Friday, April 22, 2016

Fine Arts tile

[Fine Arts Building, Chicago. Click for a larger view.]

I am a tileman’s son. Wherever I go, I look at the tile. If the floor is as old as the building, it’s from 1886.

Related reading
All OCA tile posts (Pinboard)
Fine Arts radiator

comments: 2

Nina Goze said...

Hello Michael, I am delighted to say I just found your blog yesterday via VIP's website while reading about Lord Buckley. I enjoy your writing immensely. I too, am a child of a "tileman" of sorts, my father having been in the floor covering business as a salesman most of his professional life. He taught me to appreciate the fine craftsmanship and the art of "a good tile job" as he would put it. As you, the first thing my eyes dart toward upon entering a room is the floor. Even in films.

When I saw your photo of the tiles in the Fine Arts building in Chicago, I wondered how people use to describe the details of such historical beauty with written words, as in a letter to a friend you might say. Images now carry a thousand subconscious words of their own that are often just glanced over in texts and tweets before being deleted as fast as they are received. The pictured tiled floor tells its own story of rising and falling pieces between the worn sandy grout, as though a little child came along while it was still pliable and poked her finger into the “eyes” of the squares wanting to see them disappear into the wet sand. Hundreds of thousands of footsteps over the passing of one hundred and thirty years must have shifted the porcelain squares. Twisted and turned they formed their own organic pattern of expression. They did not crack and crumble, but yielded with grace. Before time eventually takes its toll on that majestic building and disappears from our collective memory, I would hope a kind man or woman would save a portion of the tiled floor as a memento of the craftsmanship carefully laid by its artist’s hands.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Nina, for your appreciative words and tile-centric perspective. You can see this border running along the wall in the other Fine Arts post. The slightly haphazard arrangement, I think, was there from the start. (The floor is rock solid.) I’d like to know whether mosaics of this sort came on prepared sheets way back when. If I find an answer, I’ll be sure to share it.