The Coral Gables Mosaicist

The Work of Gables Mosaicist Ray Corral has Gone from the Sacred to the Slippery

When Ray Corral incorporated his Coral Gables business in 2000, he had already been dabbling in the art of creating mosaics. This ancient craft, which first gained renown in the Roman world, consists of creating patterns and images using small pieces of stone, glass or ceramics. It enjoyed a comeback in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, mostly on the walls of churches. 

Corral was a percussionist and music writer at the time, but was fascinated by medieval and Renaissance art. He started doing mosaics as a passion project, installing a wall mural for a church, or a floor mural (called a medallion) for a friend. “Then I did a big medallion for a house in California,” says Corral. “I said this was going to cost them 50,000 and they wrote me a $5,000 [deposit] check on the spot.”

The Coral Gables Mosaicist
Coral Gables Mosaicist Ray Corral

Soon after that he was hired by the owner of the (now closed) Century Hotel in South Beach, to create a mural for his home. After that he never looked back.

“People think I went to Italy and studied there, but actually I learned the art from an old Italian master who lived in Mexico,” says Corral. “And I read everything I could find on what they did in the 14th century. At the time they referred to a mosaic artist as a mosaicist” – the name he gave to his company. “A mosaicist was a person who would design, manufacture and install.” Today he does all three.

Over the years, Corral’s work has migrated from creating medallions in the grand entranceways of homes to the backyard swimming pools, for the simple mathematics of it. “Not everybody has a foyer to put a medallion in, but everyone has a swimming pool,” he says. “I’ve become pretty much known as the guy to go to nationwide for mosaics in pools.” Over the last 20 years he has installed mosaics in 350 pools nationwide, about two dozen of them in his hometown of Coral Gables.

The Coral Gables Mosaicist
The swimming pool at Ray Corral’s home on Country Club Prado

“If you have a historic home, you can get reliefs from the front of the house, or from some element inside,” he says. “Then I design it as an inlay into your pool. It rolls with the city’s old Spanish architecture. It’s not a Versace type design. That would never work in an old, historically designated home.” Among the local pools he has transformed are Louis Wolfson’s in Journey’s End, and that of Matthew Meehan and Rod Hildebrant on the Granada Golf Course.

Corral himself lives on Country Club Prado, next door to Frank Farian of the former pop group Milli Vanilli. “I am on the edgy side, because I come from music, and I’m an artist,” he says. He is also a community activist, donating $4,000 to place wild orchids on Prado. “I’ve done a lot of beautiful pools in new homes in Coral Gables. But I have been able to do, and what I want to do, are pools in historic Gables homes.”

Mosaic details
The pool in the home of Matthew Meehan and Rod Hildebrant, with detailing of the steps
The work of mosaicist Ray Corral. Over the last 20 years he has installed mosaics in pools nationwide and in his hometown of Coral Gables.