Saturday, May 25, 2019

Artemis - A Mosaic Owl Sculpture

Artemis is a collaborative sculpture between artist Kyle Cunniff and myself. Kyle sculpted the form while I created the custom hand cut stained glass mosaic as well as the custom handmade ceramic tiles to adorn the sculpture.  This 7ft tall mosaic owl is part of the 21st annual Art on the Streets exhibit in Colorado Springs. It is located on 528 S Tejon St at the intersection of Tejon St and E Moreno St. The sculpture will be up for viewing till the end of May 2020. It is for sale via the City of Colorado Springs

Artemis installed in Downtown Colorado Springs
This new sculpture is inspired by the owl's prevalence in pop culture. Owls seem to have burrowed themselves into many aspects of our lives - fashion, design, art etc. These mysterious, nocturnal creatures have captivated the human mind. 


The ornate design on the back of the 3D mosaic sculpture 'Artemis'
As far as design goes, owls are beautiful specimens, adorned in natural patterns of intricate feathers. But their striking, keen eyes may be what enthralls us the most and adds to their wise demeanor. 

The eyes are created with a custom cut stained glass mosaic, a contrast from the handmade ceramic feathers on the owl's head.
These are enigmatic creatures of the night and symbolically they are the keepers of sacred knowledge. They have sparked our curiosity and through it have found their way into our hearts. 

My partner Kyle and our son Ethan with me and Artemis - this was a collaborative sculpture between Kyle and I.
Every time I see an owl - a real one up in a tree or a man made tribute - it is a treat. With this sculpture I wanted to share my love of this enchanted creature. I hope that each passerby that encounters this large mosaiced owl is reminded of the mysteries, the magic and the beauty that comes from nature and that cane come from within us.

As all our collaborative projects, it all begins with a concept and lots of conversations =) 


I created the sketch on the right which I digitally colored in. Then Kyle used my drawing to create the 3d model concept on the left. Looking at these early sketches, we knew this concept had to be realized into a tactile form which Kyle hand sculpted.


In a nutshell, the interior of the sculpture is created from polystyrene, mesh and a form of concrete called 'exterior foam coat'. Lots of work there but there isn't enough room on the blog to share this complex sculpture process. Above is my favorite shot of Kyle doing his thing!



Both Kyle and I have a growing interest in ceramics. For this project I created custom ceramic tiles for a portion of the sculpture. Above you can see some of the color samples I created for my color palette. To the right of those you can see some of the clay tiles in the drying process during the carving/clean-up phase.


The top of Artemis is the section with the majority of the ceramic tiles. That part has a really lovely pattern that will mostly not be seen from street level as the sculpture is 7 feet tall. Above it is seen outside during the loading for transport to Colorado Springs. 



A similar patter is continued from the top of the head down the back of it. 



The rest of the mosaic was created with custom stained glass shapes. Each piece was cut and arranged by me.  


Kyle and I created a map of the owl's form and I sketched a rough outline of my patterns. I worked on top of these rough sketches, hand cutting each shape.



The objective was for the mosaic to resemble more of a hand sketch rather than a refined, neat and cleaned-up rendition of my concept drawing. I wanted the sculpture to feel more organic and hand made rather than a perfectly clean object reminiscent of manufactured forms.


Creating this type of sculpture takes lots of fitting and measuring to make sure that all mosaic sections can fit properly and to wrap around the curves nicely. That is probably the most tedious part of the process and one that is not my favorite. Its like being a glass seamstress of sorts.



Due to the size of the sculpture and the endless fitting and measuring of the form, gluing the mosaic was done in sections. The same was done with grouting.



Artemis weight approximately 300lbs. He is large, awkward to handle sculpture so Kyle designed a special dolly/cart for loading the sculpture for its transport from our Alamosa studio to downtown Colorado Springs, a 3 hour drive through the mountains.



In Colorado Springs we had a crew of city workers and as well as leaders of the Art on the Streets program welcome Artemis and to install him onto his new location in the downtown. 



The above photo was taken during the installation of Artemis whom my son Ethan got to watch come alive in our studio. He inspected the owl the whole way through. As little as he still is, he was excited to see his mosaic friend be outside in a new and fun environment.

Below are a few more photos I took after the installation. I hope that the presence of Artemis in the downtown add a bit of whimsey and fun for the people passing by. If it brings even a fraction of the joy that it has brought to my son, then I could not be happier with what Kyle and I spent months working on.


Peekaboo! I see you ...


I'm coming for you!


I gotcha mommy =)
If you live in Colorado Springs or near by or maybe if you are visiting our beautiful state and you'd like to see this sculpture in person, it is currently located on 528 S Tejon St at the intersection of Tejon St and E Moreno St in front of Atomic Cowboy. If you take some fun pictures and post them on Instagram, tag @KasiaMosaics so I can see them. Knowing that people enjoy public art as much as I do is a driving force in the creation of this kind of work.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Fencing the Mystic Valley Sculpture Park

We are embarking on an ambitious project of fencing in our new 40 acre sculpture park! This means 1 mile of fence that Kyle will most likely build by himself! The project calls for 300+ wooden posts, 4 miles of barbed wire as well as miscellaneous fencing tools and supplies. 



This project is fully founded by two independent artists - Kyle and myself. We are looking for creative ways to keep the momentum going so I am releasing a limited edition print of 'Blanca Massif Alpenglow' inspired by the view seen from our park. 

The proceeds from this archival, hand signed and numbered print will partially fund the completion of the fencing project. Buy Print Here



If you are not unfamiliar with the Mystic Valley Sculpture Park, below is a small glimpse into the humble beginnings of our greatest creative endeavor!



In the summer of 2018, my partner Kyle, our son Ethan and I decided to embark on the wild journey of building a sculpture park in Southern Colorado in close proximity to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We acquired 40 acres of wild, high alpine dessert land with nothing on it - no structures, no electricity, no water - we are starting completely from scratch with a 1 year old boy in tow to set the pace.



So far we have created and installed 5 mosaic sculptures and have 10 more lined up for the Spring season alone! We've cleared a small road that leads to what we consider the epicenter of the project. Everything will expand from there. 





We've built a shaded patio as well as three campsites with picnic tables and fire pits for our family and visitors to stay at. One of the sites even has a tiny A-Frame on it. We hope to add more artistic structures as our project grows. We've even added what some folks have referred to as the cutest outhouse ever - it has three stained glass windows in it to really set the mood!



Part of the roof of the A-Frame opens up to an unobstructed, panoramic view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Sand Dunes.



The first set of sculptures we created is inspired by the animals of the San Luis Valley which our land is part of. 



Thus far, we have created bunnies to pay tribute to the all the jack rabbits that sprint across the property while we work, bears to pay homage to the ones that roam the near by mountains and coyotes who howel and yip as the sun sets for the day. Our son Ethan is eager to help with everything and loves inspecting our progress -too bad he is not quite ready to help with the fencing.



We've made good progress with limited resources on the creative side of things. Now to keep the momentum of the project going we need to start adding more serious infrastructure, a fence being crucial. Right now, the best way to support the project is by purchasing a limited edition print: Purchase the Print Via the Kasia Polkowska Art Shop


The prints of the above mosaic will never be printed again so its a unique opportunity to snag one while supporting something very special in its early stages of development 

Incase you are wondering why do we need a fence ... take a look below =)  As beautiful as the free range cattle and the wild horses are, we can't have them roam the sculpture park as we are trying to fill it with art, plant native shrubbery and plants for conservation and to have a nice clean park for our visitors.


Kyle has been making great progress and has already completed a quarter of a mile of fence. With the sales of the 'Blanca Massif Alpenglow' print we'll be able to complete the mile by the end of the summer.


This is the print of the above mosaic - Buy via the Kasia Art Shop



Thank You and spread the word if you know anyone who would be interested in our project. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Alpine Lake ~ Rocky Mountains

Alpine Lake
a framed stained glass mosaic, 24" x 48" ~SOLD

Does this mosaic bring you back to an alpine lake you've hiked up to? It brings me back to the countless mountain lake hikes I've been lucky enough to treck up to in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado where I live. These memories span far beyond to Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Idaho where I've gone on adventurous road trips and quests to see and to enjoy natural wonders new to me.

Natural pattern in the blue glass? Well, not really ... it was inspired by nature for sure but I actually hand embellished the solid, blue glass to spice it up a bit and to add my special, painterly touch.
Alpine lakes may be my favorite hiking destinations. When I lived in Boulder, I loved all the lake hikes in the Rocky Mountain National Park but especially in the Indian Peaks Wilderness which was much closer to the canyon where I used to live.


Me standing on top of one of the 13,000ft granite peaks surrounded by mountains that cradle all sorts of pristine alpine lakes that I got to enjoy during that time.
My favorite lake hike in this area was Blue Lake which actually inspired this mosaic. The entire hike is postcard perfect. Finally when you arrive at the lake, you are encircled by the prettiest peaks. It feels surreal after walking the most colorful wildflower trail to end up encompassed in gray and blue. Its like you arrive in granite cathedral. Its very humbling and awe inspiring.



Today when I look up at the Sangre de Cristo mountains which are the local range near Alamosa where I currently live, I think of all those special bodies of water that are nestled among the high peaks - they truly are magical, mystical places.

Angle view from the left.

Angle view of the lake.
Every time that I get to hike to a place like this, I realize how fortunate I am to be here. These are very, very special places and I am privileged to be here and I am a very aware of that. Every step to get closer is so very meaningful to me.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

American Gothic Rabbit Style

These bunnies are part of my Animals of the San Luis Valley Sculpture Series - Doodle Style Project. The gist of the project is to create sculptures off of rough sketches, not polished drawings. I wanted to see kid like drawings of animals scattered through out this High Dessert Valley. Why? I like to think of it more as 'Why Not?'

The front of the sculpture is covered in a glass mosaic that I built in my Alamosa studio near the sculpture park.

Above you can see my rabbit doodle. The actual sketch is only a few inches tall. I scanned it into the computer to create my color palette. Next to the sketch you can see the realized 8ft sculpture installed in Mosca, Colorado.

The bunnies installed at their new, permanent location. In the distance you can see the two bears who are part of this series. Each set of animals designates a campsite in the tiny campground part of the sculpture park that my parter Kyle and I are designing and building. 

Here the concrete in the pedestal has set and the bunnies are finally free to enjoy their new home, watching the sunset over the San Juan Mountains in the distance to the West of the park.

My son and I are standing next to the sculpture for scale. With the added height of the pedestal, the tip of the bunny ears reaches 9ft. Behind us, not too far from our park is the Sand Dunes National Park, a true work of art - one of the most incredible landscapes in all of Colorado.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Blanca Massif Alpenglow

Blanca Massif Alpenglow
a framed stained glass mosaic, 19.25" x 32.5", 2019 ~SOLD

Sierra Blanca Massif is a compact cluster of mountain peaks, with the tallest one being Blanca Peak measuring a soaring 14,351ft making it the 4th tallest mountain in the state of Colorado. This formation is part of the dramatic Sangre de Cristo Range running along the Eastern side of the valley where I live. The sky over these mountains is known for an incredible display of colors both at sunrise and at sunset. 


Me with the finished mosaic outside at sunset with Blanca Massif not far in the background.
The above photo was taken at the 40 acre parcel of land where I am building a sculpture park with my partner Kyle Cunniff. The view of these mountains is pretty much unobstructed from anywhere in the valley - this is very special for the people who live here as well as the ones who visit.

As inspiration, I used the purple and pink vail of light illuminating the mountains in this photo I took.
I get to enjoy this view everyday on my evening walks. I particularly love the imagery when the mountains have a bright, white snow-pack that is illuminated with the setting sun. When the sun sets across in the West, it leaves a gentle, rosy trail of colors over Blanca. The subtle violets and pinks of winter's alpenglow perfectly frame this most prominent feature seen for miles in every corner of the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. 

I also used aspects of this photo, particularly the pinkish/violet sky and the lighter snow in the foreground.
As you can see, I combined various effect I experienced to create the atmosphere in my mosaic. 


I used a black and white printout of one of my photos as a general blue print.
I matched up the pieces of glass for the sky to create a painterly effect.
The mosaic is custom framed in my studio - I choose stains for the wood to best highlight the artwork.
More photos and details of the finished artwork coming later this week!

Don't miss the Pre-Order Sale on the Limited Edition Giclee Print of Blanca Massif Alpenglow: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/product/blanca-massif-alpenglow-pre-order/