Visiting one of my favorite buildings was a treat made extra special by an exhibit of mosaics. Juried and selected by The Mosaic Society of Philadelphia, their show made the library’s hallway entrance a long, considered walk, stopping for each piece. While every work is a winner, selected for this week’s ATB Art Exposé is From The Garden, by MichelleMosaics.
A collector among collectors, Michelle repeats a mantra I’ve heard among the best of the best – if something looks interesting, keep it. A use will find it’s way to you in time. “I love working with many different materials that have caught my interest, many collected long before I began mosaicing. I may have an idea about incorporating a piece immediately, or it may take months for its use to be apparent.”
From The Garden is included in the exhibit, “Fragments, Shards and Pieces: Images in Mosaic” at Bryn Mawr’s Ludington Library in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
photos link to larger images
images taken from michelle’s website & facebook
Remember Pat Graham? Brickbat Book’s Benches? Showing Pat, decades ago, a small sculpture made from bits of castoff brass culled from discarded plumbing fixtures, he immediately named the piece Little Chap. Pat went further to suggest a whole series of Little Chap figures, made progressively larger. A project still in developmental stage.
The discarded plumbing fixtures were not sinks and toilets from the alley. These 19th century parts came from The Newport in Philadelphia. When indoor plumbing was a new thing, pieces that made up plumbing fixtures were designed to last generations. Sand-cast brass components, finished by a skilled hand. Engineering to allow decades of function with no maintenance.
The Newport was once the tallest building in Philadelphia. At five stories, the most luxurious residence available with indoor plumbing. Five story buildings remain common in older neighborhoods. Water will not flow higher without pumps. Height is limited by elevation of a reservoir. After pumps became widespread, The Newport went to nine stories. A century later, I was replacing someone’s tub drain.
Maintenance plumbing in older buildings gave me an appreciation for quality components of the late 1800s. Parts too nice to scrap were collected, shared, and occasionally refashioned into something new. Little Chap was assembled and shaped in a c.1905 garret apartment, on a door serving as a workbench. Year later a mold was made, wax copy produced, and Little Chap was cast in sterling silver. – jim s.
Emerge came into this writer’s possession directly from the artist during the Philadelphia Craft Show in the autumn of 1998. The acquisition was made as a motivational device, reminding me of a sculpture I doodled in the 1980s but never executed. While I may be forgiven my lack of progress only because it involved a car-sized piece of granite, serious stone-cutting tools, a studio, and a year unencumbered by responsibilities, I would be remiss if I did not document this fine sculpture and publish it’s journey.
From Chicago via Ms. Ewoldt, Emerge stayed in the Philadelphia region for 16 years. Very recently the sculpture has been gifted to a dear friend, to be featured in a private gallery in the Scottsdale area.
PAUL KEARSLEY, DIRECT descendant of mid-1700s builder & architect Dr. John Kearsley*, said to me a while back, “Hey, Woodman, what’s with the tile mosaic in the coffee shop bathroom?” We had just enjoyed a private tour of Christ Church, at one time the most sumptuous church in the colonies, as well as the tallest structure in North America. And now, down the street, we find ourselves in Old City Coffee, where he noted the dual tourist-friendly customer washrooms, one of which sported a cut-tile mosaic. While not exactly in the style of Isaiah Zagar, clearly there was an influence.
Zagar made a name for himself throughout the 1960s onward as the premier cracked-tile mosaic artist, covering vast areas with his images. This bathroom mosaic was different. The tile was cut and arranged into a private story, the interpretation being at the sole discretion of the viewer. The key word here is cut, as in sliced on a wet-saw. Someone put a lot of work into it.
When walking through the area years later, I noted a tasteful renovation had rendered the bathroom to an employees-only area. Thus, this mosaic qualifies for Hidden Treasure status. The creator is rumored to be a wanna-be-artist plumber.
*** Paul Kearsley’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granduncle was Dr. John Kearsley, the architect/builder of Christ Church. But, disappointingly, the Doctor didn’t get the commission for Independence Hall, narrowly losing out to a design by Edmund Woolley and Andrew Hamilton. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Hall
THE KNIFE IS the most important tool ever invented. Five of the 20 most important tools are derived from the knife (the chisel, the lathe, the saw, the scythe and the sword, in case you are testing your game show skills). Is it any wonder so many men choose to carry a pocket knife everywhere they go? How handy it is for cutting, prying, poking, and slicing.
An American knife maker came to my attention through his perfectly proportioned work; graceful blade, substantial handle, artistic mating of wood to metal. Although not a hunter, I could not resist doubling my collection of fine cutlery with the addition of this knife.
Why own a knife like this? If you ever go camping (not INSIDE the Franklin Institute with the Boy Scout Troop, mind you), a knife is the #1 tool you’d want to improve your site. This beauty from Sandown Forge features CM154 stainless steel heat treated to a Rockwell C hardness of 59. Bad a§§ hard! Go ahead and hack down the surrounding forest! You won’t hurt the knife. A hunter in the family, you say? This is the perfect belt accessory for wild pigs through bison. Gotta process the harvest for transport.
And for the gentleman philosopher, tilted back in his office chair after another nail-biting day on Wall Street? It’s a really well crafted knife, screaming QUALITY. Great for making your buddies jealous. A gentle reminder that it’s just a few steps from the trenches, knife in hand, fighting for your life.
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – Cicero
First, with a partner, came Big Jar Books on North 2nd Street, Old City, Philadelphia. Big Jar eventually sold; Pat then opened Brickbat Books on South 4th as a solo-owned boutique collection for the more esoteric among the literaria.
Unto this sparse establishment was lent a collection of wooden benches, platforms, and tables, all carved from lengths of 12″ x 12″ solid oak and poplar. The story, not independently verified, is that a local plumber found a pile of giant landscape ties discarded by a century-old insurance firm in West Philadelphia. Inspired hours with chainsaw, belt sander, and angle-grinder transformed some of the wood into the pictured objets d’art.
The collection has become famous although the identity of the artist remains shrouded in mystery.
Pennsylvania Ballet • Serenade • Choreographer: George Balanchine
IF YOU WERE permitted one cultural performance your entire life, what would you choose? The Doors in Madison Square Garden? Pavarotti singing below the Eiffel Tower? A recital of wooden flute in an Aurignacian cave?
After attending the first ballet performance of my life, I can attest there is one answer only to this question: a ballet performance of Serenade.
“Now, hold on a minute”, you are probably thinking. Just who is this George fella? George Balanchine was the finest choreographer that ever lived, says just about everyone who studies this for a living. “And what, exactly, is this Serenade?”
Backing up a little, we remember Tchaikovsky wrote, in 1880, Serenade for Strings in C. Inspired by his time in Italy, this piece supremely exhibits a relaxed buoyancy and melodic richness. Perfect, one thinks, for ballet. This piece, however, was not written for Mr. Balanchine. Sadly, by eleven years, the two men missed the other’s worldly existence.
A few decades later, as a young man, Mr. Balanchine heard Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, and wrote, to accompany this music, a perfect dance he also called Serenade. To answer your question, finally, Serenade, first performed in 1934, is a ballet by George Balanchine to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48.
Tchaikovsky’s score is fulfilling and romantic; the ballet performance is this but so much more. Beauty and grace one rarely encounters in a world of survival comes alive through the imagination and vision of one man. The dance designed by Mr. Balanchine will transport one in a manner the Manly Man, hiding tears, may not acknowledge. Women, however, will openly be thankful for the beauty of all Mankind.