Monday, January 7, 2013

First Mosaic Monday of 2013--Back to Long Beach

I blogged about the WPA mosaics at the Long Beach Airport in 2011. I mentioned--and posted pictures of--a beautiful rose compass on one floor titled "Zodiac."  That was one of several mosaics by artist Grace Clements.

The other mosaics included a world map, seagulls, fish, and I think the city seal.

But since then, maintenance workers uncovered even more mosaics, also by Clements, beneath carpeted areas of the terminal. Like the ship, above, or the hand dialing a telephone, at right.

Other sections of the floor contain squares of color or meander patterns. There's even a sunburst on the floor of a stairwell.

I mentioned in that previous post that the mosaics were part of a big airport expansion that was scheduled to be unveiled in 1941, in December--on the Sunday that Pearl Harbor was attacked.

So after a bit of refurbishment work, Long Beach re-unveiled the mosaics in early December 2012. Not all are visible to the casual visitor; some are in areas that can only be accessed if you have a boarding pass.

The Los Angeles Times presented a photo spread of the mosiacs here.  The pictures even include some of men pulling up the old carpet before the mosaics were found.

Why take photos of the work in progress? Although the mosaics had been under the carpet for decades, they were not truly forgotten. That's brought out clearly in this interview with Mario Rodriquez, executive director of the airport , in the Long Beach Post. People knew that more mosaics were there, but not how damaged they might be. If you take a close look at the oil derrick left, which came from the Post piece, you can see a vertical crack running down the middle.

That Post article also has a very long comment by City Council member Gerrie Schipske, who wrote a book about Long Beach aviation 3 years ago. She quotes the descriptions of the mosaics in the comment, and also describes how they were installed--well worth reading.

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