Monday, April 25, 2016

Mosaics at Alhambra's Renaissance Plaza

Mosaic Monday features Alhambra today.

At the northeast corner of Garfield and Main Street sits Renaissance Plaza. It won awards when it was completed in 2002, mainly as a public space that integrated art with storefronts in a thematic way. And it brought people on to the streets, something that a 2002 story in the Los Angeles Times said had been missing for 25 years.

The site of an Edwards Imax Multiplex and lots of eateries, it's being revitalized again, and the two big pictures here came from the company that's handling that revitalization, Transtech.

As you can see, there's not just one mosaic. There are mosaics on pillars, on bench backs, plastered onto planters, ornamenting fountains, and in the background you can see mosaic spheres. A veritable plethora of mosaics. One of the several civic online brochures I looked at says that the history of the city is informally told through these tiles.

In all honesty, I'm not seeing that.

If you go to the Downtown Alhambra Facebook page, you will see hundreds of pictures of street parties with these mosaics in the background. Christmas tree lighting, St. Patrick's Day blowouts with live music and leprechauns and green beer, Halloween costume parades for all ages.

So the Plaza is exactly what a plaza should be -- a great place for street parties and celebrating.

That Los Angeles Times 2002 story says that the Renaissance Plaza, part of the redevelopment of a mile-long stretch of Main Street, took eight years to design and complete, costing the city $1.2 million.

They did not want to go trendy or hip, though there was a martini bar. The  city wanted to retain its image as a nice place to live.

In another paragraph, I learn that, during the decade leading up to 2002, the city gave out $14 million in grants to get businesses on to Main Street.

One of the restaurants, Charlie's Trio, has a mosaic sign as well.

What I don't find anywhere is a note on who designed these mosaics.

And it's late. So I guess we'll just appreciate the mosaics for what they are: part of a huge and very successful downtown redevelopment project that revitalized the city. Yay!

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