Alan Marrero’s mosaic at 8th Street Park elevates something ordinary – a concrete stairway – into art. The backs of the bottom 18 steps that ascend from Northampton Street to Pine Street make up a colorful tile mosaic meant to pay homage to Easton’s historic canals.
Marrero, of Seattle, says he wants the 9 foot by 7 ½ foot artwork to have a practical purpose as well: to make people want to walk up the steps and to aid the neighbors in giving directions. He envisions residents saying, “I live about a block from the stair mosaic.”
The colored tiles are made from recycled glass with thin set mortar and grout used to adhere them to the backs of the steps. Each panel was built separately but the installation allows a great view of the whole composition from Northampton Street.
While most of the artworks in the urban environment arts festival are temporary, the mosaic should last for years.
Part of the inspiration for the 8th Street Park stair mosaic came from San Francisco’s 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, which have become a neighborhood landmark.
Marrero learned his craft from an artist during a stint in the Peace Corps in Romania. He later helped create floor mosaics at the Irma Freeman Center for the Imagination in Pittsburgh. He has a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Currently, he manages a small business that recycles used cardboard boxes into light fixtures. You can see those fixtures at http://www.graypants.com
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