Cuban culture shines in new Florida mosaic

Cuban culture shines in new Florida mosaic

May 2017

TSJ reports on a colourful mosaic project in Florida where a mosaic artwork by Santos Mendez has been brought to life by Artaic, Bostik and Professional Flooring Constractors.

Little Havana in Southern Florida is perhaps the best known district for Cuban exiles in the world.  Characterised by lively street life, charming restaurants and upbeat music, in 2017 Little Havana was declared a USA national treasure.

Recently, a mosaic treasure has been added to the neighbourhood at an unlikely location: TD Bank.  This financial establishment enjoys a prominent central location.  To blend in with the community’s look, an outdoor bank patio has been constructed that includes a highly colourful floor mosaic.  Even more attention-grabbing is the fact that this mosaic masterpiece was created using hi-tech, state-of-the-art, robotics.

Christina Sprows, an architect working for Enterprise Real Estate for TD Bank, explains.  “The bank owned the property but, downsizing the building to a 2,500 sq. ft facility, left a large empty lot on the premises. 

Little Havana city officials recommended building a trellis area as a parkway.  The committee knew what they wanted to do so, and a request for a proposal was immediately sent out to local artists.  That’s when they met Santos E Mendez.”

The tender document outlined that the main concept was to maintain the culture of the area, but that the parkway artwork needed to be put together using durable materials that could stand up to the rain/wind/heat of Miami.  In addition, all creative efforts had to be co-ordinated with civil engineers.  This included landscaping, lighting, and much more.  The pathway was to connect the street to bank and had to be emblematic of the Little Havana Community and how it is inspired by its Cuban culture.

Ultimately, the mosaic produced was based upon Myaamia, an original painting by Mendez.  Myaamia is a Native American Algonquian language spoken by the Seminole Indians, that translates to friends.  Mendez’s artwork, created specifically for this site, reflects harmony and friendship among all living creatures.

To convert Mendez’s concept to reality, the project team turned to Artaic; a firm that has achieved almost cult status by creating architecturally-compelling mosaics using its proprietary robotic production system.  Artaic needed to perfectly match the artist’s colour selections perfectly and, Mendez insisted on approving every single mosaic tile chosen.

“The project was shipped from Artaic’s factory in Boston, Massachusetts, as a pre-fitted, ready to install kit of one square foot sheets.  Professional Flooring Contractors of Coral Springs, Florida, completed the installation… and, it was very easy to do with the templates Artaic provided,” explains Sprows.  “I loved the idea that the tile used was sintered glass made from 100% recycled car windshields.”

Sharon Carlson of Professional Flooring Contractors adds: “We worked side-by-side with Steve Price of Bostik in creating just the right prescription for this type of installation.  As an installer, it is very important to have the right installation materials for the job, which is why we worked directly with the manufacturer.  Mother Nature was the only issue that we had with the installation of the glass mosaics.  She was responsible for the only downtime that we had.”

The mural spans 730.9 sq. ft, incorporating 404,800 individually placed tiles in 24 colours that Mendez hand-selected from a palette of 129.  With its revolutionary manufacturing speed, Artaic is capable of producing a project of this size in one to two weeks.  The sintered glass mosaics were installed using Bostik’s Reflex Ultra-Premium polymer-modified adhesive and Bostik’s Diamond Dimension RapidCure grout.

“It was so easy for my art to be transcribed into something so large ... without losing any details,” says Mendez.  “We went from canvas, to computer, to paper, to glass mosaic to perfect installation.  We never lost any perspective of the project.”

The mosaic allows visitors to walk around the entire perimeter and the images seem to move with the viewer, as per the artist’s intention.

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