The DVBIA’s Art Under Foot Mosaic Art Tile Project started in 2005 in celebration of the DVBIA’s 15th anniversary. 12 original tile mosaics, each measuring nine square feet were permanently installed in city sidewalks throughout the DVBIA’s 90 block area.
The program was reawakened in 2010 to be part of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad, a celebration that hosted 600 events in 60 venues over 60 days between January - March 2010. The piece-by-piece creation of four new mosaics ran throughout February inside the Sleep Country Canada store on Granville Street. Local mosaic artists Liz Calvin and Bruce Walther spearheaded the design and production of the mosaics. They welcomed more than 8,000 visitors to watch the designs come to life, ask questions and submit their design ideas for future tiles. They were installed by the summer.
Pick up a map to take a self-guided walking tour of the tiles already embedded in city sidewalks. Hard copies are available at the Downtown Ambassador Visitor Centre at 884 Granville Street.
Creating the Mosaic Art Tiles
Measuring nine square feet, each mosaic features a common border anchored with images of Vancouver’s natural environment, including an evergreen tree, the mountain skyline, billowing wind, and ocean waves. A commemorative bronze medallion designed to recognize the sponsors and the DVBIA’s 15th anniversary is positioned within the asymmetrical border of individual mosaic tiles. Different bronze medallions recognize participation in the 2010 Cultural Olympiad.
Each mosaic has a circular centre with a different abstract design reflecting a dynamic theme – such as people, entertainment, architecture, music, logging and fishing -- that captures the essence of downtown from both historical and contemporary perspectives, contains between 3,500 to 4,500 hand cut ceramic pieces in a kaleidoscope of colours and takes approximately 160 hours to create.
About the Artists
Liz Calvin and Bruce Walther
Liz Calvin and Bruce Walther are the lead artists for the Mosaic Art Tile Project, as they were for the first phase in 2005. They are assisted by local art students and artists from CETA (Creating Employment Through Art).
Liz Calvin has been passionate about creating mosaics for 27 years now. Liz attended a school for Mosaic Art in Northern Italy for a year to learn firsthand the traditional ways. For the last four years, she has been fulfilling a life-long dream of creating both public and private mosaic commissions full time and also sharing with others her love for the medium by teaching adult classes and mentoring youth projects.
Her public art pieces can be found at the Broadway and Commercial Skytrain Station, on the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver in six different locations, at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, and at Parkgate Community Centre and at Noble Cove Housing Project on the North Shore. Other mosaic work includes private commissions for shop signage and home interiors/exteriors, workshops and gallery pieces.
Bruce Walther is a glass and mosaic artist. He has done numerous stained glass commissions for private residences as well as public art commissions and community mosaic projects and workshops working with youth and street involved people with drug and mental health issues. Most recently he has just completed a private commission for the Sunrise Market in Vancouver's Strathcona and is presently working with some teenagers on a mosaic for the Community Centre in the village of Steveston.
Some of the projects he has worked on include the: Lonsdale Quay Fountain Mosaic (North Vancouver); Spirit Park Community Garden Mosaic (Winnipeg); Coho Creek Mosaic (North Vancouver); Rivers Mosaic Project (Port Coquitlam); Victory Square Stage Mosaics; Carnegie Living Footprints Mosaics; Hastings Community Centre Water Park Mosaics; three Strathcona Park Entranceway Mosaics, and six Sidewalk Mosaics for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
Take a Walking Tour
Take a self-guided walking tour of Art Under Foot, the mosaic art tile collection by following the route on the map. The complete tour will take 1.5-2 hours depending on your pace - and how often you stop for coffee or to take in other sights along the way. A hint when determining direction: the mountains are always north. The mosaic tiles are free for viewing every day, rain or shine.
Download a map of all 22 tile locations and take a self-guided tour.