Sonoma Stories: A mosaic at Spring Lake will celebrate the life of Mark Ihde

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What’s your favorite spot at Spring Lake?

It could change if you’ve yet to truly discover the sacred, imaginative and evolving memorial that graces a strip of lawn between the Sonoma County regional park’s southeastern lakeshore and woods.

Colorful cut-glass mosaics celebrate and pay tribute to the lives of children who have died. And as Barbara Ihde has learned, the Children’s Memorial Grove also exists to honor the memory of grown-ups.

Ihde is creating a glass mosaic in the memory of her late husband, Mark Ihde. The former Sonoma County sheriff and chief executive of Goodwill Industries of the Redwood Empire died of cancer last November at the age of 69.

The mosaic conveys a scene from her husband’s favorite retreat, Lake Tahoe.

“Mark and I spent a lot of time up in the mountains,” she said. “That’s where he totally relaxed.”

Once Barbara Ihde completes the approximately 2-foot by 3-foot mosaic, she and artist/instructor Angelina Duckett of the nonprofit Artstart will install it on the park memorial’s concrete and redwood gazebo.

It will join the eight other mosaics that adorn the circular structure. The memorial’s inward-facing surfaces are reserved for mosaics that honor children; the late sheriff’s will be placed on the outward side of the wall.

There is space for additional mosaics on the memorial’s benches, walls and planters. They cost between $1,500 and $2,500.

Barbara Ihde is an experienced artist, so she’s creating her late husband’s mosaic with the guidance and assistance of Duckett, the memorial art project’s lead artist.

Duckett said families who commission a Children’s Memorial Grove mosaic can be as much involved in the design and creation of the piece as they care to be.

“Some families are very specific with what they want. Others leave it to me,” she said.

Duckett came to love creating mosaics as a teen intern with Artstart and now is a full-time mosaic artist and an Artstart instructor. Artstart, the teen art-apprentice program founded in Santa Rosa in 1999, operates the mosaic project at Spring Lake through a partnership with the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation.

Late sheriff and CEO Ihde served on the foundation’s board when the children’s memorial was created. That connection made his widow all the more eager to place on the installation a piece of art that honors and celebrates his life.

Cutting and placing tempered glass to form the Tahoe scene of water, trees, mountains and sky has been therapeutic for Barbara Ihde — and a little painful. She said you don’t cut and handle fragments of glass without slicing your fingers.

She and Duckett “are mummifying ourselves in Band-Aids,” she said.

But the creative work Ihde is doing in an Artstart studio helps to heal her heart.

“It’s cry and joy, cry and joy, cry and joy,” she said.

She looks forward to seeing how the sunlight plays on the colored and mirrored glass and alcohol inks once the piece is in place in the park.

Ihde said she and Duckett share not only an appreciation of mosaic art that captures some of what was cherished by a lost loved one, but a vision for a certain spot at the refuge that adjoins the Howarth and Trione- Annadel parks.

It is, she said, “that no one will walk around Spring Lake without making a detour there.”

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707-521-5211.

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