The appearance of a 40-by-40-feet, red and white tent on the north side of Ellis Library on Wednesday marked the beginning of repair work on a crumbling Tiger Spot.
Tiger Spot, the glass-tile mosaic created by local artist Paul Jackson, has deteriorated since its unveiling in October 2001. MU officials had promised work would start about five months ago, but Jackson said no progress would be made until a tent was placed over the Tiger Spot. The tent, which was paid for with private donations, has now been erected, and Jackson said he's ready to begin work.
"This project from our end went swimmingly," Jackson said.
Jackson said he has not created a timeline for the repairs.
"Art just doesn't happen on a schedule," Jackson said.
However, MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said Jackson did submit a schedule to MU officials. From May to July, Jackson is slated to be working on the Tiger Spot.
"As soon as we got that request we put up the tent, and we will do whatever else we can to facilitate his work," Banken said.
To repair the fractured and crumbling mosaic, Jackson and his team of assistants will have to chisel away the damaged Italian glass tiles and replace them from the base. There are patches in the mosaic that seep with water when pressure is applied. Jackson blames this damage on a poor installation of the drainage system, but he still maintains that some of the Tiger Spot damage stems from vandalism. MU Police spokesman Capt. Brian Weimer said the case was still open.
"We don't have a suspect," Weimer said "There is no one in the process of being arrested. There are no warrants out. There's no new leads or developments in the case."
Bricks etched with the names of donors to the Tiger Spot also will soon be installed. Tiger Spot started as project with thousands of student volunteers and community support.
"Art done by the masses, for the masses," Jackson said.
Because of media scrutiny, support has dwindled in recent months, Jackson said. The volunteers who showed up in the thousands to help construct the mosaic shrunk to just four people, including Jackson, who worked on the Spot on Thursday.
Members of Jackson's team have recently condemned the work done by MU, saying it is giving Jackson a bad name and has hurt rather than helped the repair process. Banken had no comment in regard to the allegations.
"What I can say is that we are willing to work with him in whatever ways we can," Banken said.