Imagine there’s no Imagine Mosaic (it’s easy if you try): The centerpiece of Central Park’s Strawberry Fields is in danger of collapsing. The first cracks appeared in the 25-year-old memorial five or six years ago, according to M.C. Reiley, the Central Park Conservancy’s supervisor of monuments conservation, and what he called the “last, best chance” to save it came last week. “The problem is that it wasn’t constructed very well,” said Reiley, who is also a sculptor. The mosaic is eleven feet in diameter but sits on a concrete slab only ten feet across. “So, right off the bat there’s been this problem with a half-foot of the mosaic all the way around not resting on anything,” Reiley explained.
Even worse, the ground underneath the slab isn’t stable. Last Thursday and Friday’s work involved trying to shore up the underlying ground by drilling some 40 holes in the mosaic, shooting in liquid mortar, and using an industrial vacuum to suction the mortar underneath, to form a more solid base on which it could rest. The effort was unsuccessful. “First we have to figure out why it didn’t work,” Reiley said. “Then we have to explore all the options.” One option is removing the mosaic, fixing it, and reinstalling it. But that’s a last resort. “It would only happen if we absolutely exhausted all the other possibilities,” Reiley said. “The problem is that after a couple of years of trying, we’re running out of those possibilities.” —Colin Miner