In the Details

Angie James’ Mosaics…

Chain Gang Bike Shop is not your typical cycling marketplace. Through Angie James’ creative mosaic initiatives, the shop has also lent itself as a space where artistic pursuits flourish and bonds between neighbors are forged.

Photos by Melinda Hunter.

Angie’s journey with mosaics began in 2010. Growing up with a brick mason father and brothers, she was exposed to the art of working with mortar and blocks. “My dad would bring me to work, and I would mix mortar and help with hauling bricks and blocks,” she says. It was during a visit to Dunsmuir that she encountered a mosaic made from smashed plates situated on a wall. Intrigued by the art form, she and her sister attempted their first mosaic project, and then, she says, “I just started inviting my friends over do it with me.” It was a community effort from the beginning. Before long, her art was being sold at Moonstone Bistro in Redding and Strawhouse Resorts and Cafe on Highway 299 between Redding and Eureka.

Photos by Melinda Hunter.

Angie and Mitch James had purchased the building in 2019, lending them the creative freedom to modify it however they liked. Knowing her interest in mosaics was strong, Angie set up an outdoor studio behind the bike shop to have a dedicated space for her art. She worked with the city running an after-school program at the time, and later was a clerk at a city hall office. When word spread of her new venture, Angie’s boss asked if she was interested in teaching classes which they would advertise through the Parks and Recreation Department’s activity guide. “I can do that,” said Angie, excited about sharing the craft with others.

Photos by Melinda Hunter.

In May 2021, Angie wanted to celebrate the new trail leading from downtown to the Diestelhorst Bridge by installing a mosaic along an exterior wall of the bike shop. Angie designed it to mirror the trail’s scenic route, vibrantly depicting a family cycling on the trail, the city to their left and a bed of flowers to their right. “I just wanted to beautify that area,” she says.

Photos by Melinda Hunter.

She began work on the project herself, but when she came to the flower garden, she thought it would be lovely to create a “community flower area.” The initiative began with a simple call on Facebook, inviting anyone in the area who was interested to contribute by creating their own mosaic flower. More than 100 adults and children have since visited her backlot studio, crafting flowers from pieces of glass and ceramic to add to the master mosaic behind Chain Gang, each taking only about 15 minutes. The Jameses have been in Redding since 1989, and this mosaic project has been an expression of their connection to the community. Angie also wanted to illustrate her gratitude to organizations like Shasta Living Streets and the McConnell Foundation for revitalizing Redding’s downtown spaces, and this in part inspired the artwork.

Photos by Melinda Hunter.

Anyone who’s interested in trying their hand at mosaics by creating a flower for the community flower garden can reach out to Angie and she’ll gladly facilitate the project. She also offers private and group mosaic classes in her studio, which can be booked by calling her. Her offerings through the city of Redding stand, as well. While Angie and Mitch sold the shop to their trusted manager, Jeff, in February, things have stayed consistent, and Angie continues to offer mosaic classes in her studio there. Chain Gang is not just a hub for all things bikes; it has become the thriving intersection of community, creativity and beautifully arrayed fragments.•

Chain Gang Bike Shop • 1540 Division St., Redding • (530) 243-9951 Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 9:30am – 6pm;
Saturday, 9:30am – 5pm; closed Sunday and Monday Find them on Instagram and Facebook

To book classes with Angie: (530) 524-1917

Article Written by:

Eythana Miller writes at every opportunity and tapes poetry to her bedroom ceiling. She loves black tea, Lemony Snicket, and sunny afternoons.

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