The CMS Blog

CALL for ENTRIES: The Stories We Tell

March 24, 2016


The Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics  (GoCM) is proud to announce an open call to all artists working in mosaic for “The Stories We Tell”,  an exhibition open November 4, 2016 to January 27, 2017. This is a juried exhibition focusing on the narrative form of contemporary mosaic.

How do stories shape our experience and understanding of the world? They can be an accounting of either real or imaginary events… past and present or future in a life. Through individual artistic viewpoints this story may be implied or ambiguous, merging fiction with non-fiction and blending the real with the imagined. Each artist has a story to tell and tells stories in a variety of ways…referencing myth, religion, history, literature or personal experiences. What are the stories you tell?

Our juror, Joy Horwich, has been in the art world for over 50 years. She began her fine art gallery in Chicago in 1973 establishing herself across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art alongside other well-respected galleries. Today, no longer bound by the gallery Ms. Horwich enthusiastically continues to support the arts by representing a diverse collection of artists.

For more information and to submit an application go Juried Art Services. Deadline for application is September 13, 2016.

CMS teams with Chicago Schools

March 22, 2016


CMS is collaborating this spring to bring mosaics to three Chicago area schools; St. Benedict Preparatory, Von Steuben High School, and Coonley Elementary School. At St Benedict Preparatory, students will be creating a mosaic mural on the theme of “Excel”, one of the foundations of the school. Von Steuben High School students will be creating five indoor murals emphasizing the five specialties of their curriculum. And finally, Coonley Elementary is working with CMS for a third consecutive year to create the “Autumn” panel of the “Four Seasons” project. All of these collaborations will be completed by the end of this school year. Stay tuned for pictures and updates on these exciting projects!

by Matthew Cizek

Matthew is part of St. Benedict’s Protege’ Internship Program 2016. CMS is happy to welcome him to CMS this year!

The Importance of Drawing in Mosaic Practice

March 7, 2016

IMG_0299The value of drawing as part of a mosaic art practice is key to expression of an idea or design. At  CMS we encourage our students to draw, no matter how crudely – as even the most simple lines or “notes’ will help you to inform your mosaic planning and execution. Consider taking our Drawing for Mosaics Workshop or a drawing class at your local community center of college. It will make a difference!

Here is a blogpost from 2013 by our CMS faculty member, Martha Crandall – we thought it was worthy of another look:)

A Discovery Starts with Drawing
I see a drawing as a blueprint or foundation for many types of other artwork. It could be a graphic, a sculpture, a painting or mosaic, any number of other things. But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that a big realization hit home about my own artistic process.

I have always considered drawing as the first skill in my particular skill set. As a child it was certainly my favorite language! It came naturally and it was fun. Later on when I attended art school, “drawing as a foundation” was central to my education there.

Lately I have been trying to revive my own drawing practice. I go outside, draw a plant or an insect or anything nearby. I allow myself this window of study until real life intrudes again and I must switch gears and perform some other work. I had to produce a drawing for Mosaic Fundamentals at CMS. So I went to my sketchbook and took a page. But, not trusting that completely, I also took a snapshot of the subject and traced the photo to get another version of the drawing.

In the end I chose the first drawing, and I’m glad that I did. The tracing looked mechanical and had no life. I feel that he resulting mosaic was far better because of the natural drawing. Then I realized that much of my mosaic work to this point was based on tracings (mostly my photos) or something I drew on the computer. I was relying on methods I used as a graphic designer. Tracings and such have their place but they do not replace the inherent qualities of an actual drawing. A product of eyes and hands on paper is bound to have some life in it, something more from within.

So, I intend to keep drawing!

By Martha Crandall

March 2016 Newsletter

March 1, 2016


10914822_10203859730402220_7382445909948942736_o-1There is lots to look forward to this Spring at CMS. Time to make plans for all our great upcoming Visiting Artists Seminars and events. Check it out HERE

The 2016 CMS Catalog is Here!

February 7, 2016


Check out our lush roster of classes and workshops for Spring/Summer 2016!

Click here to check it out :  CMS Spring 2016

Travel to Chicago for our CMS MOSAIC INTENSIVES:

Can 4 days or more change your life, or at least in your approach to your studio practice? Yes! Give us a minimum of 4 days or a combination of time and we will give you back-to-back instructions in your choice of two or three intensive classes. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain confidence and new skills. Customize your own experience by choosing to enroll in any combination of three classes at reduced rates.

Take 3 or more classes and get 10% off.

June Sequence:

Portraits with Carolina Zanelli • 6/1-6/5 • $700

Monochromatic with Toyoharu Kii 6/8-6/12 • $675

Design Fundamentals with Sue Giannotti 6/10-6/12 • $400

Undulation with Sue Giannotti 6/13-6/14 • $325

Smalti Dimensions with Sue Giannotti 6/15-6/18 • $495

Large Scale Mosaics with Gary Drostle 6/22-6/26 • $725

July Sequence:

Direct Method • 7/6-7/8 • $425

Drawing Fundamentals • 7/9-7/10 • $230

Ravenna Technique • 7/11-7/15 • $525

Mosaic as an Expressive Art Form with Dugald MacInnes • 7/17-7/21 • $900

Mosaic as an Expressive Art Form II with Dugald MacInnes • 7/23-7/27 • $900

Hammer & Hardie • 7/30-7/31 • $225

August Sequence:

Clay in Mosaic with Karen Ami • 8/9-8/11 • $325 Texture • 8/12-8/15 • $425

email us at to register or for more details

OPUS PLEIADES opens at GoCM 1/15/2016

January 2, 2016

Opus refers to any artistic work, especially one on a large scale. Pleiades is Greek and in astronomy The Pleiades or Seven Sisters is an open star cluster containing middle-aged hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus.

Opus Pleiades describes this exhibition perfectly as it embodies the community in which the seven artists create. These contemporary mosaic works, while classically driven, speak in the feminine voice.

Opus Pleiades (FB)

 Featuring the works of these 7 outstanding American women artists:

Sue Coombs

Martha Crandall

Carolynn Friedman

Sue Giannotti

Andryea Natkin

Angela Sanders

Casey Van Loon

GoCM “Made in Chicago” show opens at Wheaton College

“Made in Chicago” travels from Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics (GoCM) to Wheaton College, Adams Hall – Walford Galleries, Wheaton, Illinois, January 8th – February 11th, 2016. Untitled 2The show features over 25 local artists affiliated with The Chicago Mosaic School.

Artists Reception: Thursday, January 14th 4:30 – 6:30

Happy New Year from CMS

December 30, 2015

1836636_941038312633133_523347317464911454_oHappy New Year from all of us at CMS. Here is our year end Newsletter...:)


CMS Artists Market Dec 12-13

November 30, 2015

12295359_924519890951642_4501192834960869892_nOur first ever ARTIST MARKET

featuring the unique and original work by many local artists and artisans!

Saturday and Sunday December 12th, 10am – 4pm

Some of the artists are:

Artery Ink – Greeting Cards and more
Sarah DeLuca/Oak Dresses – Fashions
Casey Van Loon – Mosaic Jewelry
Regina Lombardo – Ceramics
Catherine Kang – Mosaic Jewelry
Square One Soapworks – Soap
Richard Bitterman – Jewelry
T.J & Laura Marie – Photo Frames
Mary Lou Romano -Mosaic Jewelry
Doris Richardson – Ceramics


Made in Chicago Opens in September

August 19, 2015





Trained VS Self Taught Artists – a discussion

July 25, 2015

“Trained VS Self Taught Artists?” by Wasentha Young



Over the years as an artist – self taught and educated, I have had many discussions with colleagues about creativity and art finding that both self taught and educated artists speak poorly of each other. Where I find great value in receiving formal background from an art institute, there is also the “self” development that allows one to be free in creativity.

Now in a certificate program at The Chicago Mosaic School,  I am learning so much more about the history, use of proper tools, lines (andamento), and by definition – what is mosaic art – really. However when I speak to other people I know who are self taught, they seem to resent that I am getting a “formal” education in the art. It is like a fear comes up that “education” minimizes their experience – that they will no longer be respected for the understanding and creativity the exemplify. Likewise with those who have an educational background in art… they seem to feel like self-taught artists proclaim to know so much, that they in essence speak to minimize the many years classically trained artists have spent receiving an education. For me the environment of an art institution is very supportive and provides not only a comprehensive mentorship and learning of classical and contempory techniques, but provides rich conversations, focused study and networking. When it comes to “self”-expression this same environment can be gritty, but no less useful in advise and mentorship.

Sometimes I equate these two perspectives and their tension like the difference between classical and and jazz music. A classical musician may be able to play a jazz piece by reading the written music but will lack the spirit of the music and an untrained jazz musician can play music that will “hurt you” (an outcry we say when the music moves us deeply) but not be able to read music and at times not successfully reach the desired notes, because s/he were unable to prepare him/her self sufficiently – which is something classical musicians learn.

In combining the classical training and deep self expression… to me, that can be ultimate in expressing myself creatively.

What are your thoughts about the friction between, experience and value of of both?

Posted by Wasentha Young.

Wasentha Young is a  2nd year CMS Certification student from Michigan and Director / Founder / Proprietor of The Peaceful Dragon School/Harmony of Energy Center in Ann Arbor.

Kids Summertime Mosaics at CMS!

This summer we are offering a series of youth classes for ages 8-14! Each weeklong class is intended to introduce young beginners to mosaic tools, materials, and techniques!

The next session is August 17th-21st from 10:00-1:00 pm- register here !IMG_7660

Summertime Mosaic Class covers cutting, adhesives, substrates, design/layout, and grouting. Students will create one piece a day while learning about traditional mosaic arts and contemporary examples. There will be short walking fieldtrips to local mosaic installations, such as the nearby Irving Park El station and a completed CMS project at Lakeview High School. All materials, supplies and tools are provided. This class will provide students with an opportunity to explore a beautiful and ancient art form and create their own original pieces to take home.


Gary Drostle Returns to CMS September 2015

June 7, 2015

We are excited to announce British artist Gary Drostle will be returning to Chicago (due to popular demand!) to give his “Large Scale Mosaics” Workshop at CMS September 9-13, 2015.  In this exclusive 5-day workshop, students will have the opportunity to learn about the process of creating large scale mosaic projects.

Artist Gary Drostle has been creating large scale mosaics using the paper faced reverse technique for over twenty five years, undertaking major commissions across the UK and in the USA, Canada and South America. His work has won numerous awards including the National Tile Contractors Association (USA) award for best mosaic in 2011 and the SAMA MAI Best in Show award 2013.

Click here to register:

IMG_7139 IMG_7122 (1)



Apocalyptic Alphabet opens Friday, May 1st at GoCM

April 25, 2015

The Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics at The Chicago Mosaic School invites you to a special exhibition of works on paper & mosaics by Australian artist Pamela Irving.

Pamela Irving’s “Apocalyptic Alphabet” fuses nonsense and humour. Her use of objects and shards, which have their own intrinsic value, combine to give the common alphabet new, quirky meanings. Irving’s assemblages, prints and mosaics are inspired by the mosaics at Torcello, Venice; The Baptistery Mosaics in Florence and the work of Milanese artist Enricho Baj all fused with Irving’s own virulent imagination. This is Pamela Irving’s first exhibition in the USA. Irving is thrilled with her association with the Chicago Mosaic School and the level of education offered at CMS.

Pamela Irving Show (flyer)

A European Mosaic Master Exhibits in Chicago

April 6, 2015

Viaggiando sulla ShinkansenVerdiano Marzi – Opening Reception:  April 10th 6:00 – 9:00pm

“Dal Sogno all’ Opus Veritas” on view from March 28th – July 3rd, 2015

at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church


Internationally renowned European mosaic artist Verdiano Marzi will open his first solo American exhibition, “Dal Sogno all’ Opus Veritas,” in Chicago, Illinois at the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church on the world famous Magnificent Mile.  Born in Ravenna, Italy Marzi, who grew up in San Marino, currently resides in Paris and is a contemporary Master of the mosaic art form.

This show features over two dozen of Maestro Marzi’s mosaics, sculptures and drawings and runs from March 28 – July 3rd, 2015.   The Opening Reception of his exhibition Friday is April 10th, from 6:00-9:00pm.  Mr. Marzi is in Chicago, recently arrived from France to attend the reception event.  He has also created several new works while here in Chicago especially for the exhibition. The opening for the exhibition will include a special dance and musical performance followed by refreshments.

Sponsored by the Chicago Mosaic School in cooperation with the Fourth Presbyterian Church, this exhibition coincides with the School’s 10th anniversary.  The Chicago Mosaic School founded in 2005, is the first school in the United States dedicated to teaching historic and contemporary Mosaic Arts. Special limited edition catalogs for the exhibition will be available for purchase at the opening, at The Chicago Mosaic School or on-line.

About the Artist

Verdiano Marzi’s love of mosaic dates back to his childhood in Ravenna where he was born in 1949 just after World War II. Early on, an observant school teacher noticed his artistic gifts and recommended that his parents, who were of extremely modest means, send him to the newly opened State Institute of Art for Mosaic.  While studying there he flourished, earning scholarships that ensured that he could continue his education to perfect this meticulous and historic art form.  The State Institute was a hub of future mosaic artists including the great Renato Signorini who had a workshop in Ravenna. Marzi soon joined Signorini as he began his career as a young professional mosaic artist.  He continued to work there with Carlo Signorini, Renato’s son, and eventually moved to France in 1973.  After arriving in Paris, Marzi continued his creative practice and received further education at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  Since then, Marzi has made a name for himself in the international world of mosaic arts.

Marzi’s first solo exhibition was at the Venice Biennale in 1986, and he was invited again to the Biennale to represent San Marino at the pavilion in 2011.   His latest exhibition was at the Arian Baptistery in Ravenna, Italy during “Ravenna Mosaico” in 2013. He participated in the Fourth Moscow Biennale – Special Projects with a Russian architect in 2011.  A retrospective of his works dating from 1965 took place last fall at the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.  Marzi’s creative projects include large-scale public mosaics installed in the Val de Lille metro station, the Bourgoin-Jallieu High School in Isere, and the Villars Secondary School in Denain, France.

Along with his own studio practice, Marzi uses his work to reach out the local and international community.  He is also a committed and dedicated teacher who created a mosaic workshop at the Musée du Louvre in 1994. He has also brought the art of mosaic to other areas by his travels all throughout Europe to Paray-le-Monial, Burgundy, Bastelica, and Corsica.  He has worked in Moscow, Russia and educated Tibetan children in Dharamsala, India and has been a regular artist in residence here in the United States.  For the past six years, Verdiano Marzi has been a cherished teacher and valued advisor to The Chicago Mosaic School and the local mosaic making community, where he is greatly loved and appreciated.

“Dal Sogno all’ Opus Veritas”

March 28- July 3rd, 2015

Opening Reception Friday,

April 10th, 6:00-9:00pm at 

The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago.

115 East Delaware (through the Gratz Center at Michigan Avenue)

Chicago, Illinois USA 60611,  312) 787-4570

This exhibition is free and open to the public

Discounted parking available at (Bloomingdales Building) 900 N Michigan (validation at 4th Reception in Gratz Center)


for additional Information and to inquire about classes please contact:

The Chicago Mosaic School

1806 W. Cuyler, Chicago IL  60613    773) 975-8966

“Under the Influence” opens 3/13/2015

March 11, 2015

“Under the Influence”

GoCM – The Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics, Chicago
March 10- April 23, 2015
Vernisage Friday April 13, 6-9pm

An exhibition by artists from around the United States in homage to Maestro Verdiano Marzi, who has helped to change the perception of contemporary mosaics both through his work and through his teachings over the last 5 years at The Chicago Mosaic School.

Exhibiting artists include:
Karen Ami ,Eugenia Brown, David Chidgey, Sue Coombs, Anne Curley, Charlene Floreani, Carolynn Friedman, Sue Giannotti,
Ahmed Ibrahim, Dean Madsen, Deb Madsen, Andryea Natkin,
Enid Probst, Matteo Randi, Angela Sanders, Casey Van Loon, and
Jamie Pink Weisbrod.

CMS Mosaic Intensives 2015

February 19, 2015


Want to study at CMS but can’t move to Chicago yet??

Take a look at our CMS Mosaic Intensives and get back to back workshops and study in one trip to CMS. Enroll in 3 or more workshops and get 10% off. Contact us at or call 773.975.8966

Mosaic Intensives 2015


Hammer & Hardie: 6th-7th

Direct Method: 9th-11th


Pamela Irving Picassiette: 4/30th-3rd

Drawing Workshop: 4th-5th

Ravenna Technique: 6th -10th


Intro Intensive: 12th-14th

Hammer & Hardie: 15th-16th

Drawing Fundamentals: 17th-18th 

Elder Jones Wet Carved Concrete: 19th-21st

Direct Method: 19th-21st

Texture Workshop: 22nd-25th

Clay in Mosaics: 26th-28th

Design Fundamentals: 26th-28th

Undulation Workshop: 29th-30th


Hammer & Hardie: 23rd-24th

Undulation Workshop: 25th-26th

SOAMA Tiny Pieces Mosaic Supply