Step into the Kennedy School's Courtyard Restaurant and your eyes are drawn upwards to the luminous mosaic globes hanging throughout. Artist Mary Tapogna figures she has installed nearly twenty different globes at Kennedy School.
A version of this piece was originally published in the 2006 Fall newsletter:
In the mid-'90s, while the former elementary school was undergoing its renovation, Portland artist Mary Tapogna got the go-ahead from Mike McMenamin to begin making custom artwork for the hotel. She spent a year crafting customized lighting, along with intricate tile mosaic portraits based on the school's history. "I wanted to add a little bit of sparkle to the place," she recalls, "so I really went to town."
The colorful hanging globes are made entirely from recycled materials - stuff picked up at thrift shops, garage sales and the like. People even used to leave bits of stained glass and old bottles for her on the steps of her studio, knowing she'd transform the "junk" into gorgeous fixtures - it's important to Tapogna that each piece maintains its artistic integrity even when its lightbulb isn't illuminated.
Asked if she has any favorites at Kennedy School, Tapogna says, "There is a piece in the Cypress Room that I love that hangs above the bar, kind of hidden. It looks like a yellow seashell, ridged and intricate all the way around."
Mary also created many of the permanent mosaic installations around the school, such as this one depicting former Kennedy teacher Martha Jordan.
Head to Kennedy to bask in the glow of Tapogna's work, or see additional examples at marytapogna.com. And while she had to close her longtime Killingsworth St. studio last year due to rising rental costs, Mary will be a vendor at this season's Crafty Wonderland on Saturday and Sunday, 12/12 and 12/13, at the Oregon Convention Center.