Piece by Piece artisan Mike loves to be precise. His work is exacting, geometric. He is dedicated and driven, and enjoys experimenting with new techniques. When he first came to Piece by Piece, Mike was very quiet, yet everyone could see he had a deep well of talent and experience. His background in graphic design and art was clear. He has become a part of our Artisan Team, working both on individual projects and large scale commissions, including the series of mandalas for Legal Aid Foundation’s new headquarters in the Pico Union area. He most recently designed a series of pendants for Piece by Piece, which were featured on KCET for their segment on the L.A. river revitalization. He has become a respected member of our community and program.
Mike working at the Central Ave Jazz Fest
How did you hear about Piece by Piece?
I was at a holiday art exhibit at [Skid Row Housing Trust’s] the New Genesis and saw some of the work of Piece by Piece artists. I make it a point to go everywhere at least once, so I stopped by the Community Workshop, which is on Monday mornings. I was surprised because I had tried to get public art projects before, and here I just walked in and I could be a part of it.
Do you have a favorite artist who influences your work?
Two concepts in art that really fascinate me are the Line and Composition. The way that these two concepts can come together to form a sublime curve or an intricate form are endless. Sometimes I dream about them and I have to wake up and record it all on paper. I see this fascination in my favorite artists and I have a few listed below from historic to recent.
Jan van Eyck, Katsushika Hokusai, Alphonse Mucha, M. C. Escher, J. C. Leyendecker, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Samantha Fields. I also like designers Louis Comfort Tiffany, Charles and Ray Eames, and Cluad Beelman.
What else inspires you?
I moved downtown in 2006 and went to City Planning meetings. I was fascinated with rebuilding downtown. I am inspired by the city.
What materials do you prefer to work with in mosaic?
I like glass the most. It is precise, shiny and sparkly.
What is your favorite piece you’ve made so far?
The Library Towers. I thought doing something in glass would have precise lines to create perspective, and it worked.
What is the most important thing you feel you’ve learned in Piece by Piece workshops?
Mosaics are really technical. More so than painting. I’ve enjoyed learning the processes and the tools.
Piece by Piece artisans Mike and Jose working on special mosaic table commission.
What has been the impact of Piece by Piece workshops on your life?
I had let my career dissolve into nothing, and that was not my intent. I moved downtown to create art and was sidetracked. Piece by Piece gives me structure to get my career back together. I get to see the same artists every week, watch them evolve and see the projects. It’s an artist community.
Mosaic mandala project for Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ new headquarters at 8th and Union Streets.
What keeps you coming back?
The projects keep me coming back. It is a learning process living downtown and if you don’t reach out, atrophy sets in. Giving up is depressing. But once you start reaching out, all kinds of things happen, like a snowball effect.
Piece by Piece brings together people in a very isolated community. It gives them the opportunity to get to know their neighbors in a safe and positive environment. At Piece by Piece, making art, collaborating, and having meals together builds the bonds that create a community.
We are grateful for Mike’s contributions to Piece by Piece, and are so happy he is with us!