Foam Alone

Mario Del Castillo ain't Picasso, but Picasso never worked in a medium usually reserved for packing material

These days his graceful designs and precise company logos (everything from Budweiser and Pepsi to Avianca and Goya) are much in demand for outdoor concert stages. The flamingos and pastel-colored musical instruments on display at Hialeah Park are his.

Del Castillo's technique of cutting, shaping, and painting seems almost instantly to transform wispy white Styrofoam into exotic tropical images. With charcoal, he quickly draws a rough outline. Then, setting off a Styrofoam blizzard, he uses a knife or electric saw to cut a form. The finish work is done with a variety of sandpaper-covered tubes and sticks. He's reticent about revealing specifics about paint or other trade secrets; people have been known to show up at his house innocently inquiring about materials and techniques, after which stabs at his creations appear, with inferior results. "I know what I do," says the foam maestro, his eyes narrowing. "Many people think they know, but their logos don't come out right.

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