Former music teacher turned mosaic musical artist

Lincoln, ME (WABI)- Rose White was the band teacher at Mattanawcook Junior High School for three decades.

When she retired four years ago, White wondered what she'd do with all her free time.

As Joy Hollowell reports, the Lincoln woman is now using her former tools of the trade to make mosaics rather than music.

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"This one is called Hair Guitar, like air guitar," explains Rose White, as she points to one of her mixed media mosaics that won first place in the Bangor Art Society's open juried show in May of 2018.

White has always appreciated the arts. It's what led her to a 30-year career as a music teacher.

"But this was not quite something that I thought I could do," says White, pointing to her artwork.

When White retired four years ago, she took an adult ed course in mosaics.

"And from that point on, everything just clicked," she said.

White started with switch plates.

"And then I said, hmmm - I have a guitar here, I think I'd like to start doing something with the guitar. And I just kept going," says White. "I do guitars, violins, ukuleles, mandolins. And people have given me all of the guitars except for a few. It's nice being a music teacher and people know it and they'll drop off a guitar on the front steps."

Each instrument has a theme, and a story.

"See the music in the moon?" asks White pointing to one of her pieces. "That was the song I danced with my son at his wedding in the garden. It was so wonderful."

Some of the guitars are inspired by Rose's travels, incuding two that came from a trip to Music City Nashville.

"I did this when I came back from visiting my son in Colorado," says White, pointing to a mosaic with a mountainous theme.

Repurposed pieces of the past can be found in each mosaic.

"These were on my kitchen cabinent at one point," says White, pointing to decorations running up the fret board of one guitar.

"This was a plate that I found from Salvation Army, and I cut it up," she says, moving on to another guitar.

Yet another shows a large display of bat wings at the top. Turns out it's the guitar's pick plate turned upside down.

One of her favorites it a tribute to fan crash Russell Crowe.

"My husband wanted to call it Sheryl Crow," says White, shaking her head. "No, no it's Russell."

"Of course, Russell's a really old crow, he steals everything he can," she adds with a grin.

The Crowe piece contains a mish mash of objects all surrounding a colorful glass mosaic crow.

Everything from a shoe horn-

"It belonged to my husband's father," explains White.

To a bejeweled creme perfume container.

"I didn't like the smell of it," she says, chuckling.

Pieces of White's past are thoughtfully, and often playfully, placed in each mosaic.

"What I love about working on these guitars is that I work with things that people give me, and I can think of that person and I can be thankful for that person in my life," says White. It's not really meditation, but it's a way of thoughtful thinking that happens naturally."

Matching mosaics to musical instruments is a big part of the process. Like her Western themed piece created with just the front board of a guitar that's also missing a chunk.

"The guitars I had weren't right," explains White. "Then I saw that one all chewed up in the corner. I said, the horse is breaking out through the window, it's perfect."

From teaching music, to making musical art, white has found harmony once again.

"It's a whole part of my life that I have never experienced before, and it has opened up the door to many people, to friends, to experiences. And who would have thought that spending your whole life as a band director and then to enter into something like this, it's great. It really is."
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Most of Rose White's artwork is for sale. And she's happy to do custom themed guitars for customers.

You can give her a call at 794-6494 or email her at rwhiteritired@gmail.com.

whiteritired@gmail.com.