Tile Heritage-February 04 E-NEWS

(Available on the first of each month to Tile Heritage members who e-mail the Foundation from the address they would like E-News sent to. Contact: foundation@tileheritage.org)

California Tile: The Golden Era 1910-1940, a two-volume set produced by the California Heritage Museum, published by Schiffer, and edited by Joseph A. Taylor is now available for purchase from Tile Heritage. You can order the books now from Tile Heritage

Sheila Menzies and Joe Taylor attended the Society of American Mosaic Artists’ (SAMA) 3rd annual conference, this one in San Francisco, January 29 – 31, three full days of workshops, demonstrations, and presentations of every imaginable description, all dealing directly or indirectly with the art of mosaic. Over 350 people were in attendance at the Holiday Inn adjacent to Chinatown and in the shadow of the Transamerica pyramid. Author JoAnn Locktov served as Conference Chair, and with the enthusiastic assistance of her talented volunteer committee she presented one of the richest and most well-organized programs we have ever attended. Joe is still dreaming mosaic!

Among the favorite presenters was Sonia King, the outgoing president of SAMA, whose energy alone would carry any subject. She spoke initially on sourcing mosaic materials, served as moderator for a panel of international mosaic artists, and chaired the vibrant membership meeting. Eric Rattan of Santa Fe Design Studio presented helpful tips on mosaic installation. Artists Gina Dominguez, Ellen Blakeley, Donna Billick and Diana Maria Rossi, all Bay Area residents, shared their visions, accomplishments, goals and how each became initiated into practicing the art of mosaics. Presenters Lillian Sizemore, Laurel True, Peter Carpou and Didier Guedj recounted how they had brought small communities together with their mosaic projects both in the U.S. and abroad. The most emotionally moving presentation, Healing Mosaics, came from Susan Jeffreys, Heidi Darr-Hope, Janet Kozachek, Patsy Rodriguez and Ellen Stern, as each shared her own personal story of survival and revival while uplifting and strengthening the spirits of those in need through hands on instruction and application of mosaics. The group received a well-deserved and lengthy standing ovation from the attendees.

The American Mosaic Project: Pieces of Life is SAMA’s first ever, national mosaic group project. The American Mosaic Project (AMP) is a huge mosaic initiative that will involve SAMA members from all over the country and the world coming together to create an artistic vision of life that will inspire all who participate and all who see it. AMP is a project that is at the heart of the mission of SAMA, which is to further the art of mosaic through education, presentation, and networking. AMP provides an opportunity for the world to see the vast possibilities of the mosaic art form and the tremendous and varied talents of the artists who create them. For details contact SAMA – American Mosaic Project, P. O. Box 428, Orangeburg, SC 29116 or visit the web site: www.americanmosaics.org.

Erie, Pennsylvania. Over the past five years, the East High School Archive Committee headed by Mary Jane Koenig had continued to raise awareness about the unique aspects of the old school. It was not until the demolition of the original building in July 2003 that the committee was able to offer East bricks for a modest donation to help underwrite the cost of reinstalling the twelve American Encaustic tile panels that had been carefully extracted from the old school in 1999 (see “A Case Study in Tile Removal: The Fountains at East High School” in Tile Heritage, vol. 6, no. 1). Through the sale of almost a thousand bricks and generous donations from alumni and the community, enough money was raised to contract with Larry Mobley of Mobley and Company in Cohoctah, Michigan to reassemble the panels and reinstall them in the new East High School. Larry had assisted Riley Doty with the removal of the tiles and knew the project well. Reinstallation of the twelve panels took place on December 29 and 30, 2003. This project is an example of how a community with a vision of preserving a precious legacy can succeed!

San Francisco. Most of the historic tiles in the soon-to-be-demolished Steinhart Aquarium, part of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, will be preserved and reinstalled in the new building that has been designed for the same site. The tiles, principally the ones surrounding what became known as the “swamp,” were produced in 1923 by Solon & Schemmel Tile Company of San Jose. The aquarium installation was one of this company’s earliest and most prestigious commissions. More recent tile installations in this same area involve the work of Bill Wagner (Guillermo Granizo) who in 1962 produced two fish murals ( approx. 5’ x 5’) as well as any number of smaller decorative tile panels that were inserted in the floor around the swamp and a massive pebble mosaic depicting swimming fish. Unbeknownst to the public (and to us) Wagner also decorated the stairwells that lead to the basement of the aquarium and the basement walls with broken ceramic fish designs, most of which will not be salvageable. According to Scott Moran, Transition Project Manager, the intention is not to precisely recreate the swamp in the new building but to maintain the flavor of the former area by reinstalling many of the architectural accoutrements from the original site. Hence, the tiles will be saved!