The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 26, 2011

In bloom | Artists mount mosaic tulips on outside of Bottle Works

Cost to create and mount five larger-than-life mosaic tulips on the outside of a building – $30,000.

Cost of more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work to put them there – priceless.

When the first Tulip Festival is celebrated from noon to 8 p.m. July 9 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 10 outside Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, 411 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown, both the tulips and volunteers will be celebrated.

“You can’t put a price on the dedication of the volunteers,” said Rosemary Pawlowski, Bottle Works executive director.

“We had about 200 of them. We’re going to celebrate volunteerism and the Tulip Bottling Co.”

The Tulip Bottling Co. was housed in the building that is now Bottle Works, founded by Jacob and Renee Goldhaber and named for the national flower of Hungary.

“I want this to be upbeat, celebratory and fun,” Pawlowski said.

“I see Cambria City as a cultural district, and Bottle Works will be a gateway around and beyond. Other things will happen in Cambria City. Something like this spawns other activities.”

By the time the 72 cement boards of the mosaic are mounted on the front of Bottle Works by Pittsburgh artists Laura Jean McLaughlin and Bob Ziller, the pale green stems and leaves and red-orange flowers will bloom on a bright, sunshine yellow background.

These tulips will be able to stand a frost because the tile Pawlowski ordered to make them is frost resistant.

Volunteers worked for four months every Saturday, cutting and affixing the mosaic pieces on cement boards.

“We’re grateful to JAHA (Johnstown Area Heritage Association) for the use of the train station,” Pawlowski said.

“We also met at the Community Open Door Church on Saturdays, and whoever wanted also could meet at Norman Ed’s studio on Tuesday or Thursday nights.”

Those who volunteered in larger numbers include Girl Scout troops and church groups.

“The mosaic pieces can be bigger than a quarter with spaces between them. It’s not as easy as it looks. I’ve tried. After all the hard work piecing the mosaic together, it seems effortless to put it up,” Pawlowski said.

Pawlowski has a graphic drawing of the mosaic that she will blow up in size for the festival so that volunteers can write their names on the section they worked on.

Gifts will be given to the volunteers in appreciation of their work.

Festivities will begin July 9 with an unveiling ceremony at noon.

“There will be people from the City of Johnstown and the Bottle Works board who will speak,” Pawlowski said.

After having several mosaic exhibits at Bottle Works and speaking with mosaic artists the past couple of years about her vision for a public art project at Bottle Works, Pawlowski decided on McLaughlin and Ziller.

“I tried to get other mosaic artists, but they couldn’t make a commitment,” Pawlowski said.

“I called them on a Tuesday in October, and they were here measuring that Saturday. Then we started work in January.”

“I told them what we had in mind, and they drew it out and made it fit the building, going around doors and windows.”

 Not all performers have been finalized for the festival, but Johnstown Concert Ballet will perform “Waltz of the Flowers,” and some of the musicians will include the band Parlor Maids and members of Song Works.

“I’m working on developing a tulip song,” Pawlowski said.

A costume contest for ages 5 to 10 will be held at 3 p.m. July 10.

“We will have prizes,” Pawlowski said.

There will be workshops on creating mosaics.

“Most of the volunteers had never made a mosaic before,” Pawlowski said.

Activities for adults will feature an exhibit of McLaughlin’s and Ziller’s work.

In addition to mosaics, McLaughlin works with ceramics, and Ziller works with oil, pastels, steel, sumi ink and sculpture.

Together they created a mosaic mural at the Pittsburgh Zoo with the help of more than 1,000 Pittsburgh adults and children.

Pawlowski said that because tulips aren’t in season, other flowers will be used for decorations. The event will be held rain or shine.

Nonprofit organizations that will have a presence with activities or information include Sandyvale Cemetery, Lift Johnstown, Children’s Museum, JAHA, Community Arts Center, Art Works in Johnstown and The Learning Lamp.

Pawlowski’s fundraising idea, what she calls the flower-power initiative, was to sell the five tulips for $5,000 each.

She is making progress and still looking for contributors.

So far, those who have donated include the George Heider family, the Goldhaber Family Fund, the Pat and Walt Freidhoff Family, Concurrent Technologies Corp. and Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

Pawlowski’s mosaic volunteers are looking for another project, and she has one for them.

“I want to dig up the parking lot at the side of Bottle Works where the mural is and make a sculpture park,” Pawlowski said.

“There’s no green space in Cambria City. There could be a sculpture in the middle, with grass, benches and a fountain.

“I’ve applied for a grant.”

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