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Saturday, November 19, 2005
Artist transforms run-of-the-mill trinkets into 1-of-a-kind mosaics
By Jamie Francis
Mary Tapogna is quick to tell visitors she's not in the repair business. But you wouldn't know it on this day, given the oversized art deco mirror ball that nearly fills Tapogna's work space at Hail Mary, her mosaic and photo gallery in Northeast Portland.
The artist says she agreed to restore the ball -- which usually hangs above McMenamins Ringlers Pub on West Burnside -- because of her long association with the brewpub chain. About 50 of her mosaics hang at Northeast Portland's Kennedy School, also owned by McMenamins, she says.
Most days, Tapogna makes mosaic crosses, portraits, bowls, lamps and even postcards out of her photographs. She uses discarded and found items, often picked up during walks around Portland -- bottle caps, toys from McDonald's Happy Meals, plastic shapes. Folks leave things on her doorstep, too -- pieces of plates, bowls of broken glass, garage-sale stuff.
Many of her creations are displayed in the front of her shop. There's also a mosaic of Tonya Harding, photographs of Madonna and Gus Van Sant, a velvet Bugs Bunny and a wooden Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus.
"A lot of people who pass my window are not sure what goes on in here, and some come inside and still don't know," Tapogna says. "I only hope that they see it as a treasure, a one-of-a-kind place."