Mosaic Captures Essence of Wilderness’ Beauty

First published in the Dec. 18 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

A wall that was once bare is now, when kissed with sunlight, a shimmering masterpiece crafted from precisely cut pieces of glass that portray a scene that unfolds from morning to night.
The recently unveiled mural at Deukmejian Wilderness Park is a story that is told in the form of a 26-foot-wide mosaic conceived by artist Hannah Maximova. Her labor of love, “The Breath of a Deukmejian Day,” is in many ways an ode to the city of Glendale and the nature that encompasses the community she has called home for 19 years.
“You can really feel that the space is different,” Maximova said. “I love bringing attention and focus more deeply to a treasured space. It’s a pleasure to be able to make a lasting artwork that changes the experience of an important place.”
The journey of making the mural come to life started with Maximova using watercolor paint to externalize her vision. Next, she free-drew her design on paper laid against the park’s wall. Then, she cut out the drawings that became templates for the clipped and scored glass mosaic tiles. Afterward, she formed and glued the pieces onto cement boards before they were transported to their permanent location.
The site’s wall was later grinded down to be smooth and a wall-leveling agent was applied to further flatten it. Each assembled image was eventually adhered with cement, grouted and cleaned to perfection — an effort that immortalized the park’s effervescent vegetation and wildlife, including manzanita trees, an owl, a mountain lion, kit foxes, hummingbirds and bats.

Photo by Natalie Miranda / Glendale News-Press
An owl is one of the creatures that Hannah Maximova crafted from glass and incorporated in the mosaic for Deukmejian Wilderness Park.

“We have an amazing city that I love living in,” Maximova said. “It is very precious to me to have my work in a city park in Glendale that represents the plants and animals of this area.
“This wall was once a wall without this and for so many people to commit to it being different, beautiful and enriched is an honor for me, to be the person that does that,” she added.
President Paul Rabinov of the Glendale Parks and Open Space Foundation said Maximova’s art is a welcome addition that will be given a major dedication on Saturday, Feb. 12, accompanying the opening of the park’s Stone Barn Nature Center.

Photo by Natalie Miranda / Glendale News-Press
Artist Hannah Maximova with her mosaic masterpiece, “The Breath of a Deukmejian Day.”

“The idea was to bring art into the public space and to depict something that was representative of the flora and fauna in this park,” Rabinov said. “Hannah has done a phenomenal job with this glass mosaic that compliments and highlights the beauty of the Stone Barn. Everyone needs to come and see it.”
Onnig Bulanikian, director of Community and Services and Parks for the city of Glendale, said the mural is more than just art, it’s a beacon for the shared pride felt by its community.
“It’s a beautiful piece and it resembles the nature and wilderness we have in our backyard,” Bulanikian said. “It also brings the community together. When our park-goers, hikers and volunteers see this, they will have a sense of ownership of their local park.”
Vice President Manuel Magpapian of Glendale Parks and Open Space Foundation said he is grateful to have been able to have a hand in helping Maximova’s mural come to the park.
“The biggest reason why I was so intrigued by this project was this idea of leaving a legacy for the future,” said Magpapian, who is also the chair of the mosaic committee. “Our descendants — our children and our grandchildren — will be coming to play or hike in this park and see this incredible mosaic that we were involved in implementing. It was just something I couldn’t pass up on.
“The mosaic itself, to me, represents more than just nature and the beauty it encompasses,” he added. “It represents us — our community — building something for the future … leaving a legacy of bettering our community slowly, but surely.”

Mosaic tiles are available to sponsor, ranging from $350 to $5,000. Each one will have a name kiln fired onto the glass and added to the donor wall, forever adjoining the mosaic. To support the foundation’s programming with a tile, call (818) 631-6131, or visit glendaleparksfoundation.org/deukmejian-park-mosaic-mural.