A tradition at every SAMA mosaic conference is creating a mural during the conference by attendees and donating it to a local charity or non-profit. This year Dawn Mendelson and I were asked to design and lead the Mosaic Marathon for St. Madeleine’s Sophie Center for adults with developmental disabilities. After we took a tour of the class rooms and gardens we decided to create mosaic panels to flank the entry doors and a mosaic over the doors with their name on it. We designed the two panels with playful imagery that represents the different programs that were offered from cooking to gardening to swimming to glass arts and mosaic. The students at St Madeleines created 50 fused glass hearts to celebrate their 50th anniversary along with mosaic flowers and fused glass lady bugs. Over the entry doors we created a pique-assiette signage panel. Water jet cut letters were created to keep the typography crisp in contrast to the background and frame. The final mosaics were a wonderful group effort created and installed in four days.
In 2012 I was commissioned by The Trust For Public Land to create mosaic play sculptures as an alternative to the usual plastic and metal ones for a new park being built in Maywood, Ca. The community voted to make the park a tribute to Mexican President Benito Juarez who was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. For generations Oaxacan families have created exquisitely carved and painted Alebrijes (fantasy dream creatures) that inspired me to bring this tradition to my play structure designs. The limited space of the park ultimately didn’t allow for fall zones around separate sculptures so I ultimately morphed four individual designs into one 40’ long climbing tunnel and slide Alebrije which has one tiger head, one sea monster head and one dragon head coming out of a rubber “pond”. The body opening is large enough to allow a small child in a wheel chair to roll through the belly and come out of the mouth. Water misters in the nostrils of the sea monster allow the kids to play in water when it’s hot.
Two smaller play sculptures were placed at the far end of the “pond”. The first one 5 feet wide and high is a frog hitching a ride on a turtle and the second one is a frog relaxing on a 5 foot diameter lily pad.
I created these pieces from a mix of ceramic and porcelain tile, penny rounds, stone, pebbles, marbles, plates, mirrors, dinner ware, mugs and dichroic glass tile.
This commission evolved in to a three and a half year project from concept to finish. It was also my first experience creating a sculpture of this scale but every challenge became an opportunity to learn and make this mosaic better. With the talents of my amazing team (Lorenzo, Pasqual and Maddy) and guest artists who put their hands and hearts in to this project it became a dream realized culminating in winning the Best In Situ Award at the 2016 Mosaic Arts International annual conference.
Every time I visit my Alebrijes I’m thrilled all over again as I watch the kids playing games on something I created. I thought I had just created a play structure. But what I really did for this community was create inspiration.
I was commissioned to create an entry mosaic for a public park in El Sereno, Ca. The idea of serenity was the guiding force behind this design after meeting with community leaders. I designed a 20 foot diameter mosaic labyrinth path to walk as you enter the park leading to a butterfly representing transformation in the center. The path is composed of a crazy quilt of colors, patterns and textures representing the diversity of this historic area. The park opened in 2013 and is a center for the community to gather and play.
I was asked to be the artist in residence for the Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts by their art and music teachers. The 3rd grade students were learning about saving the Los Angeles River at the time. I decided to stay for the rest of the term instead of just one month so we could develop and create a permanent mural for the school. We started by learning about the history and animals of the river and then creating drawings that related to saving the river. Using their drawings and ideas they learned about the process of make a composition and final drawing. Then we all helped transfer the drawing on the board for the final 4 foot by 10 foot mural. The students came in every day to work on the panels. All other students were welcome so I placed a calendar outside my studio and they filled in spots at 30 minute intervals. I had very generous assistance from the parents. One with welding abilities built a frame while other parents painted the hall and installed lighting. It now resides in the entry hall that leads to the main school room which is a transformed commercial warehouse space composed of shipping containers laid out end to end and stacked painted in primary colors.
I was commissioned in 2011 to turn an ugly column in the children’s room of the South Pasadena Library into a center piece for the librarian’s desk area. The room is an 80’s addition to a late 20’s Carnegie built library. I changed the shape of the column to be thicker with a fluted top and placed a 3D question mark in front to represent questions asked and questions answered. Each side is anchored by black and white panels with Love, Learn, Live and Laugh surrounded by scrabble panels, checker board panels and a sky at the top. Elements representing the subjects found in the library are placed through out the mosaic. Simple 1” glass tiles were used to cover the desk and cabinets to pull the area together with the new column. I am now creating a mosaic for the entry to the children’s room that will be unveiled in June 2016.
This small sculpture is for a Found Object Artists group show at the Snyderman/Works Gallery in Philadelphia, Pa. My concept was to start with the "flaming heart" icon and create a functional piece of art around it. The piece is titled "Don't Cut Your Tongue On The Rhinestones" • A Jewelry Box. A small metal box in the back of the piece holds a button that opens the money drawer with a "BING". When you remove the glass "flame" at the top you find a rosary attached with a silver tongue-milagro at the end of it upon which sits a large Rhinestone. It's my statement about Temptation and the lure of all things Shiny.
The materials start with a working vintage cash-drawer, carved packing foam for the heart and cast iron feet from a small room heater. The surfaces are covered in ceramic tile, glass tiles, Smalti bits, blue mirror, dish ware, bowls, mugs, mirrored bottle bottoms, figurines, miniature soda bottle, salt and pepper shakers, brooches, stick pins, medals, marbles, GM keys, tongue-milagros, rhinestones and a perfume bottle. The removable stopper has red glass beads attached. At the end of the beads is a rhinestone soldered to the tip of a tongue-milagro.
DIMENSIONS: Heart: 20" Wide X 20" deep X 28" high • Price upon request through Snyderman/Works Gallery • 215.238.9576
When a new patio was created for the side of the house a new entry was needed. Where a small window once let in very little light a pair of french doors were installed and I created a side light bottle window and a mosaic surround along with a mosaic step to the new patio.
This backsplash and counter is for a built-in hutch that is paired with a backsplash behind the sink and counter wall. The mosaic was designed around a kitchen that was changed from mint green walls and yellow cabinets to a fresh white paint complimented with grey and black tile. Only a strip of maroon tile edging that was original to the kitchen was removed and reused as a color accent. I wrapped “Food 4 Thought” with ceramics, figurines, S&P shakers, small teapots and plates, marbles and tile. Several pieces of the client’s china and mementos also made it into the mix. The sides of the panel end in a casual checkerboard to compliment the black and white marble floor. It feels beautifully ancient and modern at the same time.
This kitchen is in an 80 year old Spanish Bungalow. The color is very strong and everywhere so I was inspired to go in the direction of Black and White. Many of the pieces are from the clients grandparents. Vintage salt and pepper shakers mix seamlessly with theme dishware and there love of animals. The clients were so happy that I will be expanding the mosaic to surround the window and wall. I’m particularly happy with the plates cascading down the side.