Tiger Spot still not blotted out

MU officials say a new home for the mosaic has yet to be found.
Thursday, August 24, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:12 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

MU officials had hoped that when returning students crossed Lowry Mall this week they would not have to encounter the cracked, faded eyesore that is Tiger Spot.

However, nearly six weeks after the university announced it would remove the 30-foot mosaic and place it elsewhere on campus, MU officials have yet to raise the necessary funding or decide where to move the artwork.

MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said that a committee chosen to decide how to proceed with the Tiger Spot relocation has not met in three weeks and that it is unknown when the members will gather next.

“The committee cannot decide on an area accommodating enough for the mosaic,” Banken said.

She also said that removing the mosaic will require a diamond saw, an expensive tool that must either be leased by or donated to the committee.

Paul Jackson, who designed and installed Tiger Spot in 2001, and Tom Edwards, a local artist hired by MU to repair and maintain the Tiger Spot, have suggested that the mosaic — which consists of 420,000 pieces of Italian glass — be cut into 50 four-foot by four-foot pieces prior to its relocation.

Stephen Miotto, of Miotto Mosaics, a New York-based consulting company, said separating the mosaic into pieces is the best way to ensure the artwork is moved without suffering further damage. The process will take several months and costs thousands of dollars, he said.

“Taking it apart is easy, and using a diamond saw makes it easier,” Miotto said. “Moving and setting the pieces is what’s time consuming and expensive. Removal expenses depend on time and time depends on how the mosaic was originally constructed.”

In 2003, after the Spot continued to require constant repair and maintenance, MU brought in Miotto to evaluate the mosaic’s condition.

In a brief report to campus officials, Miotto said that the mosaic was poorly constructed and that the harsh Missouri weather and high-volume pedestrian traffic through Lowry Mall had contributed to its deterioration.

Jackson has disputed Miotto’s findings, claiming vandals were responsible for the damage.

When Jackson first proposed the project in 1999, the estimated cost of materials and construction was $200,000, which would be raised from private donations. Banken said about $144,280 was raised and the balance of the installation cost, as well as another $87,000 for repairs, has come from MU’s unrestricted donor fund. A drainage trench that cost more than $11,000 was funded with public money because, campus officials said, runoff at the site was affecting other areas.

The decision to remove and relocate the Spot was announced July 13. In addition to the committee appointed to oversee the relocation, a separate committee was formed to solicit donations to pay for the work. Banken said, however, fundraising cannot begin until an estimated cost for the removal and relocation has been determined.

Last month, Jackson said that several ideas about what will take the place of Tiger Spot in Lowry Mall have been informally discussed by committee members. One option is a replica of the original design sitting at the top of a monument. Jackson said the committee hoped to have the new design chosen and a sketch of it on display in Lowry Mall by MU’s homecoming celebration in October.

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