By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Ten thousand tiles. Seven Sister Cities. Immeasurable good will.
Master ceramists from around the globe are carpeting the colonnade at the Friendship Pavilion in the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park with mosaics representing the theme of the park and the ceramic tradition of their countries.
Artists from around the world work this week on a chain that will be incorporated into the Friendship Pavilion at the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park on Eastern Avenue. They're also creating tile mosaics for columns at the park.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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Inside the pavilion, a "virtual hearth" framed by columns and decorated with yin and yang firebirds will be created with the help of the community.
"The idea of the park was always to have as much art as possible," says Jan Brown Checco, manager of the riverfront project. "Working with the Sister Cities Association, we were able to identify an artist from each city to create a 7-foot-by-6-foot panel for permanent display in the pavilion."
With Checco at the helm, sponsor families were found to put up the artists during their month-long Cincinnati stay. "There are more than 100 people associated with this project," she says.
IF YOU GO
What: Clay, Color and Fire project
When: Public picnic and tile making with artists 1-4 p.m. Friday.
Where: Friendship Pavilion, Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park, Eastern Avenue upriver from Sawyer Point.
There's more: Slide lecture, "Ceramic Traditions in Our Sister Cities," 2-3:30 p.m. July 12, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Room 5401, followed by an open studio where the public can make tiles and a potluck picnic with the Clay Alliance at Burnet Woods bandstand.
The ceramists were given a grid with exact measurements to facilitate art direction by e-mail.
Marjorie Wallace of Harare, Zimbabwe, created a rainbow pattern of subtle tones that when viewed up close is composed of more than 1,000 2-by-2-inch tiles painted with traditional African designs.
Philippe Pasqualini of Nancy, France, is using the technique of encrustation and including semiprecious stones and pebbles in an amorphous design that might be described as Art Nouveau Amebic.
He Zhenhai of Liuzhou, China, has incorporated the iconography of his culture in a design rendered in rich golden tiles, and Steve Lin of Taipei Hsien, Taiwain, has manifested a beach landscape with water running through the center and leaf forms.
These intricate projects are not easily completed in the allotted 28 days, so Checco has arranged for assistants/apprentices - Cincinnati artists and students Katie Swartz, Julia Green, Danielle Steele and Corbin Pomeranz - to work with the artists to complete the columns. Artist Kirk Mayhew acts as workshop manager.
Artist tiles and designs by Marjorie Wallace.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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But time is not the only challenge the artists must face. Only one, Ikuhiko Shibata of Gifu, Japan, has worked with a column. Eva Sperner-Zernickel of Munich, Germany, who normally works in glass, is experimenting with 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch tiles of fine Austrian glass. Vladymyr Shapovalov of Kharkiv, Ukraine, who has more than 30 years of experience, has created a serene, silvery blue abstract that when wrapped around the column must be perfectly centered to produce the image of a guardian angel.
At a Fourth of July picnic honoring the artists and their host families, Cincinnatians can make a tile that will be permanently installed as part of the hearth.
If you would like to sponsor a public art project in the park, Jan Brown Checco is entertaining proposals. Prime locations are still available, she says, including the possibility of a wave of mosaics along the seating wall that runs through the park. Call 751-4783.
Checco has gathered myriad materials for all levels and assistants to provide guidance. A second opportunity will be on July 12 at the University of Cincinnati.
Monday morning Checco arranged for participants to engage in a New Age exercise "where together they built a chain that will be fired and incorporated into the pavilion design."
"We need to welcome new ideas into our community," she says of the collaboration. "When one voice becomes too strong, there is no longer a choir. The park is about international relationships and friendships."
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