September 2, 2010

Alright People, Start Mosaicking! Charley Harper Murals

harper_mural_visualingual.jpg

I know Charley Harper was so 2008 or whenever, but isn't now, after the Old Navy herd has moved on, the best possible time to make a Charley Harper-inspired mosaic mural? [Hint: YES.]

In 1964, Cincinnati native Harper did a mural for the lobby of Peck Federal Building. Maya from VisuaLingual has a great photoset of the piece [detail above]. Titled "Space for all Species," it translates Harper's trademark "minimal realist" style, and the all-over layout of his 1961 Giant Golden Book of Biology into plain, old 1x1 mosaic tiles.

harper_mural_miamiu.jpg

Then in 1986, as the first Golden Book generation was hitting grad school, Harper was commissioned by Miami University to create "Web of Life," an even denser mosaic tile mural, for Pearson Hall, which houses the school's biology department.

The best picture I can find is a panorama, which is warped, but zoomable. So between the two, you can easily map out flora and fauna for your own mosaic tiling megaprojects. It looks pretty straightforward. The only details or complications are half-tiles, to get some diagonals going, and then, well, the thin black lines which are crucial to the Harper Feeling. They are laid in using tiny tile strips. Here's a detail.

harper_mural_detail.jpg

It looks a little crazy, so maybe this is a union job after all.

There's another Harper mosaic mural in Cincinnati, or at least there was. In 1970, Harper made "Space Walk" for the then-new Convention Center. The mural supposedly still exists, but it's covered up. A commenter on VisuaLingual says there's a photo of it in the Todd Oldham Charley Harper book. Anyone?

update: Anyone turns out to be DT hero Michael. Thanks. One, I had no idea Harper did full-on abstraction, too. What else is Old Navy keeping from us? Also, with its book-matched marble walls and bronze escalators, Cincinnati's convention center looks so 1970s deee-luxe. A veritable Lincoln Center on the Ohio. Whoops, except that they remodeled it twice and gutted it, and now it looks as boring as hell.

harper_space_walk.jpg

Charley Harper Mural in the Federal Building Downtown visualingual via @anorakmagazine]
Miami University Biology Mosaic Charley Harper Panorama [gigapan.org]

2 Comments

I'm glad you like the Federal Building mural! There's at least one more mosaic mural done by Harper -- it's in the Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. It was covered [but not destroyed] during a remodel, and there's now an effort to uncover it again. There's a photo of it in the big book edited by Todd Oldham.

My ON Harper memory game has some abstractions in it, unless I'm missing something.

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