Monday, April 11, 2011

Return to Redondo Beach Mosaic-s

The nice thing about mosaics is that we are never truly finished with them.

This weekend, Patch in Redondo Beach posted my article about the restoration work being done on a mosaic pictured at left. Art conservators are working on the 18- or 20-foot wide mosaic by Susan Hertel which went up in 1979. The bank is now a Wells Fargo (it started out as a Home Savings & Loan), and Wells Fargo committed to restoring the mosaic last September, when my first Patch article ran.

So far so good.

The big surprise, when I stopped by on Sunday to see the work, is that a second mosaic was hiding in sort-of plain sight: over an unused door in the back of the bank, facing a tiny stucco building called the Cozy Cafe. Here's a picture at right.

You can see the deterioration--it's even worse than the front mosaic. On the far left, a big chunk of tiles is missing.

The good news is that the replacement tiles--left over from the original installation--are available. I keep trying to tell Wells Fargo this. The bad news is they're not using them--but for a good, ethical reason. They want the restoration work to be clearly visible when viewed up close.

I understand, but I hope they change their mind about using the original tiles. I mean, it's practically miraculous that they are available after 32 years, and miracles should never be ignored.

As for the cafe next door--it's been there since the 1940s. Why would Home Savings put a big, beautiful mosaic where it can't be seen because of another building?

Well, once the article went up we learned a partial answer. Tony Czulager of Redondo Beach remembered that this building was brought in pre-fabricated and was intended to be temporary.

Apparently Home Savings was certain that Cozy Cafe would move and they could have its land and parking lot. They'd raze the cafe and put in a new, larger, Home Savings.

Perhaps the mosaic was intended to ornament the new, main entrance at that point.

Didn't work that way. As Tony pointed out, the Cozy Cafe is still there, still serving breakfast around its counter as it has for sixty-five years, and Home Savings is very gone.

Wonder if there are other 'pre-fabbed' Home Savings?

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