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Broadway’s Blooming Community Project

11794618_1151826621513987_4040909987123818457_oPiece by Piece Program Director Dawn Mendelson with
Barbara Hill, Deep Green Housing’s Resident Services Manager

Building community is a big part of Piece by Piece. As individuals and as a group, it is through the strength and support of others that we are able to thrive and realize our whole potential. We have made many small group projects where skills are built and friendships forged. At our Open Studio Sessions at Broadway Village II, artists can work on individual projects, join in a group project, and be inspired by instructors and fellow artists. This year, as we entered our seventh consecutive year at Broadway Village II, owned by Deep Green Housing, we looked to create something a little bigger as a community.

open studio circles bea and chris with kidsBroadway Village II open studio group work; Our regular crew of young artists

We noticed a forgotten garden in a communal space, where children play and residents sit at the picnic tables to chat or sit in a quiet place. It needed some attention. What if, we thought, we created a new garden — a mosaic garden — that would withstand the current drought conditions of California and bring some much-needed color and vibrancy to a now-unused space in this affordable housing building in South L.A.


10888905_1106700489359934_6738737766289521652_n Lupe and Ninive 1511275_1106700779359905_5022984572078978117_nTons of mosaic flowers bloomed at open studio sessions

With grant funding from the California Arts Council and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, we thought to transform this space by creating one of the largest community projects we’ve done to date. By doing so, we could not only improve our participant artists skills by having mosaic flower-making workshops, we could reach out to local residents through events. We made flowers with the community at the South Central Jazz Festival and workshops at Mercado La Paloma. At the Mercado, we partner with Esperanza Community housing to broaden our exposure and expand creative economy in a corridor of South Los Angeles that extends to Skid Row.

 11813436_1128875100475806_8991342286734822891_n 10616518_1103768809653102_5392534077799431659_n Helen and Hilda
Volunteer day; DaFUNction community event; Artisan, Hilda and New Zealand Visiting Artist, Helen.

To begin the project, during the summer, at our open studio sessions, we created a series of large flowers as a group. Individual artists, both new and experienced, also made smaller flowers of their choosing.  Young artists, very young artists, and families made flowers together. We used a variety of materials, from scrap stained glass to donated re-purposed ceramics. During the installation process, many volunteers and supporters reached out  We also received generous donations of twenty bags of soil, plants and valuable volunteer time from South Los Angeles Guerrilla Gardener, Ron Finley.

young man Sandy and Julie ron
shown: young artist from Broadway Village II; volunteers Julie and Sandy; volunteer Ron Finley

The flowers were created on fiberglass mesh, using water soluble glue as the “tack”, This allowed us to store the growing quantity of mosaic flowers. As we began to show the flowers on social media, the community at large expressed interest in participating. We invited Piece by Piece visiting artists to contribute. The world of professional mosaic artists started sending us flowers from Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, South Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas, New Jersey, and various parts of California.

CarolBoruta-Plainfield,IL Jolino Beserra-Local Katie
flowers by: Carol from Illinois; Jolino from California; Katie from Florida

It didn’t stop there. Our project went global with two flowers from our mosaic friend in New Zealand. Artists from Germany and Canada contributed. One of the largest group contributions came from artist Cris Piloto of Cola Caco in Rio, Brazil. There, both adults and children created mosaic flowers for Piece by Piece, and in our first international cultural exchange ever, our artists created mosaic forms on mesh for Cola Caco’s community project in a neighborhood in Rio. In a visit to the U.S. Cris brought her group’s flowers and we gave her the house shapes to take home to her project. When all was said and done, we had over 500 flowers from 10 states and 4 countries.

Caroline Jung from Germany 988553_923640627697269_5467474393697538406_n Suzie
flower by Caroline from Germany; flower artists from Rio; flower by Suzie from Canada

What we have gained from this project was incredible and unexpected. Aside from the physical flowers, received with much gratitude, the support from around the world has made this global.

11999668_1161193723910610_1808392344730119468_o 12132581_1171304772899505_1009712416269344195_o 11950170_1151826701513979_7048148198085096333_o
We got much support from enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers

The support of so many individuals, artists, and groups, has widened our participants’ artistic experience and expanded their vision. They are looking at artwork from different countries with a new eye.

20151016_124432

Piece by Piece instructor Leigh Adams tends to donated plants for the garden with volunteers.

Our artists are also looking to contribute themselves to other international projects, spreading their enthusiasm and talents further than they ever imagined.

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Thank you to everyone who participated and supported this project!

View more photos on Facebook & Pinterest!

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4 thoughts on “Broadway’s Blooming Community Project

  1. Thank you for this! I wish I could have been there to help out Leigh and the rest of you, alas, I live in Canada but my flower was able to make it.

    Kindest Regards,

    Suzie MacDonald

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