Accessibility links

Jim Power's Mosaic Tiles Bring Art to New York Streets

  • Sahar Sarshar

From the Mesopotamian era to the Renaissance to modern day, the art of mosaic has attracted admirers of all types. Today, street art and recycled art is growing in popularity. For 22 years one man has blended both the art of mosaics and street art by using recycled material on public property. His vision has changed the face of a city.

"There's a lot of people out there that don't have a lot of friends. They may be very lonely; it's part of the way we live in New York City," says Artist Jim Power, "I'm not one of them people; I've met way more than a million people. I'm known as the Mosaic Man. It's kind of stuck."

Power's mosaics have become an integral part of the Lower East Side in New York City, where you can't help but run into mosaics that pay homage to people, Web sites and locations but also give directions, send messages and promote businesses.

"I have set out to try to change the course of art globally through using mosaics built from discarded or reused material," he explains. "The tributes out here are real tributes to public workers and that's what the bottom line is along with being public art. and I thought wouldn't it be wonderful to come down Park Avenue and do something nice on these otherwise dull planters. By 1987 I was moved back into the Lower East ended up quitting an $8,000 a month job to do mosaics out in the public. And just got pulled into it. It's a wonderful place to work."

Like hieroglyphics, Jim's mosaics are built to last and are structured so they're safe for the public to interact with.

"You have to run your fingers on this and feel how smooth that is. All the edges are removed. Isn't that amazing? Here, [on] the streets become our living. My work is out there like its hanging on some museum wall except, everyone can enjoy it. And everyone does," Jim says. "So there's a lot to be said, but we need it globally, we also need to get the youth involved."

Some of Jim's work honors those who have passed. He is also very involved in showing the history of September 11th by creating messages to honor those that have fallen.

"I'm a history teller," he confesses, "because I put a lot of history into these things that somehow connects. Without the public's involvement it really wouldn't mean anything. Just another piece of work out here. I'm not doing this to stay sane. I came out here to do something. And all I know is one thing, everybody is wondering what they're doing on the planet. I'm not. It's my job. I've no choice."

XS
SM
MD
LG