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Mancos artist asks permission to install public mosaics

Town board may award art contract this summer
A kitchen mosaic from Lily Russo’s portfolio. She wants to create similar designs for public display in Mancos.

A mosaic artist has asked for the town board’s support in her efforts to make Mancos prettier.

Lily Russo, of Lily Mosaics, gave a presentation to the board on June 28 with some proposals and prices for a public mosaic on town buildings. She said she could complete the project in about a year, and offered to give the town half price on her labor fees. While the board did not make a decision on the idea during their meeting, they did express interest in following up with Russo.

“Mosaics are a very, very durable and long-lasting form of public art,” the artist said.

Russo has been making mosaics since she was 6 years old, she said, and she currently teaches workshops at a studio in Mancos. She said she believes the town has many empty walls that could be improved by one of her colorful designs. Some spaces she recommended included a wall outside the Mancos Public Library and a public restroom near Boyle Park. She showed the board several possible mosaic designs, which she estimated would cost anywhere from $700 to $3,900, depending on size. She also suggested the work could be split up over multiple fiscal years, with one mosaic panel going up this year and others being added later.

Board member Cindy Simpson said she liked the idea, but reminded Russo that some of the properties she suggested, such as the library and the school, aren’t under the board’s control.

“Even though we think of them as public buildings, they’re not necessarily owned by the town,” she said. “But the toilets...they’re ours.”

Interim Town Administrator Heather Alvarez said the town does have some money in its conservation trust fund that could be used for public art, but until the 2018 budget is finished, she said she wouldn’t know exactly how much.

Several board members expressed interest in the project, especially after Russo explained that most mosaics are easily washable and require little maintenance to stay bright and colorful. Mayor Queenie Barz said they would discuss the issue again at the town’s first budget meeting in July.

Other action

During their meeting, the Mancos town board also:

Renewed a liquor license for Olio LLC.

Renewed a retail marijuana license for New Millennium Wholesale LLC.

Approved a minor subdivision on East Montezuma Street.

Declared the Western Excelsior fire an economic disaster, to coincide with Montezuma County’s declaration on June 22.

Approved an allocation of funds to purchase public works equipment at an auction in Aurora.

Scheduled the town’s Bastille Day celebration for July 14, to recognize its sister city in France.

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