When we brought to your attention an item on eBay selling ceramic tiles of Mayor Tom Leppert, who's described in the ad as "perhaps one of our greatest United States leaders," our hope was to hear back from the seller so we could find out how Leppert caught the eye of someone living in Fort Myers, Florida. And, of course, we wanted to know how many of these have been sold since, as I said Saturday, I'm planning to tile Schutze's bathroom with these suckers, and there are (or were) only 1,000 available.
So I e-mailed the seller, who turned out to be Kosmas Ballis, and asked him simply why he chose Leppert.
I come from a small town in Florida; Ft. Myers. I've lived in larger cities before and miss the hustle and bustle and their progressive nature. In Ft. Myers our local community leaders have failed us the last few years (with bad decisions relating to poor city planning, corruption, etc.) and the foreclosure crisis down here in Southwest Florida makes us ground zero. I suppose I chose Mayor Leppert because he is a proven leader; someone who can get things done. Someone who is genuine and has good ethics. Therefore, he was a perfect person to "commemorate" in the form of a tile. I'm an artist by nature and this is part of my "Pop Tile" series. I've made hundreds of different tiles, and after making the Mayor Leppert tile, decided to create the US Mayoral series. I've since done the Jacksonville, New York, Fort Myers, and Seattle mayors. There will be many more to come. Right now I am using a special (secretive) decoration process to make the tiles, unique to what has been done before in the ceramics medium. I am also an accomplished sculptor with works in several museums throughout the world; and I try to make each tile a unique work of art. Not everyone can afford my large sculpture. Everyone can afford a commemorative tile.
I'm taking all of the tiles I make and making a gigantic mural for the end of the year. I expect it'll be pretty big.
I just had to know what made a resident of Fort Myers interested in Leppert, so I pressed on that issue, along with asking how many he's sold so far.
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I honestly don't know much about the man. What I do know is that people in general like the guy. That alone makes him a good tile. He's someone that other people can identify with. He is a leader and people seem to follow. He may even be a hero to some. These are all wonderful traits in a person.
The tile is similar to a photograph, but is more like an artifact than just a picture, a tangible object rather than just an image. A souvenir.
As I told you before; I am an artist, and I'm creating a huge mural, so I am making as many new images that I can (in tile) to go into the project. That translates to a lot of tiles. (just check out the other tiles on my eBay site).
I've sold a few to locals here in Ft. Myers.
So folks in Fort Myers are dropping 20 bucks for a commemorative tile of the mayor of a city 1,200 miles away?
I must meet these people.