The massive and amazingly intricate, 10-phase outdoor Watsonville Brillante mosaic project has been named Best in Show in the Mosaic and Glass Arts International 2023 exhibition held in Buffalo, New York. The Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) and the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA) will present the exhibition series throughout September.
Huge public garages are the necessary evil of the modern world and are usually uniform, generic markers of every city. However, the six-floor structure gracing the West Beach and Rodriguez streets is an entirely different animal. Its facade features “larger than life” mosaic artworks depicting indigenous people and various cultures that make up the Parajo Valley. Watsonville Brillante basically represents this diverse city’s entire cultural heritage, so it is no wonder that it is considered to be the most ambitious public art project in the history of Santa Cruz County.
“When I first proposed Watsonville Brillante I wanted to make Santa Cruz County a mosaic artist destination, a place where people come intentionally to see mosaics like they might go to Barcelona to see Gaudi.”, says Kathleen Crocetti, the lead artist. “This is huge. It feels like we put a little pin on the map for folks to say “I want to see a monumental mosaic, so I want to go to Watsonville.”
The Brillante project is the result of the efforts of hundreds of hardworking local volunteers and generous donors. However, the person who envisioned the whole project and started it all is Kathleen Crocetti, a Santa Cruz middle school teacher and beloved Watsonville resident. She launched the five-year project back in 2019 and managed to elevate the Chicano-style printmaking artwork of prolific well-known artist Fuentes, Watsonville’s colorful quilt of ethnicities, and the art of mosaic making all at once.
SAMA and SGAA members submitted more than 120 artworks that were taken into consideration for the exhibition series. After careful deliberation, 38 were chosen to participate in the prestigious exhibition. The exhibition itself is comprised of two distinctive segments: Fine Art and Site-Specific & Architectural Art. The event also includes a special exhibit by the famous Oregon mosaic artist, Kate Kerrgan.
“The exhibition elevates new perspectives of mosaic art, stained glass, and architectural art in numerous contexts and celebrates established as well as emerging artists working in this traditional medium today,” says the statement on the official website of the exhibit. “All segments combined represent 35 artists from throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.”
Watsonville Brillante mosaic project is not just a mere embellishment of an otherwise unremarkable public structure. Its stunning mosaics represent the soul of the city and speak volumes of our art and its diverse heritage. Congratulations!