by LIBERTY FINCH
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
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
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.