Mayor Praises Mosaic Tile Public Art Coming to Lisbon Street
February 11, 2019
LEWISTON – The developer of The Hartley Block, a 63-unit apartment building with retail space at Lisbon and Ash Streets in downtown Lewiston, announced today it has commissioned two 9- by 9-foot mosaic tile art installations at the street level of the building’s Lisbon Street façade, and Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard is pleased, “This is great news. Lisbon Street continues to evolve, and mosaic artwork on The Hartley Block will add more flavor and appeal to downtown Lewiston.”
The pieces, to be executed by Miotto Mosaics Art Studios, Inc. of Carmel, New York, and in consultation with artist Nancy Blum of New York City, will be interpretations and enlargements of details of two Marsden Hartley oil paintings, Smelt Brook Falls (1937, St. Louis Art Museum) and Jotham’s Island, Georgetown, Maine (1938, Portland Museum of Art).
“We want to both honor Marsden Hartley, who had a studio on this site in his early years, and create a distinctive ‘sense of place’ for his namesake building,” said Nathan Szanton, President of The Szanton Company, which is developing the Hartley Block. “We also want to build awareness of Hartley, a native of Lewiston, and his accomplishments.” The artists were chosen as the result of a directed call for participation, which included
submissions by Maine, New England, national, and international artists and/or mosaic installers.
Blum and Miotto have worked together previously on successful mosaic installations, such as the 28th Street Subway Station in Manhattan and a commuter train station in Westchester County, New York. About the Hartley project, Blum said: “Stephen and I are really excited about this commission. Usually when we work together, I design the art and Miotto Mosaics installs the work. We’ve never before been asked, as a team, to interpret the work of an artist. It will be an interesting challenge to bring Hartley’s work to life on a busy downtown street.” The contract with Blum and Miotto calls for the pieces to be installed by the end of May, 2019.
Marsden Hartley was born in Lewiston in 1877 and raised there. He attended primary school on Bates Street. At age 15, to help support his family, he dropped out of school to work in the office of Lewiston’s Knopf shoe factory. Hartley joined his parents at age 16 in Cleveland, where he took his first art lessons. In 1899, he moved to New York City to continue his studies. As Hartley’s painting gained prominence, he met and befriended many of the leading modern artists of his day, both in the U.S. and Europe. After extensive travels brought him into contact with a variety of modern art movements, Hartley finally arrived at a distinctive, personal style. That style is perhaps best seen in his bold paintings of Maine landscapes made toward the end of his life, such as those to be interpreted in the Hartley Block murals.
The two mosaics focus on details of two paintings of the Maine landscape—the woods and the ocean. Blum’s and Miotto’s interpretations of those details play with color and form, paying homage to Hartley while also drawing attention to the potentials of mosaic, says Natasha Goldman, an expert on public art and adjunct professor of Art History at Bowdoin College. Goldman’s work with The Szanton Company helped them find Blum and Miotto.
Blum’s past public artwork has included 50 hatch covers for the streets of Seattle and a 90-foot sculptural installation at Seattle airport; large-scale mosaics for the walls of New York City subway stations; artwork and architectural components for three light-rail stations in Minneapolis-St. Paul; and a 40‐foot freestanding sculpture in Philadelphia. Her website is www.nancyblum.com.
Miotto’s work includes mosaic interpretations of works by contemporary artists. It can be seen on the exterior of the US Embassy in London, where he created mosaics after the work of Sean Scully, and in the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, where he created a mosaic and tile work after a design by Vik Muniz. More on his work can be seen at www.mosaicartnow.com/artists/stephen-miotto.
The Hartley Block will offer 22 market-rate and 41 income-restricted rental apartments and 4,000 sq. ft. of commercial space along Lisbon Street. Located directly across from Forage Market, its residential rent includes a covered parking space in the Centreville Garage (directly behind the building); wi-fi; a fitness center; children’s playroom, in addition to heat and hot water. One-, two- and three-bedroom units are offered. The building is projected to begin welcoming residential tenants the third week of March, 2019, and commercial tenants during the summer of 2019.