Lakewoodite Tom Koskey's Artwork Unveiled
Tom Koskey who grew up and has remained in Lakewood, L.H.S. class of 1966, has had a lifelong interest and love for art. His piece titled "Early Morning Steelyard Blues" was unveiled June 18th as part of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) Terrazzo Floor Art Project.
Ironically, Tom is a Transportation Security Administration Officer at CLE. One morning in 2009 while taking the Rapid Transit to work as usual, he was thumbing through a Scene Magazine and noticed a contest for the CLE Terrazzo Floor Art Project. The project is part of Cleveland Mayor Jackson's Arts And Everything Initiative. He had no prior knowledge of it and the deadline was the very next day.
Without any formal training, he dabbled in photography and moved on in recent years to painting with acrylics and producing portraits with pastels and charcoal, mostly of co-workers. With their urging, he decided to enter the contest. Although the contests theme was "Cleveland, A Green City on a Blue Lake," Tom decided to enter a piece he did a year earlier depicting a morning scene of Cleveland's Steelyards. Working through the night, he photographed his original painting that was 18" x 20", and had a print made and mounted to the specifications required for the contest. Without high expectations, he left his entry next to the desk of Jacqueline Mayo, Communications Manager, CLE and coordinator for the project. After a few weeks he forgot about it.
Months later Jacqueline called him to congratulate him on being one of the artists chosen. Tom was surprised and taken aback, he never thought he would actually win. A couple of months later, a meeting was set up with the architect who would oversee the installation. They chose to mirror Tom Koskey's piece and get started on the involved process of creating terrazzo. Tom decided to leave his art in the hands of the experts, the contractors who were going to do the installation. First a palate of seven colors was selected, the original image had to be created into a grid which would become the 10' x 40' floor section. Crushed stone, glass, and epoxy were then poured into each grid section, ground down, grouted, and polished. The end result is a beautiful floor surface that will last for a very long time. Asked if he was pleased with the interpretation, Tom replied, "I couldn't have imagined it better, I'm very happy with it."
Mayor Frank Jackson helped with the unveiling and awarded Tom with a Certificate of Recognition for his commitment to public art. Tom gratefully accepted his Certificate and stated, "I work for an organization that tries to protect people from
the darker side of human nature, with art I can celebrate the brighter side of human nature."
"This artwork piece will resonate with Clevelanders," said Airport Director Ricky Smith. "Early Morning Steelyard Blues depicts the scene of a city awakening to smokestacks and rising steam, a site familiar to thousands of Cleveland commuters passing the steelyards on their way downtown." It certainly was a familiar sight to Tom who worked for 24 years as a Hulett type ore unloader on Whiskey Island, scooping iron ore from the bellies of giant ships. Self-unloaders finally shut down the Huletts, forcing Mr. Koskey into other endeavors and he eventually becoming a TSA officer. "To have one of my works selected for the very floor I walk on daily, is an overwhelming concept. I am both proud and humbled."
Tom Koskey's piece is number four of seven and can be seen on Concourse C at Gate C14. The final installation of the finished project should be completed in 2014. Congratulations Tom.