kozmon250If you attended Mentor CityFest this past summer, you probably noticed artist George Kozmon working on a large mural. “Mentor Ice” is now complete.

Mr. Kozmon recently produced a video as well as shared some of his thoughts on the project. Here’s what he had to say:

The challenge of working in a public space is the merging of individual vision with broader, community-based contextual relevance. In this instance, the wish to continue my exploration of stark landscape images and topographic maps as definitions of time and place, in conjunction with the city of Mentor, as a specific time and place.

A starting point was using a map of Mentor, establishing the framework of geography. Much of my work incorporates topographical maps, as an examination of the various ways we understand depictions. Abstract reasoning enables understanding that two different kinds of images can be representative of the same thing, a definition of place.

After establishing the parameters of the map, I chose to depict our severe wind-scoured winters as epitomized by ice blocks giving our North Coast an arctic edge. This can be interpreted as our tough winters in today’s time-frame, but can also be interpreted as climatic/geological changes, when Mentor was buried under thick glaciers.

The reflection of Mentor’s historical Village Hall refers back to the map, landscape as utilized by a society. From the perspective of 10,000 years ago, the Village Hall is a foreshadowing of human aspirations and accomplishments in building community. From today’s vantage point, the building exemplifies perseverance in contrast to the unforgiving landscape.

To tie these disparate ideas together is a ghost image of plus and minus symbols. They are the symbols of change. Whether in consideration of climatic/geological time-frames, or from human scale perspectives, the inevitability of change is a constant.

Months were spent researching, considering endless possibilities, and distilling them down to the final design. Sorting through online resources for maps, my own photographs of Lake Eire, rock, snow, and ice, I mixed a variety of source images manipulated in Photoshop to arrive at the composition. Putting a grid over the digital image allowed me to scale up to the 8 foot x 20 foot size, keeping proportions intact.

The large scale was defined by the context of the event, Mentor Cityfest, large enough to engage the community, but a manageable proportion. Much of the layout, initial drawing, and some painting was done in my studio, but most of the visible work was designed to be painted on-site live during the event, so the public can directly experience the creative process. Another 3 weeks of work back in the studio to bring contrast and the right degree of resolution completed the painting.

Much of my practice focuses on large works of monochrome values, stark, dramatic black and white compositions. The stark severity didn’t feel right for a Cityfest venue, so I decided on an ice-blue palette. Though blue is generally a cool color, with shades of warmer greens added, accents of yellow and gold, and the calligraphic brush-strokes serve to soften the chill of the icy image.

The work is painted with acrylics, with Prismacolor pencil used for the foundational drawing. The (cotton duck) canvas has 3 coats of Gesso (a heavy primer).

In conjunction with my own painting, the same sized wall was built to accommodate a canvas directly next to mine. The public was invited to paint. They did.

The urge to create is a deeply human desire that we’re hard-wired with, primal mark-making and asserting individual identity is a defining trait of the human condition. From toddlers to adults, many contributed to the canvas. Contributing in the public sphere ties the mural together with the earliest cave-paintings from 30,000 years ago, to today’s street artists establishing their voice.

I’m grateful to the city of Mentor for providing the opportunity to create this painting.

George Kozmon
September 10, 2016