The Image of Jesus: In Need of Repair!

On this week of Easter Sunday, this blog post seemed most fitting. Our very good friends, Patti Jacquemain and her husband, Dave Gledhill, lead a most interesting and active life. Patti and my wife, Linda, go way back as best friends to high school days in Santa Barbara, CA – in the late nineteen-fifties. Patti is a well-known, successful artist who came to Santa Barbara with her parents from Detroit, Michigan, in the late nineteen-forties. Although specializing early in her art career in wood-block prints depicting nature and wildlife, Patti’s more recent body of work is with mosaics.

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During our visit two weeks ago, Patti and Dave took us to her studio to show us her latest (unexpected) project – a reclamation task on her first major mosaic which dates back to 1965 – a portrayal of Jesus Christ. This work, which has been displayed from the beginning at the local First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara, had begun to suffer from peeling tiles – a mosaic artist’s worst nightmare!

The two most pressing questions for Patti are: Why did this happen and how to fix the damage. Although mounted outdoors on a wall of the church, the mosaic was covered by a walkway overhang. Patti related that, at one time, a small piece of construction machinery doing work near the building accidentally bumped the framed piece as it hung in place; that could have jarred the tiles and begun the deterioration process. Also possibly germane, the tile adhesives available back then were inferior to those which are available to artists like Patti, today.

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Patti with the damaged Jesus (note the lower-left corner)

When the four of us left Patti’s studio to take a walk in the nearby local botanic garden, the question literally still “on the table” was how to proceed with the unenviable task of repairing the image of Jesus.

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Santa Barbara News-Press article on the mosaic dedication, Sept. 19, 1965

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                   Patti in her studio                                    Dave and “Moxie”

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Patti’s large mosaic tribute to the long-gone California Grizzly

IMG_3739 Enjoying our walk in the local botanic garden

After our visit to Patti’s studio and a beautiful evening walk in the nearby botanic garden, we four (plus poodles), returned for a fine “strip-steak” dinner served-up by Dave and Patti – a wonderful evening.

I have no doubt that our good friends will come up with a solution to the mosaic problem and that, soon, “Jesus will rise again!”

 Postscript regarding the mosaic problem: Patti is concerned that the mosaic might possibly be laid-down on marine plywood that is warped or otherwise damaged. Her challenge is to transfer the entire mosaic to a new surface without doing it tile-by-tile. If any mosaic expert is reading this who can offer suggestions, please E-mail Dave Gledhill directly at dave@missioncreek.com .

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