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A Brief Guide to Sheets's Home Savings Art Collaborators

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It's Sheets Week and we're celebrating Millard Sheets, the artist and architectural designer who dotted Southern California with beautiful modern Home Savings bank branches.

While Millard Sheets was the guiding artistic force behind the Home Savings banks, he worked with a very talented team to create the buildings, as well as the enormous amounts of top notch art that accompanied them (murals, mosaics, stained glass, sculpture). Here's a brief guide to the major players (other notables include sculptors Renzo Fenzi and Betty Davenport Ford):

Susan Hertel
Hertel was a student of Sheets's at Scripps and graduated in 1952. In the mid-fifties she went to work for him and stayed on for 30 years, as both an artist and administrator, taking over as president after Sheets retired. She was responsible for many of the stained glass pieces in the Home Savings buildings and was also "the primary designer of mosaics," working closely with Dennis O'Connor (see below), according to the Huntington Library, which owns many of the gouaches used to create the mosaics.

Denis O'Connor

O'Connor was an English artist who went to work for Sheets in 1960. According to an article in Huntington Frontiers by Sheets expert Adam Arenson, Sheets had trouble finding someone patient and skilled enough to do the mosaic work he wanted, before he finally found O'Connor: "O'Connor and his assistants would spend weeks or months with the small, textured glass tiles, cutting them into the perfect shapes, mixing shades to give the illusion of depth, movement, or shadows, pasting them onto numbered sections of paper, and then carting them to the site." With Hertel, he made about 80 Home Savings mosaics and "played a major role in reviving mosaic art in America," according to the Huntington. His private clients included Cher and Bette Midler, according to his obituary in the LA Times.

Arthur and Jean Ames

Sheets appointed Jean Ames as a professor at Scripps in 1940; she and her husband, who taught at Otis, "were among the first to use mosaics in California," according to the college. The pair designed the tapestries in Scripps's Garrison Theater; they also contributed enamel works to Sheets's buildings.

John Svenson

Svenson is a sculptor, originally from Upland, who made nearly two-dozen Home Savings sculptures. In 1953, he created the "Ranchero" sculpture (out of Redwood) that sits outside the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts at the LA County Fair (which was founded by Sheets's uncle, incidentally).

David Underwood

Architect David Underwood was the house architect for Sheet's studio and worked with Sheets on the studio's offices, the Garrison Theater at Scripps, and several other projects

Albert Stewart

Stewart was another Englishman, a sculptor, who Sheets also appointed to the Scripps faculty. Stewart created the incredible, imposing sculptures on the outside of the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire.
· Sheets Week [Curbed LA]