Monday, October 4, 2010

Mosaic Monday in Cerritos

Today's mosaic is one you can walk through--literally. It has doorways.

"Illumination" was installed in 2006 to celebrate the city of Cerritos' 50th anniversary. The artist is Terry Braunstein, who has also done a lot of work in her hometown of Long Beach--most visible are the Blue Line Station signs.

The mosaic has the form of an open book, with ten-foot-tall pages framed in stainless steel. I could probably blog on a panel a week and stretch this out, but that would be cheating.

A couple of themes are immediately striking. First, a tree is in most panels. It's the tree of learning and of life. It grows and reaches upward and produces wonderful, nourishing fruit.

The city of Cerritos is proud of being named a Tree City USA by several groups, and it also presents itself as a community that's constantly growing. Cerritos has a diverse population, and the tree of life motif also represents harmony--the kind that Cerritos enjoys.

Another theme woven through is the history of Cerritos--the mosaic wraps around several old black and white photographs, and even incorporates tile mosaic pictures, like this of the Performing Arts Center.

Here are two other panels. Again, trees--though different styles--and black and white pictures.

The words at the top of these two panels are "Heritage" and "Diversity." (The first picture had headings of "Prosperity" and "Culture.") Under Heritage, we have cows, recalling Cerritos' days as Dairy Valley, the original 1956 name when the city incorporated. The name Cerritos was adopted in 1967.

The Diversity tree is taken from a 13th century illuminated manuscript--Spanish and Christian, and the children surrounding it represent all the different ethnic origins of Cerritos' residents. And hanging from the tree--I think--is an astrolabe.

The image at left shows the cover of the book, the spine (with the work's title) and the back cover. Aerial shots of the city in 1956 and 2006 are over the door in front.

Since the artwork sits in front of the Cerritos Public Library--a building redone ten years ago to become the first titanium-clad structure in the USA--the book theme is especially appropriate.

I love the idea of walking into the book through its cover--isn't that how a good book makes you feel, like you've just walked through a doorway to another world?

On the cover is another tree, more black and white photos-and Kabalah symbols. Click on the pictures to make them bigger, because the detail is truly beautiful.

Besides Kabalah, there are Biblical figures, Mayan symbols, Asian tapestries, Islamic motifs, African woodcarvings, Mexican ceramics, and Buddhist and Christian murals depicted throughout the artwork.

You can see "Illumination" near the northwest corner of Bloomfield and 183rd Street, just outside the Cerritos Public Library. Those into public art can glut themselves here: beside this multi-panel mosaic, there's a sculture garden, a couple of fountains, one featuring bronze dolphins and the other shooting water around and through exotic metal flowers, and a white bench that looks like an open book. And more. Inside the library, there are paintings and ceramic sculpture.

The piece was commissioned for $350,000, and the fabricators were Carlson and Co., CA and Franz Mayer of Munich, Germany.

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