ProjectsArt ExchangesPublic Art – Munich Friendship Garden (2005)

The Cincinnati/Munich Friendship Garden was realized in 2005 through a long-distance cooperation between professionals from both cities. The Cincinnati design team was organized and managed by Gerald Checco, Superintendent of Operations and Foreign Relations at the Cincinnati Park Board. Jan’s responsibility on the team included participation in conceptual design, and coordination with ceramic master artist Suzanne Buehler of Munich to create two handmade mosaic plaza inlays for the Cincinnati and the Munich entryways of the garden. During the BUGA 2005 federal horticultural exposition in Riem, the garden design won a gold medal from the Bavarian Horticultural Society.

Jans’s Plaza Mosaic: “Ohio River Valley Portrait” (2008) The high places (spirals), low places, forests, fields and rivers (the blue bands) are overlain with man’s imprint of habitation and use. This basic “portrait” of the face of our homeland has not changed since the time when the only inhabitants were Native Americans. The beautiful face of Cincinnati bears the marks of our collective creative energy.

  • Munich Gartenbau partners lay out the pavement and mounded garden beds in preparation for planting this new garden in a new park.

  • A replica of a 19th century Cincinnati park bench is one of the cultural exchange symbols of the garden which has a curving pathway to recall the Ohio and Isar Rivers.

  • Paul Mitchell of Cincinnati provided a list of plants that grown in Cincinnati as well as Munich, including Russian Sage, Purple Coneflower, and Daisies. Dave Gamstetter and Kevin Casey of Cincinnati Parks traveled to Munich to assist with the planting of the floral beds.

  • The friendship garden is alive with the delicate presence of butterfiles and moths.

  • Jan’s first design for the mosaic plaza inlay was an aerial view on the Cincinnati region, featuring highways, rivers and distinct neighborhoods. She used some experimental techniques with the high fired clay, melting in glass and attaching low relief details. This proved to be lovely, until the hard winter hit the artwork.

  • Suzanne Buehler, Jan’s artist exchange partner, created a lyrical and illustrated aerial view on Munich, including symbols of major buildings and events, encircled with cutout figures.

  • Jan volunteered to replace the first mosaic inlay which was damaged by two harsh winters. The new design resembles the mosaics she created for Liuzhou, with the exception of coloration. This project is high fired with high fire glazes for easy installation, and no relief elements other than stamped patterns.

  • The sight of the face of the earth from an airplane window has always begged Jan for quotation in a clay commission.

  • The sketch for color and tile cuts

  • The full sized drawing is covered with heavy plastic sheeting, clay slabs rolled, stamped, and then cut to size with pattern pieces of another full sized drawing cut to pieces. These are assembled on the plastic for more engraving and stamping.

  • These fired tiles have been colored with slip, and the shiney spots are bits of broken glass that was pushed into the clay and melted in firing. They looked like gems, but they spauled like crazy with the Munich winter. I was deceived by the success of the glass inlays in Philippe Pasqualini’s tiles for “Clay, Color and Fire” that have weathered perfectly in Cincinnati. But they are on a vertical surface and under a sheltering roof.

  • The first load of tiles comes out of the kiln, and assembled on the working drawing, they have the color balance anticipated: stonelike, subtle.

  • Anticipating a difficult installation due to the unglazed and relief features of the tiles, Suzanne Buehler suggests coating the tiles with a rubber skin that would be peeled after grouting. This turns out to be a failure, and the tiles have to essentially be tuck pointed one by one, making for a very long installation.

  • The mosaics are uncrated and 12 inch squares of tiles attached to fiberglass mesh are laid out on a drawing like a puzzle. The plaza has been prepared with a concrete floored recess into which thin set mortar will be spread, and the tiles placed in one section at a time.

  • Spreading thinset mortar

  • Grouting the tiles one at a time to protect the relief elements

  • Marco, master tile setter from Mayer of Munich, sets in the last segment of tile, Jan adjusts a few joints.

  • Jan’s first design fired and assembled in studio

  • Jan’s first design installed in the garden plaza

  • Jan’s first design installed in the garden at the end of the first year. Retouching of spauled tiles was done to improve the surface, but the damage was done. Redesign was proposed by Jan to the Gartenbau, gratis, who accepted the offer.

  • Detail of the first design, grouted

  • Detail of the first design, before grouting

  • Detail of the first design, showing the use of five different clay bodies with similar shrinkage characteristics, notably the white with blue pigment marbled through it.

  • This is a detail of relief tiles damaged by freeze and thaw spauling, retouched with acrylic paint.

  • This is a detail of the unglazed tiles, these color changes created soley with engobes. The shiney blue tiles are colored with highfire glaze. The relief elements that represent trees failed in some cases, popping off the surface, leaving a pock like the flesh colored blank near the center of the photo.

  • Suzanne Buehler and her tiles, laid out and ready for installation in the Munich Plaza

  • Suzanne’s design, installed

  • The center of Suzanne’s mosaics illustrates the Frauenkirche, located in the heart of Munich.

  • The border of Suzanne’s mosaics includes cutout figures, stamps that represent apartment buildings and houses, streets and railroad tracks.

  • Suzanne’s lyrical representation of the Oktoberfest park within her design.

  • Angelika Stiegler, one of Jan’s partner artists in Munich, retouches spauled tiles with acrylic paint.

  • When a harsh winter damaged the experimental details of Jan’s first design, she offered to replace the artwork with a new design that would use only high fired glazes and stamping for texture and detail. The second design still represents an aerial view over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, but with greater abstraction. It uses the same pattern as the Liuzhou mosaics, but different textures and colors.

  • The second design for Munich, installed, with no worries for anything! The glazed surface allowed for the fast smearing technique of the grout, and the low relief and high fired glaze finish should be good for the ages. Even an ice age!

  • The second design and a garden that is well established.

  • Another view on the second design.

  • For the second design, Jan used more rhythmic patterns and abstract forms than the previous design that was representational, a bit like a map. The glazed finish allowed for more lively color play.

  • The luminosity of the fired glazed hides and reveals stamped motifs.

  • Details of glazed tiles

  • Details of glazed tiles

  • Cincinnati artist team Thin Air was invited by Gartenbau to do an installation at the Green Learning Center in Riem Park. Here is the temporary environmental installation with volunteers to Kirk Mayhew, Chris Daniel and Rich Fruth.

  • Volunteers help Kirk Mayhew with the planting and pathway finishes.

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