Thrasher Park in Norcross has new mosaic

NORCROSS -- During the recent "Almost Elton John" concert, the city of Norcross unveiled the newest public work of art: an 11-foot diameter mosaic in Thrasher Park located between the pavilion and the playground. The city's Public Works Department installed spotlights so that the piece is illuminated from dusk to dawn.

"Norcross is described as 'a place to imagine,'" Mayor Bucky Johnson said. "This mosaic is an exciting example of how true that statement is, and how the community and the city come together to find creative ways to showcase the arts."

The mosaic was designed by Anne Labaire, member of the local Kudzu arts group and crafted by Jennifer Freeman, an artist from Johns Creek.

"I think anytime art is around, it increases the value of living in the community," Labaire said. "It is a quality of life -- fun and whimsical."

The city of Norcross and the Norcross Arts Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting cultural arts in the city, sponsored the creation of the piece.

The nonprofit asked several local artists to send in ideas for a public work of art in the park. After looking through each submission, the idea of a mosaic was chosen and Freeman was selected to be the artist. Then the NAA, Mayor Johnson and the City Council members needed to settle on the design for the piece because they couldn't come to an agreement with Freeman.

"I think we had Jennifer (Freeman) picked out before we picked the art," NAA President Charlie Riehm said. "We walked into Anne's (Labaire) office and saw one of her paintings. We knew it was the one."

The mosaic is inspired by a piece Labaire created called "Inspiration." She adapted it into a circle and made a mock up for Freeman to use as a road map.

"Five out of five people loved the painting because it has music, love, fun and is funky," Labaire said. "The only change I made was making a martini glass into lemonade."

When all contracts were signed, Freeman began the project which lasted three and a half months.

"It was a very nice project to do and I love the design because it really lent itself to a mosaic," Freeman said. "Mosaics appeal to most people -- they really love them, but there aren't many of them around."

Riehm added, "It's a distinctive feature to upgrade the park. We think it will become the icon of Norcross."

The nonprofit plans to continue adding more artistic elements into the community, including restoring an old church rectory near City Hall to turn it into an art center which is scheduled to open Sept. 24.