CUSTOM WORK: Paul Amaral, owner of Amaral Custom Fabrications in Bristol, with a sculpture behind him by 1960s pop artist Roy Lichtenstein that the company recently repainted. Amaral worked with Lichenstein for two years before his death in 1997.
Small models of sculptures often become very large works of art at Amaral Custom Fabrications.
“I get models that are 12 inches tall and I’m told they need to be 30 feet,” said owner Paul Amaral.
He’s worked on projects ranging from monumental outdoor sculptures for internationally known artists, to building a bathhouse located on a Utah hillside and making dozens of 6-foot-tall versions of Mr. Potato Head for Hasbro Inc., used in a tourism campaign to promote Rhode Island as a family vacation destination.
The size of the artworks fabricated in his shop, as well as the quantity, convinced Amaral to expand from the 12,000-square-foot Seekonk building with 14-foot ceiling clearance to a 28,000-square-foot facility with 26-foot ceilings in Bristol.
The move from the Seekonk shop, where he launched the business 16 years ago, to expanded quarters in December 2012 was timely.
In January, Amaral got a contract that will range from $500,000 to $1.5 million and allow him to add five to 10 new employees to the current 14 in the next few months.
The contract from the Lichtenstein Foundation is to fabricate an outdoor sculpture that could be as tall as 40 feet. It will utilize skills and materials from the marine industry.
Amaral worked with artist Roy Lichtenstein for two years before his death in 1997. Lichtenstein is well-known for his comic book-style art of the 1960s that’s now in most modern art museums throughout the world. But it was through sculptural pieces Amaral began the lasting relationship with the artist and his foundation.
“Roy had worked with other fabricators since the late 1960s and he never really got the results he wanted until he worked with Merrifield-Roberts. I was the project manager for the job,” Amaral said. Merrifield-Roberts was a Bristol company that closed down a few years ago and was known for fabricating high-end, aluminum racing yachts.
The artist left many models, or maquettes, for pieces of art and his foundation contracted with Amaral to build and store many of them. Amaral has fabricated nearly 100 Lichtenstein pieces of all sizes. Amaral has a contract that requires 10,000 square feet to store the Lichtenstein pieces, a main reason he needed a larger facility, as they come and go from museums around the world.