On December 1, 2018, Cathleen Newsham, (a founding member of the New England Mosaic Society), led a private tour for 16 of our members and thier guests of the New York City subway mosaics. There are over 400 mosaics installed on subway platforms in the five boroughs of New York City, and this tour featured 10 of Cathleen’s favorite sites in the borough of Manhattan.
Newsham began her discovery of this immense underground museum eight years ago when a Manhattan family had a dream to create a fantasy Coney Island subway mosaic platform in thier bathroom. The family commissioned Cathleen to design, fabricate and install it, (complete with the family members in the seats of a roller coaster), which is when she began her research into the NYC subway mosaics. Click here to see the completed mosaic and learn her process.
During the design phase of the project, Cathleen began photographing and cataloging these amazing works, which are part of the largest collection of mosaics in North America. Since then, she has lead many artists, students and enthusiasts through the vast NYC transportation network to view these underappreciated works of art. As a professional mosaic artists, she explained to our group the process of how the mosaics are designed, fabricated and installed, and gave participants insight into the complex process of creating a smalti mosaic.
Newsham is offering this same tour again on
April 6th, 2019, called, Part I – Manhattan Subway Mosaics
To sign up for Part I, CLICK HERE
She has also added a Part II, Outer Boroughs and Off the Beaten Track on April 7th, 2019
To sign up for Part II, CLICK HERE
The Museum of Natural History subway stop features this aquarium mosaic as well as a variety of other animals and dinosaurs
Vik Muniz’s “Perfect Strangers” stunningly captures New Yorkers of all stripes awaiting the subway on the new Q line
Newsham joins Muniz’s cast of characters
“Shad Crossing”, Ming Fay’s nod to the immigrants of the lower East side’s main food source at the turn of the century
Each Quarter we will share member’s art, accomplishments and accolades. Here are some exciting things happening with our members!
Member Cynthia Fisher
I wanted to share my latest commission, an abstract mosaic for the First Parish Unitarian Church in Arlington, MA. The invitation to submit a proposal included this summary of what the committee was looking for:
The artwork will create a beautiful, contemplative focal point for the front of the sanctuary. We are looking for the work to convey a spiritual, inclusive, warm and life-affirming theme with a nod to nature and that is open to the personal interpretation of the viewer.
I was eager to comply and thrilled to win the commission as I have been eager to do a public art abstract for some time. The planning process was far more time consuming than my representational style of working. I struggled with the color sketch as when I work abstractly I don’t have a vision in mind when I start the process as I prefer to let the mosaic evolve with regard to use of color. The committee was understanding and I kept them apprised of my progress with photos along the way. One of the coolest aspects of the final mosaic is the inclusion of donations from the congregation, from a piece of the Berlin Wall to a key to a jewelry box from 40 years ago to an ear mold for a hearing aid. These contributions further the connection between the artwork and church members. I will be installing the 3 paneled mosaic at the end of November.
Member Roger Hill
I wanted to share my latest mosaic project with you because it is a tribute to a young man who passed away last year.
I got together with people at work who wanted to pay tribute to our friend, Nick, and his mom, Becky.
Together we raised money to buy a quality granite bench and I created this mosaic in memory of Nick.
I am very proud of this piece mostly because it is a tribute and also a fine gift of art for someone who has lost a child.
Just thought I’d let you know how impactful mosaic art can be as I am sure you already know.
I’d love to do more of these knowing that it can make a difference to a grieving parent who has lost a loved one.
Member Bette Ann Libby
Over 25 people of all ages participated in creating a mosaic mural 5’ x 4’ commissioned by JCOGS -Jewish Community of Greater Stowe, Vermont. Two years in the making, the mosaic finally came together over a two day workshop led by Waitsfield artist Bette Ann Libby. Composed of mirror strips, ceramic shards, and hand blown glass spheres, the image of a world of loving kindness “Olam Chesed”, will hang permanently in the foyer of the Jewish community center!!
Member Sally Dean
Sally Dean, who is the Education Coordinator at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, is designing a 24′ long mosaic to be installed in the sculpture garden at the Art Complex Museum. This project is a part of the Plymouth 2020 Celebration. The theme of the mural is herring run, or fish ladder. The herring runs were an important resource for the first Americans. Both Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Tribe used them for food, and the Wampanoag also taught the Pilgrims to fertilize their crops using herring.
The mosaic will be created vitreous glass, high fired tiles made in our studio and at local Pottery in Norwell, Italian smalti , and natural pebbles. The project, facilitated by Sally, will take place in the Alden studio at several times throughout the year, and visitors will be invited to participate.
Members Lisa Houck and Amy Marks
Lisa Houck and Amy Marks are co-producing a holiday Craft market. Nine artists will be selling their unique handmade gifts including jewelry, mosaics, prints, collage, functional wooden items, baby bibs, and more.
Date: Sunday, December 2, 2019
Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Home of Lisa Houck, 88 Stoney Lea Road, Dedham, MA
Member Candace Jackman
CONGRATULATIONS TO CANDACE JACKMAN!
SAMA had a raffle for members who renewed their memberships early and Candace is the Winner of the Orsoni Workship in Venice, Italy!
Candace shared her submission for SAMA’s One Hundred + Moments in Mosaic Project with us.
Title: “Paying Homage to Mother Nature”
Candace says” When I was a child, our family went “rockhounding” with my grandfather. He had a huge collection of specimens from all over the world. I grew to love the beauty of rocks and minerals which were the inspiration for this mosaic.”
Materials: This mosaic was created using Amazonite, Azurite and Pyrite/Fools Gold set in a small ceramic bowl using Lexel adhesive. Surrounding the bowl, the tesserae are Mexican smalti, Italian gold smalti and hand cut Blu Oltremare stone adhered with colored thinset.
Member Suzanne Owayda
Suzanne Owayda, owner of Mosaic Oasis Studio & Supply taught one session of The Making of Art and Artifacts: History, Material, and Technique at Harvard University to a group of 13 undergraduate students. The focus was on a mosaic called Peahen Under a Tree, a mosaic floor fragment found in Syria and made sometime between 500 to 600 AD, it is currently in the Harvard University Art Museum collection. Suzanne gave a short power point presentation about the history and materials used to make mosaics during the Byzantine period. It was a hands on class so the students tried their hand using a hammer and hardie and the whole class recreated the mosaic (see the actual and the student representation) using stone and smalti glass. Suzanne also showed images of modern mosaics using the ancient materials by NEMS mosaic artists and members, Cathleen Newsham, Pam Stratton, Deb Aldo, and Cynthia Fisher. The students did a fabulous job recreating the mosaic and Suzanne was relieved that no one smashed a thumb using the hammer!
1. How did you get started in mosaic art?
Arts and crafts have always been present in my life. My formal training in art was at Framingham State University. Then, about 5 years ago, while attending an open studio at the Fountain Street Studios in Framingham, I met Cheryl Cohen, who was exhibiting and provided my first exposure to contemporary mosaic art. About 6 months later I signed up for a few lessons with Cheryl. Unfortunately, I did not continue with mosaics at that time. I went on to take many classes and workshops in abstract painting, mixed media collage, jewelry, experimental acrylics and stained and fused glass. I rediscovered Cheryl in her Holliston studio a little more than a year ago and after a few classes and workshops I was addicted to mosaics. I attend at least weekly and am running out of space at home to store all my materials.
2. What or who inspires you?
That’s an easy one. It is the materials, color and the flow of nature.
” I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” (Pablo Picasso) Although I start with an idea, I am flexible and respect where the materials take me.
3. What is your favorite material and why?
At this stage, I am still experimenting with materials and will use absolutely anything from nuts and bolts to bits of discarded thin set. So, my favorite material is the one that is currently in my hand.
4. Where would you like to see your art go over the next few years?
I want to continue to learn additional techniques, refine my skills, and conquer my fear of working larger than a square foot.
The Amanda Edwards’ mural at the Ronald McDonald House, Portland, ME and Cherie Bosela’s Diversity Mural in Orlando, FL provided me the privilege of contributing, in a small way, to two community projects. I would love to find additional community projects to which I could contribute.
5. Share a tip, either mosaic or life?
Laura Rendlen provided this tip and it applies to both mosaics and life. If there is something in your piece that you don’t quite like or you are not sure about, get rid of it. If you don’t, you will never be happy with the finished product.
6. Why do you mosaic?
To maintain my sanity and battle depression. Mosaics provides me a sense of accomplishment, pride and constantly challenges my creativity and skills. For each new piece my goal is to try something new, either a new technique or material. Through membership in NEMS, SAMA and Cheryl Cohen’s studio, I found a like-minded community of very special artists who are willing to share knowledge, techniques, and compassion. How exciting it is when someone looks at my piece and can share my vision?
7. What is the best workshop you have taken and why?
Each workshop I attended this year taught me something valuable and I am grateful to each of them: Cheryl Cohen’s Glass and Resin on windows, Amy Marks’ Polymer Clay Mosaics, Meagan Corrado’s Mixed Media Mosaics, Pam Straton’s Wonderful Potential of Smalti, Laura Rendlen’s Creating a Garden with Color, Texture and Light.
Our annual meeting was held on 11/4/18 at Patterson Creations in Attleboro MA. Thanks to those who were able to make it and a special Thanks to all who volunteered their time to make the event a fun educational day!
Michael Ferriera started off the meeting with the business news, and from there we went into our presentations. Cindy Fisher, Pam Stratton and Nikki Sullivan discussed the process they used for jurying the Somerville show. From there, we heard Anabella Wewer’s talk about What is Not Andamento, then we wrapped up presentations with Ouiji Morris and Michael Ferriera talking about Art Activism. All the talks were interesting and informative.
After a break we moved on to demonstrations. Laurie Frazier brought a piece of art and a video on her installation and talked about how she made it. Cathleen Newsham did a demo with a Taurus ring saw and Anabella Wewer did a demo of cutting various materials with Hammer and Hardie. We did a material swap and had time to view various artwork brought by members for display.
It was a full day that ended with some very happy raffle winners! Carrie Fradkin won the Sherri Warner Hunter workshop gift certificate along with about $300.00 from the 50/50 raffle, Ouiji Morris was the winner of the SAMA Registration or Gift Card to Wits End (she chose the Wits End Gift Card). In addition, Patterson Creations donated 2 bottles of wine to raffle, congratulations to to Cecelia Kramer and Ruth Faris as the winners.
The Executive Team wants to once again thank everyone who came and helped out, it was a successful day and we could not have done it without you all! We are looking forward to planning an even better meeting for next year!
Cynthia Fisher, Nikki Sullivan and Pam Stratton
Anabella Wewer demonstrating Hammer and Hardie
Amy Marks and Carrie Fradkin
Laurie Frazier, “How I Made it”
Amy Marks and Michael Ferreira drawing the winner of the Raffle
Ouiji Morris and Jess Regalson
Karin Vander Schaaf, Terry Bromfield, Beth Goulet, Michael Ferriera
For nearly 50 years, artist Robert J. Andrews has devoted his life to creating mosaic icons in the Byzantine style for churches across the US and UK. We visited one of his beautiful masterworks, the Transfiguration of the Saviour Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell. This church, which is affectionately called the “miniature San Marco’s of Venice”, is bedecked from floor to ceiling with mosaic icons from the hand of Andrews.
Over 20 NEMS members and guests learned about the mosaic icons by tour guide, Father Tom. The mosaics were paid for and commissioned by church members. The mosaic work at Transfiguration began in 1963 with the Platytera, mounted in the apse behind the altar and continued for 50 years until 2004. The composition of the icons is dictated by the church tradition, but the patrons of the Transfiguration Greek Church requested a predominance of female saints be included in the icons.
Father Tom described the process of creating a mosaic icon. First, Andrews prepared a “cartoon”, a drawing on paper of the proposed design. These hand-painted drawings were then sent to Citta d’Arte, a school and studio in Tuscany, Italy, where artisans hand-cut glass tesserae based on Andrews’ color drawings. In order to adhere to his artistry, they selected from over 5,000 different colors of glass. The glass tesserae were carefully set in and glued to the reverse side of his line drawings. When completed, the icon was carefully divided into units for shipping. Hauled to the west coast of Italy by truck, they were sent by ship, and sometimes by air, to United States.
Andrews opened the crates and lay them out on the floor of the church. He inspected the work for any changes or corrections in reverse, since the mosaic laid face down on the paper backing. Only after the process of spreading the mortar on the wall and using special tools to beat and butter the icon into position, did he finally peel off the paper and see the result of his vision.
There was an engaged Q&A session and time to explore the mosaics. It was awesome!
Video featuring Robert J. Andrews: https://vimeo.com/1164833
More on Robert J. Andrews: http://www.helleniccomserve.com/robertandrews.html
In the summer of 1973, I made my first visit to Ravenna, Italy. I had gone there to see the Byzantine mosaics that I had studied earlier that year in a history class. It was a short visit, culminating in a Beethoven organ concert at night in the Basilica of San Vitale. The mosaics of Ravenna were stunning to see in person. And then I left.
Many years later, after retiring from work, I began to take mosaic classes in Arlington, MA. It began with a two and a half hour ‘taster’ class and proceeded to more mosaic ‘experiments’ and more classes.
When planning a vacation in 2017, I was looking to do something different than only being a tourist. Someone suggested taking a mosaic class in Italy. I had not thought about Ravenna for years. In July 2017, I returned to Ravenna to take a five day mosaic class at The Mosaic Art School. The class was wonderful with students from various countries. While I did not create a ‘masterpiece’, I could see my progression from day to day.
In total, I was in Ravenna for six days. And six days was not enough.
In June of this year, I returned to Ravenna to take another mosaic class. But this time, I planned to spend more time in Ravenna and also to visit some cities close to Ravenna that are easily accessible by train.
Ravenna is in the Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its 5th and 6th century mosaics. Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire from 402AD to 476AD. Its ancient history is rich with some interesting more recent historical events (supposedly the mosaic stars in the Mausoleum of Galla Plaida were the inspiration for Cole Porter’s song Night and Day).
Ravenna is basically synonymous with the word ‘mosaic’. Mosaics are present everywhere; not just in churches or museums, but on street corner signs, on benches, in parks, on sidewalks, on modern buildings, and of course in the mosaic studios and schools throughout the city. But Ravenna is also a food lovers’ paradise.
The Emilia Romagna region is home to other wonderful cities known for their regional foods. Parma is famous for its hams and cheese. Modena for its balsamic vinegars. Bologna for its fresh egg pasta dishes. And all of these can be had in Ravenna. Seafood is also in abundance in Ravenna. Marina dal Ravenna on the Adriatic Sea is a short bus ride away and is worth a visit for lunch or dinner.
Beginning around 6pm every day, prior to dinner most cafes offer ‘aperitivo’. Aperitivo is actually the pairing of a drink (alcoholic or not) with an assortment of finger food. It is a time to relax, read, spend time with friends or just people watch. The amount of food offered ranges from satisfying to an overabundance making it unnecessary (or impossible) to eat dinner. Dinner time is at 9pm. Breakfast is at 8am. Lunch is at 1pm. Aperitivo is at 6pm. It is a lot of eating.
Ravenna is a small city. It is a ‘walking’ (or biking) city. In the center of the city there is a pedestrian zone with many cafes and shops. At the center of the zone is the Piazza Del Popolo. From early morning to late at night it is busy with locals and some tourists. At night the area is filled with families eating dinner or walking around having gelato. The pace is slow and meandering seems to be a favorite past time. Compared to other famous destinations in Italy (Venice for instance), Ravenna is relaxed; uncrowded and, the local people are very friendly and inviting. Even those who do not speak any English will have a long conversation with you in Italian even when you have tried to make it clear that you do not speak much Italian. And Ravenna is a safe place. Possibly the most dangerous thing is the number and swiftness of the bike riders.
Ravenna is also home to Dante Alighieri’s tomb; live theater; an annual music festival; ballet, and other cultural events. But for me, it is about the mosaics. Aside from the Byzantine mosaics, contemporary mosaics abound in Ravenna. The Museo d’Arte della cittia di Ravenna (MAR) houses contemporary mosaics as well as paintings and sculptures. The museum is also home to the International Mosaic Documentation Center whose mission is research, study and the promotion of mosaic art.
This year I returned to the Mosaic Art School to take the five day ‘Standard Intensive’ class during which I made a Byzantine reproduction using the ‘double reverse’ technique and another reproduction using a contemporary technique. While the ‘double reverse’ technique was fascinating and fun (working on lime drawing out the tesserae, using a multitude of Italian smalti and some marble, gluing, washing, flipping from the temporary lime base to cement, etc.), the skills I acquired during the five days will be extremely useful as I move forward with future mosaics. I gained a much better appreciation of where to begin with the subject, how to create flow and possibly most importantly, just about mastering cutting using a hammer and hardie.
I have made a few friends (all ‘locals’) in Ravenna whom I hope to stay in touch with. And although it is a long time off, I think I will be returning to Ravenna again next year to make a floor mosaic!