Another Millard Sheets Mural Finds a Museum Home
|Detail of Sheets' mosaic. Photo by Paul Baker Prindle|
"Those banks are really the pits," said Courtauld-trained art historian-turned horror actor Vincent Price. He was speaking of Millard Sheets' mural commissions for Home Savings and Loan. Not inaccurately dismissed as kitsch, several such murals have recently ended up in art museums. The latest is a 1977 Lakewood bank mosaic that the Farmers & Merchants Bank has donated to the Cal State Long Beach's Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, which is slated for expansion. The gift follows the Hilbert Museum's acquisition of a Sheets mosaic mural salvaged from Santa Monica. Of course, the artist's moment in the spotlight was the Marciano Art Foundation, repurposing a Sheets gesamkunstwerk for its short-lived exhibition program.
Like the Marciano, the Kleefeld will be juxtaposing the avant garde with Sheets' stodgy, mid-century public art. (The clash prompted the Marciano to hide its Sheets mosaic behind a white wall.) The Kleefeld mosaic is about 14 by 11 feet, with a doorway. It will apparently be on permanent view, "installed as a feature of the newly expanded museum."
The mosaic was inspired by bird motifs on an embroidered tunic that Sheets bought on a trip to Mexico. The mural was crafted by studio assistants identified as Susan Lautmann Hertel (identified by initials SH), Denis O'Connor, Brian Worley, John Edward Svenson, Frank Homolka, Tina Reeder, and Richard Ellis.
|Millard Sheets and assistants, mosaic mural, 1975-77. Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum. Photo by Sean Dufrene|