|Cyphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman|
We decided to create a mosaic based on Miro's style. After reading a large book on his work I learned that the symbols used in Miro's artwork are something like an alphabet that tells stories about his life. So I used the essence of various paintings to draw up various concepts for a mosaic about 6 by 8 feet (2 by 2.5 meters) in size. The design we opted for was an abstract rendering of Kathleen giving birth to their daughters, and the relationship of that event to the Earth and the cosmos.
|Parking Strip mosaic; Mother giving birth with the moon in her hair|
|Detail in the parking strip mosaic|
We ordered pallets of large river rock to compliment the river rock used in the foundation, columns, and fireplace on the historic house. The wall form became that of a snake, remeniscent of the work of Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona, with a sensuous curve that looks good from every direction. The new patio mosaic connects to the less appealing (for me) work I did earlier around the broken pieces of concrete.
|Joan Miro's painting|
After looking at a number of paintings we decided on one called 'Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman'. Miro's Constellation paintings are a scattering of cosmic symbols with lines curving through them. Where lines intersect, creating framed spaces, he filled them with blocks of color. The woman, interspersed in a somewhat cubist way in to the cosmos represents a trancendence of the Spanish Civil War, when Franco's fascist troupes were overrunning the country of Spain. This was a very dark period for the culture of Spain, and Miro looked to the greater universe for solice. At the center of the mosaic is an abstract vulva, representing sex and desire and fertility. The eyes are on opposite ends of the patio along with a very abstract foot.
I ran lines of Mexican beach pebbles throughout the mosaic that the eye can follow. They run up and down the wall as well to connect it to the patio. Making these reminded me of when I was a child playing with Matchbox cars, the lines being roads that you would drive down. Little symbols of a line with two balls on either end I call 'barbells', and there are some literal stars worked in to the design.
The end result is something you can sit for hours and stare at, resulting in a contemplation of the universe and our relationship with it. The view from the upstairs rooms is fantastic as from a distance it reads like a painting.
|A star and spiraling meteorite flying across the Universe|
|Ciphers and Constellations in love with a Woman|
In 2010 I was asked to come back and remove a large section of the drive way, which we opened up and graveled to improve its permeability and make a more pleasing link down the side of the house to the patio. I also removed the old concrete front walk and created a new entryway, with paths leading to the driveway and the other side of the house.
|Recyled concrete and gravel driveway|
This time I used a local stone from a quarry in the Molalla area south of Portland to create stepping pads, with pebble mosaic in composed gaps. This design connects to the mosaic work in the back around the broken concrete pieces, and to the original concrete steps, the driveway, and the sidewalk in front of the house.
|Original front walk|
|Laying out the new entry walk|
|The completed entry walk with established plantings|
Lastly I built a small mosaic at the base of the stairs by the sidewalk where the original concrete pavement had been heaved by a large tree, causing a tripping hazard. This little mosaic bridges the first mosaic in the parking strip to the walkway above.
Two terraces were added where the walkway from the front entryway connects to where the driveway was. The Miro inspired mosaic inserts allude to a spring emerging from a hillside, which flows down the steps like a small cascade.
|The mosaic work alludes to a stream swirling through small pools as it spills down the hillside|
|A view looking down the former driveway|
|A small stepped altar connects to the existing historic river rock retaining wall|
|Arranging stones to create a meandering zen stepped path remeniscent of a cascading stream|
|Camellia blossoms decorate the stream mosaic in Spring|
|The completed steps flowing down the hillside|
|The new parking strip landing and the steps where the driveway used to be|
|Autumn leaves on the new landing|