my friend jessica levine, mosaic artist

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I used to say that I’ve known Jessica Levine for 25 years because we met in our first year of art school. But the other day I did the math and realized much to my dismay that Jessie and I actually know each other for exactly 30 years. Yesterday I found a grey hair so I guess that all makes sense. I am personally pleased to report that Jessie has a few years on me, and a whole lot more grey hair.

Jessica Levine is a community-based artist, doing projects like mosaics all over the country and in the Caribbean too. She also does cool stuff like runs Dottywood, Inc. which in addition to art projects has a whole recycling center, all based in Lewisburg, WV. Dottywood – get it? That gives you a sense of how incredibly funny Jessica is. She always makes me laugh. And for a while, she wore polka dots every day. Not in a preppy, Cole Hendrix Assistant Curator at the Asheville Art Museum kind of way, but more like in a Yayoi Kusama, slightly crazy artist sort of way.

Somewhere along the line while we lived in Philly, Jessica started working on projects with Isaiah Zagar. I didn’t really know him yet, but I had watched with awe the 70 foot or so long wall of the Painted Bride Art Center get completely tiled over by Isaiah and his crew, including Jessica. One day Jessie invited me out to dim sum with Isaiah and his wife Julia; I had a great time despite learning right then that well, I’m not a huge fan of dim sum. But it was cool to hang out with Isaiah and Julia.

Another night I was invited over to their house for dinner with Jessie, and while I’m sure Julia served us a lovely dinner I was completely consumed with the house. Julia owned a store around the corner on South Street that imported stuff from Mexico, so there were decorated Mexican figurines and mirrors and boxes and tzotchkes everywhere. And then the mosaics….

And then the mosaics….yes, I did just repeat that, for effect.

How trite to say, “Wow”, but,,,,,,,”Wow.”

The entire house, from baseboard to ceiling, to behind the toilet to inside the closets (well, i am now exaggerating; i don’t really know about the closets) – mosaic tiles.

And it was cool too b/c I could see his process, which I’m not going to disclose to you now. You’ll have to see the film, or sign up for the workshop to get that info!

Photo of Isaiah and Julia Zagar in front of one of Isaiah’s Mural.

Jessica Levine is hosting a Mosaic Workshop at the Asheville Art Museum, Tuesday through Thursday, March 16 to the 18th.
This coincides with the screening of In A Dream, a film about Isaiah’s glorious murals, as a part of the Asheville Jewish Film Festival
Monday, March 15th at 1:00 p.m. and
Wednesday, March 17th
at 7:00 p.m.