JONATHAN BROWN

HOUS­TON MO­SAIC ARTIST TURNED LOOSE

Public News (Houston) - - PUBLIC NEWS EVENTS - story by Samantha Mat­cov­sky all pho­tos by Craig Bryon

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.

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