Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Diatomaceous Building

Art in Public Places


The above Chamber of Commerce building in Lompoc, California, was built with diatomaceous earth, the chalky white substance that makes up the surrounding hills of this southern California town.  One side is painted with a gorgeous mural of blues and greens, depicting the era when the Lompoc Valley was beneath the sea and diatoms settled on the ocean floor.  Today, of course, these diatoms are golden.  They have created a mining industry in this area for more than one hundred years.
The mural was painted in 1990 by Roberto Delgado, an artist from Los Angeles.  The blues represent the ocean.  The reds are the diatoms, and the ghostly figures are the miners that have worked in the industry over the decades.  The fact that the opposite side of the building remains a stark chalky white contributes to the understanding of what diatomaceous earth is all about.  I'm not sure it was done deliberately, but I thought it was rather profound.  That these fossil remains from a million years ago provide the abrasive material that is used in so many of our products today, is a thing of wonder.  Mother Earth continues to provide.

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