Monday, September 19, 2011

Mosaics on North Torrance Library

All of these mosaics adorn the facade of the North Torrance branch of the Torrance library on Artesia near Yukon. The library is closed for renovations, but the mosaics are outside, facing the busy street and are easy to see.

I am grateful to Michael George of the Torrance Library for helping me to research these mosaics, but we weren't able to come up with an artist's name.

The Torrance Herald, a long-gone local newspaper, printed a key to the mosaics in January of 1965, just after the library opened. According to the paper, the mosaics represent first, cuneiform (wedge writing in clay from ancient Sumer or Babylon), followed by a cuneiform cylinder that was rolled across the clay to make an inscription or picture.

The second picture shows a papyrus plant from Egypt, used to make paper, and an ankh--which the Herald called a "Staff of Life," and an earthen jar--remember that the Dead Sea Scrolls were stored in jars. These represented the first libraries.

Third picture: the Chinese character for "forever," a brush, and an ink bottle and quill, the last representing Medieval manuscripts. The paper says that "scrolls of Jericho" are in there someplace too.

The final panel, which is right over the door, shows a block of type--for the printing press--and a prism, representing color reproduction. Finally, a bit of microfilm, bring the technology up to the mid 1960s. Very nice--and as you can see from these pictures, the colors are still vibrant after 40 plus years.

The library was designed by Weldon J. Fulton and Associates, and the projected cost in 1964 was $82,000.

I found Fulton's obit here, and he was well-known in Los Angeles. Besides the North Torrance Library, he designed the "Camera Obscura" Adult Recreation Center in Palisades Park, Santa Monica in 1955--the building was a nod to a 1890's attraction on the beach there.

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