Training News

Masonry Mania Festival and Craft Demonstrations

Journal: November - December 2003

Sometimes seeing is believing, and sometimes it just confirms what is known to be true. In the case of the Masonry Mania Festival, the skills of BAC craftworkers were confirmed to thousands of attendees who viewed and participated in displays and hands-on exhibits that filled an 18,000 square foot area.

The festival, held in conjunction with the International Apprentice Contest, drew the support of participants from across the nation and included BAC members, officers, and signatory contractors.

The energy was particularly evident at the site of the PCC displays. BAC members from many Locals, including Local 52 IL Business Manager Bill Meyers and Local 1 NY member and IMI Regional Training Director Dennis Holloway, took the lead in preparing displays that focused on the many areas of masonry restoration. People of all ages were drawn to the display, including Girl and Boy Scout troops, who took turns trying their hand at tying knots and pointing a brick wall.

Just as intriguing as the masonry construction techniques for audience members were discussions about the history of BAC. Visitors were impressed to learn that they were speaking to 2nd and 3rd generations of skilled craftworkers. Frank Koleta of Local 3 NY showed off photos representing his family’s history with the Union. IMI’s Dennis Holloway and Tony Kassman contributed to the festival’s success alongside their sons, and in the case of BAC contractor Caretti Inc, brothers worked side by side to demonstrate stone craftsmanship.

Mike Menegazzi, another 3rd generation craftworker, held the attention of the crowd for hours as he worked on an intricate panel of multi-colored terrazzo, demonstrating how fine craftsmanship provides the foundation for making terrazzo installations into beautiful pieces of artwork.

Enore Mariutto complemented the terrazzo display area with a focus on mosaic work. A retired member of Local 9 PA, Enore’s mosaic skills are well known, and drew many visitors who were surprised and pleased to see this wonderful craft, wrongly regarded by many as a “lost art,” alive and well under Mariutto’s skilled hands.

Kids’ activities were designed to encourage their active participation. From the minute the Museum opened until it closed, children lined up to take down and rebuild pre-shaped AAC arch components. Finished masonry sculptures, based on materials representing the brick, tile, and PCC crafts, were lined up around worktables so that children, young and old, could create a unique take-away piece. And the BAC Kids computer program, which focuses on materials, design, and sequencing, stumped a few folks
as they tried to build their designs from a finite set of material resources. As one person said, “I guess this isn’t any easier than real life when you have to make compromises between design and budget.”

From the Museum’s perspective, the festival was a huge success, drawing thousands of visitors, many of whom were reluctant to leave at the end of the day. The Museum is already looking forward to an expanded role for BAC and IMI in its 2004 Festival of the Building Arts.


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