We remember when professional ceramic- mosaic artist Mark Rivera of Davis joined fellow artists in May of 2013 to install newly created art projects at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road.
The talented artist was there to assist the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched and directed by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, UC Davis professor of entomology and former chair of the department, and artist-educator Donna Billick of Davis, a self-described "rock artist."
We remember Mark's paint-daubed hands, his gracious humility, and his gentle soul as he worked with Ullman and Billick to install the ceramic mosaic art on the planters at the haven. He and all of us around him were admiring the honey bees: bee motifs on the planters; bees foraging on the flowers in the half-acre garden; and bees hived at the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Mark Rivera died in sleep on May 22 at age 49. He would have been 50 on June 10.
His daughter, Jessica Williams, remembers him as "a kind, compassionate, and genuine soul who touched the lives of many. He was also a talented mosaic artist and created countless pieces of art throughout his community of Davis, California."
"Art and emotion intertwined for Mark. He channeled himself through different mediums, ultimately settling on ceramics, terrazzo and mosaics; these became his 'Mosaic Marks.'
"He was drawn to working on public works of art that were large and impactful. He started with public art in Denver and decided to make the big move in 2000 to Davis for additional opportunities to grow as an artist. He continued with pieces around Davis that reflected the evolution of his soul — having a daughter (Jessica), becoming an uncle (to Josie and Allie) and losing his father."
"His soul and his spirit shined from him and was witnessed by all who met him, leaving an everlasting impact."
"A Celebration of Life is planned for Thursday, June 10, in Central Park in Davis--preceded by an Art Procession from the Co-Op at 4:30 p.m. The Celebration of Mark's Life will start in the Central Park gardens at 6 p.m. for a sharing of stories by those who experienced various aspects of his life."
Ullman recently wrote on her Facebook page: "Mark was a talented man, very kind and compassionate. He was a wonderful teacher and partner in community-built projects. In the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, Mark assisted with nearly every installation we did on campus and even helped us install Nature's Gallery in Washington DC. In this go fund me campaign, his family is raising money for his funeral costs and memorial. If you wish to help, the link is here. His art installations grace our daily lives in Davis. He will be terribly missed."
- "Mark has always filled me with joy. He transformed the world around him. He inspired me and so many others to be better. I miss him terribly."
- "He was an amazing, unique artist and I always remember him as a solid and cheerful person."
- "Mark Rivera was a prolific ceramic & mosaic artist, you literally cannot go anywhere in Davis without seeing his colorful and vibrant installations. He was also an incredibly caring, gentle, and humble man, who seemed to always have a big smile on the ready & a twinkle in his eye."
Another friend posted author-poet Anita Krishan's quote that captures the artistic magic of the legacy of Mark Rivera:
“We are mosaics--pieces of light, love, history, stars--glued together with magic and music and words.”
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is installing mosaic ceramic panels on cement planters at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis central campus.
Diane Ullman and Donna Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and their associate, professional mosaic ceramic artist Mark Rivera of Davis, began installing the work, titled “Life in the Hive,” on Thursday, May 30.
The newest addition joins two other mosaic ceramic-paneled plants. One showcases honey bees and bee friendly gardening, and the other focuses on plants and alternative pollinators, such as butterflies, bumble bees, carpenter bees, blue orchard bees, and metallic green sweat bees.
Students in the Entomology 1 class, taught by Diane Ullman, associate dean in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and professor of entomology, and self-described “rock artist” Donna Billick, created the panels on all three of the once-barren cement planters.
The latest addition, “Life in the Hive,” is the work of the spring-quarter Entomology 1 class. The students will gather in the haven on Saturday, June 1, to complete the installation. They will then discuss their work at a special event from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 4 in the haven.
“Life in the Hive,” lettered with “Honey Bee Haven” and “Häagen Dazs,” depicts the life cycle of the worker bee, queen bee, and drone. It also features a waggle dance, the queen bee and her retinue, and a newly emerged queen bee stinging and killing a competing queen ready to emerge from a cell. The art also depicts nurse bees, undertakers and foragers.
Another panel shows a “before” and “after” person: "before" when he was deathly frightened of bees, and "after," when he developed an appreciation for them.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in 1997, helps students reach across disciplines to learn science through art, and art through science, Ullman said. Each course focuses on key areas of biology, physics or environmental science and expressive art media, including ceramics, graphics, textiles, photography, poetry and music.
The haven is a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators and is designed to (1) raise public awareness about the plight of bees, and (2) to show visitors what they can plant in their own gardens. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, it is located just a few yards from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. For guided tours (nominal fee involved), the contact person is Christine Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The artists would work on the installation daily, then stop and cover the art, resuming only when weather permitted.
The site: the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, designed as a year-around food resource for bees, to raise public awareness about the plight of bees, and to show visitors what they can plant in their own gardens. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, it's located just a few yards east of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
For awhile, rain pelted the tarp-covered art. Then the fog rolled in. Not to be outdone, wind tugged at the protective covers, hinting at the beauty beneath.
Finally, the artists finished the installation.
This afternoon, entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and professor of entomology at UC Davis, unwrapped the two pillars at the front entrance. She also removed the tarps covering the ceramic mosaic-tiled cement planters inside the haven.
Ullman, associate dean in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, co-founded the Art/Science Fusion Program with noted artist Donna Billick of Davis, a self-described "rock artist." Together they direct the program and teach an Entomology 1 class that does just that--fuses art with science.
Last quarter the students studied bees and then developed the art. For many, it was their first attempt at a major art project. They are not art majors. Their majors include managerial economics, genetics, biological sciences, environmental toxicology and chemistry, and wildlife management.
At the end of the quarter, they stood in front of their classmates and discussed what they learned about bees and the obstacles and rewards. (See photos.) They did a fantastic job!
Andrea Wagner, a graduate student in entomology, served as the teaching assistant for the course and also created some of the art. Lending a welcoming hand in the installation was Mark Rivera of Davis, a professional ceramic mosaic artist, whose work includes the carrot sculpture by the Davis Co-Op.
"We couldn't have done the installation without Mark," Ullman said.
Several years ago, Ent 1 students painted the two towers of bee boxes at the entrance. One tower of seven boxes depicted bees inside the hive, and the other tower, bees outside the hive. Unfortunately, the paint began peeling. Subsequently, Ullman and Billick opted for a more permanent art: mosaic ceramic tiles to cover the 14 boxes. As before, one tower depicts activity inside the hive, and the second tower, activity outside the hive.
UC Davis students also created mosaic ceramic panels for two of the three cement planters inside the garden. (The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program had only enough money for two.)
Meanwhile, the garden has never looked better. The state-of-the-art fence that surrounds the garden is the work of Derek Tully, 17, of Davis, who last summer completed the fence as his Eagle Scout project.
The garden, planted in the fall of 2009, is open to the public from dawn to dusk, year around, for self-guided tours.
Beginning next March 1, Christine Casey (email@example.com) will begin offering guided tours for $4 per person.