HOUSTON MOSAIC ARTIST TURNED LOOSE
When you think of glass or tile...or rather, when you picture the face of a massive city building, a driveway or a hospital waiting room, you probably don’t think of mosaic art. You probably don’t think of art at all. But it only takes one imaginative person to change that all around.
Enter Houston’s own Jonathan Brown, a mosaic master with over 25 years of turning everyday environments into intricate, bedecked works of art. After an influential backpacking trip to Central America at age 17, Brown was hooked on this ancient artistic medium. His career began shortly after, spending nearly every moment laying colorful tiles and pieces of glass side-by-side to create the masterpieces he’s known for today.
Brown has built his career on mosaicing anything, in any place. His projects are often commissioned by large institutions and notable individuals, such as a residential floor piece for one of NASA’s engineers. In Houston’s Midtown, his work can be found in nearly every hospital, adorning the walls of waiting rooms. There are landscapes of rushing rivers, billowing trees, children playing baseball surrounded by wild animals, all utilizing Brown’s unique painting-esque aestnd motivation for brightening his environment. With a studio and team, Modern Mosaics, based in Houston, it’s easy to understand why the city has brought this art into the public eye. In Texas alone, the work of Jonathan Brown and Modern Mosaics can be seen in multiple wings of the Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Pavilion, McGowen and Fannin South MetroRail Station, St. Luke’s Hospital ER, even UT among countless interior and exterior, corporate as well as residential projects. As a once popular brunch estab-
lishment, the now-closed La Strada was once completely designed by Brown, including custom lighting, metal work, the glowing glass and steel chandeliers and a copper staircase.
“For years now, I have been exclusively working in series. It begins with drawings and then refining the ideas into a coherent concept. This leaves a trail of works that stand on their own, but those works also reflect the journey to the final piece.”
Outside of Houston, in his most recent endeavor, Brown and his team created a 123ft x 15ft mosaic mural of a “waterfall” in the middle of Madison, WI. The waterfall, which took over the face of a 10 story building owned by local politician, Eric Hovde, consists of 517 color changing LED lights, 60 large hand painted panels and features the simulation of a massive waterfall in motion with a “splash pond” awning of glass and steel at the base. The unveiling of the project titled Technology in Motion. Brown adds “While my team knew the title the city had begun to refers to it as “The Electric Waterfall”. The project was celebrated by a citywide party in mid November of this year.
Currently, Brown and Modern Mosaics are working in Boston with the company BostonArt on a large glass mosaic entry. While on the drawing table is a large theater marquee to be made of clear of acrylics and detailed glass, “glowing of course!” Brown adds.
“The marriage between the transhumanism of electronic arts and the ancient form of mosaics epitomizes the human longing in 2016. We want to go forward into a technological future, but we don’t want to forget nature and how it’s shaped us. The use of electronic art combined with the ancient medium of mosaics is an aesthetic that is as much about storytelling as were the multi-story paintings of the Great French Salons.”
METHODIST RICHARDSON MEDICAL CENTER, 2013 GLASS AND COLORED SAND 5 FT. X 15 FT. X 0.635 CM RICHARDSON, TEXAS BUDGET: $22,000 THREE SEPARATE PANELS MAKE UP THE FULL MURAL OF 5’ H. X 15’ W. (EACH PANEL, 60” H. X 60” W.) COMMISSIONED FOR THE 2ND FLOOR ELEVATOR LOBBY WITHIN METHODIST RICHARDSON MEDICAL CENTER BUSH/RENNER, NEAR DALLAS, TEXAS. HAND CRAFTED BY ARTIST JONATHAN BROWN.