Client: The Trust For Public Land
Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $75,000
Jolino Architectural Mosaics
Public Art Agent
The Trust for Public Land
I was commissioned to create the entry to the El Sereno Arroyo Garden. El Sereno is a neighborhood in East Los Angeles, CA. with a very diverse community. I designed a Labyrinth from a mix of tile and ceramics…some donated by the community. The project included mandalas of a bird and insect that are native to the area. The Labyrinth is 20 feet in diameter and the mandalas are 5 feet in diameter each.
My goal was to use wildly different patterns and colors and textures of tile and ceramics to represent this blended community which has always been one of Los Angeles's most diverse going back to the days when it was first annexed to L.A. The beauty in my pique-assiette style mosaics is seeing how seemingly unrelated objects and shapes create a new and different narrative for each viewer. Since "Sereno" means "Serenity" in English, I felt a Meditative Labyrinth was very appropriate for the site. I envisioned walking the Labyrinth as a tool to contemplate or think or have a moment of quiet before enjoying the garden. Just walking into all of the color and pattern as you enter the garden lifts your spirits and piques your interest in the rest of the space.
I always encourage community involvement and the folks in El Sereno were enthusiastically involved in this project. Community leaders had worked for several years to get a community space, so some had to many ideas. I held three meetings where the people had a chance to look at my first concept cketches and decide the direction for the entry. One meeting was to approve my changing the entry to a circle instead of a rectangle. I was always pushing the concept of a Labyrinth. After the design got a final approval I worked with the project director and community leaders on a schedule of Saturdays that would be devoted to letting the neighboorhood folks work on the mosaic mandalas and a day when the Mayor, who grew up in El Sereno, could place a few tiles and have a photo-op for the LA Times. These workshop days led to the local elementary and high school to adopt the garden to keep it clean and safe. Having the community involved creates a sense of pride and ownership for my public works.
I was also born in this area and lived here for the first years of my life. It was an honor and a kick to come back to create this mosaic for my first neighboor hood.