The mosaic queen

The sky’s the limit for local artist Robin Indar

SEEING STARS<br>Robin Indar at the Shoemaker Open Sky Theater. The mother of two is also working on a children’s book about a band of rats motivated to practice by a wise old rat.

Robin Indar at the Shoemaker Open Sky Theater. The mother of two is also working on a children’s book about a band of rats motivated to practice by a wise old rat.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Put a fork in it Scholars of punk rock may remember Robin Indar as Robin Tussin, frontwoman of East Bay punk band Black Fork (her husband, Josh, played guitar), which released the Billie Joe Armstrong-produced Rock for Loot on Lookout! Records in 1997.

With three huge mosaic projects under her belt this year, local artist Robin Indar has proven herself to be a very talented woman-in-demand.

Among her latest works is a high-end, Gaudi-influenced private commission that she did over the course of eight months alongside prominent Chico artist Dylan Tellesen at a residence in Sacramento. She also created a playful underwater-themed project for In Motion Fitness’ new “Kids In Motion” wing. More recently, she finished the impressive mosaic embellishment of the brand-new open-air planetarium (the world’s first open-air planetarium) adjacent to the Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory next to Horseshoe Lake in Upper Bidwell Park.

In Motion Fitness, in fact, proudly refers to Indar as a “mosaic artist queen” in its current ads promoting the new kids’ wing.

The 33-year-old Indar is a petite, forthright woman whose small silver nose-ring and punkish-frosted hair hint at her creative wild side. Her earlier mosaic work includes the striking Jackson Pollock Luminary Bench in downtown Chico and the four Ancestor Gates at 20th Street Community Park.

Sitting in her Chico home she shares with her husband Josh and their two small sons, Jackson and Gibson, Indar talked about the Shoemaker Open Sky Theater, named after astronomer and ex-Chicoan Carolyn S. Shoemaker, who holds the world record for most comets discovered, with 32.

“I included 32 comets and over 50 asteroids in that project—all hand-fired porcelain made in the kiln in my garage,” Indar said of the 75 square feet of mosaic work she did along the rims and flankings of the amphitheater-like outdoor planetarium.

Observatory curator Anita Berkow uses words like “beautiful” and “fabulous” to describe Indar’s work, which includes little glow-in-the-dark bits of tile that give off a subtle luminance at night.

Indar had to do some homework before designing and making the tiles for the project, looking up comets on the Internet as well as referring to a book that observatory director Kris Koenig had lent her. She brought in samples of the brown and silver asteroid tiles to Koenig and found that they looked very similar to real asteroids.

Indar explained that creating her own tile ultimately makes her job easier.

“When you get stuck, you can just make it—like the asteroids, or the bulbous lizard eyeballs and lizard tongue that I used on the lizard fountain in the Sacramento project.”

Working on the Sacramento and planetarium projects, Indar got a lot of experience in dealing with the elements.

“Like sandstorms—I got sand in my eyes over the top of my sunglasses, the plastic that I was using kept blowing away. Sometimes it was really hot, sometimes it rained and I would start to pack up and then it would stop raining and I would start working again and then it would start raining again … .”

Aside from her mosaic projects, Indar has a children’s book in the works, for which she has done all of the drawings as well as written the story. The Pocket Rockers is an entertaining and educational kids’ book about Julio, a bass-playing rat, and his bandmates who are motivated by a seasoned, wise old rat to practice and play well.

She’s also working on a line of tiles called “Rebel Tiles"—skulls, black cat heads, bombs, moonshine jugs, Eyes of Horus—what she decribes as “fairly fringe subject matter.”

“People always say [after a big project], ‘I bet you’re sick of mosaic after this,'” Indar offered. “No—I always go on to the next project.”