Image Image Image Image Image

* = required field

BOM: get the Best of Mosaic Art NOW

Keep up with what’s happening in the world of  contemporary mosaics on your own time by subscribing to The BOM.

The BOM is a weekly digest showcasing three MAN articles and the top five tweets of the week. Sign up below and  The BOM will show up in your email inbox every Sunday at noon Pacific Standard Time.

We hate spam, too, so we won’t share your information with anyone else and guarantee that The BOM will be the only time you’ll hear from us – unless, of course, something really great comes up.

Scroll to Top

To Top

26

Jun
2011

This Article appears in:

Artists
Exhibits & Museums

Read the comments:

7 Comments

Heroes with Bling: SF Drag Queens Immortalized in Mosaic by Michael Kruzich

On 26, Jun 2011 | 7 Comments | In Artists, Exhibits & Museums | By man-admin

Miss Anita Cocktail 2010  28″ x 12″  Stone, smalti, vitreous glass

In the 50′s, when we were young and growing up in the Bay Area, on a rare Saturday night the Grown Ups would don their hats and gloves and head out for Date Night at Finnochio’s in San Francisco. The next morning, still reeking of cigarettes and Crown Royal, they’d fill us with stories of the incredible “female impersonators” they had seen the night before. “She was gorgeous!” they’d exclaim. “She filled up the room! Boy, could he-she I-don’t-know-what-to-call-him-her sing!” (Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of this post.)

Photo via

We have loved Drag Queens every since.  Glamorous cross-dressing combined with performance art is as ancient as, well, the Greeks and the Romans.

Which is just one of the things that makes “Heroes with Bling”, a group of contemporary mosaic portraits by Michael J. Kruzich on view through June 28th at the Market Street Gallery in San Francisco, a sensational body of work.

Holotta Tymes 2011  36″ x 36″  Stone, smalti, crystal jewels, glass beads  Photo:  Robert Carstensen
Kruzich, who is a professional ballet dancer with the San Francisco Opera, has lived in The City for 16 years.  From his Artist Statement:

. . . some of the brightest gems I have witnessed and appreciated in my days here have been the drag artists.  There is more to these ‘ladies’ that just what is to be seen on the surface.  Yes, they instantly elevate whatever situation they appear in; lightening the heart, exuding joy, displaying razor sharp wit and carrying themselves with a royal and unapologetic pride that challenges the staunchest conservative to disapprove.

 Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence SF, 2011  14″ x 28″  Stone, smalti and crystal rhinestones

Kruzich continues:

But, behind all that, many of them are the truest and most dedicated humanitarians you could ask for in any community; working tirelessly for charities, fundraising events and supporting local and worldwide causes.

First Lady, Donna Sachet, 2010  16″ x 20″  Stone, smalti and crystal rhinestones

And some of that drag takes REAL commitment!

Garza Peru, 2010  12″ x 16″ Stone, smalti and crystal rhinestones  Photo:  Never Navarro

We think that Kruzich’s commitment to capturing the spirit of his subjects in these mosaics is no less remarkable.

Working from photographs, Kruzich elevates the images by skillfully employing some of the most  exciting aspects of mosaics.  Ms. Anita Cocktail is brimming with joie de vivre with vibrant, colorful glass smalti plumage and a background andamento that literally “radiates” the energy she exudes.

It is no wonder Ms. Cocktail earned the People’s Choice award a this year’s Mosaic Arts International.  We can testify that she was definitely the life of that exhibition’s opening party.

In Holotta Times, Kruzich captures the quiet intensity and grace of a very different performer through careful color selection and smaller tesserae size.  This Queen’s persona may be softer than Ms. Cocktail’s, but she has no less energy – Kruzich’s use of a biff-bam-socko! outline is brilliant.

Kruzich used this framing technique, combined with specific andamento, in several portraits, all to great effect.  In Galilea, you know that someone in the audience is on the receiving end of something special.
 Galilea, 2011   14″ x 28″  Stone, smalti, crystal rhinestones.
Off-kilter and in black and white, Mamadora is instantly perceived as the wit and prankster that she is.
Mamadora, 2011  30″ x 30″  Stone, smalti and vitreous glass

You don’t need to read her bio to know, Juanita More is a Star.  The vibrancy of Kruzich’s mosaic nails her as an over-the-top performer who has been wowing audiences for years.  The LGBT community showed their appreciation of her charity work by making her Grand Marshall of the 2005 Gay Pride Parade.

 
 Juanita More  2011  47″ x 47″  Smalti, rhinestone

In Tita Aida, Kruzich uses marvelous millefiori, those miniature glass gems from Murano, Italy, as a background for the more “understated” elegance of this subject.  This is a capital L Lady.


Tita Aida 2011   22″ x 27″ Stone, smalti, millefiori and crystal rhinestones  Photo:   Danny Dan

Kruzich spent 18 months completing the set of 11 portraits.  To keep himself engaged with the project, he experimented with various techniques like the use of tinted thin set for the background in The Ethel Merman Experience.

The Ethel Merman Experience  2010  20″ x 26″  Stone, smalti, rhinestones, pearls and tinted thin set.
Our personal favorite from this body of work is Sylvester.
Sylvester  2011  31″ x 23″  Stone, smalti, turquoise, broken china & inset jewelry.
We thought this work exuded “soul” for more reasons than just the obvious halo.  Kruzich’s use of broken china in the floral scarf lends a softness that continues throughout the work into the coloring of the face, the delicate folds within the clothing and the structure of the hands.  It came as no surprise to learn that Sylvester was a well-loved performer and recording artist in the 70′s and 80′s with two hit dance singles and the moniker “Queen of the Discos.”  He died of complications from AIDS 1988.  There is something genuine, authentic and human in this portrait made of stone, glass, china, rhinestones, and plastic.  We like Sylvester very, very much.
Our congratulations to Mr. Kruzich for an extraordinary body of work.  We like it very, very much.
Enjoy –  Nancie
UPDATE December 2012:  Since this article was originally published, Mr. Kruzich has left the San Francisco Opera to pursue mosaics full time.  The artist also offers classes in classical mosaic methods in his studio.  Please see the link below for more information.
The Artist:  Michael J. Kruzich, MK Mosaics  (415) 312-8296
The Ladies:
The Movie:  San Francisco Night Club Party 1958

 

Share this article

Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you..I like everything.

  2. Julie Richey

    In addition to this being a loving, creative and brilliant tribute to the people who live to entertain and make us happy, Michael has really pushed some boundaries of framing and pictoral planes. I love the varied use of shapes to frame each diva's personality in a different way. Break Out City!

  3. Anonymous

    I like the three dimensional effect of Juanita More.

  4. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Grazie, Lillian. We do try! So happy you liked this one.

  5. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Garza Peru is probably my second fave, Maureen. I love the juxtaposition of those very sharp cuts to recreate very soft fabrics. Lots of contained energy.

  6. sfmosaic

    great post Nancie – inspired writing to go with inspired mosaics, a magical combo one can always count here at MAN!!

  7. Maureen

    "Sylvester" is especially fine. I also like "Garza Peru". They all have so much personality. It's amazing the attitude and emotion that come through.

Adams.jpgAndrea Sala & Giulia Alecci "Co-musivo" 2013  VideoHouston.jpgJim_Bachor_This_is_not_a_craft_2010_11inx14insara.jpgWebb_Bryant Patio RaysMohamed Banawy  "City 1" 2011  49 x 49 cm  Clay, glass, cement.Luca Barberini Bone Flowersandres_basurto_large08.jpgBeauchamps-SeasonofSunandwind-2AprilBegayhungry-for-gold-320x312Jolino_Bessera_DontCutYourTongueOnTheRhinestonesMarie-laure-BessonFragmentsIVBiggsTide6272969822_38f84a7e5f_z.jpgMeredith Live Oak bark, recycled tempered glass, paint, metallic powders39.jpgMangere+Mosaic.jpgGerardBrandGerstheim2014JesusJo BraunMarco_Bravura_Recuperi_d'_OroSunflowers+smalti+unglazed+ceramic+63+x+48+cm.jpgLilian_Broca_Queen_Esther_Revealing_Her_True_IdentityCarl&SandraBryantCaco3+movimento+n7full.jpgPixel_Context_Pixel_TributeToNicanorParra_2014_150x200cm (3)Photo:  APLaura Carraro "Breath" 2013  123 x 40 cm.  Stones, marble, tile, silicone tubing, PVC, inverted mirror.  Photo courtesy MARRaffaella Ceccarossi "Emerging" 2013 37 x 140 x 12 cm  Smalti and marble.mail-2.jpgCharny Birds in Hair 1000LChinn ArabesqueRamblings_for_sending_copy12.jpgSergio Cicognani Untitled 82 x 90cm  Marble, smalti, fresco paintingSelf-Portrait, 2004-2005 102 x 86Clough.jpgBiggs_and_CollingsRebecca_Collins_StrengthToStrength_2011Luca_Carlo_Colomba_4552.jpgKeKe Cribbs "Casa PapaDoble"  Photo from the artist's Facebook page.DSCN0270.JPGCzapracki.jpgJeanAnn Dabb "Assay 1: Delamar" 2012  20 in. diameter  Bone ash cupels, ceramic crucibles, glass, porcelain.  In the background:  "Core:  Tintic District"  2012  Triptych 70 x 13 in panels.  Stone core samples, ceramic, smalti, woodAndrea Deszö  "Community Garden"  2006Julie_Dilling_Keep_Me_WarmDimit.jpgKatrina Doran  Noli Me TangereGary Drostle, 2010 "Movement and Vitality" DetailDrouin.jpgErcolani.jpgFaileSizeVisionMosaic.jpgneda-600x400.jpgRosanna FattoriniCynthia Fisher  "To Everything There Is A Season, Summer"  2011  25 x 33 in.  vitreous glass, stained glass, smalti, stone, unglazed porcelain, broken pottery, marble, mirror glass, groutSara Frost "Querty" Detail  Photo: via Colossal.comBenedetta Galli "We Are The 99" 2013 140 x 200 cm  Photos and silicone on canvas.Giovanna Galli (France)5pods.jpgRed+Pods.jpgLarry_M_Levine.jpgGoode.jpgElaine M Goodwin Touching ParadiseRoberta Grasso "Memory of a Dream" 2012  460 x 230 cm  Silicon, smalti, ceramic glass, organza, tulle.Jhgreen_wall.jpgfull.jpgErika+full.jpgYakov Hanansen "Brain" 36 x 36 in. Hand-made ceramic tesserae, porcelain, smalti.Hanansen_GRS_framed_2000Hisao Matsuo "Don't Tell What Was Seen In The Woods" 24 x 35"Kim Jae Hee "Corea del Sud" (Uncomfortable House) 2010 40 x 40 cm Nails & felt  Photo courtesy MARProgressonIII Rhonda HeislerIMG_1199.jpgLaura Hiserote "No Time To Be Koi"  DetailSamantha Holmes "Absensce (Moscow)" 2012  260 x 150 cm  Marble, smalti, ceramic glass, gold.hubbell-intro.jpgTessa_Hunkin_Varieties_PeakingDog_PhotoTHHutchinson_Tango_Corto1Iliya Iliev  "Sesif"  2010  70x120cm diptych.  Stones, glassMombasa.jpgPamela Irving "Mr. Logomania" 2013 (Australia)Iskander+Impromptu-in-Blue+2000.jpgKate Jessup "Tense Twinships" 2012  36x52 in.  Glass, wood, thinset, stone, found objectsjones-time-for-lunch-1000Francien Jongsma Simonemichaelferris.jpgZhanna Kadyrova "Diamonds" 2006  Variable. Cement, tile.Kaitis.jpgVadzim Kamisarau "The Main News 3"  2012  50 x 95 cm  Cement, smaltikenawy-memories-full1Keren.jpgKate_KerriganWalkingInRainMatko_KezleInki-400-bimg-kii-blue-grids-in-blue-big.jpgPermafrost+King.jpgAndrej-Koruza-Structured-1-2011-Detailkozachek+Three+Intruding+Fanatics.jpgMichael_Kruzich_SylvesterKazumi Kurihara "Il Libro Legge" (The book reads) 2011 (Japan)Melaine_Lenoelevy-a-man-in-a-waiting-room-300dpi-1000Bett Ann Libby "China Leaf Tea" 2006  13 x 13 x 10 in.  Photo:  David CarasMarco De Luca "La Morte di Ofelia" 2003 123 x 183 x 3 cmLucas.jpgSager.jpgdragonflycompleteMonica_Machado_The_Clothes_Line_2000_260cmCorde-à-linge-Monica-Machado-détailstone-circle-dugald-macinnesMohamad Banawy "Abstract 3" 2010 80 x 80 cm  Clay, glass.MAN2009-Marzi-foto.jpgEaster_Egg_Mosaic_02.jpgAnadoMcLaughlinru paul2.pngHildreth_MeiereCathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, Drinking deer mosaic on northJeroenMeijerMaterNostra2008"More American Gifts:  Grenades"  2005  5.5 x 3.9 x 3.5 in  Ceramic, porcelain, plaster, wire, metal, cement adhesive, grout.the rainJason Middlebrook "Brooklyn SeedsFlaking paint on wooden door, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles MosaicsAndrea Deszö  "Community Garden"  2006Julian_Modica_zappa.jpgMosaic RhinocerosLynnMoorPipgtailGirlBOMIMG_6541.jpgJinette+Mosaique.jpgMosaïzm "Gallaxiam" 2013 Detail  Photo courtesy MARCleo Mussi "Mind"  2012Silvia_Naddeo-Transition-2012Megumi-Naitoh-4192010-detail-Michael-WelchFamiliarGroundNewton Serenity 2FelicesBalls_4546.jpg8419_1251766378980_1374130919_703135_1818425_n.jpg"Cerulean Rendesvous" Carole Choucair-Oueijan 53.5 x 45 in.    Smalti, 24 karat gold smalti, cristallino, marble, granite111_0424.jpgFamiliarGroundNiki_de_Saint_Phalle_Tarot_Garden114Picasso.TeteFauveSergio-Policicchio-Corpi-celesti-2011"Dama-Dama" (2014) 1385 x 1165 cm.Elena Prosperi "Wakan-Tanka" 2013  60 x 198 cm  Tiffany glass, glass metal leaf, stones, feathers.Allan Punton "The Three Doges" 2014 Inspired by a ghost story by Alberto Toso FeiRebecca+detail.jpgAndjelka Radojevic  My Little ChickadeeGila+Rayberg+Morning+After.jpgSonya Louro do Rego "Fall" 2011 150 x 50 x 25 cm Shells and marble on wood and polystyrene  Photo: NTMP3312140193_3f2f0905ec.jpgNightshirt-Richey.jpegMo-Ringey-Stools-2004Faith Ringgold "Flying Home:  Harlem Heroes and Heroines (Downtown and Uptown)" 1996  Photo via MTA Arts for Transitdiego_rivera1-320x160Anna Rommel "Green Fish"clug romaniaAndrea Sala & Giulia Alecci "Co-musivo" 2013  VideoRuth_Minola_Scheibler_nightflight_024"x4"Peter Rabbit & fence Beatrix Pottermedium_Reminiscence.jpgWINDSTILL+1.jpgGino-Severini-Church-of-St-Mark-Cortona-Mosaic-wiki-cropIlana Shafir WhirlBeneath+1.jpgmail.JPGVox+Sizemore.JPG100_5652.jpgJasna SokolovicSollinger+Old+Growth+2000.jpgCarol Stirton-Broad "From My Sister's Garden #3" 2013 3.5 x 10.5 inPam Stratton "Twin Lights"Hisao Matsuo "Don't Tell What Was Seen In The Woods" 24 x 35"Carol Talkov "What's Inside" 2012  14 x 17 x 4tavonatti+4+close+up.jpgKathy Thaden  The VisitCynthia Toops "Wolf and Dog" 2012 2.75 x 2.75 x .25 in. Plymer clay, sterling silver metalwork by Chuck Domitrovich  Photo:  Michael WelchBrooks Tower "No Pants"  2004  24 x 14 in.Matylda Tracewska "Untitled" 60 x 48 cm. Marble and paint.Matylda Tracewska "Black Square III"  2011  80 x 80 x 4 cm.  Marble, smalti.Crack+true.jpgTunick_07_1Federico UribeVital CU 02vortex+close+up.jpgennisHouse_1428291c.jpgIsaiah Zagar    Photo WikipediaAleksey Zhuchov "Still Life With Bottles" 2012  50.5 x 47 cm  Natural and artificial stone, smalti.