Monday, January 25, 2016

Another St. Lawrence Martyr Mosaic in Redondo Beach

Happy Mosaic Monday!

I've blogged about two mosaics at St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach before, most recently in 2010.

2010? That was ages ago.

Anyway, this post shows a photo of the huge mosaics on the front of the church that faces Prospect Blvd.

This big (but not quite huge) mosaic of St. Joseph faces a driveway into the school grounds, and you have to glance right while driving north on Prospect to see it.

This mosaic sits on school property, which was once nine acres of sand dunes--until it was acquired by the brand new parish in 1955 (there were no church or school buildings at that point; Mass was being celebrated at a Knights of Columbus Hall on Avenue I). The school opened in September of 1956, with an average of sixty children per classroom.

The permanent church was dedicated eight and a half years later in 1965, presumably with the second huge mosaic.

As you might guess from the collection of facts in the previous two paragraphs, the parish of St. Lawrence Martyr has a history page up now, which didn't exist when I wrote my first, sparse blog post in 2009 which featured a photo of the mosaic of its patron saint.

The artist for that 1957 mosaic, turns out, was Hugo Ballin, and I'm glad to correct that record. Ballin was known as a muralist. I'm going to copy what part of what I wrote about him 15 months ago in yet another post:

Hugo Ballin's story is interesting: he started working for Samuel Goldwyn when Goldwyn Pictures was based in New Jersey. A trained artist, he became an art director and production designer for Goldwyn. After following him out west, Ballin started to write and direct silent films and had his own production company.  Early, silent versions of Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair were among his films.

He returned to art in the late twenties, and you can see his work at:

He even designed the commemorative medallions for the 1932 Olympics, and he wrote a few novels too--at least one was quite controversial. When he died in 1956, he was said to be working on a 27-foot high panel for a Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. That may have been St. Lawrence Martyr, which was built in 1956. Ballin's work was only 1/3 done, though, so it was probably never installed.

Well, that last line proved to be dead wrong, didn't it?

SLM's history page doesn't tell me about either the new church mosaic or this third mosaic. I did walk up and look for a signature, with no luck. The detail of the mosaic is really lovely, though, so here is a photo showing the lower right corner, with the carpenter's tools and shadows.

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