Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saving Millard Sheets´ murals in Los Angeles

In the 1950´s, financier Howard F. Ahmanson Sr. and California artist Millard Sheets formed an unlikely partnership. Ahmanson, who´d bought several savings and loans, sent Sheets, a nationally recognized artist, a terse letter: ¨Have traveled Wilshire Boulevard for twenty five years. Know name of architect and year every building was built. Bored.¨
Ahmanson wanted Sheets –who had no architectural training- to design buildings for him, but gave him no guidelines. (…..) Over 33 years, Sheets designed more than 40 buildings for Ahmanson´s companies, most notably Home Savings and Loan. To adorn the interior and exterior walls, Sheets created murals, mosaics, and stained glass windows, always with a local theme. He was amazed at the freedom he had. As he told an interviewer for the Archives of American Art years later, ¨It was a hell of a job¨.(….)
Today, Chase Bank, the current owner of many of Sheets´ buildings, works closely with the artist´s son Tony, an artist himself. Their goal is to preserve his father´s art or find new sites for it. (….)
Millard Sheets. Picture from
Pomona Home Savings and Loan building. Picture from
Home Savings and Loan´s mural in Beverly Hills
¨Things change,¨ Tony explains. ¨Dad designed those buildings with the idea that people wanted to know their money was absolutely safe. So they built them around their vaults, and the vaults were very visible.¨ Today, security dictates that banks conceal their vaults, and anchor Plexiglas in front of teller windows, which often obscures works of art like the Rose Parade mural. The Pasadena Mural is safe, but others haven´t survived.¨

Three of Millard Sheet´s watercolors, in the Social realism style. Pictures from
Westways magazine. Page 35. September 2010

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