The Tesserae: Art of Mosaics Artists Reception on Saturday, July 11th, was well attended with lots of good vibes all around. 2nd City Council Art Gallery honors artists by giving cash awards in support of their work. As juror, I was asked to make these selections, and it was my honor to choose the following artworks.


First Place: "Take Care of Me" by Aida Valencia

$500 – FIRST:

Aida Valencia’s “Take Care of Me” has it all…awesome proportion and scale, expert technique, and a large dose of soul. Incorporating an actual tree from the San Diego fires, with smalti flames morphing into balloons is so hopeful. The little girl is just adorable and she invites your curiosity to walk around the piece again and again to discover new details. The composition flows and the outcome is uplifting and joyful.


Second Place: "Insectae Novem" by Karen Thompson

$300 – SECOND:
Karen Thompson’s “Insectae Novem” is impeccable. The scale of the work and attention to detail is absolutely refined. Her choice of precious materials coupled with expert handling of saws and tweezers, create a delicate and intimate look at rare species in a renewed way, as her title suggests. Each panel reveals glittering surprises and little sighs of awe, not unlike if one of these ephemeral creatures were to land on your finger.


Third Place: "Global House" by Diana Johnson Wiles

$200 – THIRD:
Diana Johnson Wiles’ collection of mosaic balls have a playfulness about them at first, but the message is deep. “Global House” represents a tribute to indigenous peoples around the world. It is a call for cultural awareness and preservation. The metal framework of the house has a steely coldness, that to me, represents the pressure for conformity. The ball outside the structure represents the cultures that have already succumbed. This is a thoughtful and intriguing work on an urgent subject.


Eye-Opener: "Crack/Peterson at Chapman" by Laurel True

Laurel True’s “Asphalt Series” has blazed a new trail for contemporary mosaic work. For thousands of years mosaics were made of plain stone and were only used in the domain of floors and pavement. It wasn’t until 600-800 AD that we begin to see colorful glass mosaics making their way up the walls to ceilings of churches, and even more recently, as decorative exterior murals. In a contemporary redux, pavement has again made it’s way up the wall and now, into the gallery. True has selected a lowly discarded hunk of road asphalt, and with the eye of an alchemist, transformed it into a rich, fine art. By cutting her tesserae out of this everyday material, we have come full circle. In “Crack/Peterson at Chapman” her elegant use of ‘opus vermiculatum’, an ancient setting style, with just a slight hint of 22 karat gold asks us to see beauty from a wholly other perspective, and THAT is eye opening.



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