‘Painting In Stone’ Reborn At Ansonia Library

patricia villers photoFilled with murder, betrayal, exile, and triumph, the story of Bellerophon and Pegasus is one of the richest in Greek mythology, with countless portrayals in sculpture, paintings, pottery, and other art.

And now one of those portrayals — a beautifully detailed mosaic floor more than a century old at the Ansonia Library — has a new lease on life thanks to some hardworking volunteers, the Valley Community Foundation, and a New Haven artist.

On Tuesday library staff, Friends of the Ansonia Library, and residents gathered for a rededication ceremony to celebrate the mosaic being restored to its 19th-century glory.

The design features the famed winged horse Pegasus with Bellerophon, a Greek mythological figure who is the son of Poseidon and Eurynome, and was part of the building since it opened in 1896 at 53 S. Cliff St.

But the mosaic had fallen into disrepair over the years, with many of the tiles worn, damaged, or missing completely.

Enter Randy Carroll, chairman of the Friends of the Ansonia Historical Commission, who coordinated the restoration project.

patricia villers photoThe $5,240 cost of the restoration was funded by a grant from the Valley Community Foundation and by the Friends of the Ansonia Historical Commission, library Director Mary Ann Capone said.

New Haven resident John Cavaliere, an art conservator, said the restoration project took him and several helpers at least three months to complete.

The workers had to cut about 1,000 tiles to redo the mosaic floor and the tiles all had to fit perfectly, Cavaliere said.

The artist described the mosaic as “a painting in stone.”

Cavaliere restored the library’s clock tower in 2007, and he restored a fountain in front of the library in 2010.

“I’m constantly in awe of people who help the library,” he said. “This room is (filled) with love and respect. I see this beautiful building as a reflection of the people here.”

Mayor David S. Cassetti congratulated all who worked to make the restoration possible, and said the city will support the library for future needs.

Ansonia lawyer Gregory J. Stamos was also on hand for Tuesday’s dedication.

A Valley Community Foundation fund named for his late mother, Mary Vartelas Stamos, helped support the project.

“This is preserving our heritage,” Stamos said.

Stamos, past president of the Valley Community Foundation, said the Foundation is not just about addressing basic needs such as food and housing.

“Literacy and culture are also a component,” he said.

His father, Peter Stamos, also was on hand.

He said the Ansonia Library has been his second home for 60 years.

“It’s not just the structure itself, but the people who work here,” the elder Stamos said with a smile.


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