Monday, August 30, 2010

Revisiting Santa Monica Mosaics

For this Mosaic Monday, I'm going to revisit the former Homes Savings and Loan in Santa Monica.

For the Westways article (link at right under "My Own Los Angeles History Stories" and I promise this will be the last time I bring it up), I was asked to write about five sites, but only four ended up in the magazine. The Santa Monica site was cut, so here's what I wrote:

Not all Home Savings and Loan buildings survived, and not all that did are banks. Washington Mutual absorbed Home Savings and Loan in 1998 and quickly announced plans to close eighty California branches and move all artwork not physically attached to the buildings into other branches. Three of the announced closures involved buildings with mosaics that could not be removed. All three buildings still stand--in Riverside, Chula Vista, and in Santa MOnica at Wilshire and 26th Street.

FOr over a decade the tenant in Santa Monica has been Cellular Fantasy. Architects Michel Saee and Brant GOrdon renovated the building in 2001 and were prevented by a local board from installing a giganic opague buillboard over the facade. Critics praised Saee's dramatic interior chanages: futuristic workstations, perforated steel partitions and screens that seemed to billow and float in the air. A white scrim muted the stained glass window designed by Susan Hertel, Sheets' employee and long-time artistic collaborator.

Cellular Fantasy is leaving the building this year, and a New Balance shoe store will move in from its current locale just a few blocks away. The mosaics of folks enjoying themselves at the beach will remain. WHile most art is added to buildings later, Tony Sheets observed, his father "made the art an integral part of the whole thing."

1 comment:

Aaron said...

I was so pleased to find your article in Westways, and now this. Thanks for the enlightening reportage. I have often marveled at these unique and striking mosaics but have always managed to forget to investigate their origins. Thank you!