Arts & Entertainment

Mahopac Artist Crafts a Career Tile by Tile

Miotto with one of the many panels that will become part of the mural at the American embassy in Brazil. Credits: Bob Dumas
Stephen Miotto built this barn at his Mahopac home to house his mosaic studio. Credits: Bob Dumas
Miotto works on the template for his mosaic mural for the American embassy in Brazil. Credits: Bob Dumas
The original piece of art that Miotto will re-create in mosaic form for the mural in Brazil. Credits: Bob Dumas
Miotto cuts tiles to fit the mosaic. Credits: Bob Dumas

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Stephen Miotto got interested in mosaic art at a very young age.

“My godfather was one of three partners at a mosaic business in the Bronx and my mother was their bookkeeper,” he recalled. “I started visiting them when I was 5. It seemed like I was always around the stuff.”

Miotto grew up in the Bronx and moved to Mahopac with his wife in 1988. He can usually be found toiling away in his studio located in a big, bleached-gray barn on his property on Crane Road. That is unless he’s traveling the world to some exotic locale to install one of his mosaic tile murals, some of which are enormous.

Sign Up for E-News

His work can be found in some 40 subway and Metro North stations around New York—a gig that led him to even loftier endeavors. He’s created mosaics for United State embassy buildings in Serbia, and Dakar, Senegal, and is currently working on one for Brazil. The Senegal piece is 90 feet long with varying heights from 8 to 12 feet. The installation in Brazil will be 75 feet long and 9 feet high.

“I make art but I am not an artist,” he explained. “I am hired by the artist to make their art. They’ve never done anything on this big of a scale, so they come to me because I have that experience.”

Miotto takes the work by an artist—a drawing, a painting, a sketch—and then recreates it on a grand scale in template form, which is divided up in square sections like a chess board. And he uses mosaic tiles, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, to re-create the original piece one square at a time. The large pieces of the mural are created in sections and then shipped to the installation location where Miotto puts it all together.

When Miotto was a teen, he took a summer job in his godfather’s business and that further indoctrinated him the business.

“My godfather passed away and his partners moved the business to Yonkers,” he said. “I worked there during summers preparing materials, setting colors, helping with installations—whenever they needed an extra hand.”

While he was there, his bosses brought in an Italian mosaic craftsman who had taught at the Mosaic School in Spilimbergo, Italy. He told Miotto that he could attend the school for free. So, when Miotto finished Lehman College in the Bronx and received his art degree (with a minor in education), he headed off to Italy. He stayed at the school for six months.

“I was the luckiest person,” he said of the experience. “I worked with teachers producing murals and got to work with their teachers, who were still there. I got to meet two generations of world-class masters. It still resonates 100 percent. Today, I have a studio in Italy that works for me. I created a lifelong relationship.”

When Miotto got back from the Mosaic School, he searched for a direction. He did a little bit of everything, including selling prints of engravings and etchings.,

“I got a job working with an up-and-coming artist in SoHo; he asked if I would work in his studio,” Miotto said. “I was thinking of giving up mosaics at that time, but I needed the money so I did it.”

He then got a job teaching at a private school—Riverdale Country School—but the vocation didn’t click.

“I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher,” he said. “I left and decided to open my own mosaic studio. People slowly started hearing about me and started calling.”

It was his work in the subway stations to led to his embassy jobs.

“I did a subway station near my college and worked with an artist who was Romanian-American,” he said. “She been chosen to do paintings for the American embassy in Romania and it won an award. The Arts and Embassies Department [of the federal government] got interested and thought they’d like to do a mosaic—do a really permanent piece on the building. It was such a success they got me the jobs in Serbia, Senegal, and Brazil, and I may possibly have one in London.”

Miotto said it can take anywhere from one to four years to complete a mural of such magnitude. He’s been working on the one for Brazil for a year and half. He hopes to have it finished in three or four months.

“The embassies have been wonderful,” he said. “I meet a lot of interesting people and see lots of nice places.”

Besides being an artisan, Miotta has to wear other hats to get his jobs completed.

 “Getting all the details, sizes, the contracts written—it’s a very, very long process,” he said. “You have to know the business side, and also be a bit of engineer as well. I’ve done domes and I am always asked to put stuff where nothing’s been put before.”

Miotto said one of his most interesting installations was an 8-foot sphere that was placed in a courtyard in California.

“It had to be flown in by a helicopter because it couldn’t fit through the entrance,” he said. “It was lowered into a reflecting pool—it was the image of Earth from outer space.”

He also did a mural for an Anchorage, Alaska, installation that was made on pre-cut concrete panels. It was placed in aluminum containers and flown to Alaska on a military cargo plane.

Those who’d like to see his work locally can find four of Miotto’s mosaics at Fulmar Road Elementary School, including the footpath outside the school that features the footprints of the fifth graders who were going there at the time—including his youngest daughter.

“I worked with the art teacher, Sharon Tobin, who’s retired now,” he said. “She’s my favorite teacher of all time.”

Miotto said he can thank his father for the inspiration behind his career.

“I like dealing with the artist and solving problems,” he said, “My dad designed tools and he’s why I got interested in art. I used to try to copy his drawings. He could build anything and was a very clever gentleman.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Facebook, Fools, Friends and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Since its inception, Facebook has been a regular target of mockery and criticism—everything from, “Do I really need to see a picture of the pastrami sandwich you had for lunch?” to “Why did you help the Russians get Donald Trump elected?”

No one likes to mock and criticize more than I do—just ask all of my former friends. And while I agree that Facebook can ...

It Was the Economy That Got Trump Elected

I am not easily shocked by much anymore. Yet, I was by last week’s column by fellow columnist Bernie Kosberg. Kosberg, whose column runs regularly in Mahopac News and sometimes in Yorktown News, said in the first paragraph: “Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of ...

God Is Just! Schneiderman Is Out!

Whenever you doubt that God is just, remember last Monday. That is the day New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned.

As you know, I have had him in my sights for a long time. He has squandered our tax dollars with more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration. Plus, his lawsuits against Big Oil and trying to nullify our double jeopardy laws. Most will go nowhere as ...

It Wasn’t About the Economy or Jobs

Soon after President Trump was “crowned” by the Electoral College in November 2016, I wrote a column about Putnam County voters that garnered some attention—both good and bad. Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of suitable jobs, but to the overarching fear ...

BOCES… What’s in a Name?

Do you ever wonder what BOCES stands for? We associate the name with a center of learning that supplements the general curriculum of local high schools by teaching students specialized trades. Beyond that, does everyone in the non-BOCES population, those who have no direct connection to the programs, fully appreciate the priceless value it brings to our communities’ young adults and their ...

Bias in Media, in Me, in You

While listening to an interview with a voter on my car radio, I thought I had excess ear wax that obstructed my hearing. The voter (whose name is Bruce) said this about one of the qualifications that a Senate or House candidate must have to earn his vote: “I don’t want anyone with ideas. We have enough of those already.”

I’m a journalist and have been one my entire ...

Dog Allergies, Part Deux

“I have some good news and I have some bad news,” I told my husband.

“Give me the good news first.”

“OK. The vet doesn’t think the dog’s ear infections are from a food allergy after all, so we don’t have to keep feeding him that hypo-allergenic food,” I said.

“Hallelujah,” shouted my husband. He was understandably ...

Cross My Legs and Hope to Die

One morning, I had a big cup of coffee as I usually do, and then I got in the car and drove 40 minutes to a clothing store I had been curious to check out. I don’t normally drive 40 minutes to go shopping, but since I am a stay-at-home mom and everyone knows we stay-at-home moms just spend our time shopping and eating bonbons, I figured, “What the hey.”

Having had the ...

CD Release Concert - New Middle Class at Putnam Arts Council

May 23, 2018

Press Release

Contact: Mike Borok

Phone: (914) 962-0120


May 19, 2018

Putnam Arts Council Hosts CD Release Concert featuring New Middle Class, with Dan Pelletier & Wendy Cody

MAHOPAC, ny: On Saturday evening, June 16, 2018, the Putnam Arts Council will host a concert ...