LGB Uncovers Historic Mosaics from 1941 Under the Carpet

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If you plan to visit or travel through Long Beach Airport (LGB), be sure to look for the treasure at your feet. Recently, LGB’s maintenance team was renovating the historic terminal when they lifted the carpet to reveal mosaics by Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist, Grace Clements. The mosaics, completed in 1941, pay homage to Long Beach’s origins in aviation, oil and communications.

View photos of the Mosaics here

“There’s a lot to brag about the Long Beach Airport,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “Our airport is a premier transportation hub in the region, a significant economic engine, and an outstanding partner in sustainability – and now we can add historic art preservationist to the list.”

The mosaics served as the finishing touches on the Airport’s art deco style terminal building. Located throughout the first floor, they are in great condition, and include a large global map, birds, a ship, an oil well and a hand dialing a telephone.

“These mosaics signify another chapter of the rich aviation history here in Long Beach,” said Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who represents the 5th Council District. “This artwork represents the importance of flight to Long Beach, ever since the first transcontinental flight landed on our beaches more than 100 years ago.”

“This is our way of respecting and preserving the roots of the City and of Long Beach Airport. As we turn a new page in history by opening a more spacious and comfortable concourse for our passengers, LGB remains extremely proud of its beginnings,” Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said.

The use of ceramic mosaic floor tiles throughout the building was an innovative way to include extensive mural decoration as public art. Clements’ themes and decorative style of the ceramic murals were unique and innovative, whereas much of the WPA artwork at the time was considered realistic.

News of the uncovered mosaics captured the imagination of people who are interested in Long Beach history. Laurel Howat, Architectural Historian and a member of the Cultural Heritage Commission in Long Beach said that she was surprised by one of the mosaics. Howat believes one of the newly recovered mosaics may have represented Clements’ hand dialing a telephone.

“It’s so exciting to see the preservation of the floor and the personalization Clements brought to her work. She gave a personal touch to it all, signifying a very modern time in travel and communication. I’m so glad that the Airport took the track of saving this floor,” Howat said.

For more information about Long Beach Airport, visit www.lgb.org.

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