Jim Power, the Mosaic Man, at a recent fundraiser at T D Bank in the East Village
The East Village and its eclectic history is a topic of music, books, documentaries, and those who are left to keep it alive. This week, we visited with Jim Power, also known as The Mosaic Man, and one of the East Village’s most eclectic treasurers. Ten of Power’s historic Mosaic Trail light poles will be used in the Astor Place redesign, which is scheduled to conclude next month. Last week, the Village Alliance, City Lore and several community friends and activists held a “Meet the Artist” in the East Village TD Bank in an effort to gain the necessary funds to finish the restoration and bring the rest of the mosaics back.
Jim Power, the Mosaic Man and Will Lewis, Village Alliance
Power talked openly about the neighborhood he returned to after military service in Vietnam in the 1980s, when he began creating his historic Mosaic Trail all throughout the East Village. Over the years, the various tiled poles have reflected current events, and the changing times. Considered part of the old Village, the colorful, eclectic poles are a big attraction for tourists from all around the world. They have been used in numerous television programs, and were the inspiration for the set design of the original production of RENT!, the musical.
At the entrance to Tompkins Square Park
In total, Power estimates he created nearly 70 mosaic poles. Many of them targeted and removed by the Anti-Graffiti Task Force during the Giuliani years. However, appreciation for his work grew, and in 2004 Mayor Bloomberg gave him a Proclamation for “beautifying the city with distinctive, artful mosaics.”
St. Mark’s Place at Avenue A, the entrance to Tompkins Square Park
Hand-drawn map of the Mosaic Trail. Image via Mosaic Man website.
As we walked along St. Mark’s Place, we could see that much has changed along the original Trail. Next to Power’s “East Me” pole, located at 111 St. Mark’s Place, now stands an upscale macaroon parlor. The Mosaic Trail restoration effort has been no small feat. As they say, “it takes a Village,” and in this case, numerous friends and supporters like The Village Alliance, City Lore, Bob Holman (Bowery Poetry), Clayton Patterson, and many others have helped to move The Mosaic Man’s part in the Astor Place redesign effort forward, and created a Fund-Me page to help with the completion of the project.
Here are a few more images of the mosaics that have returned to the East Village:
Located at 111 St. Marks Place, between First and Avenue A
Jim Power, The Mosaic Man, seated next to his artwear belt buckles
Do stop by the East Village to see the mosaics that have returned so far and support the fundraising efforts for Mosaic Man, as we await the redesign of Astor Place (including the return of the cube).
Next, see photographs of all of Jim Power’s mosaics in the East Village and check out our Top 12 Secrets of the East Village. You can contact the author at AFineLyne.