Featured Piece by Piece Artist: Jose M

Jose M has been participating in the Piece by Piece program for almost five years. Before then, he had never tried mosaic art. His thirst for knowledge and his dedication to learning has shown through the development of his work. Jose has worked his way through our program and now participates in small and large commissions, including the Gower Public Art project and the Universal Discover A Star mural. In December 2012, Jose’s piece “Arbol de Vida” was accepted into an exhibit at the Los Angeles Arboretum. He took a chunk of a wood stump and created the artwork seen in the photo below. He cut the shapes, did the complete design and mosaic.

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Jose with his Arbol de Vida, which was accepted into the L.A. Arboretum's Forces of Nature exhibition.

Share something with us about your background. I was born in Tlaxcala, Mexico in January of 1968. I arrived in California in 1990. I live in Koreatown with my family. I have three children and five grandchildren. I love to share and be with my family, like to go out for a walk, a bite to eat or just hang out with them.

Have you done another type of art? I participate along with people of my community in the creation of three-dimensional figures made with different types of vegetables.

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Jose's Homage to Picasso

Do you have a favorite artist who influences your work? There are several artists whose art inspires my mosaics. To mention a few: Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Giulio Menossi.

How long have you been taking workshops with Piece by Piece? I came to Piece by Piece about 5 years ago. I was invited by a person that had been participating in the workshops. I was very impressed by the work the organization does helping people that don’t have the financial possibilities to pay for classes, but that want a better quality of life.

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Jose working with other Piece by Piece artists on a recent commission.

What do you like about the program? I like the program because I can learn, create and sell my own pieces; and that the program is open for others to come and take the workshops for free. It has helped me to develop my abilities and skills, focusing my efforts in the creation of pieces of art using different techniques, materials, textures and colors. It also gives me a chance to work by myself, and as a team.

Grecian vase

Jose found a plain vase at a thrift store, cleaned it up, and used a classic style mosaic pattern to give it a new life.

There are many choices for mosaic pieces, what materials do you like to use?I like to read about different art forms and discover new ways of doing my own art with recycled materials.

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What is your favorite piece you’ve made? The first piece I made was an Aztec Calendar. My favorite pieces are several like the Van Gogh sunflowers, a table with an eagle that I made and many more.

What is something you would like to learn more about? I am fascinated by mosaics and I would love to learn more about micro mosaics and how to create faces. This year, I want to make some three dimensional pieces. Also, I want to create a mural where I can capture my roots, culture and Mexican customs.

What is the most important thing you feel you have learned in the workshops?Piece by Piece has taught me leadership. I have put together a group in my community where I serve as a volunteer teaching what I have learned to people that need it in my neighborhood. I want to say thank you to everyone that is part of Piece by Piece and that make this program run for people in need in the Los Angeles community.

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Dawn Mendelson

Dawn Mendelson has provided leadership in the development of Piece by Piece since 2007. She has over time built an arts curriculum for participants that fosters learning in design, drawing, creativity and collage mosaic technique. As Piece by Piece Artistic Director, she steers the vision for workshops held at a variety of locations. Dawn specializes in pique assiette, a style of mosaic which uses recycled materials. She has been featured on HGTV and Dawn was twice selected as Educator with the Mayor's Gang Reduction Program. Her passion is working with people, especially those who are new to art, and enjoying their moments of self-discovery.