UPDATE: Tiger Spot mosaic removed from Lowry Mall

Monday, May 14, 2012 | 6:35 p.m. CDT; updated 11:45 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Tiger Spot mosaic on Lowry Mall was removed Monday morning. A replacement piece will be determined by the MU Art and Artifacts Committee.

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.


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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.

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Delcia Crockett May 15, 2012 | 4:40 a.m.

@"Few people walking by the spot Monday morning seemed to give much attention to the change."

For the years I was on campus as a student, I never saw anyone "notice" this anyway.

Walked right past it.

Wonder why some folks think that such is worth the investment made in it?


(Report Comment)
Harold Sutton May 15, 2012 | 8:56 a.m.

Spending money seems to be the motivating factor in far to many projects on Campus and in Columbia overall! "Lets spend some money on some 'bling' instead of repairing or improving teaching facilities!!!" ...... How many students were motivated to greater aspirations after viewing this piece of so called artwork during its short display period?

Scholarships for some needy applicants? Naw, lets blow the money on some eye candy!!!!!

(Report Comment)
patrick rollens May 15, 2012 | 10:05 a.m.

Oh my god, this thing was such an embarrassment. I was an undergrad when it was installed in 2001, and then a decade's worth of students basically didn't see it because the spot was under a tarp or tent for so long.

I wonder how much damage this ordeal inflicted on Paul Jackson's reputation? I'm aghast that it took 10 years to figure out that this thing wasn't a good piece of of outdoor art.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 15, 2012 | 3:14 p.m.

I thought the mosaic already had been removed.

I should quit with that, but I can't. For the last time, had the artist and those who sponsored his project picked up a phone during the planning stages and dialed 573-341-4111 and talked to our glass technologists they'd have been advised, "Sounds like an interesting project, but PUT IT INSIDE, to avoid weather-related problems and vandalism."

As I understand it both weather-related problems and at least some vandalism were the results of putting the mosaic outside.

As my granddaughters would so succinctly put it, DUH! What's the point of having expertise in this "System" if you ignore it?

(Report Comment)
Shannon Cunniff May 15, 2012 | 3:49 p.m.

A terrible loss for everybody - the school, students, and the artist. It was a stunning mosiac that set the school apart from other schools' more humdrum college iconography. Mosiac installations outside on flat surfaces, with freeze-thaw cycles, can be especially difficult to maintain. Too bad it's lost to us all forever.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders May 15, 2012 | 4:25 p.m.

MU idiots-in-charge and Paul Jackson deserve each other.

Meanwhile we pay, and pay, and pay for their ignorance, lack of humility and overall disregard for others.

While I can excuse the unaccountability within an "institution" (as it is a mere abstraction, and doesn't really exist), Mr. Jackson should be ashamed to be seen on the streets in this town. I wish him the worst of luck in his future endeavors, and hope everyone is now smart enough NOT to do business with him, for any reason whatsoever.

As it stands now, IMO, he is in possession of stolen property thanks to his threats of legal extortion.

(Report Comment)
Harold Sutton May 15, 2012 | 9:04 p.m.

Hey, this could be another moneymaker for the type of people who are obsessed with themselves.. Do an art (!!!!????&) type project for the UM, take the check, and then come back threatening litigation because your "Art work"? got defaced by vandals, snow, falling leaves, etc. Then settle for another big payday to just go away!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 16, 2012 | 6:44 a.m.

As a replacement for Tiger Spot, would the MU Art and Artifacts Committee consider a bronze statue by Utah sculptor Gary Prazen called "Today's Miner" at an estimated cost of $100,000 + shipping and installation?

The statue would become a twin of one already installed - INDOORS* - at another UM SYSTEM campus.

Alumni of that campus might consider assuming part of the cost. They can charge it off as ADVERTISING EXPENSE. :)

In any case, cost of the proposed statue, installed, would be less than was spent on Tiger Spot.

*- Stays clean; avoids vandalism (located in an atrium and lighted at night; may be viewed at any time).

(Report Comment)

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