Wednesday, January 30, 2013

There's a New Mosaic in Town

Ben's Bells coordinated it, and I helped to create it.  Next time you're driving into Tucson, you'll see it on the driver's side of the car as you head east on Broadway.  Yes, it's near that low concrete wall by the plaza.  No, it's not the one that faces Stone; it's across the street from Ben's Bells' downtown studio.

Those details are for tourists.  The week-long project was for Tucsonans.  Like everything associated with Ben's Bells, it was beautiful as it was healing.  Of all the ways I've learned to self-medicate since I was shot, ceramic artwork with this not-for-profit is way up near the top of the Most Helpful List.  Plus, it was tons of fun.

Driving downtown is complicated by the never-ending Modern Streetcar Project. Rails are being laid, streets are closed off, the usual routes no longer exist. I found a surface lot a block away, and, marveling at the fact that I could cover the distance between the Schnozz and the venue, I joined the volunteers.

I knew I was wanted, 
even if the spelling left something to be desired.

My volunteer slot was on Friday, the last day.
There were many of us on hand to help
 We were tasked with filling in the spaces between the mosaic's tiles.
That entailed carrying heavy bags of sand from the street to the site.
We were lucky to have random construction workers who were willing to shlep the bags for us.
There was shaking of cans of color.
 Sand was added.
Then water was poured in, to make the goo. 
Mixing the goo was a task I'd have loved when I could balance easily on two feet.
On Friday, I watched as younger, stronger backs did the work. 

The finished product looked like this.
Then it was time to dip a sponge in the grout, and smear it over the tiles.
Smearing is something I am very good at.
After the smearing, came the feathering. 
Brushing the grout over the tiles smoothed the surfaces and allowed it to dry evenly.
We were atop ladders, 

and half way up ladders
and between ladders 
and posing on ladders. 
Some were under ladders, but I've had enough bad luck for one lifetime, so I demurred. 
In addition to the Be Kind proscription, 
there was a "Bike the Mountain" theme.
It was exciting to watch it take shape. 
Cleaning up was also part of the project.
although we left the grout-filled trays for someone else to wash. 
Getting it out of the sponges was hard enough. 
When my back and my butt and my leg and my hip agreed that it was time to leave, 
they were almost finished.
I really should follow the directions above and go back and take a picture of the final product for you.
For me, I'm satisfied
Tucson has been so good to me.
It seemed only fitting to make a greeting card to say "Thanks"


  1. Absolutely AMAZING! I love Ben's Bells, but the mosaic is just beautiful. How cathartic too to just get your hands in there and create.

    I want to now see the finished project.

    Sending hugs,

    Megan xxx

    1. Cathartic is exactly the right word, Megan. I will drive downtown soon and post a finished picture for you.

  2. Love the artwork that the Tucson community brings. Makes me smile when I drive around.

  3. Oh, Suzi...I LOVE THAT! I love urban art, especially mosaics. So cool. Can't wait to check it out the next time we're down there. Tucson is so AWESOME & so are YOU!!! <3

  4. Your post was what I imagined blogging would be like when we first got the Worldwide Web but it ain't like it s'posed to be is it? But you've got it right and it's inspiring. I'll be back

  5. Beautiful.....So cool. I would love to see the finished product! xoxo


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