Anyone who’s driven up to this Art Deco gem knows that the terminal itself, both inside and out, functions as a stunning work of public art. In fact, a few years back, the BBC decided to rank the most beautiful airports in the world, and Long Beach Airport, which it called “unique” and “boutique,” was the only American property on the list.
When it comes to specific works of art, the airport features all manner of paintings, murals, mosaics, mobiles and statues. It recently showcased a diverse art exhibit in collaboration with Able ARTS Work. The 14 pieces of art, displayed in the baggage claim area, were created by artists with developmental disabilities and autism.
Constructed in 1941, Long Beach Airport’s oldest visual art arguably remains its most stunning: a series of mosaics made with ceramic floor tiles showing, among other things, a global air traffic map, seagulls in flight, shipping, oil production as well as a stunning zodiac compass. Incredibly, the mosaics, created by Works Progress Administration artist Grace Clements, were hidden underneath carpeting for many years, before being restored to their continuing glory.
Across the street from the airport is perhaps the most noticeable piece of public art in the city at night. The Fly DC Jets sign that used to welcome people to the massive McDonnell Douglas plant that, at its height, employed about 50,000 people, features an elegantly curving, circular flight pattern accompanied by a jet to its right. All of it is traced by neon tubes that, when lit at night, give off a red, white and blue glow that is stunning – and when there’s a little bit of moisture or fog in the air, totally entrancing.