‘Mosaic Man’ is ‘back on the trail’

By Lilly O’Donnell

Earlier this summer, rumors spread that Jim Power, better known as the “Mosaic Man,” would be tearing down his iconic mosaics if he didn’t get more funding. Some called Power “selfish” and accused him of “extortion,” seeming to think he was taking his art away as part of a childish power play with the neighborhood.

It turned out that Power didn’t want to remove his art from the community, and, in fact, hopes to produce much more. But the rumors were partially true.

“It’s all down to funding,” he said. He started chipping away at incomplete mosaics when he thought he was going to have to give up the “Mosaic Trail” project he’s been working on for more than 25 years. “I was gonna stop and I didn’t want to leave any that were just hangin’ there in that state.”

Power has been “back on the trail,” thanks in part to Al Bonsignore, who offered the basement of his E. Fifth St. barber shop as a work space/gallery for Power and is helping with fundraising.

“I’m in the process of writing a letter to approach various shops and bars in the area to see if they’re interested in getting involved,” Bonsignore said.

“Right now, there’s a small crew, and we have a plan,” said Power. “But if we don’t get the community in back of it, it’s doomed.

“I’m really a little disillusioned,” Power admitted. “I’m trying to outlive my dog, let alone finish a trail,” he said, referring to Jesse Jane, his canine companion.

He’s focusing largely on replacing and repairing the old mosaics, many of which were removed during the Giuliani administration, according to Power.

“Each one takes months,” he said. “Add it up and that’s years of work.”

After 13 years, he also plans to complete his “pole in progress” outside the former Fillmore East, and hopes to tile two light poles in front of the former CBGB with the names of all the bands that played there over the years. But, he stressed, he can’t do it alone.

“It can be done, but it can’t be done on my salary,” he said with a laugh. “To finish my 80 light poles and to finish the 60 that are in progress would take me 10 or 15 years with no days off.” He hopes to accomplish all of this in the next few years with the small crew that he’s assembled and with the support from the community that he insists is so essential.

To get involved and keep the project going, people can contact the “Mosaic Man” at nycjimpower@aol.com, or make a PayPal contribution to the same address.

“If people wanna save some dishes,” Power added, “I’d be more than happy to include them in the trail.”