An artsy home for an artsy business

Lori Greene is filled with expectation.

“It’s like being pregnant, but having no idea when you’re due,” she chuckled on a recent summer afternoon.

Greene is the force behind Mosaic on a Stick, a combination store, gallery, classroom and community center for people interested in making mosaics.

Hamline-Mosaic-006.jpg

Lori Greene stands before the current home of her store Mosaic on a Stick

MPR Photo/Marianne Combs

Located on the corner of Snelling and Thomas Avenues in St. Paul, Mosaic on a Stick has worked over the years to beautify the immediate neighborhood, covering the street planters that line Snelling with colorful tile art made in classes. Greene also often works on murals for schools and other communities.

But Greene said her current space isn’t meeting the needs of the store, and she’s hoping to move to a new space with a long history.

Hamline-Mosaic-002.jpg

The Hamline Park building

MPR Photo/Marianne Combs

The Hamline Park Building was built by Cap Wigington in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project. Located just a block from Mosaic on a Stick’s current site, the building sits on the corner of a park that is regularly filled with kids and young adults of various ethnic backgrounds playing basketball and tennis, and climbing the jungle gym. For the last year the building has sat empty.

For Lori Greene, it’s a perfect place to call home.

It’s fabulously beautiful. Look at all that park land around it – we can have classes in the park, maybe do a sculpture in the park, projects with kids that play in the park.

Greene said the new building will make it easier for her to hold multiple classes simultaneously (her current is basically a single large room, with storage space). It also helps her to move closer to fulfilling a longtime mission, namely to get diverse youth involved in her community building projects.

And on top of everything else, the rent will be cheaper.

Hamline-Mosaic-004.jpg

Detail of the Hamline Park building

MPR Photo/Marianne Combs

Tom Russell, with the City of Saint Paul’s Parks and Recreation, says the Hamline building hasn’t been used for actual recreation purposes since the late 1980s. As Parks and Recreation tries to reduce the amount of its capital liability, he says it is becoming more and more common for the agency to assume the role of landlord.

Russell says, for the city, having Mosaic on a Stick move into Hamline Park Building is a win-win for both organizations.

In addition to a good business plan, Mosaic on a Stick also has community support and will be providing services to the community – so two big pluses. Mosaic on a Stick has also committed (with the Historic Preservation Commission) to improving and preserving the historic nature of the building. So they will help preserve a historic community asset – another plus.

Lori Greene has one last hurdle to leap before making the move into her new home; currently the park building is zoned for everything except retail. In order to re-zone the building, Greene needs to get permission from neighbors, allowing her to sell her art supplies on site.

If all goes well, Greene hopes to open Mosaic on a Stick on its new site in October.

Comments are closed.