Sophie Alpert, Founder
Throughout the past year, we worked in small safe pods and were able to continue creating amazing mosaic art. Piece by Piece also offered virtual classes twice a week, delivering needed materials to participants sheltering in place. These classes were a lifeline for many, offering connection, a place to create, and the therapeutic benefit of art. In spite of COVID challenges, Piece by Piece provided programing for over 150 individuals in our community.
I am very proud of the lessons learned and growth Piece by Piece has gained throughout this global pandemic. We are in a stronger position as an organization, with a deeper understanding of our need to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion. Although there has always been an organic, therapeutic benefit to our work, we have also become more intentional about our program’s focus on mental health and wellness.
We are grateful for our partnerships with other community organizations for their continued support in commissioning awards. Both The Village Well and A Community of Friends (ACOF) commissioned large scale projects that were completed in 2021. Additionally, Impact Museum’s Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, Hauser & Wirth and the Village Well provided us with wonderful retail sales opportunities that extend into 2022.
We amicably separated from Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) to address our organizational growth and settle into a much-needed permanent space of our own in South Los Angeles. The board and I are extremely grateful for all SRHT did for Piece by Piece over the years and look forward to working together on future projects.
Piece by Piece welcomed two new staff members, Maggie Bohlman as our new Executive Director and Jadie Delgado as Operations Manager. We bid farewell to Daniel Villa after his seven-year tenure with the organization. Daniel accomplished a great deal in his time with Piece by Piece, and on behalf of the entire organization, I want to express our gratitude for his friendship and support.
We have always been an organization driven by the passion and dedication of our staff, supporters and participants. We’ve built a community that thrives on being connected through art, creativity and hope. I sincerely thank each of you for your commitment and faith in the important work we are doing in the community. I am excited about all that we will accomplish in 2022 with your ongoing support.
With much gratitude,
From the Ashes
Piece by Piece was commissioned to create a mural for A Community of Friends’ (ACOF) Firestone-Phoenix Affordable Housing in Huntington Park. Piece by Piece has partnered with ACOF on several projects throughout the years including the Villas at Gower in Hollywood and the Silver Star in South Los Angeles. With each project, inspiration is drawn from the location and the residents of the buildings. This mural was created by the Piece by Piece team with dedication and enthusiasm.
The Firestone-Phoenix building was named after the mythical bird the Phoenix, symbolizing renewal and hope. A member of the team at ACOF said:
“…residents will have hope and faith to re-envision their lives with permanent supportive housing. It reflects the residents who are emerging from the challenges that they've faced. They are putting the past behind them and attempting to rise above their circumstances to a better future.”
With those words of wisdom to guide us, we developed a series of abstract feathers to represent not only the Phoenix but also to illustrate feathers, as seen in many cultures, as symbols of strength. A brilliant sun at the forefront represents life. We used symbols of hope and resilience from several different cultures including Adinkra symbols from Africa, Celtic symbols, and symbols from South America.
Our team was able to work on this project in small groups in our studio, following all COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe. We used our signature variety of materials to create texture and convey the bright energy of a Phoenix.
For this mural Piece by Piece partnered with a well-known South Los Angeles muralist, Noni Olabisi. Her love for her city is apparent not only in her work but in her passion to connect with people wherever she creates.. Because our artist team has never done a painted mural before, this was a great experience for everyone, and the designed gradation of mosaic to paint has a powerful effect.
With the help of our contracted installer, we adhered the mosaic to the wall, and the Piece by Piece artisans grouted and polished every piece. During this time our artists got to meet and visit with building residents who came out to observe our work and have a chat. Throughout the process, our team stayed healthy and safe by strictly following COVID safety protocols. We are grateful for the support of A Community of Friends and our new friends at the Firestone-Phoenix! When you are in South LA, we hope you will make a stop to visit this mural.
Meet the Artist
Kim reached out to Piece by Piece in September of 2019, looking to be creative and infuse some arts wellness into her life. She joined the free mosaic arts classes when she could for several months. When the pandemic hit Kim stopped attending classes. Happily, she reconnected with Piece by Piece in late March, 2021 and has been dedicated to honing her mosaic skills virtually ever since. She is an avid supporter of fellow artists, always present with positive input and comments. Through our free online mosaic art classes Kim found a lifeline to finding purpose and creativity in her life during the pandemic. She became a certified artist and contributed to the Village Well mural and the ACOF mural, her first large-scale mosaic projects.
We asked Kim a few questions about her work:
What do you like about Piece by Piece?
What I like about Piece by Piece is learning about the variety of designing and creating with Mosaics; the balancing of color and shapes; learning about the different artists and their processes. It feeds my inner child, and gives me more patience. It helps me look at art differently, to look at mosaic art and other art forms’ intricacies. I am impressed how a tiny piece of Mosaic can change into a big piece.
What inspires you to be creative?
The other artists in Piece by Piece. I marvel at their mosaic art. I'm inspired each day by new things: a yellow butterfly, the mountains outside my window, God, a breeze, listening to other people’s stories, filling the gaps in my artwork, discovering what I could do better, learning how to do people's faces is an inspiration, although they don't always come out looking like people.
What do you want to learn about more?
I'd like to learn how to do people's faces and their hair, and animals better. The colors primarily, I mean, cutting out their hair so that it flows better like June does with hers. Those are like marvelous pieces and she just amazes me every time I see her work. All of the artists amaze me. But, I really would like to learn that. I think everything else-- the nipping and the cutting and the placing and the shapes--after a lot of practice is going to get easier and easier.
What does Piece by Piece mean to you?
This is a really hard question because I pretty much can't find one answer. It's everything: the classes are challenging; the friends I've met; the kindness shown by the teachers; seeing and learning about art; the endless possibilities. It's a lifeline. The instructors make me laugh, and give all of us the opportunity to create a safe haven to feed our souls as well as our minds. I enjoy being part of a community. Piece by Piece is a sane place in an insane world.
Piece by Piece
A Brief History
The beginning of Piece by Piece
Friends and family backyard mosaic fundraiser for pilot program on April 22.
Launched Piece by Piece’s first workshop in South LA in the community room of Beyond Shelter, a permanent affordable housing development for families who have experienced homelessness.
Expanding Workshops & Summer Night Lights
One of Piece by Piece’s very talented artists was selected to exhibit his mosaics at the two day Beverly Hills Art Show in May. Approximately 40,000 people attended, featuring more than 200 exhibitions from around the nation.
Provided mosaic workshops in South LA for hundreds of youth and family members through the Summer Night Lights gang reduction program, a special initiative of the Office of the Mayor with the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Launching theVisiting Artists' Program
The first year Piece by Piece received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. This support was used to launch, our still active, visiting artists' program. Piece by Piece's first visiting artist was Lillian Sizemore and we are grateful to the dozens of artists who came to teach and to the NEA for their ongoing support.
First Public Art ProjectVillas at Gower
First public art project: “Villas at Gower”. 3D mosaic leaves installed on five-story supportive housing building.
Installing Entangled Bank & Discover a Star
Installing Pollinator's Paradise &
Our Mosaics areAward Winning
“Broadway's Blooming” project was awarded Best Community Project at the Mosaic Art International Awards!
InstallingSpirit of Community
“Spirit of Communtiy: Mandala Project” competed for the Legal Aid Foundation. A series of 12 mandalas from 2-ft to 14-ft.
Making a splash inThe Art World
Partnership with Hauser & Wirth includes gallery tours, holiday sales events, and the ongoing sale of Piece by Piece artwork in their gift shop. They have also made charitable contributions to the program.
Participated in MOCA’s Community Day. Piece by Piece Artist and Activist June sat on a panel with Shepard Fairey to discuss challenges artists face.
A piece of the puzzleSkid Row Arts Alliance
Entered the collaborative Skid Row Arts Alliance (SRAA) with neighboring arts organizations. The SRAA provides opportunities to engage in cultural and artistic activities and works closely with service providers in the area to connect the program participants to free resources in the community.
Piece by Piece Team
Board of Directors
Sophie Alpert, Board Chair
Alan Alpert, Treasurer
Derek Alpert, Secretary
Wendy Colman Levin
Maggie Bohlman, Executive Director
Dawn Mendelson, Artistic Director
Jadie Delgado, Operations Manager
Luz Mack, Social Enterprise Manager