Monday, June 2, 2014

Alhambra Library Mosaics: Pique-Assiette

Pique-Assiette means taking bits from others' plates, as near as I can figure. In mosaic, it means incorporating broken bits of ceramic and found objects into the artwork. I wrote about pique-assiette and this week's artist, Jolino Beserra, in 2011 when the Los Angeles Times featured the mosaics he created for his own house in a story.

Today--and next week too--the spotlight is on mosaics that Beserra created for a couple of local libraries.

The archway leading into the children's area of the Alhambra Civic Center Library comes first. That's it to the left, with the artist. The picture comes from Lisa Yee's blog. The little yellow fellow in his hands is named Peppy, belongs to Lisa, and sneaks into most of her photos.

This library is new; it just opened in late 2008. Ms. Yee has photos of the opening too, here (and on the right, below).

Jolino Beserra's website has a beautiful photo presentation of the library mosaic, which I urge you to look at. Close ups of many of the panels.

Here is part of the statement that opens the slide show:

"The concept is to mix technology and the arts & sciences in a way that will inspire children to explore all the possibilities available to them in books. My goal was to create a magical gateway to the joys of reading and imagination."

(Do you know how many ways there are to misspell Jolino Beserra? Hopefully I'll have them all corrected before I hit "publish." And yes, I know my own name is worse.)

Skipping around Google, I can tell you he has five rescues, which endears him to me.

Beserra was born in East Los Angeles, grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, spent two years at Pasadena City College and got his BA from the Art Center College of Design. That was in 1982, and he went to work for an advertising agency. In 1985 he started his own studio with his partner--now husband--David Edward Byrd.

Almost every article about Beserra mentions that Simon Rodia's Watts Towers had a deep influence on him. He worked there as a summer intern restoring the Towers in 1989, and his yellow-and blue room-sized homage to Rodia may be the topic of another Mosaic Monday.

Other early influences that molded his career was seeing, during a trip to Arkansas, some folk art: bottles that had been lovingly covered with buttons, service medals, and more, made by a grandmother for her grandchildren, and the discovery of folk art animals.

As he says on his website, "My goal as an artist has always been the desire to create visual stores."

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