A bland white wall of the Emmaus Public Library will explode with light and color after its transformation into a mosaic mural in 2014.
The ceramic and glass tile mural depicting the community will cover the curved wall on the northeast side of the building, directly facing Superior Diner across Main Street.
The convex brick wall, which is more than 30 feet long and perhaps 15 feet high, is barely visible from the street because of trees on the library grounds.
Mosaic images created for the wall will symbolize landmarks in the borough, including the Moravian Church, an aerial perspective of Triangle Park, the doors of the town’s
movie theater, railroads tracks and, of course, library books. Organizers predict the mural itself will become the town’s newest landmark.
The mural will be created by Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, with the assistance of students and art teachers in East Penn School District.
On Monday night, Emmaus borough council unanimously approved the mural for the wall of the borough-owned building.
“Personally, I am fascinated by this project,” said council member Michael Waddell.
“We have an opportunity to do something spectacular and something that can last for generations. That doesn’t come along very often.”
Zagar has created many mosaic murals along or near South Street in Philadelphia, including the Magic Gardens.
Waddell described Zagar’s style as “a little flamboyant.” He said the Emmaus mural will incorporate concepts of the district’s art teachers, done in Zagar’s style.
“It’s going to be spectacular,” predicted Waddell. “But it’s going to be very different.”
Emmaus High School art teachers Regina Oster and Lisa Caruso attended the meeting to answer any questions from council members.
“We’re very excited about this project,” said Oster, adding, "so are officials at the library and members of the Emmaus Arts Commission."
The teachers told borough council that Zagar has already visited the community. He did a brain-storming session with the district’s art teachers to learn what content they feel should be included in the mosaic.
The teachers also told the council that 13 East Penn art teachers are involved with the project and that those teachers will work with students in all schools to create individual mosaic landmarks which Zagar will incorporate into the mural.
“For generations, [former] students will walk by there and see pieces they created that are up on that wall,” said Waddell, a retired principal in the district.
The project should be completed by the end of July. Creation of the mural is not going to cost Emmaus any money, according to Waddell, although borough employees may assist with the preparation as needed.
The installation will be designed to be a permanent fixture on the wall. The only point needing the council’s approval is that the borough’s engineer must inspect the wall to make sure it is structurally sound to bear the weight of the mosaic mural.
The project will not cover the entire wall. About three feet on the sides, top and bottom will remain unadorned.
The teachers assured council that nothing on the wall will be offensive: “It will be all about the community of Emmaus. Visually, we want it to say Emmaus.”
Oster said the idea of creating the mosaic has been discussed for more than a year.
Waddell said the borough’s arts commission is discussing an outdoor sculpture garden to someday be added to the library’s grounds.
“This has the potential to become a real arts-focused area for us in this community,” he added.
Also during the meeting, council unanimously agreed to hire a new full-time police officer, Bethany Adams of Emmaus, at an undisclosed salary. The offer of employment is conditional, because Adams must pass physical, psychological and polygraph examinations.
She also must complete training, which will begin in February and won’t be completed until sometime next fall. Council member Wesley Barrett said Adams will be on probation for her first year with the borough.
Council voted 5-1 to seek bid specifications to sell a 40-vehicle parking lot along the railroad tracks at 543 Jubilee St. The property’s market value is $60,000. Brent Labenberg voted no. He said the spaces should be rented by the borough, predicting that would generate $4,000 to $5,000 a year.
But Waddell was concerned about the borough’s liability if it rents the parking lot, such as if someone falls on ice.
Council unanimously agreed to move forward to sell 4052 S. Second St. in Upper Milford Township, 18.5 wooded acres on South Mountain that have been appraised at $70,000. Waddell said council sees no future use for the property by the borough.