Have you heard the joke about the mosaic artist and his girlfriend, the tile maker? It was a bad break-up.
Bad puns aside, we can all use a little humor right now as we deal with the COVID19 pandemic.
Taking it to the streets
Mosaic artist Jim Bachor, whom we’ve mentioned in mosaic art decorating trends blogs, has been cheering up Chicago residents with his Coronavirus themed potholes. Potholes as art? Yes! Bachor looks at the pesky road hazards as a great unifier.
“Everyone hates potholes—rich, poor, young, old, tall, young. (It) doesn’t matter,” he’s commented.
Among his latest set of installations along the city’s East Side, you’ll see a roll of toilet paper surrounded by a divine glow, a can of Pabst beer, and hand sanitizer.
If you follow Bachor’s work, you also know about his other humorous takes on urban problems. His Vermin of New York series featured cockroaches, dead pigeons, and flower bouquets.
Public Art that Moves Us
Public art, such as murals and mosaic wall art, has traditionally skewed towards a more lighthearted approach. We all love a beautiful piece of large-scale art, but a touch of whimsy goes a long way to lighten our spirits this year.
“Double Dip”, by artist Elsa Sroka, is a new installation at the Grand Peaks development in Aurora, CO. The project owners felt her humorous depictions of cows in unusual settings would bring smiles to the passing pedestrians and light rail commuters below.
Two cows, a wading pool, and their mission was accomplished.
Flamboyance, Fun, and Flamingos
Mosaic tile has been used for floor art designs and pavement since ancient times. In Austin, Texas, it’s been used for a humorous take on city drainage patterns.
Many cities have campaigns to label street drains – alerting residents that the water drains to public waterways. However, this colorful river of tile gets the message across in a lighthearted fashion.
Also in mural-friendly Austin, look for comical flamingos that might turn up anywhere on walls! This mosaic design uses not only ceramic tile, but also mirrored pieces to reflect the environment.
Onlookers are confronted with what appears to be a pair of giant flamingos, just hanging out in a local park. Local artist Stefanie Destefano is responsible for this fun optical illusion, as well as several other installations around the city.
Shaggy Dog Jokes and Cheerful Crockery
The NYC subway tiles mosaic art is famous – and often filled with good-natured humor. Visit the 23rd Street F/M Subway station for a collection of 11 murals based on artist William Wegman’s iconic portraits of his Weimaraners.
Some mosaic artists have a sense of humor that simply permeates all their work. Cleo Mussi’s pieces combine broken crockery, old china, and other items. Her self-described “maverick approach” has earned her personal commissions, as well as a number of community art projects.
The British artist always has a sense of playfulness, even when it deals with heavier subjects.
Any article that talks about comical mosaic art should reference Invader. The mysterious French artist who has been peppering the world with his guerrilla installations on public walls.
Devoted fans enjoy tracking his Space-Invader “waves” as they appear in different locations. (There’s even a phone app!)
He also approaches classics with a huge helping of irreverent humor. This version of the Mona Lisa was composed of not glass mosaic, nor marble mosaic, but 330 Rubik cubes!
(In contrast, it sold for a seriously high price: Half a million Euros!)
He’s visited Los Angeles in Southern California more than once. Here’s his version of “The Dude” from the film“The Big Lebowski”.
We all know that mosaic art doesn’t limit itself to conventional tiles. Wonderful results are achieved with a mix of materials. For example, the humorous works of Taylor Lehman feature a high ratio of bottle caps and beer cans.
The Ohio artist has developed quite a following for his comical, yes thought-provoking pieces.
Trompe l’oeil art is meant to literally “fool the eye”. We’ll close out our tribute to happy, humorous mosaic art with a visit to artist Gary Drostle’s floor installation at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA.
These pieces are part of an environment designed to feel warm, friendly, and fun.
Visitors can walk along a virtual shoreline, seeing tide pools and friendly sea life that seems to swim right up their feet.
On another floor, one can take a hike through a forest of redwoods, using a log to carefully cross a stream.
The trail continues on a busy path that seems to be also used by bears.
And ends at a peaceful pool where dragonflies and salamanders await the intrepid walkers.
Lighthearted art can always lift the spirits. Isn’t it fantastic that mosaic artwork is so well suited to public sites, where we can all enjoy it? Which of our fun pieces brings the biggest smile to your face?