The Institute of Mosaic Art: Where Berkeley Riffs on an Ancient Art

The Institute of Mosaic Art left its creative mark on facades all over Oakland's Jingletown neighborhood before moving last year to Berkeley, where its new owners hope the studio and its artists will get more public exposure.

The IMA was founded by mosaic artist Laurel True in 2005 in a sprawling industrial building in Jingletown, an historic neighborhood located near the Oakland Estuary between the Park Street and Fruitvale bridges.


A mosaic bundt cake spotted at the IMA is inedible. The cookies, on the other hand, seem to be the real thing. Photo by BF Newhall

When True moved to New Orleans a few years ago, IMA changed hands. It's now owned by the mother-daughter team Ilse Cordoni and Sophia Cordoni, who foster the milleniums-old mosaic craft at their studio on Allston Way.

It won't be as easy for IMA to leave its mark on the walls of its new neighborhood, Ilse Cordoni told me during a recent visit to the studio; in Berkeley there will be more bureaucratic hoops to jump through.


Mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar covered a building in the Jingletown district of Oakland with pastel tesserae and mirrors. Photo by BF Newhall

Still, there was plenty to see inside the studio -- mosaic lemons, mosaic limes, a mosaic bird, and a mosaic bundt cake alongside what seemed to be a plate of actual cookies. Aside from the cookies, much of the handiwork on display was for sale. The public is invited to stop by IMA and take a look.

More about the arts and crafts of San Francisco's East Bay at "Amazing Places -- A Walk Around Oakland's Jingletown" and "Oakland's Jingletown -- Arts, Crafts and Cool Kitsch."
Photos and text, c 2014 Barbara Falconer Newhall. All rights reserved.


Cows--and whimsy--in Berkeley: "Holy Cow" by Marcy Schaff was one of many mosaics on sale at IMA. Photo by BF Newhall