Public Art at Risk: Beatles-inspired mandala mosaic at Bandshell Park needs repairs

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Beatles Mandala
Beatles Mandala (Amor = Love) by Kevin Arrow

For Miami Beach-based artist Kevin Arrow, the message of the Beatles is simple: all you need is love…

The multidisciplinary artist is known for his colorful Beatles Mandala mosaic, titled “Amor = Love”, currently sat on a concrete slab at Bandshell Park (7275 Collins Ave) beside the historic Miami Beach Bandshell (previously the North Beach Bandshell).

You’ll spot the word love in multiple languages (including Hebrew, Japanese, and Tibetan) along the borders of the captivating mosaic. The art piece contains many references to the Fab Four.

The beloved work of art is currently at risk of being removed due to years of water damage and deterioration. The once-complete mosaic is missing many glass pieces and is at risk of being vandalized.

The glass tile mosaic was initially commissioned in 2004 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ visit to Miami Beach in 1964. The Beatles made their Miami debut at the Ed Sullivan Show at the now-demolished Deauville Hotel

For Arrow, a longtime Beatles fan, it was an opportunity to show his love for the band. The piece pays an ode to the visual world of the Beatles, using colors and symbols for fans to dissect.

From the bright yellow, pink, and blue pieces of glass that call back to their Sgt. Pepper’s era, to visuals of an apple, a strawberry, a beaming sun, a bright star, and a diamond; each detail carries its own meaning.

“I chose the colors from that album cover and then some of the design motifs of the album cover,” says Arrow. “There’s a diamond (which is falling apart) for Lucy in the Sky, a star for Ringo Starr, a strawberry for Strawberry Fields, a sun for Here Comes the Sun, and an apple for Apple Records.”

The mosaic was made by Arrow and 8 female workers in India, then shipped and placed atop fiberglass to make installation easier.

Kevin Arrow
Kevin Arrow

However, according to the artist, errors in installing the art piece have left it vulnerable to water damage, with many of its colorful glass tiles popping out and water pooling at its corners.

Soon after he noticed pieces of glass were beginning to fall off, Arrow reached out to the city to protect the artwork.

Though many plans have been discussed on how to best maintain, store, or move the piece, none has been set into action at the time of this writing.

Some suggested placing the mosaic on a vertical wall rather than keeping it laying flat on the ground. Others have proposed drilling holes below it to allow it to drain and protect it from further water damage. 

Arrow picks up some of the fallen pieces of glass from the mosaic
Arrow picks up some of the fallen pieces of glass from the mosaic

Arrow says another solution suggested by the city was pouring concrete into the empty spaces to make up for the missing pieces, while some suggested allowing the mosaic to continue to degrade or sealing it with resin.

Other potential solutions include placing a canopy over the mosaic or turning it into a pavilion to protect the glass pieces.

Arrow notes his sadness at the art piece’s neglect and deterioration. He strongly advocates for preserving the work as it is a unique memorial that contributes to keeping Miami Beach a city filled with colorful art.

Beatles Mandala
Close-up of Mandala in disrepair, by Mary Trester

Community members like Mary Trester are also advocating for a way to save the mosaic and keep it in Bandshell Park.

Arrow and Trester hope that gathering enough attention around the mosaic will inspire others to help save it and preserve it for future generations.

“The mosaic is in sad condition as it was not installed properly,” says Trester. “Every artwork purchased with taxpayer funds should have a plan for preservation, repair, etc.” 

Arrow agrees, emphasizing how mosaics are works of art that are preserved and protected from damage worldwide.

“In the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and all over Europe, there are still mosaics being unearthed that are intact,” he says.

It is unknown what will happen to this art piece, but one thing is for sure: it is loved and adored by those who have had the chance to see it in person.

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