Piecing together one big work of art

Students join citywide effort to paint tiles that will become part of mosaic featuring art from throughout the Midwest and could end up in Port

THOMAS JEFFERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL art students recently painted 46 “tiles” — actually 6-by-6-inch canvasses — that will become part of a regional mosaic project. The students included JJ Bergin, Kiya Sullivan, Aleigha Michaels, Jacqueline Poull and Layla Meyer. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Students at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Port Washington painted intently last week, creating tiles that will become part of a global mosaic.

And that mosaic could someday call Port Washington its home.

It’s all part of Mosaic Mural’s Global Roots project, a Canadian effort to help communities reconnect, particularly after pandemic lockdowns that left many people feeling adrift.

Kristina Tadeo, executive director of Port Main Street Inc., said she was looking for a community art project for the annual Art Walk in May when she discovered Mosaic Mural.

It was a perfect fit for the event, she said, noting it would allow people to be creative and make something that they would enjoy while being part of something bigger than themselves.

Main Street bought 150 tile kits — the tile is actually a 6-by-6-inch canvas — and sold them to people of all artistic abilities.

Each kit came with paint, brushes and an easel, Tadeo said. Those buying the kits could paint anything they desired, but they had to use the color scheme provided.

That’s because people are asked to send a photo of their canvas to Mosaic Mural, where they will be compiled into one large mosaic, Tadeo said. The actual canvas remains with the artist.

“It’s the same concept as a mosaic made with ceramic tiles, but it’s done with canvasses and photos,” she said.

The canvasses will be printed on aluminum sheets to create the mosaic, which will be about 10-by-20 feet when completed, she said.

The canvasses sold in Port will become part of the Midwest mural, which features a large tree in a bucolic setting.

People participating in the project can go online to muralmosaic.com/midwest to get a look at the mural and see not only the overall picture but zoom in to find their “tile,” Tadeo said.

Main Street sold its kits not just at the Art Walk but also throughout the summer — they were even painted at one of the organization’s Third Thursday events —and the Friends of Port Washington Parks and Recreation bought a number of them. The organization took those canvasses to the middle school for students to paint.

“It’s really cool,” Wendy Braam, vice president of the Friends group. “It’s a great project to get our students involved in.”

Braam said she created a canvas as well, incorporating the fingerprints of many of those in the community who participated in the project to create an abstract sunset scene.

“It’s really a lot of fun, and it’s nice that you can keep the tile you create,” she said.

There are Mosaic Mural projects throughout the United States, Canada and parts of Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom.

When she asked where the Midwest mural would be located, Tadeo said, she was told that it hadn’t been determined yet, so she threw Port into the mix.

“I let them know Port would be a perfect location,” she said, “and we’re on the short list (of finalists).”

The organizers seem intrigued by Port as a potential location for the mural, Tadeo said

“I think we’re such a beautiful, picturesque Midwestern town. We’re on the Great Lakes, and we’re on the edge of rolling farmlands, too,” she said. “I definitely think we are a good setting for something like this.”

It also helps that Port is a quintessential small town but it has plenty for people to do, Tadeo said.

That’s important because people who participate in the project often travel to see the finished mosaic after it’s installed.

Main Street has identified several potential sites for the mosaic, Tadeo said, noting they need to meet specific parameters set up by Mosaic Mural.

“Many of the walls we have in town were taken off quickly because they did not meet those parameters,” she said.

The leading contender now, she said, is on the north side of the Twisted Willow building, Tadeo said, underneath an existing faded painted logo.

The announcement of a site is expected in spring, she said, with the actual installation anticipated soon after that.

While Tadeo is hopeful that Port will ultimately be chosen, she said that one thing is for sure.

“Wherever it goes, it will be great in the end,” she said.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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