"La Primavera" selected for Ravenna Mosaic Biennale Festival!!!

I am super excited and honored that my work "La Primavera" has been selected to travel to Ravenna for the RavennaMosaico 2017 Biennale di Mosaico exhibition: Opere dal Mondo October 7-November 26, 2017!I can't even tell you what a dream-come-true this honor is to have a work of mine represent me in the city where my mosaic training and roots began! 
Grazie Grazie Grazie!
http://www.ravennamosaico.it/ita/


COMUNE DI RAVENNA

 

RavennaMosaico 2017, Rassegna Biennale di Mosaico Contemporaneo
From 2017 October the 7th to November 26t
Ravenna, 20th July 2017

Subject: announcement about OPERE DAL MONDO 2017 selection

Dear Madame, dear Sir
We hereby are very happy to give you notice that your work has been selected to participate at the Exhibition OPERE DAL MONDO 2017 that will take place in Ravenna at Chiostri Francescani from October the 7th to November the 26th, in the framework of RavennaMosaico 2017, Rassegna Biennale di Mosaico Contemporaneo promoted by Comune of Ravenna and by Associazione Internazionale Mosaicisti Contemporanei (AIMC).
As soon as possible we’ll send to you all the instructions to send us your work.
Congratulating with you we send you our best regards.


Maurizio Tarantino

La Primavera.JPG

"Still Beating" Installed at Linked-in new building! 222 2nd Street, San Francisco!

I am happy and honored to announce that my sculptural mosaic Heart "Still Beating" has been installed in the lobby of the new Linked-in Building in downtown San Francisco!

222 2nd Street is the address!

The building has a colossal public space as well as well as a public lobby. The Heart-work can be seen in the lobby or from the street through windows.

In case you were wondering where you are...

In case you were wondering where you are...

the building has a massive open public space with tables chairs and lots of fresh air!

the building has a massive open public space with tables chairs and lots of fresh air!

the building has a massive open public space with tables chairs and lots of fresh air!

the building has a massive open public space with tables chairs and lots of fresh air!

The troops coaxing it out of hibernation...

The troops coaxing it out of hibernation...

...nothing going on here, nothing to see...

...nothing going on here, nothing to see...

Just a little break before they and 7 other guys hoist this 650 lb baby up a short flight of stairs. I WISH I had videoed that! Incredible!

Just a little break before they and 7 other guys hoist this 650 lb baby up a short flight of stairs. I WISH I had videoed that! Incredible!

The Big Reveal!

...And now some gratuitous shots of the happy father posing by his baby! LOL!

from the street

from the street

The Perfection Trap

Recently I came up against a frustration that I thought was worthy of writing about as it was a good lesson for myself.

From the moment I saw them in person, I’ve always been in love with the famous Byzantine mosaic portraits of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora that face each other in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna. I am in good company; these are many peoples’ favorites however my desire to do reproductions of them has haunted me for years and I have finally embarked on doing so.

As I worked on Justinian I was for the most part pleased until it came time to lay the considerable amount of gold in the figure, halo and background.
There was something bugging me about what I was doing that was not capturing the soul of this mosaic for me.
The andamento was correct and clear and I was staying as true to the original as I could. But there was something wrong; and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it.


So I started consulting with my friend Luca in Ravenna who works with Luciana Notturni and her associates who were my teachers.
Luca started pointing out “less regular shapes, less regular shapes, you must mix up the size and dimensions and angles of the shapes”

Luca reminded me of my roots in Ravenna where Luciana Notturni encourage us not to use perfect cuts so as not to make it look machine made but hand-made.
Now, I teach my students that the way you lay the tesserae is much more important than having perfect cuts, but in my own practice I had lost sight of this and wasn’t practicing what I preached!
I teach andamento principles and cleanliness so much that I had forgotten this until His Majesty the Emperor appeared on my easel.

I was trying to stay true to the original as much as possible but I had forgotten somewhere along the way the charm and personal character that imperfect cuts lends to a piece. These in particular.

Also over the years, as I had become better at cutting,  become more experienced and regularly taught andamento to my students in a very clean way,  I had drifted away from this principle.
In my own work I tend to work very clean and consistently, and…(I can still hear Luciana and Annalisa’s voices in my ear “too tight Michael”)
Even when I was doing reproductions I was using the existing andamento lines of the original,  but cleaning them up and making the interstices much more consistent.
This made them clear for the eye but change the look in character of them a bit.


I think in our modern, technological, super clean precise world there is a tendency to strive for surgical precision. I don’t think this is wrong, I just think for me it removes some of the human element from the character of the work.
For my own work I think it may be a matter of me sensing when it is more appropriate to be super clean or strict,  and when it’s more appropriate to be a bit looser and imperfect. For me that often depends on the subject or idea and how I can best illustrate that subject or idea. More of a "feel" rather than a rule. The lesson for me was that, at least for reproducing ancient and Byzantine mosaics, staying with the looser and imperfection of the cuts and laying was the way to go. That’s where part of the character, beauty and charm of them lie.

For instance this very clean-cut border has MUCH less character in my opinion than... 

...this version, which is much closer to the original.

But when it came time to lay the gold in the background I worked with the existing andamento lines but cleaned them up in my usual fashion and found that it looked terrible.
Totally missing the character of the imperfect cuts and imperfect laying lines of the original.

After consulting with Luca in Ravenna, even when I tried to consciously vary the shape of tesserae I found myself laying in clean lines unlike the original.
It ended up looking more like some Venetian styles where everything is perfectly fit together,  than it did the Ravenna style the original was done in. This resulted in it being clean and correct, but completely unsatisfying style-wise or character-wise to me.

My friend Michael Photopoulos, who works a lot with iconography, compared the looser Byzantine Ravenna styles to a textured velvet; meant to be seen from a bit of a distance. As opposed to some more modern Venetian styles to silk; that look perfect and seamless even up close. I like that comparison.

 

So after struggling some more in the studio and talking to a couple of other colleagues, I discovered that to get that look, it involves a conscious effort to actually try to cut irregular pieces and lay them slightly irregularly.
So I set to work purposely pre-cutting irregular shapes. More than once I had to laugh at myself when I found myself hesitant to lay the tessera and reaching for the hammer to adjust the cut to fit more smoothly! It was almost compulsive at this point!

Set it, Adjust it, Leave it. As my colleague Lawrence Payne says: https://www.facebook.com/364148084728/photos/a.10154054775054729.1073741872.364148084728/10153327195164729/?type=3&theater

 

 

It took a conscious effort to not adjust it and get it out of my hand and laid in the approximate background andamento with not such clean interstices. BUT in the end I was absolutely thrilled with the stylistic outcome and had to go back and roughen up what I had already cut and laid the previous day. There’s way more to do but I’m staying with the rough cuts for the background. Another advantage of working the gold looser is that you have the ability of tilting the tesserae slightly in various directions as the Byzantines did to reflect the available light from many directions.

 

For myself I had to take a lesson to beware of the perfection trap. I think that sometimes with too much perfection you may sacrifice the human element in the look of a mosaic. We want to see YOU and YOUR hand. Not a machine’s perfection.

I like to say "Strive for excellence, not perfection. There is a difference."

La Primavera selected for 2016 Mosaic Arts International Exhibit in San Diego

Dear Michael Kruzich,

We are very pleased to inform you that your work, La Primavera, has been selected to be included in the Mosaic Arts International 2016: Fine Art exhibition at Women’s Museum of California at Liberty Station in San Diego, CA.  We received over 200 entries from artists all over the world. The 2016 Jurors, Elaine M. Goodwin, Sherri Warner Hunter, and Bernice Steinbaum, carefully considered every piece. Their dedicated work culminated in the selection of 35 works for inclusion in the MAI Fine Art exhibition to be held from March 30 – May 27, 2016.  Congratulations! 

La Primavera.JPG

"Still Beating"-Located at the corner of Geary and Powell, Union Square, San Francisco through October 2015

"Still Beating" is a large-scale sculptural mosaic created for the Hearts for San Francisco Program benefitting the Trauma Center at San Francisco General Hospital. It represents aproximately 930 hours of work and over 54,500 hand-cut and laid tesserae in natural stone, Italian smalti, 24-k gold and Swarovski crystals. It lives at the corner of Geary and Powell streets in Union Square, San Francisco through October 2015.

San Francisco General Hospital Foundation Reveals 25 New Heart Designs for the 2015 ‘Hearts in San Francisco’ Series

      Heroes&Hearts    Hearts After Dark

Benefiting San Francisco General Hospital Foundation

San Francisco General Hospital Foundation Reveals 25 New Heart Designs for the 2015 ‘Hearts in San Francisco’ Series

Sales of the hearts to raise much-needed funds for vital initiatives at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

SAN FRANCISCO (December 4, 2014) San Francisco General Hospital Foundation (the Foundation) announced today that it will debut the brand new artworks of the Hearts in San Franciscoseries at the tenth annual Heroes & Hearts Luncheon and Hearts After Dark on Thursday February 12, 2015 on the field at AT&T Park. The 25 new hearts feature a variety of designs, ranging from reflective chrome, Swarovski crystals, wood panels, Polaroid photos, kaleidoscope-like shapes and more. The series includes nine large hearts, five table top hearts and 11 mini mosaic hearts. Each heart will be sold to raise funds to support vital programs and initiatives at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (The General). Hearts in San Francisco artworks combined with Heroes & Hearts and Hearts After Dark proceeds (2004 - 2014) have raised more than $11.5 million for The Foundation.

The unique heart sculptures, found throughout the city, have become iconic to San Francisco locals and tourists alike, serving as a reminder the vital role of The General. After the Hearts events, select large hearts may remain on display in San Francisco's Union Square. The artists selected for the 2015 series are Kristine Brandt, Beka Brayer, Tom Connelly, Sara Dykstra, Kristin Farr, Dora Aldworth Grinnell, Michael J. Kruzich, Laura Lineback, Mackiebuilder.com, Kristine Mays, Polaroid SF, Barbara Schlein, Swarovski Crystal and Jeffery Thompson. In addition, the eleven mini mosaic artists are Randina Casenza, Gina Dominguez, Elizabeth Grindon, Dmitry Grudsky, Sofia Harrison, Wenia Lee, Jill Stevenson Ritter, Karen Thompson, Joi Tripp, Ann Watters and Wesley Wong. Additional details about the mini-mosaic artists will be released at a later date. Images of the mini-mosaics are available here.

“As the Foundation prepares for the new hospital to open in December 2015, we are honored to have so many local artists and designers that have contributed their talent to help spread the word about The Heart of Our City,” says Schuyler Hudak, Co-Chair of Heroes & Hearts and Hearts After Dark. “The 10th anniversary of the luncheon will host the most diverse group of heart designs, which celebrate the uniqueness of our great city.”

The 2015 Heroes & Hearts Luncheon takes place on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at AT&T Park. Tickets for the event range in price from $300 for single seats to $5,000 for event sponsorship. To purchase tickets or to find out more about sponsorship, call 415-206-4478 or visit sfghf.org/events/heroes- hearts/tickets/. For more information about Hearts After Dark, visit: sfghf.org/events/hearts-after-dark/

Event sponsors include Kaiser Permanente, Webcor Builders, Wells Fargo, McKesson Foundation, PG&E, The Stanley S. Langendorf Foundation, UnitedHealth Group, VISA, Macy’s, The Mary Wohlford Foundation, Jeanne and Sanford Robertson and Walgreens. Media sponsors include 7x7, JC Decaux, KCBS All News 740 AM and 106.9 FM, NBC Bay Area, San Francisco Business Times, San Francisco Chronicle|SFGate.com and Where magazine.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Large Hearts (5’ tall x 5’9” wide x 3’3” deep)

MICHAEL J. KRUZICHMichael was trained at the renowned Mosaic Art School in Ravenna, Italy by Maestra Luciana Notturni and her colleagues. He maintains a professional studio practice in San Francisco called MKMosaics, producing fine art mosaics and commissions for private and commercial clients. His piece, “Still Beating!” features an image of a heart-rate monitor that creates the outline of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. Each tessera, a mixture of Natural Stone, Italian Smalti (glass), 24-k Gold (glass) and Swaravski Crystals, is cut by hand and laid one-by-one. There are over 54,500 tesserae in the entire sculptural mosaic and collectively represents more than 930 hours of work in the span of 3 months.

'Still Beating!' Slideshow

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r054zf9mbojsz2s/Still%20Beating%21-Hearts%20for%20San%20Francisco%202015.m4v?dl=0

I requested to thank many people in the press release however apparently there was not the space to do so. I would like to here thank my die-hard assistants and colleagues during the final two weeks from left to right; Eric Arndorfer, James V. Henry, and Liz Williams! Also Escott Jones and my distributors diMosaico and Marc Stellon. I absolutely would not have been able to achieve this without their generous support, assistance and encouragement!

Michael J. Kruzich

About San Francisco General Hospital Foundation

San Francisco General Hospital Foundation (the Foundation) is an independent not-for-profit corporation 501(c)(3) that provides fundraising support to San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (The General). The Foundation is dedicated to promoting excellence in research, education and care for all at The General. Funds raised by the Foundation allow The General to continue its long history of providing quality health care to San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Some of the programs funded wholly or in part by the Foundation include the Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Center, the Children’s Health Center, the Acute Care for Elders (ACE Unit, Cancer Awareness Resources Education (C.A.R.E.), the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center (BAPAC) and the Orthopedic Trauma Institute. For more information, please visit www.sfghf.org.

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