Installation Case Study: The art of mosaics
A mosaic artist on the West Coast, who crafts one-of-a-kind mosaic artworks, was asked to create an outdoor mural for a luxury apartment complex in his hometown
Jonathan Cohen is a mosaic artist, who was born and bred in Los Angeles, CA. When he was only seven years old, his father, Joseph, taught him the ancient art form, which he had learned from his father. Three generations of mosaic artists, with Jonathan to carry on the family tradition now as one of the main artists at Joseph & Sons Mosaic in Los Angeles, CA.
From intricately crafted portraits featuring hundreds of hand-cut pieces to larger-than-life motifs and murals containing thousands of pieces, Cohen’s talent is undeniable. So is his attention to detail, which is a result of the countless hours he spends perfecting each of his projects.
For a luxury apartment complex in his hometown of Burbank, CA, Cohen was asked to create a colored compass that incorporated butterflies for the building’s entryway. The 150-square-foot mural — which spans 14 x 11 feet — features more than 1,000 hand-cut pieces of glass and stone tile. “We use most of the colors in the spectrum,” Cohen said. “A lot of blues, reds and yellows. We also use brown and green for trees and nature-related elements.”
Cohen and his team utilized 254 Platinum thinset and Permacolor grout from Laticrete in Bethany, CT, to complete the installation. “The most challenging aspect was making sure that the floor was flush and leveled to the cement around this mosaic mural,” Cohen explained. “The contractor left the floor deep, as we had to pour concrete to self-level and then dry fit in each and every area to make sure that it would be flush after putting the mosaic down.”
Three installers — Jonathan, his father and one of their installers, Raffa — personally took on the feat. “We installed this piece because this was a little bigger,” Cohen said. “It also meant a lot to us since this was for my hometown.”
The installation took about one week to complete, from subfloor preparation to grouting and cleaning. “Bigger installations take a little bit longer,” Cohen said. “Usually, our art installations take two people. Big installations take three people.”
The new mosaic at the apartment complex now serves as a meeting point for tenants and visitors alike. “It has given people the opportunity to go downstairs to see this mosaic and hang out by it,” Cohen said. “It is a very active location now.”
Tile Installer: Joseph & Sons Mosaic, Los Angeles, CA
Installation Products: Laticrete, Bethany, CT (254 Platinum, Permacolor)