by Bill Franz

Photo: The Mosaic Institute serves artists at 43 S. Main St. in Miamisburg; photo: Bill Franz

Most artists would be content to find a studio with good light and with enough space to store their material and make their art. Mosaic artist Jes McMillan thinks bigger. She rented a 16,000-square-foot building in downtown Miamisburg that once housed a J. C.  Penney and opened The Mosaic Institute of
Greater Dayton. 

The part of the building that McMillan uses for her studio overlooks Miamisburg’s Main Street. The windows provide lots of light, and there is plenty of work and storage space. There’s even a couch for restful breaks. For more energetic breaks from making art, McMillan has a punching bag hanging in one corner.

McMillan told me she decided to rent more space than she needed for her own use so that her new organization could host a variety of art classes.

“I have been a mosaic artist for 17 years,” McMillan says, “ and I have taught mosaic art almost that long. I’m excited about getting more people to come here and get involved with mosaic art.  In addition to the mosaic studio and art classes, we’re gathering community to get involved in making large-scale mosaic murals.

“We also have a huge gallery space for art exhibitions,”
McMillan says.

“On July 9, our Thriving Artist show opens. All items are priced at $100 or less and 100 percent of the sales price goes to the artist.”

I asked about the piece she was working on.

“This is Mary. I’m trying to present her in the most authentic way I can—the realistic portrait of a 13-year-old Middle Eastern girl painted with glass, whose eyes are modeled after my own. Her halo will be a tribute to the historic icon mosaic style with beautiful combinations of gold mirror.”

On my way out, I asked McMillan about her artwork near the front door.

“From a distance, the forms in a mosaic should be striking. This one in particular is meant to present a strong design from further away as it is portraying a human aura of energy surrounding a figure. But when you get up close to the thousands of tiny pieces, you can find some amazing details. Look at the depth here, where I have painted and then glued clear glass on top of it. Small details are matched up perfectly from two completely different pieces of glass.”

McMillan showed me her signature on this piece. She said she signs all of her work, sometimes in an obvious way, but usually not. When you visit the Mosaic Institute, take a close look at this mosaic and see if you can find McMillan’s signature. 

The Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton is located at 43 S. Main St. in Miamisburg. For more information on the institute, please visit mosaicinstituteofgreaterdayton.org.

Bill Franz retired from a business career and became a volunteer photographer doing projects for many local nonprofits.  His photos of people at work have been shown in art exhibitions across Ohio and neighboring states.  Find out more at billfranz17.com/about.

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Bill Franz
Bill Franz retired from a business career and became a volunteer photographer doing projects for many local nonprofits.  His photos of people at work have been shown in art exhibitions across Ohio and neighboring states.  Find out more at billfranz17.com/about. 

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