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Mosaic artist picks up the pieces of her creativity
by Jessica Garcia
Sep 04, 2008 | 1234 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Eileen Gay, a mosiac artist who lives near Fernley, is working on a multi-panel piece that was commissioned by the state of Colorado for a mental hospital. She recently won an award for a sculpture she made that is in Panther Valley Park.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Eileen Gay, a mosiac artist who lives near Fernley, is working on a multi-panel piece that was commissioned by the state of Colorado for a mental hospital. She recently won an award for a sculpture she made that is in Panther Valley Park.
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From developing cartoons for children to creating works of art to be enjoyed by all around the city, Eileen Gay has a talent for colorful and complex design work.

Gay, who currently produces mosaic works, is busy assembling panels of marble, stone and granite to capture Nevada's – and other states' – wildlife. Gay's efforts garnered her an award in August from the Society of American Mosaic Artists for her "Call of the Panther" mosaic now on display at Panther Valley Park in Reno.

"The juror who chose my work must have been very impressed, which gives credibility," Gay said.

Gay received the Juror's Award from skilled mosaic artist Luciana Noturni, an instructor at a renowned Italian mosaic restoration school.

Using granite mosaic, Gay created a two-sided sculpture. One side shows the silhouette of a 14-foot black panther in tall grass, while the other side is lightly sculpted and uses glazed porcelain to display imagery representing shades of the earth. The city of Reno commissioned Gay as part of its Public Arts series for parks.

When preparing for a project, Gay looks for the materials and colors that will best complement her ideas. She uses marble, concrete, granite, plywood and, weather permitting, grout.

"There are so many colors emulated in natural materials," she said.

Looking at a work closely, mosaic artistry is much like putting together a puzzle. Gay breaks up the marble or tile with saws or her favorite tool, a $2.99 standard hammer, and fits each piece together to make up a colorful scene or "snapshot," such as her "Verdi muledeer" mosaic for the donor wall at the Verdi Community Library and Nature Center or the rose waterfall work at the entrance of the Reno Municipal Rose Garden at Idlewild Park.

Most of her work is done in her "lab," which is the garage at her home. Around the house, she has placed several of her early mosaic attempts and has even placed inset fish mosaics into the concrete stairs along a hill leading to her house.

Gay, who used to illustrate for cartoons full time, says she enjoyed the work but wanted to expand into another medium. Then in 2001 she saw a show on high-definition television that showcased the works of three artists, one of whom displayed their mosaic designs with rocks and tiles.

"There's so much depth and beauty (in mosaic)," she said.

It took time, but she practiced and eventually rose to the level where she has competed with other artists for various public art commissions.

Currently, Gay is preparing a panel series for the state of Colorado called "Night Hawk Dance" with smooth, deep blue tones. Each panel takes about six weeks to complete and she has until December to finish. When she finishes, Gay, her husband and her technician, who helps install the panels, will rent a 24-foot truck with a lift gate to hoist the nearly 300-pound panels and drive them to Colorado.

On Sept. 12, another of Gay's works, "American Eagle," will be dedicated at a ceremony at the Veterans Guest House in Reno. Gay said the eagle's wings spread against the backdrop of the American flag and is meant to pay tribute to former Air Force Col. Theodore Ferrato, who died in February, and other U.S. service members who have made sacrifices for their country.

"(Mosaic art) is a neverending project," Gay said.

For more information, visit www.mosaicsbyeileen.com.
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