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Postcard from Chicago: The Magic of the Mosaic Summit

On 23, Mar 2010 | 13 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin

Every time the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) meets at their annual Summit magic happens. The 5-day Mosaic “Brigadoon” is filled with thrilling moments of reunion, discovery, inspiration and approbation. It takes incredible planning and a host of volunteers to create the structure for magic to happen — and for that we have to applaud SAMA.

For all the amazing experiences that were planned for us by SAMA, there was one wee, totally unscripted event that — for us — surpassed them all in the magic category.

Gather ’round children, while we tell the story which of course, has a happy ending . . .

Once upon a time, there were Three Amigos who decided to see Chicago for themselves before they were chained to their booths in the SAMA Vendor Show. Leaving the cushy confines of the Palmer House, they ventured forth to nearby Millennium Park.

Amigo # 1 Michael Welch of Mosaic Rocks

Amigo #2 Dana (I’m Not Bill) Hazell of Mosaic Rocks

All Three Amigos (including moi) reflected in the magnificence of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate.

The Amigos were on a mission — to see the Mosaic Art International Exhibit so, after having taken the obligatory silly pictures, they hurried off to the Navy Pier. There, they were delighted to see some masterworks of contemporary mosaic art amidst the splendors of the Stained Glass Museum.

When the Stars Line Up For You, Yulia Hanansen

Alas, while the works were held safe in their cases, it was difficult to take good photos. In person, the works were fascinating and The Three wandered through the Museum for quite a while, praising and picking at them with old friends and new.

Came lunchtime and the Three Amigos sat down for a quick repast in a restaurant at the street end of the Navy Pier. Immediately outside of the restaurant was an area where buses parked to disgorge and pick up their passengers.

As the Three were tucking into our pastas, a group of school children came spilling out the front door of the Pier. They were probably 1st graders, full of smiles and energy and probably not just a little sugar. Several adults herded the kids into a corner right outside of our booth, pressing them against the wall of windows that separated us from them.

The Three, of course, responded to the moment by, ahem, becoming children themselves. Pretty soon everyone was making faces with wild abandon and giggling uncontrollably, even the herding adults.

Then, a funny thing happened. Amigo #1 pulled his mosaic exhibit catalog out of his backpack and thumbed through it quickly, tapping on the glass at a little girl on the other side at the same time. Finally, he pressed a page of the catalog up against the window and pointed at her.

The little girl stopped, her eyes got wide, and she smiled the broadest smile in the world.

This is what she saw . . .

She saw herself.

This work from the Exhibit, Fabulous Hair, by Carol Shelkin, was the spitting image of the little girl on the other side of the glass — right down to the barrettes of many colors and megawatt smile.

We are sure we heard the art angels sing.

Enjoy — Nancie

Photo of Fabulous Hair by the artist

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  1. George

    Late comer to this beautiful tale… While the glass cases were less than ideal in terms of intimacy with the work (and photography), the fact that so many thousands are able to view the show, makes it a worthy trade.

  2. Dottie

    Very cute story, thank you for sharing it with everyone…

  3. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Christine, this story just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? Glad everyone is enjoying this story so much. In these Days of Nastiness, I guess a random act of art magic sounds pretty good. Cheers all and keep commenting.

  4. katerattray

    That really is magic – what a lovely story.

  5. Concetta

    Great story! Thanks for sharing it.

  6. graceblowers

    Alright Carol! And what a great story, Nancie. It was so wonderful to meet you in person at the ROCKS booth.

  7. cbmosaics

    Carol and I SAW that little girl running by indoors and said hey, there's the girl in your mosaic! So I'm thinking she saw the mosaic up close. I don't know if Carol ended up talking to her or not. I'll pass this on….thanks for posting!!

  8. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Thanks for the kind words, folks. Yes, Carol's piece is amazing. What about that Michael, huh? Making the connect instantaneously? I was gobsmacked by the moment.

  9. Paul Anater

    Great story and absolutely beautiful mosaic. AND you got to see Yulia's When the Stars Line Up for You in person. Sounds like an amazing in Chicago!

  10. Irit

    I love your writing Nancie!
    I think we met in front of Carol's piece… what A piece!

  11. Anonymous

    The story brought tears to my eyes… and I am very lucky to have a piece of her unique work courtesy of the MAG shoe swap… I absolutely love the way she paints stained glass into a mosaic.

  12. ilona

    That is a wonderful story – I hope that girl and her classmates get to see the exhibit.

  13. Maureen

    What a great story, and a beautiful mosaic.

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