The Joy of Brooklyn’s Sparkly Bedazzled Mosaic House

The Joy of Brooklyn’s Sparkly Bedazzled Mosaic House

Mosaic House is a wonderful documentary short film, a portrait of mosaic artist Susan Gardner, 70, a third-generation New Yorker. The documentary is part of a series called New Yorkers, created by Moonshot Productions.

Wyckoff Street between Smith and Hoyt in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill is a long, tree-lined block of brick homes in varying shades of brown. But amidst the beige and burnt sienna, like a shot of confetti nestled among a line of brown crayolas, sits number 108. Instead of brick, there are beads. And broken mirrors and shells. And a starburst of buttons, and jewels, and marbles, and a menagerie of tiny plastic animals. Bits of coral are encrusted in the walls, and the curlycued bars on the windows are wrapped in beads. Tens of thousands of colorful pieces creep downward onto the patio, and also move upward to the second floor like vines with lives of their own.

This is the project of Susan Gardner, who has spent each summer for the past ten years crouching on her patio or scaling a ladder, adding to this expanding mosaic. The mosaic project began just before September 11, when her anger over the neighborhood’s growing slickness and homogeneity was hitting a tipping point. A small flower was her first design. Then, two planes crashed into Manhattan’s twin towers, and she couldn’t stand to stay alone inside. She grabbed some tiles and beads and started working furiously. “It was one of those things that seemed to change the tilt of the world,” she says. “Once I started, I couldn’t stop. The idea is that everything in the world does suck,” she states. “But there’s got to be some joy in there somewhere.

The Joy of Brooklyn’s Sparkly Bedazzled Mosaic House

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