Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Q&A with CASABLANCA Mosaic Artist Jonathan Mandell

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

Summer is nearly over and we're preparing for our fall programming. Although seeing the season come to an end is bittersweet, there is one fantastic part: our traditional screening of Casablanca. Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 29 we will conclude our Summer Classics series with the World War II romance starring Bogie and Bergman as former lovers who are reunited in the distant Moroccan outpost.

How perfect it is that we honor one of our favorite films (and one of my favorite end-of-summer traditions) by displaying artist Jonathan Mandell's original mosaic interpretation of the film in our lobby. Thanks to the generous gift of Margie and Bryan Weingarten, visitors over the last several months have enjoyed seeing Mandell's tribute to the iconic film and will continue to do so for years to come.

Casablanca (c) Jonathan Mandell, 2000.

Mandell answered some questions via email about interpreting Casablanca and his artistic process.

What made you choose this film to inspire your mosaic?

Casablanca is one of the most iconic films of all time. It also has a rich history of movie posters and graphic art.

How long does it take to make a piece like this?

Creating a mosaic like this is a two-step process. The first part is creating the composition. The second is the fabrication of the design. It took a couple of weeks of research and design refinement to produce my composition. The fabrication took around four weeks. Each piece is hand shaped to fit the neighbor piece. The grout lines are designed to act as drawing lines. They establish depth perspective and the volume of form. An example would be on Bogie's pin-striped suit the grout lines are both pin stripes and drawing lines.

How do you plan your mosaics? What’s your process for creating one?

I create my composition first. Then I fabricate the panel. It is designed to be as light weight as possible. The panel also has a built-in hanging apparatus. The panel is then white washed and the drawing is laid out. The next step is picking and choosing materials. The Casablanca mosaic was made using ceramic tile and various semi-precious stones and minerals including snow flake obsidian, rhodonite, and hickoryite jasper.

Sam (Dooley Wilson) plays for Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) in Casablanca. This image inspired the central panel of Jonathan Mandell's mosaic.

What’s your favorite scene (or line) in Casablanca? Why?

The scene in Rick's cabaret where Sam offers up the tune "As Time Goes By". It is such a touching gesture to his longtime friend.

What movie would you like to depict next?

The Godfather. I would welcome the opportunity to create that.

If you haven't taken a close look at the mosaic yet, please do--perhaps on your way in to see Casablanca?

Mandell is about to start an 8ft x 6ft mosaic for Bryn Mawr Hospital. You can find out more information about his work at www.jonathanmandell.com.

Devin Wachs is the Public Relations Manager for Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who'll be in touch!

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