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30

Mar
2013

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Update from the Mosaic Mecca of South America: Puente Alto & Isidora Paz López

On 30, Mar 2013 | 46 Comments | In Uncategorized | By Nancie

Chicarra/Cicada "Cicada chilensis" & Sahumerio (Incense) "Twedia confertiflora" Design: Nicolás Chacón. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Gonzalo San Martín & Hector Velozo

It has been over six months since we lasted visited what is quickly becoming the mosaic Mecca of South America, Puente Alto Chile, in “A Natural History Museum in Mosaic Rises in Chile: Isidora Paz López.”

Isidora Paz López

Since then, under the continued direction of Ms. López, a team of up to 60 artists has applied a total of over 3,100 square meters of mosaic to the concrete jungle of a light rail system that bifurcates the town even as it links it to the capital city of Santiago.

Sótero de Rio Station

What was once three drab metro stations and 84 eye-numbing track support columns is now a shimmering, vibrant, visually stunning celebration of the area’s flora, fauna and history. And, thanks to the city’s unparalleled commitment to mosaic, it is continuing to grow in exciting new ways.  More on that later.

In this article, we’ll update you on what is happening in Puente Alto and pay homage to the incredible team that Ms. López continually praises for their artistic and personal contributions to the project. 

The 2013 Puente Alto Mosaic Team

But first a brief history (which is by no means a substitute for the original article here). In 2011, Ms. López, an artist trained in ceramic and new to mosaic, took on a project to mosaic the external walls of Puente Alto’s sports stadium. The results were so well received that the city’s mayor, Manuel José Ossandón approached López with a new challenge – the metro stations and pillars – and a deadline – completion by the end of Ossandón’s tenure – a little over one year.

Daunted but inspired, López dreamed a very big dream – to use this space to “wake up” the people of Puente Alto to their precious natural and historical heritages. The pillars would become an outdoor natural museum. The station walls would tell compelling stories of Puente Alto’s history.  

While the deadline was missed (by just a few weeks) López’ goal of inspiring a community has been met – so much so that new challenges have been given her. But we’ll get to that a little later. Let’s get on with that update.

The Pillars

Arguably the most captivating portion of the metro mosaics project, each of the pillars is a work of art in and of itself. López and her team developed a visual language and structured palette that links the 84 pillars together.  Each starts with a photograph which is then translated into a drawing applied directly to the pillar.

Gonzalo San Martín & Nicolas Chacón

Guiña "Leopardus guigna" and Palqui "Cestrum parqui" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Gonzalo San Martín & Nicolás Chacón

The smallest cat in the Americas, the guiña has been classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature because of its rapidly vanishing numbers.  Here we see the project’s commitment to educating the town’s residents about what López refers to as “the treasure” of the region.

Lopez: "We like to start with the eyes."

Tricahue/Burrowing Parrot "Cyanoliseus patagonus" Design: Javiera Melo. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Javiera melo. Execution principal figures: Sabrina Morgado & Soledad Fuentealba

A thick black line of grout around the principal figures gives a visual “pop” that pulls them forward to the viewer.

Vizcacha "Lagidium viscacia" & Pachy "Pachyaena atriplicifolia" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Javiera Melo. Execution principle figures: Javiera Melo & Maurix Gutierrez

As you can see from the captions, a creative hierarchy has been developed that closely mirrors the way the ancient Romans worked.  The labor is divided between artists responsible for design, the more skilled artisans who complete the principal figures and finally the mighty background artists whose work can often make or break a mosaic.

Pichi/Armadillo "Zaedyus pichiy" & Mariposita de la Cordillera/Butterfly Flower "Schizanthus coccineus" Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Paulo Meyer: Pillar Director: Javiera Melo. Execution of principal figures: Javiera Melo & Soledad Fuentealba

The work is so fine and so exacting, that it is difficult to believe that everything is done on site – rain, shine or snow – using simple nippers and often standing on platforms.

Mariposa del Chagual "Castnia psittacus" & Chagual "Puya berteroniana" Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Valeria Merino. Execution principal figures: Cesar Ariel Cadiz & Mario Sobarzo

Gonzalo San Martín & Catalina Larraín

Mariposa/Butterfly "Pseodolucia chilensis" & Orquidea/Orchid "Orchidaceae chloraeinae" Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Gonzalo San Martín & Catalina Larraín

There are so many beautiful pillars, we found it difficult to pick which ones to show in the limited space here. Before we move along to the splendid stations, here are two more that we found particularly charming . . .

Skunk/Chingue "Conepatus chinga" & Clavel del campo "Muticia subulata" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing. Paulo Meyer. Pillar Director: Gonzalo San Martín. Execution principal figures: Cesar Ariel Cadiz & Nicolás Chacon

Sapo Quatro Ojos/Four-eyed Toad "Pleurodema taul" & Berro Amarillo/Monkeyflower "Mimulus luteus" Design: Paulo Meyer. Drawing: Paulo Meyer. Pillar director: Valeria Merino: Execution principal figures: Isabel Cristina Gonzales & Bernarda Quezada

The Three Stations

It all started with the Elisa Correa Station, the first metro stop in Puente Alto.  Here, López chose to capture the grandeur of the Andes mountains. One side of the station is devoted to sunrise on the snowcapped peaks, the other to sunset.

Elisa correa Station "Sunrise" 130 square meters. Design: Isidora Paz López. Drawing: Collective. Made by: Paulo Meyer, Valeria Merino & Carolina Gonzalez, Hector Velozo, Gonzalo San Martín, Javiera Melo, Alejandra Guzmán, Isidora Paz López

Elisa Correa Station "Sunset" 130 square meters. Design: Carolina Gonzalez. Drawing: Collective. Made by: Paulo Meyer, Valeria Merino, Carolina Gonzalez, Hector Velozo, Gonzalo San Martín, Javiera Melo, Alejandra Guzmán and Isidora Paz López

The design for the Sótero de Rio Station was inspired by metro riders who use this station to access the public hospital nearby. López:

There is a lot of traffic in this station – people going to and from the hospital –  and most of the time they are very sad. We decided to take a deeper look into the mountains and their waters, trying to create a space of peace and healing.  Recently, an ancient bridge – hundreds of years old – was discovered. We included it as a symbol of the passage from life to death – the light at the end of the tunnel.

The third station, Protectora de la Infancia speaks to the town’s agricultural heritage and is also an homage to the House of Orphans, Protectora de la Infancia which for over 100 years has provided for the welfare and education of children in need. Originally run by a group of nuns, the organization continues to thrive today as a non-profit.

Landscape of the valley of "Cajón del Maipo" 120 square meters. Design: Sebastián Garretón. Drawing: Claudio Gacitúa.

Fox made by Paloma Cale

The Team at work.

240 square meters of mosaic were applied to the station.  It was completed in six weeks by a team of 27 people.

The Trinchera Wall

The final portion of the metro mosaics is a long cement wall that follows the point where the metro goes underground.  Appropriately, the Trinchera design pays respect to the Puente Alto’s historical railroad. It also celebrates the “new” Puente Alto with a giant replica of the city’s shield.