Mosaic Mural Installation


“Kaleidoscope of Butterflies”

Adams Recreation Center, Community of Normal Heights, San Diego, CA

Overview: This very special public mosaic mural project was installed on March 14, 2024, which happened to be on the same day as the National Learn About Butterflies Day. It was dedicated by the artist, Kim Emerson and her husband, Dennis Reiter, along with the City and the community of Normal Heights on March 29th, 2024. This is a project near and dear to both Kim and Dennis because they “donated” the project to their community, declaring it to be their legacy project, and the mosaic mural has been included in the City of San Diego’s Civic Art Collection.

The planning and designing started in 2017 as it was designed and created especially for the 1985 Adams Rec Center building, located at 3491 Adams Avenue, just 3 blocks from where the artists live. Overall, the project took 6+ years to get City approvals for the design, engineering, permits, and community input, but the fabrication and installation took only approximately 8 months.

Description of the mural and materials: The project was designed by Kim Emerson as a site-specific mosaic mural, that wraps around the NW corner of the Adams Recreation Center building. The entire project is made up of 11 individual interlocking butterfly wing shaped cement backer-board panels, that were bolted to the original brick facade. The entire mural measures 18′ at the longest by 9′ at the highest. The mosaic tile, or tesserae, that make-up the design is colorful high fired ceramic tile that was cut by-hand by the artists and carefully assembled into the organic wing shapes that form the abstract butterfly wings. Most of the individual 11 butterfly panels were assembled in the artists’ studio, and various community groups and the Adams Elementary school assisted hands-on.

Kim and Dennis are grateful for the generous support from the following:

Normal Heights Community Development Corporation

Adams Avenue Business Association

San Diego Gas & Electric

U.S. Bank in San Diego

Synergy Arts Foundation

Countless individual community members of Normal Heights, as well as friends and family from around San Diego and the U.S.

Additional THANKS goes to local community groups and City departments for their endorsements:

Normal Heights Urban Arts (NHUA)

Adams Avenue Business Association (AABA)

Normal Heights Community Development Corporation (NHCDC)

City of San Diego – Commission for Arts & Culture

City of San Diego – Department of Parks & Recreation

Normal Heights Community Association (NHCA)

Normal Heights Community Planning Group (NHCPG)

City Councilman Stephen Whitburn

City Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera

Special recognition goes to the following collaborators who made this project truly amazing:

Helfrich-Associates – Steve Helfrich – Engineering as per City’s requirements

Fortress Fence & Landscape, Inc. – Joe Rich – for the installation of the mural

Thunderbird Products, Inc. – Water Jet Cutting of Butterfly Panels

ARQ Enterprises, Inc. – Bob Hatch – Supplying Merkrete adhesive & grout

Quarry Tile Company – Ceramic tile made in the USA in Spokane, WA

Chrome Digital – Printing full-scale designs or “cartoons” for mosaic assembly

Adam Shames, of Kreative Network – For bringing the essential and fun sing-along music at the dedication, and for being our esteemed MC.

Farfalla Butterfly Company – Keri, thanks for raising and providing the 50 live Painted Lady butterflies that we released at the dedication.

Earth Discovery Institute – Lyla, thanks for being at the dedication and for sharing about butterflies and so much more.

Art Connects Hearts Organization – Veronica, thanks for being at the dedication and for sharing your arts & crafts making with kids and adults.

Below are images of the finished mosaic mural along with the approved design and studio production images: