Mosaics somehow fascinate me more sometimes than paintings or sculptures. It probably is due to the fact that although appearing as one whole on a cursory inspection of the work of art, a mosaic is in fact made up of hundreds and sometimes thousands of tesserae- bits of glass, coloured stones and mirrors that are set on a bed (of sticky material).
The Romans were expert at mosaics (Aha! I hear you say- that’s just one reason I like it folks!)- the Alexander Mosaic excavated at Pompeii is just one of the examples of Roman skill in this art. And if the Romans had it then obviously it trickled down into a lot of other parts of the world as well- byzantium most notably. One of Guy Kay’s novels (or series of novels should I say)- The Sarantine Mosaic deals with a protagonist- a skilled mosaicist called Caius Crispus.
So it was without surprise that I fell in love with the mosaic tiled staircase at San Francisco (16th and Moraga) – executed as a community project. I guess this is pretty much a local secret as I do not really see it featuring in the top 10 SF to do lists. But the 163 steps are worth it- not just for the beauty of the steps themselves but also for the views that you get once you climb them all up.
I actually found a website for the community project which gives a lot of details about why the project was the executed, the inspiration and the people behind it. Truly inspirational! When people can come together to do good things.
The entire mosaic traces a theme starting from the sea in the steps below leading upwards to the sky with the moon and finally the sun.
I have my friend to thank for – for having taken me to this wonderful place. It is true that a person coming down the stairs may not even notice it (although that is a bit hard!)
So the next time you head out to that part of the world or if you happen to be one of those people who live in this beautiful place- go spend some time at the stairs and witness the beauty that people can bring together- a bit like the individual stones and glass themselves.