… And a bass-playing rat

Mosaic artist and musician Robin Indar’s art and life is filled with colorful characters

RED FISH, BLUE FISH<br>Robin Indar and sons, Gibby and Jackson, show off river rocks decorated with colorful mosaic tiles, part of Indar’s current exhibit at the Humanities Center Gallery at Chico State.

Robin Indar and sons, Gibby and Jackson, show off river rocks decorated with colorful mosaic tiles, part of Indar’s current exhibit at the Humanities Center Gallery at Chico State.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

The steps leading up to the bright-red front door of this northeast Chico home are your first clue that something whimsical and magical—Dr. Seuss-like, to be sure—is waiting for you on the other side. Broken-up pieces of light-blue-and-green tile surrounding dark-turquoise tile ovals resting in a sea of pink grout cover the risers of the stairs, while the treads are festooned with bits and pieces of black-and-silver tiles, light-yellow, glow-in-the-dark spirals resembling curling vines and little, bright-yellow triangular and square tiles that look like confetti.

“Casa del Indar” says one ceramic sign near the front door. Another, a ribbon of tile hung below a red-tile mosaiced pig’s head, informs simply: “Indar.” This is the home local mosaic artist, tile maker and musician Robin Indar shares with her husband, Josh, and their two sons, Jackson, 7, and Gibby, 4.

Inside Casa del Indar sits little Gibby, comfy in the living room in a soft recliner intently playing a TV video game called Lego Batman on this particular cold, cold, wet January day. On the wall behind Gibby’s head are four large square tiles hung all in a row, featuring primary-school-like depictions of a dump truck, a glass laboratory beaker with bubbles rising from it, a black sheep, and an ear of corn. At the bottom of each tile picture, in block letters, are their succinct yet slightly unexpected titles—"LOAD,” “LAB,” “BAA,” and “COB,” respectively.

Indar explained that there was a fifth tile picture, which she sold, called “LARD,” depicting a block of white lard.

The four tiles will be part of Indar’s upcoming exhibit titled Piecemeal at Chico State’s Humanities Center Gallery, a show she is sharing with an inventive Los Angeles plywood artist with the cartoon-superhero-like name of Klutch Stanaway. Also going in the show are the numerous mosaic balls and rocks covered with claws, mohawks and stripey spines, “alien, fantasy foods,” fantastical mosaic plants and mosaic pictures of a bass-playing rat named Julio. There’s also a robot (appropriately named “Roboto"—as in the ‘80s Styx song “Mr. Roboto"), and “Booby Dog,” a 3-D mosaic portrait of a female dog made using breast-shaped tiles left over from work Indar did for an erotic art show two years ago at the now-defunct Crux Artist Collective.

Indar’s very entertaining artwork inhabits her home, inside and out, from the bathroom to her sons’ bedroom to the backyard to Indar’s studio shed, where she assembles her mosaic pieces and makes her own highly creative tiles. Taking it all in, it comes as no surprise that her father happens to be Fort Bragg underground cartoonist and graphic novelist Chas Fleischman (see www.chasflash.com, the site Indar designed for her father).

“Boots,” sitting in a corner of Indar’s kitchen, near the dining table, is also a part of Piecemeal. “Boots” is actually just that—a pair of unusable, clunky, black boots ("a half-size too big,” she explains) that Indar imaginatively mosaiced in shiny black, making them look like something Darth Vader might wear to a wedding or some other formal event.

Indar particularly loves her wacky plant pieces—such as her “Poison Dart Flower"—inspired by actual, unusual plants that exist or used to exist.

“I just have a passion for things that look like they’re not of this earth,” said Indar, before motioning to “Opabinia,” a colorful, tile sculpture of a surreal-looking, five-eyed, prehistoric creature somewhat resembling a giant shrimp. “This is from planet Earth,” Indar elaborated. “I got [the idea] from Jackson’s book of extinct creatures. It used to crawl around on the sea floor. I had to make it.”

What, by the way, does Indar think of the venerable, late Dr. Seuss?

“Oh, he’s the best!”

The multifaceted Indar also plays electric bass (just like Julio the rat), and at the Piecemeal reception, guests will be treated to the full-on Indar art experience when she performs with her band Severance Package, featuring hubby Josh Indar on guitar, and Steve Bragg of Vomit Launch/Asskickers/Two-Drink Minimum fame on drums.