Petrachrome mural by Grace Clements.
“Damien High is renovating their physical plant and the music building was one of the structures that needed some T.L.C. While removing the stucco that covered the building’s facade the mural was uncovered. What the workers had found was Grace Clements’ The Spirit of Music…
This mural utilizes a technique called “petra-chrome,” which was invented by Stanton Macdonald-Wright for the Federal Art Programs. It is concrete that is colored to create a permanent and weather resistant art work. It is a cousin of tile and opus sectile, but one that is more affordable and uniquely suited to the bright, sunny Southern California environment. It also solved another problem the programs ran into: There were only a limited number of artists qualified to create the large-scale public murals. Since the creation of the actual mural only required skilled artisans, a “master artist” could design it, while others could execute his/her design. Thus the WPA/FAP, a relief organization dedicated to helping those in need, could maintain their high artistic standards and employ a greater number of relief workers.
Grace Clements was one of the more interesting artists to work under the Federal Art Programs. A skilled modernist painter and critic who, along with Loser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg, was a proponent of a movement called Post-Surrealism or the New Classicism. Her easel and print work bare little resemblance to the rather tame public commissions she did for the government, which include the Long Beach Airport, Venice High School, Bancroft Junior High School, Dorsey High School and Santa Monica High School (the last three also are petra-chromes).”
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE