Born in Shanghai of Italian parents, 81-year-young Mark di Suvero embodies the steely resolve and expansive humanity that characterizes the best Big Apple success stories. After studying philosophy and art at Berkeley, di Suvero came to New York to make sculpture. In his late twenties, he suffered severe spinal injuries in a construction accident. In response, he learned how to operate a crane and use an electric arc welder. He has been creating lithe and towering sculptures ever since, recently saying, “What I’ve tried, is to have the joy of spirit out of steel.” And he has found it over and over again, no more so than in 1986, when he headed a drive to reclaim an illegal dump site in Queens in order to create Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City; 718-956-1819; socratessculpturepark.org), a welcoming home for the work of emerging sculptors ever since.