San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Mosaics

Heading back to the Bay Area, an old friend I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years got news of some mosaics being installed in a church. Not one to miss anything mosaic-related, we went over to the church to see what we could and Bob Andrews, the artist happened to be there. Anyway, we introduced ourselves and I told him I made mosaics and was interested in having a quick look-see. He was more than happy to let us have a look around and talk a bit about his career. The church was closed, well and truly so it was really lovely that he let us in. Firstly you need to understand that the man is 83 years old and has been working on this particular church for 60 years, if memory serves me well. He looked no more than 60, truly! The dome measured 60 feet in diameter. IT WAS MASSIVE. {Oops, sorry hit the caps button, but actually it’s appropriate…} This particular install was set to take 3 weeks. We got there half way through the third week and they were just finishing up. He seemed to think about another few days and the install would be done. It was the dome that they were installing – a mosaic of Jesus Christ. The mosaic had taken 2 years to make and was made of smalti – lots of it and alot of gold! He did actually tell me the exact number of tesserae and I forget now. I thought it was amazing in and of itself that he would even count!? How does anyone do that? They can’t possibly count as they go can they? Really is it possible, or is it an estimate?!

Nevertheless, the entire project was made in the reverse indirect. I was in awe! Just the sheer size of it and then having to work it upside down and back to front… Really I’m not one for religious icons but this was simply amazing. Bob made the mosaic with his son in his studio in Italy. They had a three person team come out (from Italy) – 2 men and a woman – for the installation and Bob’s son took the paper off and scrubbed it all down… Alot of work!

He let us climb the scaffolding, 100 ft into the air, on really rickety stairs… I was freakin’ out! Going up is worse than coming done. I never used to be afraid of heights until I had kids. It really does change a woman! 😉 But it was well worth the effort. I’ll never see it that close again and it was stunning, simply stunning!

Andrews has made mosaics in 21 different churches throughout the US. As a Greek Orthodox himself, I got the sense that most of the mosaics were in Greek Orthodox churches… When I asked him how he got started in this medium, he said he came out of Art School having done ceramics and pottery etc… Someone at a University (that he ended up becoming the artist in residence for) suggested that he make a mosaic and that’s really how it all started. Then he mentioned that his church in his hometown had burnt down and the priest asked him to make a mosaic after the rebuild. It all rose from the ashes, as they say…

He was such a lovely man, incredibly fit – he said he works out 3 times a week. That’s 3 more times than me 🙂 and so modest about his work. He was really very humble.

Please understand my photos do not do any of this work justice – you just cannot imagine the magnitude and scale of what these mosaics are like! I also couldn’t choose which photos to put in, so most of them are here! You might just have to go and visit it…

Looking down - Ohmalawd!

Scaffolding

Jesus

Mosaic Map

Rubbish...

reverse indirect puzzle pieces

Jesus

The Book

Installing

The Last Supper

In the entrance

Stair risers

Bob Andrews
And here he is 🙂

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2 Comments

Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Building, California, Church, Dome, Flickr, Inspiration, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Murals, Portraiture, Public Art, Religious Icon, Robert Andrews, Roof, Round the World, San Francisco, Smalti, Travel, Uncategorized, USA

2 responses to “San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Mosaics

  1. Ulrike Martinez

    OMG, it is incredible.

  2. Faye

    I saw this on the news a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for all the lovely phots. I can’t wait to see this in person.

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