, and entry guidelines, visit The Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of the Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. Additional support provided by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, Historic Tours of America, Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina and Southernmost Beach Café. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.

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