Monday, June 21, 2010

Article in the Bemidji Pioneer Newspaper - June 20, 2010

This was in the paper yesterday:

Construction of BREC terrazzo floor begins
Molly Miron - 06/20/2010

The work of art that will be the floor of the Bemidji Regional Event Center is now taking shape – literally.

“This whole area is going to be terrazzo,” said Barbara Keith, the artist who designed the 15,000-square-foot panorama of leaves, trees, birds, fish and animals framed by the blue north woods sky and waters.

The crew from Advance Terrazzo and Tile of Coon Rapids, Minn., has prepared much of the surface and installed the aluminum vertical sections that will divide and frame the colors and patterns the workers will inlay. The terrazzo is colored marble chips mixed with epoxy.

“It’s a pattern of a lot of intersecting leaves,” Keith said. “It’s the story of what’s happening in the fall. The birds are migrating; the beaver is working on his lodge.” The animal images and some of the other details are brass, which will be polished to a golden sheen. The brass and aluminum inserts will stay shiny because of the foot traffic from BREC visitors.

Keith was one of three finalist artists seeking the appointment. She said she had a budget from the BREC officials and sought bids from Advance Terrazzo and DeMars, also of Coon Rapids, for the brass details. She said she chose to work in the Ojibwe Woodland style of art to make the design a story that unfolds as visitors walk around the hockey arena and conference center.

“Once I came across that, it just fell together,” she said. She chose as animal characters the representatives of major Ojibwe clans: crane, bear, loon, fish, marten, bird and hoofed animal, in this case deer.

A person standing in one spot can’t see the whole picture, but a stroll allows the images to unroll. “It will invite people to explore – at least I hope so,” Keith said. “You might come across a lake and catch a glimpse of a fish, a loon diving for dinner or a beaver preparing for winter. A river flows away from the lake and across your path, but no worries, there is a series of rocks that is reminiscent of the beginnings of the Mississippi River in Itasca that will see you safely across.”

Keith, who also works in stained glass and mosaic, said she has completed many public art projects, but nothing as big as the BREC before. “I love they’re going to be in a place where lots of people can enjoy them,” she said.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Mosaic Trade with Christine Brallier

Look what I got in the mail today!! Art trades are lots of fun, but you can't really make a living at it. So even though I've never done a mosaic trade before, I made an exception with Christine Brallier, a mosaic artist in California that has been my long time pen pal and good friend. I am so glad I did, because I had such fun making the mosaic I gave to her (see below). I think I smiled the whole time I made it. Then of course, I got this masterpiece today. I cried. Yup. Flat out cried. It means a lot to me and will always be very special.

I was also glad I traded because I got to see the sides and back of her mosaic. She paints the back, which was very impressive and dressed it up so much, even though it's not seen by anyone but me. The sides were grouted (backer is wedi) with thinset underneath, which is much tougher than grout alone. Somehow she got the sides so flat and smooth. Beautiful! She also sent some fun goodies, including a magnet and some stickers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Finally beginning work in Bemidji!

It's finally time to begin working on the terrazzo floor at the event center in Bemidji. It was exciting to be on the site. It's very quiet and organized. We began by drawing the design in marker on the floor starting from one end. We made some progress, and the guys followed up with aluminum strips, like these pictured below. This will divide the different colored epoxy in the design. Above, I'm holding up one of the brass inserts that will be placed on the floor and filled with different colors. One of the final steps is polishing the floor which will make the brass shine. In the very bottom picture, you can see part of the floor with some marker lines and some strips going in.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The time has come!

I've been waiting and the time has finally come to begin installation on the terrazzo floor! First my design will be drawn onto the floor in the concourse of the Bemidji Regional Event Center first, then the brass and aluminum goes down, then the terrazzo goes in. I think it will take about 2 months to install and I hope to post progress pics along the way.