Monday, September 29, 2008

Mosaic Garden Stairs

These are a series of seven cement garden stairs created for a private residence. Each step is 34" wide by 7" tall. I started by making mirror mosaics of frogs and ivy leaves on Easyboard and adhering them to the steps. Then I used ceramic tile to mosaic around them using colors appropriate to the natural surroundings. Here they are halfway through the process.Here they are finished but ungrouted. And here they are finished!

Jingletown = Mosaicville!

Another mosaic has been added to Jingletown in Oakland. Actually it's the face of Saundra Warren's famous planter at 2908 Glascock at Peterson, written about in a previous post! This time it's an underwater theme inspired by a recent visit to the Monterey Aquarium. An exhibit there features a huge fish tank with a huge school of sardines swimming among many other types of large fish. Watching the school of sardines swim is like watching a silver lava lamp! They were mesmerizing. So these fish are made with mirror which is adhered at different angles to the substrate. They really catch the light as the viewer walks or rides by to make the fish appear to be swimming. Here are some closeups:
RightSo here it is before...and here it is after!The finished front is 66" x 41". It is made with Saundra's beautiful handmade leaf tiles, standing in as seaweed, and mirror mosaics on Easyboard substrate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Buffalo Bill and The Indians on the Beach

Last Sunday I was walking my dog on Ocean Beach, near the Cliff House, in San Francisco. As usual it was a foggy, dreary morning. I could see some weird "gathering" far up ahead so I made a beeline for it. As I got closer I couldnt believe my eyes. It was an huge art installation made more surprising because I hadnt heard anything about it.Stretched out along the beach, in all their colorful splendor, was a huge contingent of Native Americans on horseback! Slightly larger than life and brightly painted and decorated with buckskin, feathers, bells and beads, they were even more beautiful given the backdrop - the muted grey Pacific Ocean. But it didn't make any sense.
There was an information tent along with this installation so I checked it out to learn more. The artist is Thom Ross. He specializes in large figurative installations depicting historic American scenes that live in our minds and imaginations.
This particular scene - I was VERY surprised to learn - was a recreation of an actual photograph taken on the very same spot in 1902. It is the troupe of the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show. Buffalo Bill is right in the middle front. This puts the installation and imagery into a whole new context. It isnt just a frivolous and - some could argue - racist depiction of Indians. It really happened!Now, of course, the minute I saw this I knew it would not be without controversy. One treads lightly - and rightly so - where images of Native Americans are concerned. But I doubt there is anyone who doesnt know the truth about the treatment and decimation of the peoples who met the settlers and soldiers as the American West was "tamed", so to speak. I think we are well aware that this image of the Indian - resplendent in war bonnet and feathers - is more a cartoon than the truth. And by the time that 1902 photo was taken, the Native American population had been destroyed by many means and these people were relegated to putting on a "show" for the curious and ignorant. That said, there is no question that this imagery which lives on in our hearts and minds is beautiful and stirring.Each figure is cut out of 3/4" plywood, numbered and signed by the artist. The fact that these pieces are flat adds a philosophical touch: they are as flat and false as the "truth" the try to depict - these weren't proud people equally sharing the glory, money and fame from this Wild West Show. They were relegated to serving as court jesters by this time. The artist says "the meaning of the installation must be determined by the individual viewer; what they feel when they view the piece will be the meaning."
To see more of his work, or communicate with him, go to his website:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Symbolic Meaning of Frogs

I've been wondering for a while what gave me the idea to make mosaic frogs. I don't like frogs particularly. But I just found a site about the symbolic meanings of frogs and the description is perfect for where I am right now in my life. This is what the Symbolic Meanings site says the frog represents:
  • Creativity
  • Fertility
  • Luck
  • Cleansing
  • Intuition
  • Transformation

Due to the fascinating transitions the Frog goes through in its life, it is a symbol of metamorphosis. Furthermore, the Frog’s dual time spent on land and water represents duality of the soul. The Frog also symbolizes creativity and forward thinking.

Frog Animal Totems Facilitate:

  • Patience in undergoing life transitions, clarity of thought during transition
  • Embracing of personal transformation, welcoming internal morphing
  • Jump into creative thought, and leap out of habitual thinking patterns
  • Acceptance of our diversity and celebration of our opposite poles found in personality and lifestyle
I am really hoping these frogs are giving me patience through my life transitions and personal transformation.

House Tattoos - Mosaic Frogs for Jingletown

The frog invasion continues! This time a homeowner in the 'hood requested some mosaic frogs for the front of his building. Thanks Michael!

These frogs range in size from approximately 22" tall down to approximately 7" tall.
As you can see the foliage is young but as it grows the frogs will become less obvious and more of a sparkly surprise among the leaves for neighbors, dog walkers, etc. There are 7 of them in all.