Millard Sheets in a native CA artist, born and raised in the early 20th century in Pomona, he had quite and extensive career both as a painter, designer of mosaics and a teacher at Scripps college as well at at Otis Design college, where he became the director.
In the 1950s Howard Ahmanson, owner of The Homes Savings banks commissioned Sheets to design mosaics and murals for these banks. Not just to be places of commerce but to celebrate CA and it’s history with public art.
Today these buildings are owned by Chase bank, unfortunately many are being torn down, while people try to figure out how to save the artwork. This one is a mile from my house in Studio City. I drive by here often, the other day I happened to be on foot and I took the time to take some pictures.
Give me a capitalist any day over anarchist Marxists who are hell bend on destroying our history and the art associated with it. By the way, Ahmanson was a huge collector and contributor to the arts. Just ask LACMA about what Ahmanson did for that institution. It is true, he ended up pulling back some promised gifts. But seeing how LACMA has deteriorated over the years, I’d say he made the right choice.
Luckily no Antifa follow me, so they won’t be aware of St. Juinpero Sera preaching to native children. I love that chicken the child is holding. Of course I love mosaics.
The cowboys and vaqueros are a very big part of California history, although the real cattle boom was over by the 1850s’ so no one remembers. Before that, during the Mexican period, rancheros raised a lot of cattle and made a fortune. Drought, that pestilence that afflicts California every few decades, put an end to the large cattle farms. Many a Southern California ranchero supplied beef to the hundreds of thousands of miners who came pouring in for the 1849 gold rush.
Next image is panning for gold. The gold fever wasn’t confined to northern CA, there was and still is plenty of gold in the San Gabriel as well as San Bernardino mountains. I know, here we have the iconic image of panning in a river. There was some of that going on in the mid 19th century. The gold in our mountains is much harder to extract. I have had the pleasure of visiting defunct gold mines in the San Gabriel mountains. Very hardy dedicated men who had to blast their way to the gold. No worries, it didn’t take long at all for nature to reclaim these mines. Once again, I love human ingenuity and the ability to extract gold and other minerals from the earth.
The final panel is another huge industry that shaped Los Angeles. The film industry, CBS studios, formerly Republic, formerly the Studio that Mack Sennet started in the valley is just down the street. As in less than half a mile away. This is another industry that is going through massive changes these past few years. The Pandemic is going to change it even more. So who knows, maybe this mosaic will simply end up being an historic record of Southern California, with few references to the present.
I love close up of mosaic work. I love how this was made to fit into the granite. I also can’t quite figure out if this is the signature of Sheets or one of the artists who worked closely with him on these monumental projects.
Creating definition, three dimensional objects as well as fire, all with mosaics. Most probably these are all glass tesserae, although some might be glazed terra-cotta. I don’t know.
Here is the chicken and some lovely flowers. I really like how many colors have to go into white, or grey. Mosaics are a wonderful thing.
So there you have it. I tell everyone who used to come on my tours, to take the time to look around their own neighborhoods and hometowns. There is creativity and beauty everywhere that man has settled. Its’ in our DNA to create stories and beauty. So go out there and find it, and then share with others.