Volunteers carefully place the Upper Fell’s Point Community Garden mosaic onto the concrete. They are, from left: John Raby, Kurt Schiller, Morgan Hansen, Marla Hallacy, Eva Lesko, John L. Raby, and Cinder Hypki, the mosaic artist.Photo by Jan Mooney
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The residential streets of East Baltimore are filled with photo-worthy sights—murals, stained glass, painted screens, artfully crafted wrought-iron railings, and mosaics. How did they get there?
The newest addition, a mosaic at the entrance to the Upper Fell’s Point Community Garden, was a group effort shared by community members, local school children, the city itself, and local mosaic artist Cinder Hypki.
“I love to work in mosaic with community groups because it’s an artistic medium where everybody gets to be an artist,” said Hypki. “At least 50 people were in my studio on summer nights working on this.”
A total of about 60 people spent about 600 total hours on the project, according to the Upper Fell’s Point Improvement Association.
The mosaic reads “Upper Fell’s Point Garden” and features renderings of vegetables, fruits, and other gardening- and Baltimore-related scenes and items. Students from Wolfe Street Academy drew designs, and Hypki converted the drawings to a tiled mosaic medallions to adorn the text.
Hypki used “colorfast” tile, which means that each tile’s color is consistent for the inside and outside of the tile—if a blue tile is chipped, the chipped part will still be blue, not white.
“This is the same tile that’s in the bathrooms at BWI,” said Hypki.
The mosaic installation included a full replacement of the sidewalk in front of the community garden. Around the mosaic is Gravel-Lok paving, a surface that allows water to seep through. To demonstrate, Hypki poured water directly onto the surface; it immediately disappeared. The Gravel-Lok surface is made up of pea stone held together with a bonding agent, which was poured onto the stone by volunteers with watering cans.
There are currently two maple trees growing in the immediate vicinity of the mosaic. Plans are in motion to plant a third. Hypki noted that the absorbent surface should ensure that the trees thrive.
“City trees have such a hard life,” she said.
Wolfe Street Academy students who participated in the project include Shabre Bailey, Brandon Guzman, Melissa Lopez, Alejandro Martinez, Andrea Moreno, Nayley Paz, Eric Vazquez, Lettis Kelly Zavala, and their teacher, Melissa Jencks.
“Community art, like community gardens, is one of those things that bring people together so well,” commented Hypki. “We get together, talk about community problems, and do some socializing.”
A photo gallery chronicling the mosaic’s construction and installation can be seen in the photo gallery section at www.upperfellspoint.org.
by Erik Zygmont