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1950s LA Petroleum Club Mural Unearthed at Wilshire Grand

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Right now, Downtown's Wilshire Grand is undergoing a lengthy demolition so that it can one day be rebuilt into the West Coast's new tallest tower. But before it peaced out forever, the hotel offered up a little treasure: a 15-foot-long, mid-century mosaic mural showing "the Port of Los Angeles, and scenes of oil refineries, oil derricks and ships." The Wilshire Grand opened as the Statler Hotel in 1952 and its early days the Los Angeles Petroleum Club "maintained a posh member's suite at the hotel" adorned with a mural by an artist named John Smith, according to Mosaic Art Now (via History, Los Angeles County): "The handmade mosaic done in a classic modernist abstract style appeared to be squarely a product of the 1950s."

But the Petroleum Club was converted into a storage area in the '80s (or before) and the mural was covered over with wood panels right up until last year's big liquidation sale, when a local interior designer named Gregory Johnson unearthed it--"the staff knew nothing about it" and the "glass tiles were covered with layers of cigarette smoke and years of yellowed funk." The 6'10" by 15" mural was mounted on a plywood backing, so Johnson was able to buy it and move it into his house, lucky him.
· Black Gold: Thar's Oil In Them Thar Walls [Mosaic Art Now]

Wilshire Grand

930 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Visit Website