Friday, June 10, 2016

For Your Weekend Reading: Millard Sheets, Ronald Reagan, Concrete & Ladies' Finery

The New York Times interviewed Professor Adam Arenson, who is writing THE BOOK on Millard Sheets and his artwork, especially the mosaics, stained glass, and murals connected with the Home Savings and Loan buildings. You can read the article that just appeared: The Artist Who Beautified California Banks.

The piece gives a brief overview of Sheets and his accomplishments, and of Arenson and his research. It's been a few years since I was able to meet both Professor Arenson and Tony Sheets (son of Millard, and himself an artist), and since Westways ran my article on the same topic. But I remain fascinated by his work. This picture is from a bank in Claremont, the city most closely associated with Sheets since Claremont is where his studio was. Today it's a US Bank, at the corner of Indian Hill and Foothill.

Another interesting story, this one from LACurbed, tells the history of the Reagan Ranch. Remember that? All the news media wanting to get pictures of the President on a horse, being, well, Western - but no one could call it the Western White House.

The adobe house where the Reagans lived was built in the 1880s, by a homesteader with the same last name as another governor of California: Pico, but there was apparently no real realation. The place was a true cattle ranch from the 1940s through the early 1970s. The Reagans redid the roof, the floors, and more - you can read all about it.

One very poignant line about why the ranch was put up for sale after the former president was beset by Alzheimers; "The wide open spaces that had once so inspired Reagan now frightened him."

If you've been hearing about the new concrete being poured in Hancock Park, you no doubt know by now that it lasts much longer than asphalt. You can learn more about the advantages of concrete in detail here, where civil engineer answer a few questions. I have seen concrete street like Hancock Park's (and concrete alleyways) in several old neighborhoods in the South Bay--and never realized why those streets looked so different from others. Clearly, I'm not a civil engineer.

And if you've missed the news stories and are wondering why neighborhood street repair is a major news story, here's the CBS take.

And if you could care less about streets but go "Ahhh" over historical clothes (like me), I have two treats for you (though they are not Los Angeles related):

  • Godey's Lady's Book, probably the first women's magazine in the USA and a very important resource for ladies throughout the 19th century, is actually online, with all its beautiful color fashion plates - meaning the metal etched plates as opposed to just calling the ladies "fashion plates." You can access the archive here.

  • A ship that sank in 1642 was actually a "baggage ship" for ladies in waiting of the queen consort of King Charles 1 of England. It carried parts of their wardrobe. When the shipwreck was discovered by divers in the North Sea recently, many of the exquisite clothes had survived and are now on display in a Dutch museum. Read more at the National Geographic site.

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