Back in 2005 I was a member of a studio called Phoenix Clay and Steelworks in Phoenix, OR. We had shared ceramic equipment, kilns, and our own 10′ x 10′ workspaces in one large room, as well as a classroom and gallery.
We wanted the studio to be welcoming to the community and we wanted to brighten up the city of Phoenix with our art.
I decided to make a double door surround for the classroom that incorporated both clay and steel in the form of broken tile mosaics with the theme of a town at the base, and flowers growing up out of the city.
The town was going to be smallish three dimensional buildings covered in mosaics. Some were attached to the mosaic surface, others were free standing.
The stems of the flowers were to be bent 1/2″steel rods that undulated on and off the facade of the mosaics rising up out of the town via the chimneys and smokestacks.
Bright colors of yellow and deep blues were accented by red, purple, and orange flowers. All of handmade tiles.
So I spent five months making this huge thing, and the week I finished I was informed the place was out of money and closing down!
So I took my mosaic panels (on 1/2″ durarock boards), and moved out of there. I carted the panels around for two or more years, trying to find a place where they would work so my work wouldn’t be for naught.
I ended up moving into Talent, OR in 2008, and discovered the Downtowne Coffeehouse right on the main drag of Talent Ave. Their sign has a little silhouette of a town that reminded me of my little city.
The building had originally been built as a gas station back in the nineteen twenties, and still has the two main posts holding up the porch that you used to drive under to keep you out of the weather as you serviced your auto.
They were looking pretty shoddy when I saw them. Paint peeling off, pretty ugly…and you know where this is going I bet…
I asked if they’d be interested in having my mosaics on their posts! I showed them to the owners, we discussed converting them from their original purpose, and away I went.
I knew after measuring and messing about that I’d need more square footage, so I had to make new tile, add panels, and cut the panels I’d already made into two.
I also added coffee cups that I sawed into halves using a wet saw, and placed them so that they were like the
blossoms of the flowers climbing the posts. In addition, I needed to make a new city! I had sold the original buildings in the interim and so I designed a new flatter city and made new panels to accommodate the posts.
This all took me another couple of months or more to do. I must have had time on my hands back then…! I know I had more energy.
Anyway, the posts were finally finished and ready to be installed.
That part took forever, as it liked to rain when I was installing, and we found out one of the old posts is twisted like a corkscrew, and other fun stuff to boot.
But finally it was over! After at least 8 months of work my payment is – “free coffee for life”.
Not a bad deal, since I live a block from there, and it’s really the only game in town as far as a place to hang out and catch up with folks. I consider it the hub of our community, and am happy to say they are expanding and almost ready to open up and out as a coffeehouse/restaurant – serving more great food and expanding their hours into the evenings. As you can see, this is an old photo- the place has a beautiful new look and paint job as well as an expansion on the rear of the building, plus a painted mural on the side.
For the new expansion they decided they needed a new logo- and who else to ask? Me! So with the guidance of the owners, I designed a little city in a coffee cup. This is not the final logo- but close. Next comes the city on the roof that’s been designed by Robert Frost, and perhaps painted by me if I can get a trade on food now…
AND they allow me to hang a few of my ceramic tile plaques in their store entry for me to sell at no cost.
Gotta love this place, and this community. Thanks Dan and Sara Goyette for making this a great place to live and a great place for art!!