Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

3/10/2012

Millard Sheets tour in Claremont/Pomona Mar 18

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Whenever I pass by any old Home Savings bank building (now Chase), I remember Millard Sheets. A prolific artist, his studio created some of the most memorable mosaics that still adorn Chase buildings around the Valley today. Sheets designed more than 100 bank building artworks.

I always passed by this one as a kid in Palos Verdes. Photo by: Schlymay.
His was an unlikely partnership with Home Savings founder and financier Howard F. Ahmanson, Here's how the Daily News tells it:

Ahmanson, a Los Angeles business tycoon who later helped found the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Music Center, had no experience in running banks. Sheets, a visual artist with no architectural training, had no experience in building them.
Yet in 1952, Ahmanson, who'd just bought several savings and loans, fired off a terse letter to the Pomona artist best known for his Depression-era watercolors. 
"Have traveled Wilshire Boulevard for twenty-five years. Know name of architect and year every building was built. Bored ... Need buildings designed," Ahmanson wrote, offering Sheets complete control of design, construction and decoration. 
"I want buildings that will be exciting seventy-five years from now."
When Sheets, who taught at Scripps College, called to ask Ahmanson about building cost and guidelines, the Home Savings founder hung up on him. 
The result: banks clad in travertine and trimmed in gold, adorned with mosaic, murals and stained glass, and sculptures that lauded family life and the history of the Golden State.
Great story, even better legacy. This March 18, the Los Angeles Conservancy is paying homage to Sheets with a six docent-led tours of  Sheets locations including his studio (now a medical office building), the Garrison Theatre in Scripps college and its 80-foot long mural depicting the history of the Pomona Valley, and even the Pomona Mall, the first pedestrian mall west of the Mississippi.

Ticket holders also get access to two other Pacific Standard Time exhibitions: Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945 – 1975 at AMOCA, featuring artists connected with Sheets; and Clay's Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968 at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College, which explores the role of ceramics in mid-century art in Los Angeles.


Millard Sheets: A Legacy of Art and Architecture
One-time-only tour of historic sites in the Claremont/Pomona area
Sunday, March 18
11:30 am – 4 pm
Admission: $30 ($25 Conservancy members; $15 students; $10 kids 12 and under)
Tickets available here.

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