The Society of American Mosaic Artists held its 14th annual conference, The American Mosaic Summit, March 10-15, 2015 in the welcoming host city of Philadelphia, PA. Over 425 attendees from around the world came together in an atmosphere of conviviality, friendship, and renewal. The Mosaic Society of Philadelphia did an outstanding job in putting on a very impressive event. Attendees made many new friends and left with increased mosaic knowledge, and heavy suitcases!

SAMA new members and first-time attendees took advantage of SAMA Inside-Out!, a free orientation offered to make their conference a memorable and inspiring experience.

A two-day pre-conference workshop was conducted by Isaiah Zagar. A variety of SAMA workshops continued for the first two days of conference. The volunteers participating in the four-day Mosaic Marathon completed the education-inspired mural designed by Claire Brill and Jessica Liddell which was later installed in the Robert Morris Elementary School in North Philadelphia. Several students from that school participated in the session on Thursday and enjoyed learning more about the process. The Marathon was made possible for the eighth consecutive year by Smalti.com and LATICRETE International. (…more images)

Throughout the conference, six mosaic tours were available, featuring everything from magnificent cathedrals and suburban castles to examples of Philadelphia’s renowned Mural Arts Program. (A Guide to the Mosaics of Philadelphia is on sale NOW in the SAMA Store!)

Our members were able to shop for tools and supplies at the Vendor Marketplace which included our valued mosaic vendors and business was brisk! (…more images)

Also located in the Vendor Marketplace was the MAPEI Invitational II Exhibition coming straight from the International Surfaces Event, held in Las Vegas, Nevada in January. The 20 individual works by SAMA member mosaic artists interpreted the World of MAPEI in stone, tile, glass and other elements. (…more images)

Wednesday’s Evening with the Pros inspired professional members to improve skills and increase their market through presentations by Kim Emerson, Tom Dzurenda, Cynthia Fisher and Christine Kenneally, and Mireille Swinnen.

This year, members experienced a different twist on our MAI exhibit reception—Gallery Night! On Thursday evening members boarded Philly Trolleys which transported them to Philadelphia City Hall (MSoP Exhibition), Painted Bride Art Center (MAI Annual Exhibition), The Clay Studio (Masters Invitational), and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Refreshments were provided at each stop to help keep members going! (…more images)  (2015 Mosaic Arts International Exhibition Catalog on sale NOW in the SAMA Store!)

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2015 SAMA Board of Trustees: (l-rt) Erin Bliss, Libby Hintz, Donna Post, Susan Jeffreys, Jacki Gran, Ed Kinsella, Julie Dilling, Roxana Nizza, Tami Macala, Nida Khalil, Ruth Tyszka

Friday began with the Members’ Annual General Meeting. Dawnmarie Zimmerman, SAMA’s Executive Director introduced the Executive Committee of President Jacki Gran, Vice President Julie Dilling, Secretary Susan Jeffreys, and Treasurer Debbie Immel.

Dawnmarie is our full time Executive Director and Chris Forillo works as our Conference Manager. New staff members Shawn Newton (Communications Manager) and Carol Newman (Virtual Operations Assistant) were introduced.

Our 2015 Host Committee, the Mosaic Society of Philadelphia headed by co-chairs Carol Shelkin and Carol Stirton Broad, were acknowledged after which Debbie Immel explained SAMA’s current financials. Jacki Gran described how the exhibition committee—JeanAnn Dabb and Kim Emerson—grappled with the challenges of this year’s MAI, and Sophie Drouin, a 2015 MAI Juror (the other being George Fishman) spoke about her eye-opening experience.

Julie Dilling explained SAMA’s scholarship process and announced Anne Marie Price as the 2014 Robin Brett Scholarship recipient of $2,000. The applications for the 2015 award are due on July 15, 2015.

Nida Khalil did double duty chairing both Membership and Sponsorship committees. She outlined past membership committee projects as well as projecting future goals. She wholeheartedly thanked all our SAMA sponsors and encouraged attendees to do the same and go shopping!

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2015 Volunteer of the Year, Laura Rendlen

Ruth Tyszka and Donna Post explained the ways of governance, nominations, and the importance of recruitment procedures for the board of trustees. The newest members of SAMA’s Board of Trustees were voted in during the meeting. They are Erin Bliss, Poolesville, MD; Cherie Bosela, Orlando, FL; Libby Hintz, Sayville, NY; Tami Macala, Santa Barbara, CA; and Roxana Nizza, Houston, TX. They join Nida Khalil, Ed Kinsella, Donna Post and Ruth Tykzka.

Thanks were directed to past president Shug Jones for her service on SAMA’s board and her continuing work with our publications committee.

Donna Post, Volunteer chair, announced Laura Rendlen as this year’s recipient of SAMA’s Volunteer of the Year award, and urged all members to applaud the dedication of SAMA’s volunteers throughout the year.

Secretary, Susan Jeffreys described the Strategic Planning Process and the prioritization of improvement opportunities and closed out the meeting by thanking our Philadelphia partners.

The ever-popular Mosaic Art Salon took center stage on Friday evening in the Regency Ballroom. Many beautiful pieces were sold during a flurry of bidding and buyers were fueled by an array of delicious appetizers. (…more images)

Presentations during the conference started on Friday with the inimitable Isaiah Zagar, the award-winning Philadelphia mosaic artist whose work includes the inspired local landmark, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Rachel Sager continued with stories of finding materials in her native western Pennsylvania and how to transform weakness into strength in art. “That Elusive ‘Something More’” (what is it and how is it cultivated?) was discussed by panelists Kelley Knickerbocker, Erin Pankratz-Smith, Kate Jessup, and Jo Braun, and moderated by Karen Kettering Dimit. (…more images)

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Carrie Reichart during passionate presentation at 2015 American Mosaic Summit in Philadelphia

Saturday’s presentations were kicked off by Stephen Miotto, whose creation and installation of NYC subway mosaics is legendary. The “mosaic family” of Yakov, Angele and Yulia Hanansen discussed the influence of the art on their lives over two generations. Wrapping things up was Carrie Reichardt who explained how she has employed her mosaic skills to bring about social change.  (…more images)

On Saturday afternoon, the SAMA 2015 MAI Exhibition Awards were formally presented. Best of Show went to Eileen Gay for Heart. Nermine Elmasry was awarded for Technical Distinction with The Storm, and Kelley Knickerbocker won for Contemporary Innovation for Escarpment. George Fishman and Sophie Drouin selected (respectively) Scott Fitzwater (A Prayer for Earth) and Michael Kruzich (Wanda) as their Juror’s Choices. Mireille Swinnen won Members’ Choice for L’Arte di Volare (The Art of Flying).  (…more images)

Merryl Buttari was overwhelmed when she won the raffle grand prize: a workshop in realism at the Hacienda Mosaico, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico donated by Hacienda Mosaico and the incomparable Carol Shelkin, who will also be the instructor!

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And the Closing night Party Begins…

The Have a Ball (for SAMA) Fundraising Dinner and Auction was a smash and raised just under $10,000. (…more images)

After being entertained by a true Philadelphia tradition, The Mummers Durning-String Band, attendees danced to a DJ at the closing party and said goodbye to old and new friends until next year when we convene once again to share, network, learn and enjoy a great time with our fellow artists and mosaic businesses. (…more images)