MCLENDON-CHISHOLM, TX (June 23, 2021) On a plot of sprawling acreage out in rural McLendon-Chisholm sits a home that simply has to be seen to be believed.
Local artist Barbara Dybala has spent the past decade transforming her home/studio into an artistic wonderland full of her beautifully crafted mosaics covering just about every surface. The studio – aptly named Hidden Mosaic – opens to the public once a year, on Mother’s Day.
“My mission is to create a place where people can come and are inspired to create in their own way,” Barbara said. “If it’s yours and you create it from the heart, it has the right to exist.”
One of the most eye-catching mosaic murals on the property covers the west wall of the home and greets visitors as they make their way down the driveway. If you can tear your eyes away from the focal point of the artwork – a larger-than-life frog spanning the right portion of the wall – you’ll catch a personal touch to it in the form of Barbara’s and David’s likenesses near the wall’s center. It’s easy to see that this was a labor of love… and time. Barbara said she completed the wall in four years, as she was only able to work on it in between her commercial jobs and whenever the weather was not too hot or too cold.
This past Mother’s Day brought several hundred people to the property to marvel at the mosaic masterpieces that make up Barbara and her husband David’s home.
“People come and bring a picnic, rod and reels, wine… it’s just amazing and I know for some people, it’s an annual event,” Barbara said. “And they usually end up staying, even after seeing all of the art. They find a spot here on property, make it their own and spend the day.”
Barbara first became interested in the mosaic-making process when she was working as a graphic designer for American Airlines, and was asked to make a life size mirror frame mosaic for Coca-Cola as one of the live artists at American Airlines Celebrity Ski – a fundraising event held each year benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Coca-Cola commissioned her to make more mosaics for their various products, and Barbara fell in love with the process. She began taking classes taught by internationally renowned mosaic artists and became a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and promoting excellence in mosaic arts. (SAMA is the largest nonprofit mosaic art organization in the world, according to their website, with well over 900 members.) Eventually she found herself drawn to larger-scale mosaic works, and that was when she decided to literally craft her own dream home for her and her husband.
“I thought, I’m going to build a home that reflects what we are. Something that caters to who we are, not something so generic that you hope to fit into that floorplan,” Barbara said.
Barbara has slowly built the gorgeous wonder that is her homestead over the past 12 to 13 years, and you can tell she put a lot of thought and planning into every mosaic covering the property. All of them pay homage to nature in some form or fashion – a way to give back to the land that lent itself to Barbara and her creative mind. For instance, the giant praying mantis mosaic on the side wall of the home is a nod to a large mantis Barbara rescued from being squashed in a parking lot one day.
“We bought the property raw and put in the ponds, and in the process we witnessed so much of nature on a small scale,” she said. “I’m still amazed at it every day. So that’s what Hidden Mosaic is all about – it’s about nature and how we need to let nature be, so that it can go on.”
The property is also home to Barbara’s studio where she teaches a class on mosaics every Friday morning. Her students had their works put on display on the property when it was opened to the public this past Mother’s Day, many of which were sold throughout the day.
“Just about all of them sold work, so it was a great moment for them and I was very proud of them,” Barbara said.
The Hidden Mosaic Studio occasionally runs mini-workshops where artists can craft their own mosaic masterpiece, with all of the supplies needed at their disposal. The studio welcomes registered workshop students to stay the night in the Dragonfly Wing on the top level of the home, which comes complete with bunk beds and a patio with a sweeping view of the property’s beautiful backyard pond.
Everywhere you look on the property – around every bend, on nearly every surface – you’ll find one Barbara’s mosaic handiwork. I think one of Barbara’s grade school friends described it best when she saw the mosaic-filled home for the first time and said to her: “It’s like being inside of your brain!”
“Everything here was made from the heart,” Barbara said. “If it makes you feel good and it makes you happy, then I have succeeded as an artist.”
For more info on Hidden Mosaic and to register for Barbara’s mosaic class visit barbaradybala.com.
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.
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