MIKE MANDEL MOSAIC TILE PUBLIC ART PROJECTS
Convention Center Authority, Richmond History Center - Richmond VA, 2004
One inch porcelain tile
20' x 25'
Bridges recognizes the richness of the life, history, architecture, and natural environment of Greater Richmond, as well as honors the unique legacy of the African American experience in the Jackson Ward neighborhood where this artwork resides.
A unifying landmark that ties the greater Richmond area together is the James River. A primary design element is the Lee Bridge, constructed in 1933-34 by the Public Works Administration. Its graceful arches carried vehicles for over half a century until it was replaced by the current Robert E. Lee Bridge. This source photograph also includes an image of a "lone boatman" akin to the symbol of Richmond that is the official emblem on Richmond's flag.
Over the boatman is another bridge or arch that derives from an architectural detail of the old Booker T. Theater that used to serve the African American community downtown. The Jackson Ward neighborhood where this artwork resides, is known for its fine ornamental iron work, ranking alongside New Orleans, the product of the most skilled black artisans of the day. The mural includes a detail of ironwork that I photographed on Clay Street. It was also an African-American entertainment mecca, which is recognized in this mural by the sax player, Jay Peters, who came to play here.