COLUMBIA — It's gone.
MU removed the Tiger Spot mosaic on Lowry Mall in front of Ellis Library on Monday morning after reaching an agreement with the mosaic's artist, Paul Jackson.
Instead of the mosaic of a tiger's face or the tarp that had covered it since 2007, there is now a 30-foot patched and partially eroded concrete circle on Lowry Mall.
Few people walking by the spot Monday morning seemed to give much attention to the change. Many current students would have never seen the uncovered mosaic that was originally unveiled on Oct. 21, 2001.
Erika Brown stopped outside the bollards surrounding the site and took a picture with her cellphone camera. Brown, who graduated with her second bachelor's degree Saturday, was sending the picture to a friend now living in Texas who also remembered the mosaic and told Brown to try to get a piece of it before it was removed.
"For years I thought about coming to get a piece of it," Brown said. She was on campus when the mosaic was unveiled in 2001.
Last year, Jackson sued the UM System Board of Curators for violating his rights as an artist. The university reached an agreement to pay Jackson $125,000 "to dismiss the litigation, resolve all claims, relinquish his artist’s rights to the mosaic, and give the university the right to permanently remove the mosaic," according to a news release distributed Monday.
Christian Basi, an MU spokesman, was unable to answer how that settlement amount was reached. He said the money will come from the same fund used for settling lawsuits, and no donor money will be part of that total.
Jackson's lawsuit named lack of coverage during installation, improper drainage, the installation of the bollards surrounding the mosaic and vandalism as causes for the deterioration. A phone message left for Jackson was not immediately returned.
However, a 2003 report by a university consultant said that Jackson's "unorthodox" method of creating the mosaic was also a cause to blame, according to a previous Missourian report. The glass tiles Jackson used were less than half as thick as usual outdoor floor mosaic tiles, and his off-site creation process left the construction weak, according to the report.
Those tiles have now been disposed of as part of the settlement agreement, Basi said. MU considered moving the mosaic indoors in 2006 and 2007, but Basi said that will not happen.
There are signs of erosion in the concrete base where the tiles were. Near one edge there is a small patch of moss growing. The bollards and their chains still circle where the mosaic was.
A long strip drain still stands between where the mosaic had been and the library steps. The drain was an $11,000 installation in 2004 to defend the mosaic from rain water.
The drain did not prevent runoff from washing downhill onto the mosaic, Brown said. She remembers the mosaic being damaged by the rain before it was covered.
The university removed bricks that held the name of donors who funded the mosaic and its repairs, leaving a circular void around the concrete base. The university is considering how to appropriately recognize the donors, according to the news release.
Sam Hooshmand, an MU student, walked past where the mosaic had been on his way into the library, giving it a long look.
"It was covered with a tarp at first, so I guess it's not that different," Hooshmand said in reaction to the mosaic's removal.
The MU Art and Artifacts Committee will determine the future of the site, according to Basi. The committee has standing representatives from the Museum of Art and Archaeology and MU departments such as art and engineering, Basi said.
In the case of the Tiger Spot there will be representatives from MU Libraries and the Missouri Students Association, Basi said.
"It was a good idea," Brown said as she stood beside where the mosaic had been. "It just didn't work out here."
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.