MU raises funds to move Spot

The mosaic that has cost more than $290,000 is to be relocated and replaced by other art.
Friday, July 28, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:50 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

MU has begun a campaign to raise more money from private donors to cover the cost of relocating and replacing Tiger Spot, a 30-foot mosaic installed five years ago at Lowry Mall that is damaged and has required constant repairs, MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said Thursday. The mosaic has already cost more than $290,000, MU records show.

About half of the funds used so far have come from MU’s unrestricted donor fund, which is typically tapped for pressing needs of the university, said Beth Hammock, director for external relations.

Hammock said Tiger Spot was considered a pressing need by MU and that those funds were used because they were available.

When artist Paul Jackson first proposed the project in 1999, the estimated cost of materials and installation was $200,000. A fund was established to collect donations specifically for Tiger Spot, which topped out at $144,280, according to Banken. Among the expenses was $15,285 for a monthlong trip to Revenna, Italy, by Jackson to learn more about the process of making and installing the tiles used for the artwork. Jackson returned with 2½ tons of Italian glass tiles that cost almost $50,000.

A committee, led by Vice Chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations David Housh, has begun the new fundraising campaign. An estimate of the total relocation and replacement cost has yet to be determined, Banken said. The Spot will be removed by the time students return for fall classes, which begin Aug. 21.

Tiger Spot was unveiled in the fall of 2001. Less than a year later, portions of it were broken and missing. A consultant hired by MU in January 2003 said Jackson employed an unorthodox method to create the mosaic and the tiles used in its construction were not thick enough for an outdoor mosaic. The consultant, Steve Miotto, said Tiger Spot was in “poor condition” and warned MU it would require maintenance throughout the years. Jackson said he has disregarded the report and blames the problems on vandalism.

Much of the repair work in the last two years has been done by local artist Tom Edwards under a contract that will be up for possible renewal in December. Edwards could not be reached for comment, but Jackson said Edwards has developed a process to surgically remove the mosaic. He said that Edwards would have to “cut it into 50 pieces that are four feet by four feet.” These pieces will be used when the mosaic is reinstalled.

“Replacement parts are finished,’ Jackson said. “They merely need to install them. Tom Edwards has them all cast in his studio.”

There is also leftover tile in storage that which will act as a reserve supply for Edwards, Jackson said.

Although MU officials have not announced the new location yet, Jackson said he believes it will installed on a wall that is at least three-stories high.

“Placing it upright and indoors will be better because it won’t have to battle weather or vandalism, “ Jackson said.

Designs are still being considered to replace the 30-foot void left after the mosaic is removed. One possible option under consideration is a column or monument with a mosaic on top of it showing the original design. It could be as large as 15 feet high, six feet round and one foot deep, according to Jackson.

“It may have a fountain or planter,” he said.

Jackson said the committee hopes to choose the new design and have a sign up in Lowry Mall showing what it will look like by Homecoming.

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