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Piecing Together A New Career

By       Message Laurie Roma     Permalink
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Brian Hornberger isn't like most artists. Soft-spoken and admittedly shy, he doesn't like public speaking or making eye contact when speaking to people. The break in the weather on this rainy day isn't the only thing Hornberger is happy about; he's just come from a consultation with a prospective client, a first and something that has him pleasantly surprised, no matter how difficult that is for him to articulate.
Hornberger didn't set out with plans to become an artist. A native of Manheim, Pennsylvania, he had a conservative upbringing on a dairy farm, which hardly left an option open to become an artist. The 33-year-old knew he would become a dairy farmer. Dutifully following in the footsteps of many before him, he worked at a dairy farm and as a diesel mechanic, married,and settled down.

"When we first got married, I kind of put her through school as a Diesel Mechanic, plus at the farm." Hornberger said. His wife, upon graduating from Harrisburg Area Community College, became a traveling nurse, moving from city to city on an as needed basis to meet nursing demands in those locations. She accepted a job in California, and Hornberger went from a rural setting to Thousand Oaks, located north of Malibu.
The change in atmosphere led Hornberger to tap into his artistic side, particularly his talent for mosaics. With no professional training, Hornberger began to experiment. The texture of the varied supplies available to him, as well as the "feel" of each completed piece, fed into the appeal of mosaic art.
"I kind of picked it up on my own. I read some books, but really, nobody inspired me. I always had an interest," he said.
Last year, Hornberger's wife, Dawn, took a job at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, and the pair, who don't have any children, relocated to Millville. Hornberger decided that this was as good a time as any to officially become a professional artist.

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Hornberger's wife took her turn supporting him in pursuit of his new career. "This is kind of a dream of mine now. She's all for it. My wife is extremely supportive. This wouldn't work for everybody."

He created Brian's Bits-n-Pieces, and in his home studio, painstakingly builds his mosaics into reclaimed frames, working as much as 40 hours on each mosaic. Images from nature to mundane household items serve as subjects for his pieces, with the largest completed piece measuring 1 foot wide by 2 feet tall.
"Each piece is different. I'm not trying to do the same routine with each piece," Hornberger said. "I'm always creative, I keep a tablet by my bed and I wake up and write my ideas down." Some of these ideas include incorporating vintage china patterns and bright ceramics to form a modern piece, or more recently, creating a mosaic of a foot shape on a stool, a fun play on words. Hornberger also frames mirrors in his mosaics. At home, he's even used his mosaic art to accent a doorway, spinning his art into home remodeling projects.
Although there wasn't one artist who particularly drew Hornberger to mosaics, he draws inspiration not only from other artists, but also from aspects of nature and in the day to day, such as music. His appreciation for vintage items also translates into his work, an example being the reclaimed frames that his work features.

"A lot of these (reclaimed) frames are more detailed and unique than anything you can find out there today. They enhance the work." He said.
Hornberger has become involved with the North Mountain Art League, and with the artists at the Whitmoyer Art Gallery on upcoming art related events in the area. In March, he had a showing at the Whitmoyer Art Gallery; one of his pieces hangs in the Columbia County Courthouse, and he participated in Bloomsburg's Arts Fest.
At Arts Fest, at which he sold half of the works he showed, he says he "encouraged people to pick up each piece and handle it, get a feel for it."

He was most surprised by what sold, including a mosaic rendering on a Yuengling Lager bottle. "The detail and work that went into that..." he shakes his head as he begins a thought that he never finishes.
Hornberger has been busy since Arts Fest, working on new pieces, which showed at the Bloomsburg Fair and during Bloomsburg's Oktoberfest Art Walk in October. It's Arts Fest that led to his new commission project and he's hoping this leads to more work.
For now, Hornberger hopes to build on this following, and keep growing his business. While he believes it's too soon to open his own gallery, he has plans to expand his business. He is thinking about looking into a website featuring his work, and has his work posted on his Facebook page.

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Part of his expansion plan is to keep his current prices affordable. Currently, prices for an original Brian Hornberger mosaic begin at only $20.
"Cheap!" He says, with a laugh and grin. "I just want to get things sold and get a name going."
Hornberger is on the go yet again. He's off to purchase materials for some home projects and the mosaic for his client. Once again, the clouds roll over Bloomsburg, and the sky darkens. Just as he reaches his vehicle, rain begins to fall.

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Laurie Roma is a public relations specialist and freelance writer. Her work has been featured in The Richmond Magazine, The Press Enterprise and The Daily Item.

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