Mosaic House windows.

Mosaic House of Boerum Hill

Field review by the editors.

Brooklyn, New York

These days most of "Brownstone Brooklyn" is tastefully upscale, but you can still find the occasional example of someone's uncontrolled and excessive decorative impulse. One dazzling instance is the Mosaic House of Boerum Hill. Since the building is just outside the boundaries of a historic district, its creator, Susan Gardner, has been free to encrust enthusiastically.

Gardner is a retired art professor who has lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years. She began her mosaic in earnest after 9/11, when she felt the need to get out of her studio and interact with people.

Happy figure.

"One day in 2001," she wrote on her Mosaic House web page, "I went outside and started gluing things to the front of my house." Soon her summers off became a time to expand the artwork as it gradually climbed higher -- it's now about ten feet tall -- and grew to engulf window guards, door lock, mailbox, bench, and cast iron fence. The variety of small items that serve as ingredients for this visual stew include broken crockery, tile, toys, shells, stones, bits of mirror, and costume jewelry (especially butterflies).

Subtle seasonal changes are evident. Flowerboxes that hold live plants in warm weather are filled with colorful buttons for winter; strings of Mardi Gras beads are draped over the bare branches of one small tree out front to celebrate the Christmas season.

Mosaic detail.

Although a few aesthetically conservative holdouts consider the Mosaic House an eyesore, the reaction to Gardner's work has generally been favorable. Neighbors drop off sparkly detritus, hoping to see their donations incorporated into the facade.

When it comes to transforming junk into joy, Susan Gardner has got it covered.

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Mosaic House of Boerum Hill

Address:
108 Wyckoff St., Brooklyn, NY
Directions:
On the south side of Wyckoff St. between Smith and Hoyt Sts. By subway take the F or G to Bergen St. (last car). Exit at Bergen and walk one block south on Smith to Wyckoff. Cross the street and make a left. The Mosaic House is on the south side of the street near the end of the block.
Admission:
Free
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April 23, 2019

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