There is art in New York that you won’t find in a gallery or museum.

Take the F or G train to the Boerum Hill part of Brooklyn and walk down to 108 Wyckoff Street. There you will find the front of a residential building bejeweled with glittering tiles, beads, buttons, pearlescent garlands and an array of glued-on toys, holiday decorations and other discarded delights. Flowers twist around the doorway. An angel with a halo of CDs perches over a window. Lyrical figures with bathroom tile faces seem to dance around the walls.

It is the Mosaic House, by artist Susan Gardener, and it can be viewed any time, day or night.

After the collapse of the World Trade Center, on 9/11, Gardner found the isolation of her studio depressing and seemingly pointless. Her self-prescribed therapy was to begin working outside, at her front door, where she began to gradually assemble what would become the Mosaic House. Without any overt political intentions, she sought to make something in her community that would bring a little pleasure and happiness to the passersby.

In an email to me, she recounted a story from when she was working outside. Some children from the neighborhood stopped to ask her what color the people in the mosaic were. Were they black or white? Gardner found herself saying they were “people color.”

The Mosaic House feels more organic and true to its surroundings than most other works of public art. Maybe this is because it is made from its own surroundings. Rather than try to alter the landscape, the Mosaic House has allowed the neighborhood to shape it.

Susan Gardner is currently writing a memoir about her years working on the house. The Mosaic House is at 108 Wyckoff St. Brooklyn, NY 11237. (Alessandro Keegan)

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