Look no further than Gallery 360’s Mosaica exhibit to see work by two of the best mosaic artists in the Twin Cities: Sheryl Turoila and Michael Sweere. In this show, curator and gallery owner Marry Beck pairs profoundly different but equally extraordinary mosaic artists in the main gallery, and also features work by a number of ceramists, tile makers and stained-glass artists elsewhere in the space.
Sheryl Tuorila has explored different artistic mediums throughout her career—printmaking, jewelry, fabrics–but it’s her mosaic work with handmade tile that best aligns with her creative sensibilities, earning her critical acclaim. For nearly six years Tuorila has worked in mosaics, focusing on a variety of projects—from whimsical garden art and playful freestanding sculptures (“Flora Mae of the Hampshires,” a dazzling mosaic pig sculpture took home a State Fair blue ribbon in 2004), to custom-designed furniture, interior embellishments (backsplashes, fireplaces and trims) and large-scale public commissions (“Daucus Carrot/Wild Carrot” proudly sits outside Eastside Food Co-op).
Mosaica features her Zen tiles—handmade, handcut terra cotta tiles—in wall hangings, freestanding pieces and tabletops. The quality of the work is undeniable—Tuorila is a self- proclaimed perfectionist whose painstaking attention to detail is present in each project. Her mosaics are strategic, not random, and though it’s clean and tight, the work never feels cold. On the contrary, there is an organic richness that flows through each piece, drawing you in to explore the movement, colors, patterns and textures.
“The Zen tiles are about balance” says Turoila. “They can be meditative in creation and observation, or full of energy.”
Across the gallery, Michael Sweere showcases a different kind of mosaics, using recycled packaging materials to create one-of-a-kind landscapes and trees. The vibrancy of his work is nearly impossible to capture on film and must be seen live.
Trained as a painter, Sweere is an art director for an ad agency. He says his work in advertising, combined with a love for travel and folk art, led him to his current medium. “We have an abundance of this stuff at the ad agency,” he explains, “so about 10 years ago I started using recycled materials in art projects with my son.” Today that experimentation in paper mosaics and collages has paid off: Sweere’s work is abuzz in art circles, and he gained a prestigious public commission that will debut next year.
Sweere’s work expresses duality. On one hand, its Pop Art sensibilities are undeniably linked to the advertising world, particularly food advertising. On the other hand, the controlled deliberateness of other pieces reflect his skill as a painter and his appreciation for traditional mosaics.
In his fabulous rendition of “The Last Supper,” Jesus is flanked by a cast of cereal characters, including Tony the Tiger, the Lucky Charms leprechaun, Sugar Bear, Cap’n Crunch, Snap, Crackle and Pop, and Count Chocula. It’s playful and precise.
But for this show curator Beck preferred to focus on Sweere’s landscapes, which she felt were better suited to her clientele. The result is a successful display that lends itself perfectly to featured medium, highlighting his talents in composition and color. The work is still playful (look for hidden words and images strategically spliced from the recycled materials), but there is also depth and complexity that draw attention to topographical patterns and textures. Rich farmscapes shimmer and glow, kaleidoscopic trees demand attention and the radiant Madonna figure holding a basket of colorful bounty in “Harvest” exudes tranquility and abundance.
The remainder of the gallery is bursting with quality work. Look for Rebecca Campbell’s large-scale mosaic birds—they are truly stunning—and check out the glass mosaic window display by Sharra Frank. Explore every nook, cranny, case and shelf at Gallery 360—the collection of art, jewelry and goods is top notch.
Mosaica runs through Oct. 22. Gallery 360 is located at 3011 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-925-2400 or gallery360mpls.com. Gallery hours are Mon.–Wed. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Thu. 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun. noon–5 p.m.