Monday, January 11, 2016

LeTete Mosaics in Redondo Beach

It is indeed a small world.

I toddled into Le Tete in Redondo Beach, a clothing, jewelry, and accessory store in the Riviera Village that carries a few books by local authors. A friend had advised me of this last fact, so I hoped that Stella, the owner, would display The Boomer Book of Christmas Memoriesin the store. And she did!

But that's another story. This post is about mosaics.

The small world part comes when I entered. The store Le Tete is at 1911 S. Catalina, at the south end of that street, just blocks from the beach. It's a taller building than most on the street, with a large, fanciful, multi-color tree painted on the facade. On the side of the upper part of the building, you can still see the sign "Harmony Works"--that's the store that used to be there.

I walked over a mosaic in the doorway. Ah-ha! I had just revived my blog and was looking for new mosaics to photograph. However, this was just before Christmas and the store was busy.

Last week, when I returned with my camera to ask about the mosaic, Stella and I chatted. She pulled out a mosaic that she keeps in the jewelry display case and allowed me to take this picture of it and of her.

Stella showed me the other mosaics she had on the walls, and even in the back patio. All of them were made by her husband, artist and mosaicist Stefan LeTete.

When Stella showed me the small mosaics on the walls, and the one in the patio, she asked me if I knew about the Home Savings & Loan mosaics--she could not think of the name of the artist. When I said, "Millard Sheets," another customer jumped in. Millard Sheets has fans everywhere! We talked about his oil paintings, and the art gallery at the LA County Fair, which is now called the Millard Sheets Art Center. That's where an exhibition of Sheets' work was on display a few years ago, put together by his son, artist Tony Sheets.

And as it turns out, Stella's husband Stefan LeTete drove out to Claremont decades ago to buy all the leftover tiles he could from the Millard Sheets Studios when that company closed down. Some of those tile pieces that he got from the Claremont studio so long ago--a studio that is today an optician's office--are in these mosaics that Stephan made for his wife's shop.

As for that Pique-Assiette mosaic in the doorway: A friend installed that about a year ago, but I got so distracted that I never learned more about it.

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